The weather was hot, but so was the racing at the only European style race course in the United States. The live meet at Kentucky Downs got off to a flying start on September 1. There were many things that made for a special afternoon as the fastest five days in racing began. Let’s take a look at some of the ups that occurred at the Downs.


First off the weather was spot on. Yes it was hot and humid and as one lovely young lady put it “this is air you can wear”, but as thunder storms rolled across the Southeast and created weather delays at many college football games, the show at Kentucky Downs was never threatened. I guess now we know Mother Nature rather enjoys the competition on the Tennessee-Kentucky border’s grass.

The facility improvement means this place just keeps getting better. Corey Johnsen and his team have made great strides in recent years at this “country” track. Now a target for many top horseman and horse players, Kentucky Downs has handled the growth prosperity brings in fine fashion.

The competition on the track was absolutely top-notch. Kentucky Downs offers the highest per race purses of any track in the United States and second highest in the world. That means the horseman are going to show up and the races will have plenty of athletes chasing that money. Full fields adds to the excitement and can make for great opportunities in the speculation department. That was evidenced by the over $6 million wagered on the opening day card (second highest in track history).

Kentucky Downs is a great place to make money and that was once again proven in the payouts. The 10 cent superfecta is one of my favorite wagers as it is low risk and potentially high yield. This “day making” $2.40 bet produced some big payoffs. Of the ten races the lowest return was $39.54 (race 10) and the biggest was $1442.56 (race 5). So for the price of a cold drink, the least a man could have made was about 20 to 1 and would have averaged 147 to 1!!! In a word…WOOSH.

The race track is usually a happy place and the smiles were in abundance in many places. Of course the winner’s circle was real cheesy as some stars added to their accomplishments while a pair of two year olds provided a forecast for the future. California racing staple Jeff Bloom won the The Kentucky Downs Juvenile for the second consecutive year, this time with the aptly named Henley’s Joy. Making a nice move up the rail, the unbeaten Mike Maker trained colt used his talented toes in a tight spot in earning his second career win. “We point to this place each year and it never get’s old winning here”, says Bloom “I love this place”.

We found out Frenchmen still like big purses. Last year’s leading rider, Julien Leparoux got of to a good start with three wins on the day. Countryman Florent Geroux also got in the win column as well. “We ride good horses here and that is the biggest thing,” says Leparoux. “I have been riding here for years and I know it is a fun place to ride and any horse can win because it is different from anywhere else in this country.”

Finally the best thing about the start of the Kentucky Downs meet is there is more to come. September 6 is up next and September 8 is the headlining day featuring the grade 3 $750,000 Kentucky Turf Cup. September 9 and 13 will also offer cards with first post each day slated for 1:25 pm central.

Bound For Nowhere took the $750,000 Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs on opening day (photo by Brianna Vitt)