In an effort to maintain overnight purses for the Sept. 13-23 live racing season at Kentucky Downs, track officials have reduced the purse of the grade III Kentucky Cup Turf from $300,000 to $200,000.
The Kentucky Cup Turf is the highlight of the Sept. 20 Kentucky Cup Turf Festival, which features four stakes. Officials at the all-turf track on the Tennessee border decided in May to reduce the purse of the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Mile to $100,000.
Other stakes on the program are the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Dash and the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf.
"We overprojected our purse accrual through the end of the year and needed to make some adjustments," Kentucky Downs general manager Ryan Driscoll said. "With two wars and a sluggish economy, our simulcast business has decreased over the past couple of years. We had strong support from the horsemen last year. Almost our entire condition book filled, and we ended up paying around $200,000 more in purses than we projected last season.
"Instead of making drastic cuts to the daily purses, we decided to cut the purses of two stakes to make it easier on more horsemen. The Kentucky Cup Mile has been a little light over the past few runnings. Some of the better distance horses opted to go in the Turf for a bigger purse. Owners and trainers will still have the choice of running in two nice races on the same card."
Racing secretary Rick Leigh said last year, he was able to split an overnight stakes and filled nearly every money allowance event in the condition book. "We also overpaid projected purses in 2001, and unfortunately it has caught up with us."
Driscoll said he hopes the Kentucky Cup Turf purse returns to its previous level. Kentucky Downs will race Sept. 13, 15-16, 20-21, and 22-23. Saturday and Sunday cards will be run in conjunction with the Turfway Park program.