Kentucky Downs has already smashed its single-season mark for wagering and still has the Sept. 15 card remaining in the all-grass track's five-date meet.
Through four days, the last being Sept. 11, all-sources wagering totaled $18,880,172. Last year's total handle, up 6.3% over 2014 and then an all-time high, was $16,887,188. That's despite running two fewer races than in 2014 and having to move its signature Saturday card to a Monday after the area was hit by a deluge of rain the day before.
Kentucky Downs' cards have attracted at least $4 million in wagering each day, capped by Saturday's $5,769,505, which shattered the prior single-day record of $5,071,415, set on last year's closing card.
Opening day's $4.6 million was excellent considering the track for the first time was running on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, up against stakes-jammed cards at Saratoga Race Course and Del Mar, track media officials said in a release.
"I felt good prior to the season about our continued acceptance by horsemen and horseplayers," said track president and part-owner Corey Johnsen. "I really felt there was a positive buzz concerning the meet. But when you're breaking new ground, you just don't know what to expect. So it's very gratifying that we would record these types of increases. I think it shows the whole industry what's possible when all parties, including government, work together and produce a great product."
Sunday's races averaged 11.4 starters, while the meet average is at 10.95. Through four days of racing, starters each day have been 114 (Sunday), 100 ( Saturday), 111 (Thursday) and 113 (opening day). Not counting Sunday's pair of $75,000 Claiming Crown starter-allowance preps with 10 horses each, only one field that wasn't a stakes has had fewer than 11 starters, with nine in Thursday's third race. Even with the stakes, only two races had fewer than nine horses going to the post: six-horse More Than Ready Mile Sept. 10, which had two scratches, and opening day's Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, with eight after a scratch.