Kentucky Downs

Kentucky Downs

Ron Mitchell

Kentucky Downs Seeks Three March Dates in '13

Short meet would consist primarily of claiming races for turf horses.

Kentucky Downs, the all-turf track that recently completed a hugely successful five-day meet, is seeking eight live racing dates in 2013, including three in March.

The Franklin, Ky., track has requested to hold a short meet consisting of March 27, 29, and 31 next year, in addition to its traditional September meet. The application requests five days of racing on Sept. 5, 7, 11, 13, and 14.

With one day of racing canceled after rains inundated the course, Kentucky Downs posted record all- sources handle of $7.5 million during the five-day meet in which nearly $2.5 million in purses was distributed.

Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen said the spring meet would fall between the conclusion of the Turfway Park meet and beginning of the Keeneland meet, and would offer races that could fill a void on the Kentucky racing calendar.

Unlike its recently completed meet during which maiden special and allowance races and stakes dominated, Kentucky Downs would offer more claiming races for turf horses during the March stand, Johnsen said, noting there is a dearth of such races carded at Keeneland.

"We believe this can be a real plus for Kentucky racing," said Johnsen, who noted Kentucky Downs is projecting to have 2013 purse distribution of more than $4 million. "Our goal is to complement the existing Kentucky circuit. I would recommend our racing secretary confer with Keeneland's racing secretary to work out a schedule that would complement (racing at Keeneland)."

Johnsen said the grass course at Kentucky Downs has been studied during the spring over the past five years and is "more stable in March" than later in the year.

Kentucky Downs has had a resurgence in business since the advent a year ago of Instant Racing, a form of electronic gaming in which the outcomes are based on previously run horse races. The Instant Racing player wins based on the numbers of the horses crossing the finish line in the race shown in a small window on the machine's screen.

While the state attorney general has deemed the games legal and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has adopted enabling rules, Instant Racing is still being challenged in the courts.

A KHRC dates' review committee is scheduled to consider applications from all tracks during an Oct. 1 meeting.