from Kentucky Downs
Kentucky Downs wrapped up its 16th season of live racing with increases in on-track business for its six-day turf-only race meet that ended Sept. 23.
On-track handle, including wagering on live and simulcast races, was $943,814, up 6% from the 2007 figure of $889,769. On-track handle for live racing was $437,684, up 1.5% from the $444,602 wagered last year.
Total handle on Kentucky Downs races on track and throughout North America was $8,381,590, compared with $9,618,209 in 2007, a decrease of 12.8%.
“Because of a hard-working group of employees and the outstanding support of the horsemen, I feel like we accomplished our goal of presenting an entertaining experience this year,” Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen said. “With admission always being free at Kentucky Downs, we can best measure success by an increase in on-track business levels in the handle and food and beverage. Our fans enjoyed watching outstanding racing, which may have been the best in our 16 years.”
Johnsen said that, compared with last year, the live meet featured larger fields, more allowances races, and more stakes horses. There were 9.25 starters per race this year, compared with 8.98 in 2007.
The season marked the return of steeplechase racing. At the track’s opening in 1990 (it was then called Dueling Grounds), history was made when the biggest steeplechase ever run in the United States ($750,000) was held. Two steeplechase races, including a $50,000 stakes, were part of the $500,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Festival this year.
On the racing side, Brian Hernandez Jr. was the leading rider with five wins. Wesley Ward and James Dodgen, both with four wins, tied for leading trainer.