10/09/2017 10:50AM

All-sources handle declines 15 percent first three days


LEXINGTON, Ky. – All-sources handle for the first three days of the Keeneland fall meet was down 15 percent, according to figures released Monday by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. This is the first meet since Keeneland announced a raise in takeout to the permissible maximums on all wagers (17.5 percent win-place show and 22 percent on exotics) except the pick five (15 percent).

Groups such as the Horseplayers Association of North America have called for a boycott of Keeneland racing in response to the increase.

Total wagering for the three days was $28,916,889, down from the $34,038,412 for the corresponding period in 2016. The Sunday card, run amid rainy weather that forced all three turf races to the main track, drew $6,577,981, down a whopping 31 percent from last year, when handle was more than $9.5 million.

Handle on Saturday, the richest day of the meet, was nearly $13.6 million, down almost 15 percent.

Terrific start for Leparoux

No jockey has enjoyed more success at Keeneland in the last 12 years than Julien Leparoux, who has won or shared 11 meet titles in that span. With a quick start to this meet, Leparoux might well be on his way to another title.

Leparoux led all riders with seven wins and $713,576 in mount earnings for the opening weekend, with his two biggest scores coming on Heavenly Love in the Alcibiades on Friday and Flameaway in the Bourbon on Sunday.

Albarado in elite company

Robby Albarado became just the third jockey in Keeneland history to surpass the 500-win mark when he booted home Silver Defense in the Friday opener.

Only Hall of Fame jockeys Pat Day, with 918, and Don Brumfield (716) have ridden more winners at Keeneland. Albarado, who turned 44 last month, has 5,081 wins overall. He enjoyed a big opening weekend to this meet, riding three subsequent winners, most notably in the Breeders’ Futurity with Free Drop Billy.

Career first for Barkley

The Friday opener to this fall meet is a day trainer Jason Barkley will never forget: he saddled the first winner of his career when Stella Nova won a $10,000 claiming sprint.

Born and raised in the sport, Barkley, 28, graduated from the equine business program at the University of Louisville and worked under several trainers, including his dad, Jeff, before saddling his first starter in July at Ellis Park.

Improv loves opening day

Surely it’s a coincidence, but the gray mare Improv has developed a thing for opening days. Trained by Rusty Arnold for G. Watts Humphrey, she won an allowance race Sept. 15, opening day of the September meet at Churchill, and she won an allowance here on the Friday opener.