Updated on 09/16/2011 8:15AM

Far more horses than fans


Largely because its locale is so far removed from major population centers, Kentucky Downs does not draw large crowds during its annual seven-day fall meet. Nashville, located some 35 miles to the south, is the only big city within easy driving distance of the track, a geographic fact that severely limits attendance.

Maybe 2,500 people will show up next Saturday, when the highlight of the meet, the $700,000 Kentucky Cup turf series, will be run over Kentucky Downs's undulating turf course. But that's a max-out number, one never approached during any other program, especially on weekdays.

Yet it would be erroneous to equate ontrack attendance with horsemen's participation. When entries were taken Thursday for the first two programs at Kentucky Downs, a whopping 264 horses were entered. Four races were carded for Saturday and five for Sunday; seven other "extra" races were available for entry, meaning each race attracted an average of more than 16 entries.

"We were pleased as punch," said Kentucky Downs general manager Ryan Driscoll. "We even had to split the Pleasant Temper [Saturday] into two divisions, which I think shows how eager horsemen are to run for black type here."

Foremost among the five Sunday races is the Yaqthan Stakes, a $45,000, mile race for older horses. Several stakes-winning veterans are in the field of 11, led by Dernier Croise, a 7-year-old gelding who has earned more than $500,000 in 42 starts for owner Richard Colton Jr.

The five Sunday races at Kentucky Downs are interspersed with 10 from its sister track, Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. First post for the 15-race card is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.

Cetewayo Kentucky bound

Driscoll said trainer Michael Dickinson has confirmed Cetewayo as a starter for the richest race in the Kentucky Cup series, the $300,000 Kentucky Cup Turf. Cetewayo is a Grade 1 winner who figures to be a solid favorite in the 1 1/2-mile race.

The other Kentucky Cup events are the $200,000 Mile, the $100,000 Ladies Turf, and the $100,000 Turf Dash.

- The Sunday feature at Turfway is a $26,400 allowance sprint for 2-year-old fillies. Lilias Trotter, who faded after setting the pace in the recent Bassinet Stakes, is the probable favorite.

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