08/29/2016 11:56AM

Four $350,000 stakes on tap for opening day

Four-Footed Fotos
American St. Leger winner Da Big Hoss is the likely favorite in the Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 10.

Big fields are expected in the four stakes and all the overnight races that will open the eagerly awaited Kentucky Downs meet Saturday.

Entries for the first of five programs at the turf-only track in south-central Kentucky are to be drawn Wednesday, and racing secretary Tyler Picklesimer said he expected his staff to be swamped.

“There’s a huge amount of anticipation for this meet,” said Picklesimer. “Horsemen from New York and California and everywhere else are coming. We’re ready for them.”

The four opening-day stakes, each worth $350,000, are the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, Turf Sprint, Juvenile, and Juvenile Fillies. Each race includes $200,000 in bonuses from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

The stakes are in addition to $140,000 allowances and $130,000 maiden special weight races, both also with hefty KTDF supplements. In all, purse payouts for the meet are expected to be nearly $8 million.

The five Kentucky Downs dates are Sept. 3, 8, 10, 11, 15. For the first time in recent memory, there is no conflict with another state track.

Meanwhile, Da Big Hoss tuned up for his role as the likely favorite for the richest and only graded race of the meet – the Grade 3, $600,000 Kentucky Turf Cup on Sept. 10 – breezing a half-mile in 49.60 seconds Saturday morning for trainer Mike Maker at his Trackside training base in Louisville, Ky. It was the first work for the 5-year-old horse since he won the Grade 3 American St. Leger on the Arlington Million card Aug. 13.