09/15/2014 1:44PM

Kentucky Downs crushes single-day handle record

Shannon Hargis
Off-site wagering helped shatter the Kentucky Downs single-day handle record with an all-sources total of $4,253,567.

FRANKLIN, Ky. – Dick Downey is a Bowling Green magistrate and racing blogger who makes a habit of attending the races at Kentucky Downs whenever possible. Downey periodically monitored a colorful ontrack scene Saturday, the biggest day of the annual September meet, and kept saying the same thing.

“They’ve got a really nice crowd today,” he said.

While Instant Racing machines whirred indoors, perhaps a couple thousand fans (admission is free and not tallied) milled about the spacious grounds in cool late-summer weather while clearly enjoying a 10-race card that culminated with four straight stakes. Patiently abiding long lines at the 12 outdoor mutuel windows (plus a handful of self-service terminals), those fans were just the tip of a betting iceberg, as off-site wagering helped shatter the Kentucky Downs single-day handle record with an all-sources total of $4,253,567.

“We’re absolutely thrilled,” said Kentucky Downs publicist C.J. Johnsen. “It shows how customers will respond when you give them a product they want.”

For comparison, the Kentucky Downs handle Saturday surpassed that at Churchill Downs ($3.1 million) and the Thoroughbred card at Los Alamitos ($3.9 million). The former Kentucky Downs handle record was set on closing day last year, a Wednesday when $3,371,476 was wagered on a 13-race card.

Opening day of the five-day Kentucky Downs meet was the previous Saturday (Sept. 6), when Churchill ran four stakes and more than doubled the Kentucky Downs handle ($5.3 million to $2.6 million).

The Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) has repeatedly touted Kentucky Downs as a favorite among bettors with its huge fields and the lowest takeout in North American racing: 16 percent for win-place-show, 18.25 percent for exactas, 14 percent for the pick five, and 19 percent for all other exotic wagers.

Most KTDF bonuses paid

Total purses for the four Saturday stakes at Kentucky Downs were billed as $1.2 million, but half of that amount was in Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund bonuses.

Those bonuses mostly were paid out, with the major exception being in the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup, the only graded race of the meet. The race was won by Suntracer, an Illinois-bred 6-year-old. The Turf Cup purse was $600,000, but only if all the KTDF money was paid out.

“It amounted to a $300,000 purse for us, but he was born and raised in Illinois, and I’m as proud as can be about that,” said Chris Block, the Chicago-based veteran who trains Suntracer for his family’s stable, Team Block.

Total purses paid for the four stakes amounted to $944,000. The Turf Cup purse was $347,400, with $176,700 to Suntracer.

Kevin More than 1 year ago
up to I looked at the check saying $4286 , I didn't believe that my mom in-law realey receiving money parttime at their computer. . there friends cousin has done this for under twenty two months and resently cleared the dept on there condo and purchased Chevrolet . official website,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, WWW.YUJOBS.COM
brad More than 1 year ago
euro style turf racing with low take out and large fields, i'm in!
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
I rather prefer euro racing the horses are trained to run on such courses over there. not here. the only exception is if any Fair Hill Horses run at KD then I may take a shot. The fair hill training track is on a state park with miles of trails and a grass track for racing and horse shows. When Motion or Sheppard run a horse I bet it
Shawn Britton More than 1 year ago
Kentucky downs=real racing
[removed] More than 1 year ago
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Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
it's basically like a field in some guy's back yard. instead of going there hit the Hunt races going on down the east coast in the spring and fall. it's the same thing
Brian More than 1 year ago
I like the KD meet. Imagine how much they would handle if they would invest in Traksus (has a track ever needed it more?) and some cameras to actually allow the simulcast viewer to have any sense of what was going on in the race.
1971 Whippet More than 1 year ago
All of you who scream that "free parking, cheaper food, lower takeout and bigger fields" are the answer to racing's problem.....probably never had to go before a Board of Directors to explain your corporate vision and plans to exceed last years performance. Maybe it's a bit complicated. Ask Frank Stronach. He knows how to burn your money.
Mike Reinhardt More than 1 year ago
So, what you are saying is expensive parking and food, higher takeout, and smaller fields? I think you need to rethink your argument.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Am sure you are trying to make a legit point. That said firms like Apple price their products where they think the most people will be enticed to purchase. Most (not all) of the racing industry is interested in a couple segments of the industry and not the complete picture.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
You mean the guy that built a multi Billion dollar corporation from scratch? That Frank Stronach? Don't lecture people you don't know.
Eli Dawkins More than 1 year ago
I love this track not only that its the perfect betting track but the races seem to run so clean just love it
DeadHeat46 More than 1 year ago
now that's RICH
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
I only played 1 race from Kentucky Downs all meet. So you all made a ton of money, I bet.. Sorry, I'd rather play Turffontein than KD.
Walter More than 1 year ago
If you lower take, bettors will come. You are looking at the future of horse racing right here.
1971 Whippet More than 1 year ago
Walter, I have a question about "the future of horse racing". Do you mean that casino-subsidized purses can yield bigger fields and more wagering or are you suggesting that, by lowering the takeout, a track can guarantee success/profitability? Kentucky Downs is conveniently located in the middle of nowhere. When Instant Racing fever starts to fade, what do you think they're gonna do with those fabulous purses they paid for a very short meeting?
Joey W More than 1 year ago
They have alway had decent size purses and big fields. They simulcast year around. I believe before the instant racing they had over $400K daily average. It is a short meet. It has gotten better though with the additional money.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Good question. I'm not in favor of slots at race tracks, I don't think it helps horse racing in the long term. This has been proven at tracks like Mnr, CT, & some others. It does nothing for the horseplayer. Giving big purses to slow horses doesn't accomplish anything. In the case of KD, here is what I mean. KD runs a very short meet, like 8 days or so. I really feel that horse racing in the US will relegate to that type of business. It will be short "boutique" meets where purses are raised and takeout is lowered. This will result in horseman taking notice by sending their stock to that meet. Horseplayers will take notice by betting the meet. This type of meet can be done even without slots. The purses can be higher because of the shorter meet & high handle. What do you think about that?
Jack More than 1 year ago
Walter - this may be one of your most logical contributions. Are you basically saying that the future of this sport may be one where the meets are more like Keeneland or KY Downs where there are large fields, large purses, and smaller take-outs? Will we see quality vs. quantity and will the horse men/women be attracted to this type of venue because they can prepare their horses for more specific meets and races? This reminds me of the NCAA Basketball Tournament that takes about 3 weeks to a month to finish... but I like it so far. I would rather see Mott, Mandella, Clement, Chad Brown, Drysdale, et al.. battle it out at KY Downs for 3 weeks or a month where a horse can run at least twice if they have the workouts and foundation built beforehand.
Walter More than 1 year ago
One of my most logical contributions? Can you elaborate on that statement please?
Joey W More than 1 year ago
I was glad to contribute to the pools.