09/05/2016 11:00AM

Kentucky Downs enjoys strong opening day


FRANKLIN, Ky. – All-sources handle for the opening-day card last Saturday at Kentucky Downs was $4,603,240, a record for a 10-race card at the turf-only track.

The Kentucky Downs record of $5,071,415 was set last Sept. 19 on a 13-race program, and track officials are hoping that mark will fall this Saturday without competition from Saratoga and Del Mar. It’s the premier card of a five-day meet that runs through Sept. 15, with the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup highlighting a program that includes four stakes.

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Opening day concluded with four straight stakes offering purses up to $350,000. Those races were grouped together in an all-stakes pick-four wager that drew $165,210 in handle and returned $7,432.85 for a 50-cent ticket.

Those stakes winners were Secret Someone, who earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure in taking the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf; All Right, 75, Juvenile; Successful Native, 95, Turf Sprint; and Lull, 70, Juvenile Fillies. All Kentucky Downs races are hand-timed.

Exceptional late-summer weather brought out several thousand fans for the opener (admission is free, and attendance is not counted), with the crowd peaking in midcard, prior to the stakes. Track president Corey Johnsen is hoping for something similar this week, when racing will be conducted Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

“It was a beautiful day of racing,” Johnsen said in a media release. “We had a great crowd ontrack. They had a really good time, and I’m looking forward to the next four days. It’s gratifying to see the horseplayers respond to quality racing, full fields, and low takeout.”

All-sources handle was up 26 percent from the corresponding 2015 date, while the ontrack handle of $238,118 was up 50 percent, according to the track.