09/16/2013 3:59PM

Kentucky Downs: Handle up after favorites dominate Saturday

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Total handle on the Saturday card, which featured five stakes packaged in a new Kentucky Downs Million program, was $2,816,019.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Favorites won nine of 10 races Saturday on the biggest day of the abbreviated Kentucky Downs meet, perhaps partly accounting for why the turf-only track in south central Kentucky was up 50 percent in all-sources handle versus the corresponding date in 2012.

Total handle on the Saturday card, which featured five stakes packaged in a new Kentucky Downs Million program, was $2,816,019, with perhaps a fair portion of that churned back into the windows after favorites dominated to such a great extent. The five stakes were swept by the top wagering choice, including Temeraine (2-1) in the $399,000 Kentucky Turf Cup. Annabird upset the fourth race at 29-1 as the only non-favorite to win all day.

The ontrack atmosphere Saturday was unmistakably upbeat and positive, with several thousand fans crowding into the main indoor facility as well as in and around several outdoor tents adjacent to where the racing activities took place amid ideal weather conditions.

Kentucky Downs also showed a whopping 108 percent increase from 2012 on opening day, Sept. 7, when handling a track-record $2,837,897 from all sources.

Not surprisingly, Kentucky Downs officials are elated with how local fans and off-site bettors have responded to their racing product, which has been greatly enhanced with enormous purses and large fields. Purses have been funded in large part by revenues from the Instant Racing machines that became operational in September 2011.

“This is what we’ve been envisioning for years,” track president Corey Johnsen said Saturday while doting on his granddaughter, LoLo, as she and other children enjoyed the petting zoo. “I can’t tell you how thrilled we are to see it come together like this.”

The five-day meet concludes with two Wednesday programs (Sept. 18 and 25).