09/23/2013 1:54PM

Kentucky Downs meet ends with typical full fields


If too much of a good thing is not a good thing, well, then maybe Kentucky Downs should just go ahead and end its meet.

Purses and fields have been enormous at the turf-only track in south central Kentucky, where, indeed, a five-day meet comes to its conclusion Wednesday with a 13-race card that starts at 12:35 p.m. Central.

True to form, the card is jam-packed with big fields; all but two races are oversubscribed, and those have 11 betting interests. Extremely competitive and interesting races like those Wednesday have resulted in track-record handle as the meet has unfolded.

As usual, a handful of rich allowance races (minimum purse $94,000, including bonuses from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund) are on tap. Here’s a quick synopsis of the three co-features:

◗ Race 10: The morning-line favorite, Tree Hugger, is 4-1, which speaks for itself, while six more (including a stable coupling) are listed in single-digit odds. The distance is 1 5/16 miles, or once around the course, with the race starting and ending at the wire.

Besides Tree Hugger, contenders include Archetype, from the Rusty Arnold barn, and Al’s Rosie, trained by Randy Morse.

◗ Race 11: Wesley Ward was all set to slay ’em on the Sept. 11 card, but then a violent thunderstorm forced the cancellation of the last six of 10 races, including three in which Ward had the program favorite. One of those was Shrinking Violet, a last-out winner at Del Mar who gets a reprieve with this 6 1/2-furlong race.

“What could you do?” Ward said. “We just took her back to Keeneland and trained her nice and easy until we could get her back in. I like her as much this time as I did the last.”

◗ Race 12: This seven-furlong race is so baffling that the program choice, Batten the Hatches, was pegged at 9-2, with more than half the field meriting a real chance. Ward steps up with Simon Eyes, who returned from a lengthy layoff earlier this month with an encouraging runner-up finish over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs.

Probably the most appropriately named horse of the day is in this race: Leadem In Ken, a 3-year-old named for owner-breeder Ken Ramsey, who enjoys leading his charges into the winner’s circle.

◗ Jockey Joe Rocco Jr. is named on four mounts Wednesday at Kentucky Downs, but it’s uncertain he will ride after being thrown in a frightening one-horse spill Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Rocco was still sore Monday in his knee and arm as a result of the spill, which occurred near the eighth pole when his mount, Wash Park, broke down badly in a foreleg. The 6-year-old gelding had to be euthanized.

Rocco, 31, swept the early daily double Saturday and had been having a terrific summer that included 15 wins at Saratoga.

◗ Into Wednesday, the leading jockey and trainer at the meet are Rosie Napravnik and Wayne Catalano, each with seven wins. Both will be very active throughout the closing-day card.