09/17/2012 2:04PM

Kentucky Downs: Three allowances on closing-day card


Three of the eight scheduled starters were scratched Saturday from the premier race of the Kentucky Downs meet, the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup. One of those scratches, Rezif, actually won the race in 2010 over a yielding course, but trainer and co-owner Matthew Jacobson thought the 2012 renewal came up just a little too salty for his taste.

“The race obviously came up very competitive,” he said, acknowledging the one-two finish of Ioya Bigtime and Rahystrada. “We actually knew he wouldn’t be competitive at this stage of his career, but we were monitoring the weather, thinking if they got a lot of rain, maybe we could pick up a check and have a decent payday. But when it came up dry Saturday, we also knew there was rain in the forecast for early this week, and that’s why we went back in for the $25,000.”

Rezif, with Roberto Morales to ride, is part of an oversubscribed field of older marathon runners in the last of three allowances on Wednesday’s final program of the six-day Kentucky Downs meet. The $62,000, first-level allowance carries a $25,000 claiming option and goes at 1 1/2 miles as the seventh of eight races.

Two years ago, Rezif gave Jacobson, now 56, the first and only graded stakes win of a training career that began that same year. Based at the Victory Haven training center in Lexington with 13 horses, Jacobson said he has an obvious affinity for a 7-year-old gelding he calls “The Old Man.”

“The horse is really doing well,” he said. “He’s in great flesh. The problem is he’s a bad bleeder, so you can’t get a lot of runs out of him. You have to pick your spots. The reason he’s so good at these longer races is they don’t go very fast. They just gallop along, and he’s good at that.”

Rezif, winless in eight tries since posting his 18-1 upset in the 2010 Turf Cup, figures as a middling wagering choice Wednesday in a bulky field that figures to have East Coast shippers Bluegrass Summer, Alburj, and Hear the Word as favorites.

The other two Wednesday allowances come directly before the Rezif race. Race 5 is a $64,000, second-level race at 6 1/2 furlongs in which Sly Warrior, with Corey Lanerie riding for trainer Mike Maker, goes for a fourth straight victory in a field of 10. Race 6 is a $62,000, first-level race with an oversubscribed field of fillies and mares going the once-around distance of 1 5/16 miles. Steal the Dance, Game Fair, and Rose Medallion look best on paper in there.

Half of the purses for the allowance races are restricted to horses nominated to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

First post for the meet finale is 1:35 p.m. Central.

◗ Wagering on Kentucky Downs races continues to far outpace historical levels. All-sources handle for the Saturday card was $1,875,221, nearly 2 1/2 times what was handled for the corresponding date in 2011. Management has said they have applied for eight days in 2013, with three in late March and five during their usual September spot.

Joe Fonebone More than 1 year ago
I've attended the live racing meets at Kentucky Downs religiously for many years (I still have a couple of old sweatshirts from when it was called Dueling Grounds). It's a quirky track that's really given to daily biases. There are some days when you can put a horse on the lead and it won't be overtaken, no matter how fast the pace. On others, you can walk a horse on an uncontested lead and it won't win. It's a European-style track with hills and dips, and it has a stretch that seems to go on forever. It's funny to watch jockeys who haven't previously raced on the track move their horses too soon in the stretch -- they think the finish line is just ahead, but it's still a furlong away. If you're a thoroughbred horseracing fan who hasn't visited Kentucky Downs, you're really missing a unique experience.
russell More than 1 year ago
This is one track I have on my list to visit. It used to be called Dueling Grounds and 200 years ago people dueled with pistols. Crazy but true. This place is as close to European racing as it gets in America.