08/31/2016 10:26AM

No shortage of entries for Kentucky Downs opener


It was taking a whole lot of time Wednesday morning for some trainers to enter all the horses they hoped to run Saturday on the 10-race opening-day card at Kentucky Downs.

Some trainers were entering more for one day than they sometimes run in a week. Clearly, the absurdly rich five-day meet at Kentucky Downs has become a primary focus for horsemen in Kentucky and beyond.

Ben Colebrook told Kentucky Downs publicity he intended to enter a combined 10 horses in seven of the opening-day races, and Joe Sharp said he had about seven to enter.

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“We went a little light on entries at Saratoga and have been pointing to Kentucky Downs,” said Sharp, who ran his first starter in September 2014 at Kentucky Downs and entered this week with precisely 200 career winners.

Among Sharp’s main clients are Ken and Sarah Ramsey, the perennial leading owners at Kentucky Downs. Many of their horses also are trained by Mike Maker, who said he intended to enter nine for opening day.

A complete overnight with entries – anchored by four stakes worth as much as $350,000 each – was to be released Wednesday.

The vast majority of purse money at Kentucky Downs, the turf-only track in south-central Kentucky, is accrued through “historical racing,” the slots-like machines that first became operational at the track nearly five years ago. Maiden races are worth as much as $130,000, and allowances range from $140,000 to $145,000.

Including 12 stakes at the meet, total purses are being projected at nearly $8 million, which includes bonuses paid out to registered Kentucky-breds through the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund. After Saturday, the remaining race dates are Sept. 8, 10, 11, and 15.

All non-claiming purses include a sizable percentage of KTDF money. For example, the four opening-day stakes all include $200,000 from the KTDF. They are the Kentucky Downs Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, Ladies Turf, and Turf Sprint.

The richest day of the meet comes a week from Saturday, Sept. 10, with four stakes worth a total of $1.5 million, led by the lone graded race of the meet, the Grade 3, $600,000 Kentucky Turf Cup.

Kentucky Downs management has spent some $4 million in its latest improvements to the vast facility. Admission and parking are free, while dining upgrades in the new Turf Club ($50) and Finish Line Tent ($30) are available online at kentuckydowns.com. First post daily is 1:25 p.m. Central.