FRANKLIN, Ky.— Trainer Jason Barkley’s first career victory at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs also equaled the most lucrative of his career.
Barkley saddled Aboukir Bay ($27.66) to win Saturday’s sixth race, a maiden special weight event for fillies and mares, 3 and up, at 6 ½ furlongs for owner NBS Stable (John Ballantyne). Aboukir Bay was ridden by James Graham.
The $150,000 purse – the figure is highest in the world for registered Kentucky-bred maidens, according to Kentucky Downs – matched Barkley’s victories in the 2021 Sycamore Stakes (G3) at Keeneland with the NBS-owned Spooky Channel and the 2022 Rainbow Miss Stakes at Oaklawn Park with Punchy Girl.
“This is a tough place to win a race,” said Barkley, the son of retired Kentucky Downs-winning trainer and long-time Ellis Park fixture Jeff Barkley. “You’ve got to have them fit because it’s different. You need to have your horses acclimate quickly to the undulations and the left-hand turns and the right-hand turns.”
Aboukir Bay, a 3-year-old daughter of Lord Nelson, was exiting a 12th-place finish in a mile maiden special weight turf race May 14 at Churchill Downs.
“I think the extended sprint is kind of her spot,” Barkley said. “We’ve got to kind of shop around for those spots. You don’t really get a lot of them. We got the opportunity here. We kind of gave her a little vacation to set her up for that spot and it worked out.”
Barkley said he has around 15 horses for NBS Stable, which purchased Aboukir Bay for $375,000 as a 2-year-old.
“My dad trained for them and then retired and I’ve had them for about two years now,” said Barkley, a fourth-generation horseman from Evansville, Ind. “He (Ballantyne) is from North Dakota. A retired guy; just likes horses. He likes to spend his money and play the game. He’ll claim, he’ll buy. So, we’ve got a lot going on.”
Barkley saddled his first career winner in 2017, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.
By Robert Yates – Kentucky Downs Press Release
Photo: Jason Barkley (Coady Photography)