By John DaSilva
In a time when you hear constant complaints of lack of interest for various reasons, the recently concluded Kentucky Downs meet is proof that if done right, racing can still thrive.
With a low takeout and purses fueled from historical racing offered on the grounds, the five day meet at Kentucky Downs resulted in multiple daily and meet records being broken. Kentucky Downs doesn’t charge admission so no attendance numbers were available but from all indications, a record amount of people came to watch live racing at the Franklin, Kentucky track.
With the end of the meet on Thursday, September 13, an all time record of $36,421,722 was wagered on Kentucky Downs, smashing the record from the previous year of $30,246,888. Unlike some other tracks that have handle increases because of extra dates or extra races being run, 5 days or racing with a total of 50 races were run each year. In 2018 the only advantage Kentucky Downs may have had was that they ran on two saturdays as well as two thursdays and a wednesday. In 2017, they ran on two thursdays as well as a saturday, sunday and wednesday. Tracks normally have their highest day of handle on a saturday.
An all sources record of $10,039,008 was wagered on the 10 race card on Saturday, September 8. The previous record was $8,487,323.87 set on Saturday, September 9, 2017. Again that was a 10 race card with 106 horses running in 2017 and 105 horses in 2018. There was only one race, the six horse field Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, with a field less than 10 in 2017 on the date when the all sources record was set. There were three races with fields of 8 run on the record breaking date in 2018.
The 2018 had an all time high of average runners per race with 11.04. In 2017 the average was 10.44. There were only six races in the 2018 meet with fields of less than 10 while 28 races had the maximum of 12 horses in the race.
Mike Maker continued his dominance, easily winning the training title over Mark Casse 9-4. This was his fourth consecutive training title. He is also the all time leading trainer at Kentucky Downs with 51 wins. Wesley Ward is next with 28.
Owner Ken and Sarah Ramsey won their seventh consecutive owner’s title and ninth overall, winning with 3 wins. They are also the all time leader at the track with wins with 45.
Jose Ortiz won his first jockey title here, defeating 2017 champion Julien Leparoux 9 to 7.