LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Thoroughbred racing in Kentucky shifts from Keeneland to Churchill Downs on Sunday as the home of the Kentucky Derby readies to open its 133rd Fall Meet with an 11-race program – all for promising 2-year-old Thoroughbreds – at 1 p.m. (all times Eastern).
The popular 19-day stand covers a four-week stretch every Wednesday-Sunday through Nov. 27, with the exception of Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5 when the Breeders’ Cup World Championships return to Keeneland.
The Fall Meet kicks off in style Sunday with the 18th annual “Stars of Tomorrow I” program, which is entirely devoted to hopeful 2-year-old stars that have aspirations of trail-blazing their way to next year’s Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Sunday’s 11-race opening day card is headlined by the 10th runnings of two 1 1/16 miles, $200,000 stakes – the open-company Street Sense (GIII) and Rags to Riches for fillies. Those races serve as local steppingstones to the two Grade II, $400,000, 1 1/16- mile counterparts on the Saturday, Nov. 26 “Stars of Tomorrow II” program – the open Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod for fillies that are part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks series which award points to the Top 5 finishers (10-4-3-2-1).
Inaugurated in 2005, Churchill Downs’ “Stars of Tomorrow” programs have helped launched the careers of numerous graded stakes winners, including more than 50 future Grade I winners led by Horse of the Year champions Gun Runner (2017) and Rachel Alexandra (2009); Kentucky Derby winners Super Saver (2010) and Mandaloun (2021); Kentucky Oaks winners Rachel Alexandra (2009), Believe You Can (2012), Monomoy Girl (2018) and Secret Oath (2022); Preakness winners Rachel Alexandra (2009), Shackleford (2011), War of Will (2019) and Swiss Skydiver (2020); Belmont winner Creator (2016) as well as 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2013 Stephen Foster hero Fort Larned and 2013 champion 3-year-old Will Take Charge.
Horsemen will compete for $21.1 million offered in Vice President of Racing Ben Huffman’s Fall Meet condition book of 201 races, including a 15-race stakes schedule cumulatively worth $4.95 million.
Average daily purses are $1,111,263. Maiden special weight races have a $ 120,000 purse while allowance races range from $127,000 to $141,000. All purses, including claiming races, include prize money from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.
Racing on the new Bermuda-hybrid turf course is scheduled to return in a limited capacity this fall with 15 races – including four graded stakes and three Claiming Crown events – scheduled for the grass.
The lucrative stakes schedule is anchored by the 148th running of the $750,000 Clark presented by Norton Healthcare (GI). The 1 1/8 -mile test for 3-year-olds and up on “Black Friday,” Nov. 25 annually lures some of the top horses in North America and is the centerpiece of nine stakes races scheduled over Thanksgiving weekend.
An added feature to this year’s Fall Meet is the 24th renewal of the Claiming Crown Championship Series, which will be staged at Churchill Downs for the first time on Saturday, Nov. 12 – one week after the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland. Open to claiming horses, the Claiming Crown features eight races with starter allowance conditions and a total of $1.05 million in prize money for some of the most competitive, blue-collar horses in the country. In addition, registered Kentucky-breds will compete for an extra $10,000 to $25,000 in KTDF supplements.
A list of the 201 horses made eligible to the 2022 Claiming Crown, along with past performances, are available online at https://claimingcrown.com/forms/. Horses that were not made eligible by the Oct. 22 deadline can be supplemented for $1,000 at the time of entry on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
Tyler Gaffalione, who won his ninth Churchill Downs riding title during the September Meet, had the hot hand during last year’s Fall Meet with 34 wins. Steve Asmussen, who won his 26th Churchill Downs ’ training title during the Spring Meet, led all trainers during the 2021 Fall Meet with 20 victories. Last fall’s leading owner was Mike Sisk’s M and M Racing with four wins.
Two major construction projects at Churchill Downs continue to progress. The $90 million First Turn Experience is scheduled for completion before next year’s Kentucky Derby. Demolition, utility and foundation work on the $200 million Paddock Area Redesign project continues, with select areas on the ground, second and third floors around the vast facility closed to guests. The Paddock Area Redesign will be compete for the 150th Kentucky Derby in 2024.
Churchill Downs Press Release
Photo by Coady Photography
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