This is a recent Dollars and Sense column, which appears weekly in BloodHorse Daily, typically Friday.
The success enjoyed on opening weekend at Keeneland by horses who made their previous start at Kentucky Downs serves as the latest example of the improving quality of horses competing at the lucrative September meet in Franklin, Ky.
Horses who made their previous start at Kentucky Downs won 10 of the 30 races Oct. 6-8 at Keeneland, a fall meet opening weekend that draws horses from throughout the world.
Leading the way were a pair of grade 1 victories by Debby Oxley homebred Heavenly Love in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes and Empyrean Stables' Zipessa in the First Lady Stakes. Heavnely Love entered the Alcibiades off a five-length victory in a $130,000 maiden race Sept. 7 at Kentucky Downs and Zipessa entered off a close runner-up finish to Miss Temple City in the $350,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes (G3T) Sept. 9.
Runners who made their previous start at Kentucky Downs, which only offers turf racing, won four of the six turf races offered on Keeneland's opening weekend. They swept the three turf races offered on opening day and accounted for seven of the nine placings in those races. But Kentucky Downs runners also fared well on dirt at Keeneland, as they secured six wins on the main track
"To have 10 of 30 winners and two grade 1 winners, that's not something that has ever happened," said Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen. "It just illustrated the quality of racing and depth at our meet. I could tell that there was real depth in the quality of our fields this year. We had some really, really good horses run at our place."
Kentucky Downs Horses to Win at Keeneland
(through Oct. 8)
Date (race) Horse Race level, surface Trainer
Oct. 6 (5) Magical Sky Maiden, turf Mark Casse
Oct. 6 (7) War Bond Allowance, turf Mike Maker
Oct. 6 (9) Heavenly Love Grade 1 stakes, dirt Mark Casse
Oct. 6 (10) St. Louie Allowance, turf Mike Maker
Oct. 7 (1) Our Girl Abby Maiden, dirt Mike Maker
Oct. 7 (7) Zipessa Grade 1 stakes, turf Michael Stidham
Oct. 8 (1) Northern Screamer Claiming, dirt Mike Maker
Oct. 8 (4) One Dollar Maiden claiming, dirt Paul McGee
Oct. 8 (6) Grand Candy Allowance optional claiming, dirt Mike Maker
Oct. 8 (10) Iconic Maiden, dirt Dale Romans