Kentucky Downs, the turf-only track near Franklin, Kentucky, begins its five-day run on Saturday with a 10-race card featuring a trio of $300,000 stakes and a combined $1.585 million in purses.
The five racing dates (September 5, 10, 12, 16 & 19) will offer record purses totaling $7.5 million, including the $600,000 Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) on September 12.
Other special events at Kentucky Downs include the Turf Handicapping Challenge (September 12), with one Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seat, two National Handicapping Championship seats and cash prizes up for grabs; College Day and Family Fun Day (September 12); Old Friends Day (September 16), supporting the non-profit Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, Kentucky and highlighted by the inaugural $150,000 Old Friends Stakes; and Ladies Day (September 19).
The stakes action kicks off Saturday with the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies at seven furlongs. A field of 16, including four also-eligibles, was entered and Moment Is Right is the likely favorite in her turf bow.
Trained by Wesley Ward, Moment is Right won her debut by 8 ½ lengths going 4 ½ furlongs at Gulfstream Park on May 15. She followed with another wire-to-wire tally in the June 4 Astoria at Belmont Park, scoring by 1 ½ lengths, and the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro exits a fourth in the July 24 Schuylerville (G3) at Saratoga. Joel Rosario retains the mount.
Her main rivals include the unbeaten Simple Sunrise, winner of the grassy Bolton Landing at Saratoga on August 19 for Steve Asmussen; and debut turf winners Andreya’s Reward and Seaside Schiller.
The Calumet Farm Juvenile, formerly known as the Kentucky Downs Juvenile, has 10 entrants including John Q. Public, who finished fourth most recently in the August 16 Saratoga Special (G2) for D. Wayne Lukas. The Proud Citizen colt will switch to turf with jockey Jon Court.
Cajun Schill, a smart 5 ¼-length maiden victor on Gulfstream’s turf last out, figures to attract support in his stakes debut for Bill Kaplan. At the Ready and One Legend are also exiting turf maiden tallies and Good Intent, who captured his lone career outing in England on July 25, will make his first start stateside for new conditioner Brendan Walsh.
Regally Ready, an earner of more than $1.6 million for Asmussen, will make a title defense in a deep rendition of the More Than Ready Mile. The 8yo gelding captured an off-the-turf allowance at Indiana Grand two starts back and exits a fourth in the grassy Warrior Veterans at the same venue on July 18. Julien Leparoux picks up the mount.
Undrafted, last seen winning the prestigious Diamond Jubilee (G1) at Roayl Ascot, will take some beating for Ward. The 5yo gelding registered his first stakes win in the 2014 Jaipur (G3) at Belmont Park and also recorded close thirds in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and Kentucky Downs Dash last season. Rosario will be up.
Tourist is potentially formidable in his first 2015 appearance for Bill Mott. Last seen recording an unplaced finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), the 4yo son of Tiznow captured his stakes debut three starts ago, the Sir Cat at Saratoga, and followed with a highly respectable second in the Secretariat (G1) at Arlington. Florent Geroux takes over the reins.
Other runners of note in the 10-horse field include Departing, Green Mask, Knights Nation, Pumpkin Rumble and Skyring.
Kentucky Downs will offer a pair of $125,000 allowances and three $120,000 maiden special weight races on the opening-day card.
Photo of Undrafted at Royal Ascot courtesy of GBI Racing/Twitter