‘The Race of the Week’ takes us to the very exciting 5-day race meet at Kentucky Downs. During this 5-day race meeting Kentucky Down will pay out more than $11.5 million in purses, an average of $2.3 million per day. There will be 14 stakes races throughout the meeting, which is completely on turf, and the average field size is 11 horses. All of the best North American trainers, and turf horses descend upon Kentucky Downs. With the quality of horses combined with the field sizes these turf races generally produce very good payouts.
The Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs has a field of 14 currently slated to go in the 8th race at Kentucky Downs. Bound for Nowhere was the winner of the 2018 version of the Tourist Mile Stakes.
Trainer Conor Murphy had this to say about 2018 runner-up Great Wide Open: “He does well fresh. He doesn’t need it soft. He just doesn’t like it rock hard. That’s why I gave him the summer off. He had a busy year last year. The race at Ellis is an ideal prep, but it’s rock hard. So we just kept him fresh for this.”
Next Shares was victorious in the Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs a year ago. Next Shares also won the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf at Keeneland, and the San Gabriel Stakes at Santa Anita. He has been installed as the tepid 7/2 morning line favorite.
Snapper Sinclair won on the Kentucky Downs turf course 2 years ago taking a 2-year-old stakes race. Most recently he finished 3rd in a Grade 3 stakes at Mountaineer.
Hembree was victorious at the Kentucky Downs meeting a year ago, but has recently not been able to find the winners circle, coming in 2nd in 3 of the last 4 starts.
Parlor finished in 3rd place last year to Next Shares in the Old Friends Stakes. This value play is coming off a victory in the Glasgow Stakes at Delaware Park, and is 12-1 on the morning line.
Kentucky Downs returns for its September showcase meeting of turf racing, and Saturday’s opening day card features 4 lucrative stakes races. Massive field sizes are standard fare over this 10-race card, including a capacity dozen in the $750,000 Tourist Mile, which is the second leg of an all-stakes pick four with a low 14% takeout.
You won’t see any tougher listed stakes race in the region. NEXT SHARES is a Grade 1 winner and holds a solid class edge over these. HEMBREE has a victory at the G2 level. The rest have shown competitiveness at the graded level and victories in listed stakes. But NEXT SHARES certainly has the class edge.
REAL STORY, SIEM RIEP and GREAT WIDE OPEN are confirmed front-runners, while SNAPPER SINCLAIR should show speed from the inside. MR. CUB has done his best running near the pace, if not on it. This should be a very fast pace and the closers have every license to come calling late.
Horse-for-course angles are the most important handicapping element to playing Kentucky Downs’ short meet. The undulating turf course is unlike any other in America. Some horses relish it; others loathe it. Check the past record of each horse to see if there’s any Kentucky Downs form to evaluate.
NEXT SHARES, SIEM RIEP and PARLOR ran 1-2-3 in last year’s Old Friends Stakes over this course while going 70 yards farther in trip. SNAPPER SINCLAIR won the Kentucky Downs Juvenile in 2017; GREAT WIDE OPEN was runner-up in last year’s Tourist Mile; MR CUB won a mile allowance here in 2017, sandwiched between poor efforts in ’16 and ’18. There’s certainly a handful of positive local performances in which to gravitate toward in this field of 12 vs. guessing among the KD newbies.
Jockeys Florent Geroux (21 wins) and Julien Leparoux (16) easily have out-paced all riders at Kentucky Downs the last 3 years. They’re well-paired here with local stakes winners SNAPPER SINCLAIR and NEXT SHARES. You put the unique track’s 2-best riders on these horses-for-courses and that’s pretty solid territory. Plus, Steve Asmussen’s barn has been going very well of late at Saratoga, and Richard Baltas has been one of Del Mar’s hottest outfits in August. Plus, Baltas went 2-for-2 with his KD runners a year ago.
Mike Maker has to be respected at Kentucky Downs after winning 9, 8 and 8 races the past 3 years, far and away the local leader. HEMBREE was one of those winners in ’18. The deep closer will get a fantastic pace set-up with so much speed in the mix. Tyler Gaffalione was strong here with 6 wins in 2018 and will be in the saddle.
Most Certain Exotics Contender: HEMBREE ran big over this course last year and has been a consistent finisher in every race since last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. He’s 10-13 in the exacta over a mile.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender: PARLOR is 3-3 in the money at Kentucky Downs, all underneath placings. He’s 12-1 in the morning line for an Eddie Kenneally barn that’s had a remarkable summer under-the-radar. He’s gone 24% wins and 44% in the exacta since the start of July nationally.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $70 win HEMBREE. $10 exacta part-wheel HEMBREE over NEXT SHARES, SNAPPER SINCLAIR and PARLOR.