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Kentucky Downs Looking To Keep Mojo Going in 2023 After Record Fall Season

Kentucky Downs set several records in its fall meet in 2022. I believe that this trend can continue in 2023.

Kentucky Downs Looking To Keep Mojo Going in 2023 After Record Fall Season

The FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs, located in the southern part of the state, concluded its most successful season in the 31st year at the track. The seven-day meet, which occurred September 1-14, saw over $80 million wagered, with purses reaching almost $18 million.

Kentucky Downs is a unique horse race track as all races are run on a kidney-shaped turf course rather than an oval.

Second-year FanDuel Sponsored the Meet

FanDuel’s sponsorship of the meet began last year and has been a massive boom for everyone involved. Kentucky Downs saw an increase of nearly $15 million wagered, going from $59.8 million in 2020 to $74.08 million in 2021. Last year’s meeting was for a total of six days.

While the increase in wagering was more moderate this year, a little less than $6.1 million (or 8%) more than a year ago, the total of $80.175 million far exceeded the 2021 record number. The track reached the record due to several big betting days, including nearly $12.9 million bet on closing day, despite not having the most cooperative weather. September 10th was a monstrous day for the track, with over $21 million wagered.

Kentucky Downs had to postpone the last four races on Sept. 3. They also had to move their two Sunday races (4th and 11th) to different days.

“It was a fantastic meet, with world-class racing despite the challenges. Every weekend we ran, we were meteorologists. Losing both Sundays and having to shift one card to a Tuesday is not ideal. It was a testament to track superintendent Butch Lehr and the track crew how well the course held together. For us, along with our horsemen and horseplayers, to persevere and get to $80 million is huge.” – said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ Vice President for Racing.

The track had seen its fall meet grow since 2011 when they had four race days, and their ticket intake was $3.596 million. In 2012, the fall meet lasted five days, and $7.570 million was wagered. From 2013-19, Kentucky Downs saw the wagered amount increase steadily, and then in 2020, they added a sixth day to the event, and the amount wagered exploded to $59.828 million.

More The Same Expected For 2023

Not only has the wagering on the Kentucky Downs races increased over the last decade, but the jockey’s purses have also increased. The purse for 30 races was $768,810 in 2011, and it steadily increased each year, hitting $11.668 million in 2020.

Then in 2021, Kentucky Downs purse jumped to $15.974 million before settling in at $17.863 million this year for 73 races. The average number of starters for the 73 races was 10.62, which was the highest in three years. Also, the nearly $2 million increase from the previous year is the second highest since 2012, behind only the $4.3 million bump that occurred from 2020 to 2021.

“It started off like you didn’t know what to expect here, and now people can’t get here fast enough to run. It’s an amazing thing they have done. I know it’s money motivated, but it’s fun. It’s kind of laid back, and you have a great time.

We need more of that in horse racing.” – said trainer Robert Medina, whose first victory at the track came with the Bill Parcells-owned Kentucky-bred Play Action Pass in Wednesday’s inaugural $400,000 Pepsi Gun Runner Stakes.

The race track also held its third annual King of Turf Handicapping challenge, which was the largest. Pat Rapps of Cleveland took home the Global King of Turf belt with $11,550 and a seat at the Breeders Cup with its $10,000 buy-in. He also receives a berth in the National Horseplayers Championship and hotel and airfare reimbursement of up to $400.

With the way things have gone, it is not presumptive to figure that 2023 will continue to grow, which is great considering not all are seeing growth next year. I can easily foresee next year’s meeting to top $81 million in the amount wagered. It also wouldn’t surprise me if the total purse goes well over the $18 million mark, as it is directly related to the amount of money that is wagered on the races.

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