FRANKLIN, Ky. (Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023) — For the second year, Kentucky Downs is offering a pair of $250,000 allowance races restricted to 2-year-olds that went through the sales ring at the prior year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Both races – one for fillies and one for colts and geldings – are at 6 1/2 furlongs and are on the opening-day card, Thursday Aug. 31. The seven-day all-grass FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs also races Sept. 2, 3, 7, 9, 10 and 13 over America’s only European course.
Horses are eligible for the lucrative allowance races if they were either sold at the 2022 Keeneland September Sale or were offered but did not reach their predetermined minimum selling price, known as an RNA (reserve not attained). Entries for the Keeneland sales races and the rest of Kentucky Downs’ opening card will be taken this Saturday, Aug. 26.
Last year’s male division produced G1 Arkansas Derby winner Angel of Empire, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby, and Mo Stash, who finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and won Keeneland’s Grade 3 Kentucky Utilities Transylvania this past spring.
“At Keeneland, we work hard to promote the success of our sales grads,” said Keeneland Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy. “These races are a great way to publicize sales grads who are just starting their careers, especially in a segment of the market that is growing, the turf aspect. Kentucky Downs has been a great partner and there is terrific synergy between the racing and sales operations of our two organizations. Once horses walk through the Keeneland sales ring — exiting either as a sale or an RNA — they are qualified to participate in the race.”
Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ Vice President for Racing, said that every year he hears from owners after they win a Kentucky Downs race that they now have more money to spend at the Keeneland sale.
“That’s the beauty of this: We offer some of the largest purses in the world. But no matter where those owners are from, chances are that at least a good chunk of what a horse earns will be reinvested right back into the Kentucky Thoroughbred industry,” he said.
Lacy agreed, calling the need for a strong racing product to support the sales and vice versa “a very delicate ecosystem we continually want to strengthen. Locally and indeed around the country, it’s a huge economic driver.”
The Keeneland sales races were moved from later in the meet last year to opening day this year, raising the possibility that a horse could run in the allowance event and go back in one of Kentucky Downs’ 2-year-old stakes. The Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile and Global Tote Juvenile Fillies at a mile are Sept. 10; the Pepsi Juvenile Sprint and Pepsi Untapable for 2-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs are Sept. 13, closing day. The four 2-year-old stakes carry a total purse of $500,000, with $250,000 coming from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund for registered Kentucky-bred horses.