Horse racing on the Kentucky circuit changes to Churchill Downs on Friday( Sept. 14) with a 10 -race program at 12:45 p.m.( all hours Eastern) as the far-famed Louisville racetrack opens its sixth September Meet for an action-packed 11 -date run through Sunday, Sept. 30.
This year’s three-week, boutique race gratify, presented by Commonwealth Technology, will feature register purse tiers. Horsemen can compete for $5.275 million in prize money are available at Director of Racing Ben Huffman’s 109 -race September Meet condition book, which averages to $479,545 per day. Last-place time, an unprecedented $4.692 million was paid to horsemen for a daily median of $427,000, which was up 12% from the prior year.
Inaugurated in 2013 by request from Kentucky horsemen, the three-week September Meet supports region mare owneds, coaches and jockeys a viable racing option to compete for ample prize money primarily on grime during its significant period on the racing calendar in advance of the popular Keeneland and Churchill Downs fall meets.
A total of 97 ponies and four also-eligible enterings were outlined Tuesday for Friday’s opener for a lofty average of 9.7 horses per race. The median land sizing during last year’s meeting was a September record 8.9 horses.
The 10 -race card features a trio of allowance races and two maiden special loads. The featured ninth race at 4:53 p.m ., a $60,000 allowance/ optional claim event ($ 100,000 claiming label) over seven furlongs, attracted a battleground of nine 3-year-olds, including Three Chimneys Farm’s Principe Guilherme, the Lecomte( Grade III) runner-up who’ll shape his first start for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen since finishing seventh at odds of 5-2 in the Feb. 17 Risen Star( GII) at Fair Grounds. Five of his competitors are stakes winners, including Ellis Park Derby runner-up Kowboy Karma; last year’s Ellis Park Juvenile winner Dak Attack, which is able to attain his first start in 251 days; Hutcheson Stakes( GIII) win Madison’s Luna; and 2017 Arlington-Washington Futurity champ Barry Lee for Sagamore Farm’s new trainer Stan Hough, which is able to saddle his first starter since April 5, 2012.
“Stanley Hough has been smashing the young mares for Sagamore Farm in Ocala, Fla. the last couple years, ” Huffman said. “I only remember 20 years ago when he was qualifying bets winners all over the east coast and Florida. He’s a really good trainer and he’s going to train privately for the Sagamore Farm of Kevin Plank. He called me the other day and he will be here for all of September and Fall. He even mentioned he may be looking to buy a home in Louisville.
“Our trainer colony is really strong here. We try and brought under brand-new faces every year but it’s going to be merriment the next few years when we have guys like Stan Hough coming back and perhaps some of these other guys that have been in New York and Florida for a very long time the hell is wanting to try Kentucky.”
With the Breeders’ Cup World Championships set to return to Churchill Downs during the 21 -day Fall Meet on Nov. 2-3, several new trainers will have horses stabled at the Louisville track for the first time in many years, including Keith Desormeaux, two-time Kentucky Derby winner Nick Zito and newcomer Chad Summers.
“A large-hearted the members of the Breeders’ Cup being here at Churchill Downs is that we are going to have a lot of people that are trying to get a run down this racetrack, ” Huffman said. “When Breeders’ Cup is here, that always helps your stakes races.
“Nominations haven’t even closed for the( Grade III, $200,000) Lukas Classic( for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on Sept. 29) but I can already tell you( three-time Grade I-winning sprinter and Whitney runner-up) Mind Your Biscuits’ next start will be in the Lukas Classic. Likewise, Toast of New York emanating from Europe to get a trip over the trail prior to the Breeders’ Cup. Things like that will contribute our other stakes races.
“Keith Desormeaux is going to send five or six mares. He says he’s going to stay even after the Breeders’ Cup. Chad Summer is coming with one or two ponies. He, too, has mentioned running in the Breeders’ Cup and sticking around for the Clark Handicap( GI ). We were able to squeeze Nick Zito in for the September and Fall Meet with a small separation of 12. He normally doesn’t race with us September or the autumn. Things like that are indication that things may be changing with guys like that stabling here this year.”
A major focus for many horsemen in its second of the year is the development of 2-year-olds. Friday’s eighth race, a $56,000 maiden special load at one mile, attached 13 two-year-old fillies, and it’s the first of 16 damsel, allowance or stakes races for minors during the September Meet.
“Being in the horse capital of countries around the world, we are inundated with 2-year-olds, ” Huffman said. “During this time of its first year, from September to the end of November, I’m very happy to have all of these 2-year-olds. They’re good bet races and full domains. We try to split as many of them as we can and it’s because we have an abundance of 2-year-olds. They’ve been qualifying all spring and summer and the majority of members of them are ready to run.”
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