Bobby Zen

Headed by the renamed $2.5 million GIII Nashville Derby Aug. 31, Kentucky Downs will stage six races worth at least $2 million apiece, including supplements for registered Kentucky-breds, at this year’s seven-day race meet which runs Aug. 29 and 31 and Sept. 1, 5, 7, 8 and 11, the track said in a Wednesday release.

The Kentucky Downs condition book features purses scheduled to total $35 million, including $16 million in Kentucky-bred money. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Tuesday approved Kentucky Downs’s purse enhancement request from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF), which is restricted to registered horses that were foaled in the Commonwealth and sired by a Kentucky stallion.

Previously known as the Dueling Grounds Derby, the Nashville Derby becomes the richest race in track history and the most lucrative grass race in North America outside the $5 million GI Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. The only American race offering more money for Kentucky-breds on any surface outside the Breeders’ Cup are the GI Kentucky Derby and the GI Pegasus World Cup.

“We want to build the Nashville Derby into a race that American and European horsemen alike point to and buy horses for,” said Ron Winchell, co-managing partner of Kentucky Downs with Marc Falcone. “The name change reflects our close proximity to one of America’s great cities, which we see as an added incentive for coming. Even horses that aren’t Kentucky-breds still will race for $1.5 million, and we’ve positioned the Nashville Derby so that it fits into a big-money circuit for 3-year-old turf horses with Keeneland and Churchill Downs’ stakes as well as the New York’s Belmont Derby, Saratoga Derby and Jockey Club Derby.”

The Kentucky Downs meet will have 11 stakes overall worth at least $1 million (including KTDF supplements) out of a total of 18 stakes. Nine stakes enjoy graded status, including the track’s first Grade I stakes in the $2 million Franklin-Simpson for 3-year-old sprinters. The showcase Sept. 7 card’s six graded stakes offer a total of $10 million in purses, including a quartet of $2 million races.

Kentucky Downs | Coady Photography

Also being bumped to $2 million this year are the Franklin- Simpson; the GII Kentucky Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles for older horses; GII Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint for sprinters and the GII Music City S. for 3-year-old filly sprinters. The Kentucky Turf Cup was raised from $1.7 million last year; the others from $1 million, including KTDF.

Other races getting purse hikes: the $1.5 million GIII Ladies Turf and $1.5 million Dueling Grounds Oaks (both $1 million last year). Kentucky Downs’s four stakes for 2-year-olds were increased to $750,000 from $500,000 for Kentucky-breds.

An 18th stakes was added: The $500,000 Nashville Gold Cup at 2 1/16 miles set for Sept. 11’s closing card.

The Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint and Kentucky Downs Turf Cup winners receive a fees-paid berth in the corresponding Breeders’ Cup race.

Kentucky Downs overnight purses, the richest in America, also were raised. Maiden races, already the richest in the world, increase from $150,000 to $170,000, with allowance races worth up to $220,000 for Kentucky-breds among the 75 total races scheduled for the meet.

To boost its international profile, Kentucky Downs has added track executive Martin Panza to its staff. He brings 30 years of experience, including being senior vice president of racing operations at the New York Racing Association from 2013-2021.

Another addition includes the services of the International Racing Bureau, which has planned and/or launched the Breeders’ Cup, Dubai World Cup, Japan Cup and Arlington Million. The organization recruits overseas horses for big race dates around the world, working with horsemen and the tracks on logistics.

Click here to access the condition book and here for the index.

The post Kentucky Downs Condition Book Released With Expanded Stakes appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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