Kentucky Downs paid out a record $8,619,000 in purses and Kentucky-bred purse supplements at its meet that concluded Thursday.
The average daily purses of $1,723,800 for the five-date meet is the highest average in North America, made possible by the track's historical horse racing operation that marries the sport's parimutuel structure with electronic games based on the results of previously-run races.
That's up 9.3 percent over last year's purse total of $7,885,979 for an average of $1,577,195 a day, which in turn was up 19 percent over 2015.
Kentucky Downs also had North America's highest guaranteed purse payment to those finishing sixth through 12th place in a race at $750.
In addition, Kentucky Downs, in an agreement with the Kentucky division of the Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association, moved $1.65 million in purses and Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund purse supplements to Ellis Park, helping that track offer the best purses in its history.
“We take to heart that our horsemen are our partners, and Kentucky Downs is thrilled to pay out record purses,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs' senior vice president and general manager. “We appreciate the rising cost of owning, training and racing horses. For some horse owners, winning one race or even finishing second at Kentucky Downs can carry them for the year.
“We are coming off another record-breaking meet, and among the critical influences that makes that possible is the overwhelming support for our racing program shown by the horsemen and horseplayers. For the horsemen, we offer record-high purses. For the horseplayers, we offer the lowest overall takeout rates on wagering in the country.
“We are proud to be the Kentucky trailblazer in using historical horse racing to become a national leader and to help improve the commonwealth's entire racing circuit. The past two Ellis Park meets have shown how tracks and horsemen working together can accomplish great things to keep horses and jobs in the state, and that puts money into the massive agribusiness dependent on the health of Kentucky horse racing.”
For the second straight year, wagering on Kentucky Downs was up 34 percent.
Wagering from all sources on the track's 2017 meet that ended Thursday totaled $30,246,887.68. That's an average of $6,049,377.52 a day and reflects an increase of 34.19 percent over the $22,540,761.22 bet in 2016. Off-track betting on the meet was $29,217,935.98, up 35.2 percent from the $21,611,352.02 wagered last year.
A total of 522 horses ran at the meet for an average of 10.4 per race, again a national leader.
“Kentucky Downs is a special place. Money makes the mare go round, and everybody is going to Kentucky Downs for huge purses,” said Ken Ramsey, who won his fifth straight owners title at the track and who also is an avid horseplayer. “The takeout is very generous to the horseplayers, and that's why Kentucky Downs is ranked the No. 1 horseplayer track in America.
“There were horses I could have run at Saratoga, and we brought them down to run at the meet because we try to help the state of Kentucky,” said Ramsey, who won four races with a meet-high 17 starters. “These were top-class horses and we ended up winning three stakes and a maiden-special race. You have to bring good horses that can win at Saratoga down to Kentucky Downs to get the money.”
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