Kentucky Downs paid tribute to Thoroughbred aftercare today by hosting “Old Friends Day”, a 13-race card celebrating the retirement facility in Georgetown, KY that is home to over 100 pensioned ex-racers.
The feature event was the inaugural running of the $150,000 Old Friends Stakes sponsored by Tribute® Feed, a mile and 70 yard contest that was captured in a driving stretch run by 50-1 shot Kalamos with pick-up rider Abel Lezcano aboard.
Trained by Edward Boerjan, the 6-year-old son of Empire Maker was a Group 3 winner in France and the Old Friends Stakes marks his first stakes start and win in the U.S.
In the winner's circle, connections were presented with an original trophy crafted by painter and sculptor Fred Krakowiak, a longtime supporter of Old Friends.
All of Wednesday's races, which got underway early to accommodate the extended card, were dedicated to one of the retirees at Old Friends, including The Rapid Redux, sponsored by Dan Burke and Farrier Product Distribution, The Game On Dude, sponsored by Red Brand Fence, The Williamstown, sponsored by owner Peter Willmott, and The Thornfield, sponsored by the Franklin Simpson County Tourism Commission.
Thornfield, the 1999 Canadian Horse of the Year, is currently stabled at the Old Friends satellite facility now open at Kentucky Downs.
On the undercard, international rider Florent Geroux, clearly at home on the Downs' sweeping European-style course, continued his dominance by earning five victories–a repeat of his opening-day performance– to bring his win total for the five-day meet to 12.
The 10th race offered another milestone, this one for Jack Gilligan, the 19-year-old apprentice jockey from Newmarket who captured his first win at Kentucky Downs with the Michael Ann Ewing trainee Ubiquitous Mantle (IRE).
The five-day race meet concludes at Kentucky Downs on Saturday September 19 with another extended 13-race card. Highlights will be The Glen Hill Farm One Dreamer Stakes, The Fasig Tipton Ladies Turf Stakes, the Fasig-Tipton Ladies Marathon Stakes, and the Dueling Grounds Oaks. Post time for the first race will be 12:05 (CDT).
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