Story by Kevin Kerstein, Churchill Down Communications, at ChurchillDowns.com
Louisville, KY., – The 38-day Spring Meet at Churchill Downs is set to close this week with a stellar eight-race program for Twilight Thursday presented by Blue Moon, a special 11-race program on Friday and a 12-race extravaganza on closing day Saturday, including a trio of stakes events.
“We’ve been so appreciative for all of our owners, trainers and handicappers for supporting this year’s Spring Meet,” said Ben Huffman, Churchill Downs’ Vice President of Racing. “With the boosted purse structure from Derby City Gaming, the support for our racing has been stronger than ever. We wish all of our owners, trainers and handicappers the best of luck this summer and we’re looking forward to the September Meet, which is just around the corner.”
Thursday’s eight-race program attracted 81 horses in the body with 16 also-eligibles for an average of slightly more than 10 horses per race. The program features four allowance races including the featured contest in Race 2, a $104,000 conditioned allowance that attracted the return multiple graded stakes winner Mr. Misunderstood.
Friday’s 11-race card, which is slated to be drawn late Sunday morning, has three allowance contests and two maiden special weight events.
Closing day Saturday features a trio of stakes events – the $125,000 Bashford Manor (Grade III), $125,000 Debutante (Listed) and $120,000-added Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes. Along with the triad of stakes contests, there are five allowance races listed in the condition book and two maiden special weight contests. Entries for Saturday’s program will be drawn Wednesday.
Entering Sunday’s 10-race program at Churchill Downs, perennial leading rider Corey Lanerie and Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen are poised to secure the titles in their respective standings. Lanerie, a 16-time Churchill Downs riding champion, held a 37-28 win lead over Miguel Mena while Asmussen, a record 20-time local leading trainer, had a 25-15 lead over Eddie Kenneally.
Asmussen joined Dale Romans (728) and Bill Mott (715) in a very select group to reach the 700-win milestone at Churchill Downs on Saturday after 5-year-old gelding Rocky Toughrallied to win the ninth race. In the next race, Asmussen quickly won No. 701 with Mia Mischief in the $120,100 Roxelana Overnight Stakes.
The leading owner standings are coming down to the wire with five-time Churchill Downs leading owner Maggi Moss holding a slim one-win lead over Calumet Farm and Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Churchill Downs’ all-time leading owners and holders of 31 Churchill Downs leading owner titles.
Twilight Thursday will have a first post of 5 p.m. and feature live music from the Mama Said String Band along with $1 draft domestic beer and Blue Moon, food trucks, lawn games and handicapping advice from Racing 1.0. Friday and Saturday’s programs will have a first post of 12:45 p.m.