As many racing fans know, Kentucky Downs is a very unique racetrack. To begin with, it was initially called “Dueling Grounds” in recognition of the duels that once took place on the premises (for you youngsters, picture Biggie and Tupac in top hats and tails firing single-shot pistols) and it featured only steeplechase races.
Then, in 1998, it was sold, given its present name and the racing menu expanded. However, true to its grassy roots, Kentucky Downs continues to card solely turf races in an attempt to emulate the European racing scene. Even the track itself has a Euro feel, with a nontraditional configuration and undulating surface.
On Saturday, in addition to three other stakes races valued at $350,000 or more, the $600,000 Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) is on tap and drew an overflow field of 14 (a maximum of 12 will run).
One horse that I think might offer a nice price is Bullards Alley. It doesn’t show in his past performances, but the 5-year-old son of Flower Alley was a close second in this race last year (behind two-time Kentucky Turf Cup winner Da Big Hoss). Although his form is sketchy, I think the Tim Glyshaw trainee may appreciate the return to Kentucky Downs, where he also finished third in an allowance affair in 2015.
Another horse-for-course is Oscar Nominated, who won his lone start at Kentucky Downs (the listed Dueling Grounds Derby) by a career-best 6 ¼ lengths.