From the KY Downs Media Team / Tim Wilkin:

Dueling Grounds Oaks: Callie’s Grit running in honor of Callie

“Let Callie live on through some horses because she loved them so much.”

(Joe Sharp with Callie’s Grit. Tim Wilkin photo)

By Tim Wilkin

There is only one place Tim Witt wants to be on Sunday. He has to be at Kentucky Downs.

Callie’s Grit is running.

The 3-year-old filly is named for Callie Witt, the 20-year-old daughter of Tim and Jennifer Witt of Rogers, Nebraska. Callie died last year doing what she loved, riding horses. The exercise rider lost her life during an accident at Keeneland while working for trainer Joe Sharp.

Callie’s Grit is entered in Sunday’s $1 million Dueling Grounds Oaks at 1 5/16 miles.

Tim Witt said he will make the 11 ½-hour drive alone from Nebraska, driving straight through to Franklin, Ky. He wants to see Callie’s Grit run. He wants to honor his daughter’s memory. Always.

“It means everything to us,” Tim Witt said by phone from Nebraska. “We never want to forget who she was.”

After Callie’s accident, Sharp talked to Brad Grady, one of his owners, about naming some of the fillies he owns with Carl Moore after Callie.

“It was the right thing to do,” Grady said by phone from his home in Texas. “Let Callie live on through some horses because she loved them so much.”

Grady, who campaigns horses with his wife, Misty, is close friends with his partner, Moore. They were all in on doing this, and Grady got in touch with Callie’s parents.

“I said, ‘throw me some names,’” Grady said.

And here she is: Callie’s Grit.

“Callie had grit and determination in whatever she did,” Tim Witt said in explaining the name. “Nothing scared her. Nothing bothered her.”

Grady felt horrible about the news of Callie’s passing. He did not know her, but he is very close with Sharp. He got stories about Callie through the trainer. He told her, Grady said, that Callie reminded him of his wife, former standout jockey Rosie Napravnik.

Callie’s Grit is a bay filly by Maclean’s Music. She broke her maiden in her sixth try on July 29 at Saratoga. The race was run at 1 1/4 miles on the main track after being taken off the grass. Callie’s Grit, who was ridden by Luis Saez that day, won the race by a neck.

Tim Witt was there to see the emotional win.

In Callie’s Grit’s first five starts, she had hit the board in four of them. The only time she didn’t was in the $500,000 Aristocrat Gaming Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Kentucky Downs last year.

“She went off the favorite,” Sharp said. “That was the day it monsooned so hard when we were in the paddock that they canceled after the race. I don’t think it was Kentucky Downs that beat her; it was Kentucky Downs on that day. She did not handle it. We will find out this year.”

Sharp, like everyone else associated with his barn, struggled mightily when Callie died. They are still not fully recovered, probably never will.

Callie Witt was a woman with ability and Sharp said she had an attitude that dared anyone to say she could not do something.

“She was a fiery little redhead,” Sharp said with a smile.”She was tough, she was gritty. She did not want to hear you say there was a horse you didn’t think she could ride. The word no was not in her vocabulary.”

There have been other horses that Grady and Moore have named after Callie. The first was Callie’s Passion, who was claimed after her third start. There will be more to come.

Tim Witt will have a heavy heart as he gets to Kentucky Downs. He loves talking about his daughter, who had excelled as a wrestler in high school in Nebraska. She was the 113-pound state champ as a senior.

“She worked so hard,” Tim Winn said. “Whenever she set her mind to do something, she was going to do it.”

Sharp will saddle Callie’s Grit on Sunday and he’ll give a leg up to jockey Joel Rosario. No doubt, there will be plenty in the house rooting for Callie’s Grit to get all the way home.

“Callie was a humble girl, so she would probably not love the attention to be honest with you,” Sharp said. “You want to name a good one after her and I think (Callie’s Grit) falls into that category. Anything she can do to help us honor Callie makes it very special for us.”


Saturday’s Equibase entries with Global Tote morning line

Sunday’s Equibase entries with Global Tote morning line

Click to purchase VIP Chalet, Finish Line Pavilion tickets


It’s Maker’s season

Kentucky Downs media kit

For Gaffalione, Kentucky Downs is coming home

For Red Route One, it’s Hunt For September Green

Annapolis heads $2 million Mint Millions

KYD stakes-winners Kitodan, Play Action Pass in opening-day Tapit

Kentucky Downs adds Super Hi-5 to all stakes, plus day’s last race

Keeneland offering LEX to Ky Downs 40-minute charter on Sept. 7, 9, 10 and 13

Catalano to run Big Dreaming in Mint Millions or FanDuel KY Turf Cup

Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale allowance races at Ky Downs return

Kentucky Downs sponsors: ‘Names and numbers speak for themselves’

Kentucky Downs adds $500,000 NTL Handicap to Sept. 3 card

2023 Kentucky Downs stakes schedule

All stakes are on turf and include Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund

Thursday Aug. 31 — $500,000 FanDuel TVG Tapit Stakes, 3 year olds & up who have not won a stakes in 2023, mile and 70 yards.

Saturday Sept. 2 — $1 million Big Ass Fans Music City (G3), 3-year-old fillies, 6 1/2 furlongs; $1 million Gun Runner, 3-year-olds, one mile; $2 million The Mint Millions (G3), 3 year olds & up, one mile.

Sunday Sept. 3 — $1 million National Thoroughbred League Dueling Grounds Derby (G3), 3-year-olds, 1 5/16 miles; $1 million Dueling Grounds Oaks, 3-year-old fillies, 1 5/16 miles: $500,000 National Thoroughbred League Handicap, 3-year-olds & up, one mile.

Thursday Sept. 7 — $500,000 Jeff Ruby’s One Dreamer, fillies and mares 3 years old & up who have not won a stakes in 2023, mile and 70 yards.

Saturday Sept. 9 — $1 million Ainsworth Turf Sprint (G2) *BC, 3-year-olds & up, six furlongs; $1 million FanDuel Turf Cup (G2) *BC, 3-year-olds & up, 1 1/2 miles; $1 million Exacta Systems Franklin-Simpson (G2), 3-year-olds, 6 1/2 furlongs; $1 million AGS Ladies Sprint (G2), fillies and mares 3 years old & up, 6 1/2 furlongs; $1 million Castle Hill Gaming Ladies Turf (G3), fillies and mares 3 years old & up, one mile; $1 million Aristocrat Ladies Marathon (G3), fillies and mares 3 years old & up, 1 5/16 miles.

Sunday, Sept. 10 — $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile, 2-year-olds, mile; $500,000 Global Tote Juvenile Fillies, 2-year-old fillies, mile.

Wednesday Sept. 13 — $500,000 Pepsi Juvenile Sprint, 2-year-olds, 6 1/2 furlongs; $500,000 Pepsi Untapable, 2-year-old fillies, 6 1/2 furlongs.

*BC: Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race – winner gets fees-paid berth in corresponding Breeders’ Cup race at Santa Anita

The Mint Gaming Hall properties
The Mint Gaming Hall at Kentucky Downs

Located near the Kentucky and Tennessee border, just off Interstate 65 and approximately 35 miles from Nashville, Tenn., Kentucky Downs features Historical Horse Racing gaming terminals and conducts live turf racing each September on America’s only “European-style” race course while offering among the highest purses in the world. Kentucky Downs is a pioneer in modern Historical Horse Racing, the electronic form of pari-mutuel betting on horses that has become one of the great financial success stories in the sport’s history. Racing has been conducted at the facility since 1990, when it was called Dueling Grounds.

Address: 5629 Nashville Road, P.O. Box 405, Franklin, KY 42135


Phone: 270.586.7778

2023 racing dates: Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, 3, 7, 9, 10 and 13.

The Mint Gaming Hall Bowling Green

Address: 2475 Scottsville Road, Ste. 101 & 102, Bowling Green, KY 42104


Phone: 270.353.6400

The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland Run

Address: 777 Winners Lane, Corbin, KY 40701


Phone: 606.620.0250

2023 harness racing dates: Oct. 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31; Nov. 5, 6, 7

The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland

Address: 244 Penny Lane, Williamsburg, KY 40769


Phone: 606-400-2888