From the KY Downs Media Team / Jennie Rees:

$1 million, Grade 3 NTL Dueling Grounds Derby:

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

Equibase’s Thursday entries with Global Tote morning line

Saturday’s Equibase entries with Global Tote morning line

Sunday’s Equibase overnight entry sheet

Click to purchase VIP Chalet, Finish Line Pavilion tickets

(Red Route One winning a Kentucky Downs maiden race last year. Grace Clark photo)

The horse Red Route One’s name is a reference to the Tom Clancy classic Soviet spy thriller Hunt for Red October. In the case of Red Route One, his path isn’t much of a mystery. He’s following the money.

Call it Hunt for Green September, as Red Route One returns to grass and Kentucky Downs – the site of his first victory – for Sunday’s $1 million, Grade 3 National Thoroughbred League Dueling Grounds Derby at 1 5/16 miles.

Red Route One comes into the Dueling Grounds Derby off the best race in his career, closing from far back to win the $500,000 West Virginia Derby by three lengths. Cristian Torres has the return mount as Red Route One seeks improve upon his record of 3-2-1 in 12 starts, along with $1,045,025.

How long has the Dueling Grounds Derby been in the works?

“Since he broke his maiden last year,” said Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, referencing a three-length victory last Sept. 5 in Red Route One’s second start. “He’s a very athletic horse. We liked him. He was a horse that obviously needed a distance of ground from the beginning, and our opportunities to run him two turns were on the turf. That was how it all started. He’s a very good horse, and that’s how he ended up here.”

Owned by Kentucky Downs and The Mint Gaming Hall co-managing partner Ron Winchell, Red Route One is in a field of a dozen 3-year-olds entered Tuesday for the Dueling Grounds Derby. A total of thirteen 3-year-old fillies entered the co-featured $1 million Dueling Grounds Oaks. Both the DG Derby and Oaks including $400,000 in Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund purse supplements for Kentucky-bred horses. The 12-race card also includes the $500,000 National Thoroughbred League Handicap, which includes $200,000 of KTDF money.

After his turf debut, Red Route One went back to the dirt and finished third in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity. If he didn’t do quite enough to get into the Kentucky Derby, his victory in Oaklawn Park’s ungraded Bath House Row Stakes got him a free spot in the Preakness, in which he was fourth. After being well-beaten in the Belmont Stakes, Red Route One took a path with less resistance and won the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park.

“His versatility has allowed both,” Asmussen said of running well on dirt and turf. “But his ability has made that money.”

Red Route One is a son of 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, co-owned by Winchell and Three Chimneys Farm, and is part of the supporting cast on the stallion’s unprecedented start as a sire. Gun Runner had a huge day Saturday at Saratoga with his daughter and 2-year-old filly champion Echo Zulu taking the Grade 1 Ballerina, his son Gunite taking the Grade 1 Forego and Disarm finishing second by a length in the $1.25 million Travers (G1) to become a millionaire.

Since his first crop hit the track two years ago, Gun Runner already has sired six horses that have won $1 million races. Red Route One is gunning to be his first to win a $1 million race on turf.

Todd Pletcher entered Grade 1 Belmont Derby winner Far Bridge, who was most recently third in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby, along with Clever Thought.

Brian Lynch sends out Highway Robber and Anglophile, who finished second and third in a tight three-way photo in Ellis Park’s Kentucky Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Derby. Other entrants: Saratoga Derby fourth-place finisher Battle of Normandy, California stakes-winner Wizard of Westwood, Delaware Park’s Kent winner Really Good, Desert Duke, Lion of War, Just a Photo and Out of Deductions.

The Eddie Kenneally-trained Safeen heads the Dueling Grounds Oaks, coming into the 1 5/16-mile race off victory in the Grade 3 Pucker Up at Ellis Park.

Jonathan Thomas is running Santa Anita’s Grade 3 Honeymoon winner Selenaia. Prominent Canadian trainer Kevin Attard is bringing in Woodbine’s Grade 1 Natalma winner Last Call and maiden-winner MilagreDoSol. Joe Sharp entered Ohio stakes-winner Soft Talk, Saratoga maiden winner. Others: Pucker Up third-place finisher Freydis the Red, Grade 3-placed Mrs. Astor, Bourbonette Oaks runner-up Flashy Gem, Allamericanbeauty, Sabalenka and Sun Bee. Louisiana-based Dashyns Dream needs a scratch in order to run.

The $500,000 NTL Handicap at a mile attracted a field of 10 older horses, including millionaire Field Pass, multiple stakes-winner King Cause, 2022 Kentucky Downs allowance winner Time for Trouble, multiple stakes-winner Fuerteventura and 2021 Dueling Grounds Derby winner Accredit.



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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