(Harlan Estate captures the first Stakes event of the 2023 KY Downs meet / All Photos by Coady Photography)

From the KY Downs Media Team / Jennie Rees:

Six days left: Sept. 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 13

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

Beckman gets first stakes as trainer as Harlan Estate takes Tapit

 When the horses came out on the track for the $500,000 FanDuel Tapit Stakes at Kentucky Downs on Thursday, trainer Whit Beckman had to do a double take.

He knew his 5-year-old gelding Harlan Estate would not be one of the favorites in the field of 11. But he didn’t think the son of Kantharos would be the longest shot on the board, either.

That’s exactly what he saw as Harlan Estate was 37-1.

“That surprised me.” Beckman said. “We knew it was going to be a gamble, but I didn’t think the odds would be that big. He has had some good races the past three or four months.”

His horse then went out and showed the betting public had made a big mistake as he took control of the mile and 70 yard race at the eighth pole and then rolled home to a 1 ¾ length win.

Ridden by Declan Cannon, Harlan Estate won for the first time this year in his seventh start.

For Beckman, a former assistant to Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher and perennial New York champion Chad Brown, as well as a stint in Saudi Arabia, this was his first stakes win since he went out on his own on Sept 11, 2021.

“This is a huge day,” Beckman, who is from Louisville, said. “We brought a horse that was ready to run.”

Harlan Estate last raced in an allowance at Colonial Downs on Aug. 3 and finished fifth, beaten by 7 ¾ lengths. Three starts before this race, he finished third in the Grade 3 Arlington Stakes at Churchill. The horse that won that, Set Piece, would go on to win the Grade 1 Arlington Million at Colonial on Aug. 12.

After a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Wise Dan at Ellis Park on July 1, Hidden Estate was off until the Colonial allowance.

“We felt that was not a true test of his ability,” Beckman said. “We felt with Kentucky Downs being a different kind of setup, it was worth taking a shot down here.”

Harlan Estate was in mid-pack early on and began moving on the outside to upper stretch.

He was full of run when he came into the stretch, not looking anything like a horse wearing 37-1 odds.

“Once I tipped him out and got some daylight, he ran hard all the way to the line,” Cannon said. “I was never really in doubt from there.”

Harlan Estate has won five of 24 career starts. On grass, he has three wins in 12 tries. Beckman said he was not sure what would be next for the gelding.

English Bee, ridden by Tyler Gaffalione and trained by Graham Motion, finished second at 10-1 and were a head in front of Yes This Time, who was 8-1 for trainer Peter Miller and jockey Gerardo Corrales.

Gaffalione and jockey Jareth Loveberry, who was fifth with Speaking Scout for Motion, filed jockey objections. They were disallowed by the stewards.

“I didn’t see anything that was outside of normal race running,” Beckman said. “I have to watch it again. I really have no idea what happened.”

Cannon also said he was surprised at the claims.

“This track, you kind of turn and you turn again,” he said. “I stayed on my line. Horses can kind of look around a little bit. It’s just a different configuration for them. For a half million dollars, jocks aren’t going to just give it to you.”

The final time was 1:38.47. Harlan Estate paid $76.52, $33.20 and $16.60.

Strong Quality finished fourth. Portfolio Company, the 5-2 favorite, was sixth followed by Kitodan, Play Action Pass, Flavius, Tiberius Mercurius and Whisper Not.


Harlan Estate is owned by Mary Roberts and Adam Ainspan of Clifton, Va. This was their first trip to Kentucky Downs.

“It’s beautiful,” Ainspan said.”We both grew up just outside of Saratoga Springs, so we know what a beautiful racetrack looks like. This is certainly up there with the best of them.”

Video interviews with stakes-winners will be posted later on Kentucky Downs’ Youtube channel.

Below: Coady photos of Declan Cannon winning the $500,000 FanDuel Tapit Stakes on opening day of the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs.

Hidden Class gives owner Atkins ‘amazing rush’

Chances are good that the bar area in Peppers Grill in Culpeper, Va. was going all kinds of crazy early Thursday afternoon.

That’s because the boss of the Grill, James Atkins, was doing some good on opening day at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs.

Making his first appearance at Kentucky Downs, Atkins, the co-owner of Hidden Class, got to the winner’s circle when the 2-year-old filly turned the second race into a laugher.

Trained by Joe Sharp and ridden by Joel Rosario, Hidden Class won by 3 1/4 lengths the $250,000 allowance race restricted to fillies that had been sold or gone through the ring at the 2022 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Atkins, the owner of Peppers Grill and a horse owner going back to the 1970s, is partners with Erich Brehm Jr.

Atkins said this was the biggest win of his career. By far.

“This is an amazing rush,” Atkins, accompanied by girlfriend Susan Graves, said as he left the winner’s circle. “Winning here … it’s an entirely different level.”

He might have an even bigger one coming at the end of the seven-day meet. Atkins said their plans could change after seeing Gala Brand, who beat Hidden Class in their racing debuts at Saratoga, win the Grade 3 With Anticipation against males later Thursday in New York.

“We may run back at the end of the meet in the $500,000 stakes,” said Atkins, referencing the Sept. 13 Pepsi Untapable at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Atkins, 63, estimates he has started over 1,000 horses during his career as an owner. Before Thursday, he said the biggest race he had ever won were a couple “$30 something thousand allowance races at Charles Town.

Hidden Class, a daughter of Catalina Cruiser, had debuted at Saratoga on Aug. 3 and finished second at 5 ½ furlongs on the grass. Leading up to this race, Sharp had some slight concern about the added ground, but Hidden Class squashed those worries in a hurry.

Always near the lead, Hidden Class took off in the stretch and kept finding more.

“I knew Joel was not going to get caught because he is a finisher,” Atkins said. “When she made the lead, I said, ‘this is over!”

And it was.

Hidden Class ran the 6 ½ furlongs in a 1:17.31 and paid $51.2, $2.90 and $2.46.

After the winner’s circle presentation, Sharp, of course, was proud of his horse. But he was also beyond happy for his owners. Brehm was also in attendance with a small entourage.

“It’s so cool when the owners come in and it makes it extra special when they are here to support her,” Sharp said. “It’s more rewarding to me than you know.”

Atkins was going to hang around for a little while Thursday but he and Graves had to hit the road to begin the nine-hour car ride back to Virginia. There would be a stop halfway and perhaps some more celebrating.

Atkins had no doubts that the party at the Pepper Grill was going to go along for quite awhile.

“I was getting calls from them before I got to the winner’s circle,” Atkins said. “Having days like this are why you get in the business.”

— by Tim Wilkin

James Atkins at trainer Joe Sharp’s barn Wednesday morning. Jennie Rees photo
Hidden Class, with Joel Rosario up, won the fillies division of the $250,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sales allowance race. Coady Photography

Kentucky Downs media kit

Dueling Grounds Oaks: Callie’s Grit runs to honor Callie Witt

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

Website: www.TheMintGaming.com

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

Website: www.TheMintGaming.com

Phone: 270.353.6400

The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland Run

Address: 777 Winners Lane, Corbin, KY 40701

Website: www.TheMintGaming.com

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

Website: www.TheMintGaming.com

Phone: 606-400-2888