(Aspenite wins the Juvenile Mile at KY Downs on Sunday / All Photos by Coady Photography)


(Austere stays undefeated after win in Juvenile Fillies at KY Downs on Sunday / All Photos by Coady Photography)

From the KY Downs Media Team:

Wednesday’s Kentucky Downs entries with Global Tote morning line

Buy reserved tickets for VIP Chalet, Finish Line Pavilion here

Second time’s the charm as Aspenite takes Juvenile Mile

Aspenite, a 2-year-old colt by Constitution, is a blue-collar horse. All he wants to do is go to work.

Sunday, Aspenite put on his hard hat again and did what he loves to do. Run.

Owned by Ron Winchell, who is a co-managing partner of Kentucky Downs, Aspenite won the 12th running of the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile by 3 1/4 lengths. This was the youngster’s third race in 36 days. The last time he ran was 11 days ago when he finished second in an allowance race at Kentucky Downs.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen had no concern about bringing Aspenite back so quick.

“None,” he said. “He went back to the track feeling good, that it didn’t knock him out. We left him here and he trained back over the racetrack and showed plenty of spirit and attitude. We felt really good about him today.”

Jockey Cristian Torres, riding the Kentucky Downs meet for the first time, was also making his debut on Aspenite. He went straight to the lead over the firm turf and stayed there. Torres said his partner was comfortable throughout and he set solid early fractions of 22.59 seconds for the quarter and 45.25 for the half.

Torres was in no hurry to ask Aspenite to turn it on. That would come, he said, when he got to the quarter pole.

When the field turned for home, Aspenite had built a two-length lead and Torres was about ready to give him his cue.

“He was still in hand as we turned for home,” said Torres, who won three races on the day. “When I chased the rein on him, he took off. When we passed the quarter pole, I really asked him. I wanted to wait as long as I could and he was there for me.”

Aspenite poured it on in the final eighth of a mile as the lead grew to three lengths. Tough Little Nut, ridden by Jose Ortiz and trained by Chris Block, was also running in the stretch but he was never going to get to the winner.

Sent off as the 6-1 fourth choice, Aspenite covered the mile in a time of 1:38.17 and paid $15.06, $7.54 and $4.88.

Tough Little Nut, who came into this off a maiden win at Hawthorne on Aug. 20, was second, 2 ½ lengths ahead of the Brad Cox-trained Mozlzil, the 5-2 favorite.

Block said that 10-1 Tough Little Nut had some trouble on the far turn.

“Jose had to take up a little bit and it cost him some ground,” Block said. “I don’t think it cost him the race – it was a nice horse that won it – but it might have been a little closer. I am just proud of him. We came up here from Hawthorne out of a little maiden special race up here to go against these guys. He showed up.”

Aspenite started his career with a fourth-place finish at Saratoga on Aug. 5 in a mile-race that was taken off the grass.

Like he did in his debut, he showed speed in a $250,000 allowance race for 2022 Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduates at 6 1/2 furlong here Aug. 31.

“He looked home free (Aug. 31) and just looked like he got a little lost here late,” Asmussen said of Aspenite’s second-place finish by a half-length. “Came back today and finished it off. He sees everything. That’s just kind of how he is. He benefited from the experience and cashed in on a very good day.”

Of course, winning a race for Winchell, who is a long-time client for Asmussen was special.

“Obviously, Kentucky Downs is as fun as it can possibly be,” Asmussen, who won two races Sunday and now has three for the meet, said. “We love to run horses here. We started off pretty slow but definitely picked it up nicely this week.”

After putting in plenty of work the last month, Aspenite will get some time off.

Aspenite is out of the mare Aspening by Candy Ride. He was purchased by Winchell Thoroughbreds at the 2022 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $350,000.

Rose Collector finished fifth and was followed home by Legal Titan, Good Bali, Sambalover, Gamblin George, Value Engineer, Blue Eyed George, Baytown Parfait and Billy the Greek.

— By Tim Wilkin

Coady Photography photos below of Aspenite and Cristian Torres winning the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile while carrying the silks of Kentucky Downs co-managing partner Ron Winchell.

Austere now 2-for-2 after Global Tote Juvenile Fillies

In their first time together, Austere and jockey Tyler Gaffalione turned out to be ideally matched Sunday as they won the $500,000 Global Juvenile Fillies Stakes by three lengths at Kentucky Downs.


Gaffalione gave the daughter of Mendelssohn a clever ride, guiding her toward the inside into a stalking position in third, a couple of lengths behind Bella Haze and the favorite Cynane. The pace was sharp: 22.51 for the first quarter mile and 45.88 for the half-mile.


When Gaffalione asked her, she moved closer to the leaders as they were passing the half-mile pole. By the top of the stretch, Gaffalione had decided to go to the outside and she quickly passed Cynane and then Bella Haze to take control.


Running alone in the stretch, Austere reached the wire in the mile race in 1:35.48, much faster than the final time of 1:38.17 in the Juvenile one race earlier. Bella Haze continued on to finish second, a neck in front of Latte Lizzie, who edged Kodiac Wintergreen by a head.


Austere, the third choice in the field of eight, paid $10.40 to win.


Trainer Brendan Walsh said he was expecting a big performance for the filly co-owned by Bradley Thoroughbreds, Gary Finder, Tucci Stables, Cambron Equine LLC and Belmar Racing and Breeding.


“It was not a surprise at all,” Walsh said by phone. “She’d been working great. We think she has lots of talent. It was great to go there and win. It looks like she’s going to be a nice filly going forward.”


Walsh said the Kentucky Downs win Austere might be considered for the Breeder’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf at Santa Anita.

“You’d have to after today,” he said. “She’s 2 for 2 now. We’ll see how she comes out of it and go from there. But she’s done nothing wrong so far.”

Gaffalione said that Austere did everything right for him.

“I took her off the pony and she warmed up great,” he said. “She stood perfect in the gate, got a great start and we were able to establish good position.”

After she started smartly from post 6, Gaffalione had options and decided to take a ground-saving route behind the leaders.

“Everybody was wanting to stay off the rail yesterday, especially,” he said, “but it dried out quite a bit today and there’s actually a real slim path down on the fence that hasn’t really been used up. It’s pretty good footing in there.”

Gaffalione said Austere felt good under him the whole trip.

“I was very confident,” he said. “She put me in a great spot. She traveled well within herself and showed a really nice turn of foot today.”

On August 5, Bella Haze provided trainer Carlos Santamaria with his first win as a trainer after working as an assistant for many years in California. She produced another big performance for him under Joel Rosario in her first try in stakes company.

“She just broke her maiden a few of weeks ago at Ellis Park (on dirt),” he said. “But we know she’s got a little bit of pedigree for the grass, so we decided to come here. She ran a huge race. We’re just grateful to Joel the way he rode her. We’re going to see how she looks in the next few days and make another plan for her. But we’re super happy with her.”

Kodiac Wintergreen was the second choice in the wagering at 5-2. The daughter of Kodiac is owned by Houston Astros star third baseman Alex Bregman and came into the race off an impressive maiden victory at Saratoga. She was not able to replicate her late run at Saratoga under regular rider Jose Ortiz.

“First time in a stake. First time at a mile,” said trainer Rusty Arnold. “We’re a little disappointed. (Ortiz ) said that she never quit running, she kept kicking on and the winner was really good. What did we get beat? A head, a neck for second? So it wasn’t a horrible race, but we’re a little disappointed. We thought we were going to run a little bit better, but back to the drawing board and get ready for the next one.”

— By Mike Kane

Coady Photography photos below: Tyler Gaffalione rode Austere to victory in the $500,000 Global Tote Juvenile Fillies over #8 Bella Haze.

Rosario not setting mark this year but two $1M wins is nice, too!

Two years ago, jockey Joel Rosario rewrote the Kentucky Downs record books when he won a whopping 17 races.

That is not going to happen this year, but Rosario has had a solid stay at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs.

With one day of racing left, Rosario is tied with Florent Geroux in second place with six wins, three behind two-time meet leader Tyler Gaffalione. Rosario’s earnings of $2,372,680 to trail only Geroux’s meet-leading $2,733,769 and Gaffalione’s $2,383,786.

The 38-year-old Rosario had a big day on Saturday when he won three races, including two with $1 million purses. He guided Vergara to victory in the Aristocrat Ladies Marathon (G3) for trainer Graham Motion and also was on board Private Creed when he won the Exacta Systems Franklin-Simpson Stakes (G2).

“I can’t say thank you enough to everybody,” Rosario said about his big day. “The trainers, the owners, everyone who has supported me.”

Rosario is named to ride in eight of the 10 races on Wednesday, closing day. Included in those rides are Bledsoe (9-2) for trainer Wesley Ward in the $500,000 Pepsi Juvenile Sprint Stakes for 2-year-olds and Hidden Class (7-2) for Joe Sharp in the $500,000 Pepsi Untapable Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

“I’m glad to be here the rest of the way,” Rosario said, “It’s always great to ride here and, if you’re winning races, it’s even better.”

Brendan Walsh leads all trainers – 7 wins – heading into closing day

Heading into the seven-day FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs, trainer Brendan Walsh was cautiously optimistic that his barn could have a good run. Walsh has no complaints as the meet heads into its final day on Wednesday.

After six days, Walsh finds himself on top of the trainer’s standings with seven wins from 24 starts. His horses have earned a meet-leading $1,608,170. That included winning Sunday’s $500,000 Global Tote Juvenile Fillies with 2-for-2 Austere.

“The meet has been good,” Walsh said. “We have plenty of nice turf horses. It’s just a question here of whether they handle the track. Some of them handle it and some of them don’t.”

For the most part, Walsh would have to say his horses have handled it. He started the meet with a bang, winning two races on opening day. One of them was the $1 million Big Ass Fans Music City Stakes (G3). Secret Money got the job done for Walsh that day.

Walsh had had success at Kentucky Downs before. In 2021, he had four wins and shared the top spot with Mike Maker and Steve Asmussen. Last year, it wasn’t as successful as he started 22 horses and had one win, six seconds and three third-place finishes.

“We have had some really good runs this meet,” Walsh said. “And we have had some not so good ones. It is always enjoyable to come here. I think we have some bullets left and I hope we can get another winner or two.”

On the final day of the meet, Walsh has four horses entered, although none in the two featured races for 2-year-olds.

— By Tim Wilkin