Take a look at today’s Race Program at little Kentucky Downs, located near Bowling Green, KY. in tiny Franklin, KY. If you want, I can even leave an edition of today’s Daily Racing Form on your door stoops. Mine is already marked up and ready to go, if you would like to cast a schilling or two on your favorite steed.
If you will, pay particular interest to the amount of purse money being offered in each of the 10 races that are on the card at the all-turf track that only races 5 dates per year:
The first race is a Maiden Special Weight (that is an event held for horses that have not previously won a race) and the purse money is $130,000.
The second race is another Maiden Special Weight and the purse money is $130,000.
The third race is an allowance race with a purse of $140,000.
The fourth race is another Maiden Special Weight for $130,000.
The fifth race is an Optional-Claimer with a purse of $145,000.
The sixth race is an Allowance event with a purse of $140,000.
And, then the last four races are all Stakes Races:
The seventh — the Grade 3 Ladies Turf Stakes — has a purse of $350,000.
The eight — the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Stakes — has a purse of $350,000.
The ninth — the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint Stakes — has a purse of $400,000. (The colts and geldings always get paid more in the South than the fillies and mares — it’s well documented; but that’s another matter for discussion on another day.)
The 10th — Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup — has a purse of $600,000.
All told, the purses for today’s 10-race card is a whopping $2,515,000. Those numbers rival any racetrack in the world. On their biggest days of racing.
To put that into perspective, today’s card at Belmont Park — in New York — has 10 races with total purses worth $696,000. The Seattle Slew Stakes — which is the featured race up there today — is worth $100,000.
In Los Angeles, the Thoroughbreds will be running at Los Alamitos Race Course. The total purses are worth $292,000. The track is hosting two Stakes races today, both of which are worth $75,000 each.
So how does little Kentucky Downs do it, you ask? (Note: if you weren’t going to ask, I was going to tell you any way. It’s my opinion.) How is a little, country, grass-course race track located in a rural community no bigger than a subway station in either New York, New York (the city so nice they named it twice) and LA able to offer more purse money than those tracks? How is that little, country, grass course-only race track — which only offers turf racing — able to attract some of the best horses in the world?
Well…here’s the thing…
Kentucky Downs has a beautiful facility that sits in the main clubhouse area. People from all around — including Nashville and other locations — come to town to visit. And, they spend their hard-earned money the way they want to (isn’t that the free market idea? / isn’t that the American way that we all want to make great again?) — by playing Historic Racing Machines.
I know that sometimes we all like to live in denial, from time to time, but a Historic Racing Machine does look and act a lot like those nasty, God-forbidden, flea-bitten, money-stealing things they call slot machines.
And, guess what?
Kentucky Downs has been operating these darn little things for going on three years now, and, to my knowledge, there has NOT been an outbreak of prostitution rings in or around the track, contrary to what the Family Foundation has alleged would happen.
Kentucky Downs has been allowing people to come, attend, enjoy a beautiful location with fine dining options and adult libations, and the crime rate has not spiked an all-time high and now rivals that of a major metropolitan area, contrary to what the Family Foundation has alleged would happen.
Kentucky Downs has been offering a gaming package that people — regular Joes and Josephines — enjoy. That people want. That people come to visit, play, and be entertained. And, unless someone can show otherwise, there has not been an outbreak of divorces, broken homes, bankruptcies, and other forms of moral decay and sheer decadence. That’s contrary to what the Family Foundation has alleged would happen, too.
Instead, an economy has happened. Kentucky Downs, and its’ owners, have made money, for sure. But so has the community, with new visitors buying everything from gasoline to lottery tickets. So has the state, with an increase in tax revenue from the wagers and other commodities bought and sold. So has the Thoroughbred industry — which is all set to enjoy the fruits of all those labors at Kentucky Downs today. And, God only knows that the Thoroughbred industry needs all the Kentucky Downs Days that it can muster in order to recruit more buyers, sellers, and industry participants.
I raise this issue and these points today to ask that you call your legislator and our Governor and ask that they consider allowing the citizens of this great Commonwealth to choose how they want to pay for the tremendous, significant, over-bearing and budget-draining obligations that the state currently has to fund pensions for all our state employees and teachers.
Maybe, just maybe, the citizens of this great Commonwealth would rather consider allowing the racetracks to own and operate facilities similar to the one at Kentucky Downs instead of having another tax increase.
Perhaps, a full-blown casino in downtown Louisville would and could provide the depth of revenue that you and the state need to pay down this huge debt, while, at the same time, we allow our people to stay here at home rather than having to drive over the river to Indiana and we allow the city’s convention bureau recruit organizations to party here.
Maybe, people would like to try that instead of paying more in taxes. After all, I know that I don’t like to pay my taxes any more than you.
How about a choice? What’s so wrong with letting our people vote? Let’s put the issue on the ballot and let all our people finally choose. Do you want more taxes? Or, do you want to allow for more gaming options like the ones being operated at Kentucky Downs?
Seems like a logical question.
After all, that’s the American way, isn’t it? After all, that’s the America that we all want to make great again.