Racing Hall of Fame jockeys Calvin Borel, Pat Day, Eddie Maple, Chris McCarron, Randy Romero and Gary Stevens will be at Kentucky Downs during Jockey Hall of Fame Day on Wed., Sept. 11. Calvin Borel, Pat Day, Chris McCarron, and Gary Stevens are also Kentucky Derby winning jockeys. The event, a fundraiser for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF), falls on the second day of the five-date September season at Kentucky Downs.
Incorporated in 2006, PDJF is a collaborative effort of leaders in the racing industry to provide financial assistance to injured jockeys. The organization also works with industry and medical research groups to improve safety for racehorses and jockeys and support research projects dedicated to reducing catastrophic injuries. It truly helps jockeys and starting this organization in 2006 is a tribute to horse racing.
On Sept. 11, Kentucky Downs will provide photos and playing cards for each Hall of Fame jockey to autograph for fans from noon to 1 p.m. A $10 donation to the PDJF is requested. The active Hall of Famers will compete during the 10 race card, and the entire group will make appearances throughout the afternoon. Each will have a race named in his honor and make a trophy presentation.
“We are thrilled to work in conjunction with the Jockeys’ Guild on this Hall of Fame event,” said Corey Johnsen, president of Kentucky Downs.” I have great respect for riders and to attract this group of living legends to Kentucky Downs is an honor. We look forward to this being a successful fundraiser for a worthy cause.”
Activities will begin the day before when Kentucky Downs hosts the Hall of Fame Jockey Golf Tournament at Kenny Perry’s Country Creek Golf Course not far from the track according to their press release.
Some facts about Kentucky Downs – The track began life in 1990 as Dueling Grounds Race Course. The name came from the history of the Sandford Duncan farm, on whose property the track was located. The farm, which was located in a slight corner of what is otherwise a perfectly-straight Kentucky-Tennessee border, was the site of numerous duels in the 1800s, because dueling was illegal in Tennessee but not in Kentucky. Dueling ended in 1827.
The track underwent a tumultuous series of financial misfortunes, changes in ownership, and legal battles, some of which caused the track to miss its 1997 meet. It also saw use as a concert site and a bingo hall. In 1997, the track was purchased at auction by Turfway Park, Churchill Downs and other investors. The name was changed to Kentucky Downs in an effort to remove the stigma attached to the Dueling Grounds brand.
In March 2007, a partnership led by investors Corey Johnsen and Ray Reid agreed to purchase 85% interest in the track. Johnsen is formerly president of Lone Star Park and Reid runs a private investment and banking firm. The new partnership will be managed by Reid and Johnsen. Churchill Downs, Turfway Park and the other minority investors retain a 5% share in the track. The transaction was completed on August 6, 2007.
On September 1, 2011, Kentucky Downs introduced “Instant Racing,” a hybrid between slot machines and parimutuel wagering, where bettors play at a terminal using historical racing data and video.