No settling at Kentucky
Updated: September 6, 2014, 12:06 PM ET
By Gary West | Special to ESPN.com
FRANKLIN, Ky. -- No lagniappe here, no enhancing accompaniments, such as an
ocean breeze or jazz on Maple Avenue or scallops at Mio Posto. Here, you might
have to settle for the Barren River Lake, the Sandford Duncan Inn and the Frosty
Freeze, although the Brickyard Cafe is said to have some appetizing catfish. But
if you're the sort of person who shuns the frivolous and ponders the essentials,
if you're a horseplayer and your focus is betting on horses, then this has to be
Yes, Kentucky Downs must be horseplayer's heaven: Quality racing, large fields,
low takeouts. Dante envisioned a heaven of nine spheres, but for a horseplayer
heaven is a racetrack balanced on a tripod of good horses, large fields and low
takeouts. And, of course, heaven is unique: All the races are run on turf, on a
pear-shaped course that rolls and swells and undulates like a green sea. Sam
Houston once shot a rival in a duel here, on this very site, this swath of
landscape that once was known as the dueling grounds, and the area is redolent
with frontier history, but racing here is more European than anything you're
likely to see elsewhere in America. With its purses soaring to a record $1
million a day, Kentucky Downs begins its brief season Saturday, spreading out
its five festive and meaningful days of racing over three weeks.
I must point out that on these five days I'll be working for Kentucky Downs,
doing the paddock song and dance. Track president Corey Johnsen, who's among the
few racetrack operators left that actually know and love racing, invited me to
come here a few years ago to lend a struggling racetrack a hand. It sounded like
fun, I knew little of the place and curiosity pushed me. I didn't expect to
discover horseplayer's heaven.
Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau:
In January 1946, the
Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB) was incorporated as a private
investigative agency whose principal mission was to address
issues of integrity and security in the Thoroughbred horse
racing industry. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the TRA, TRPB
represents a unified effort by TRA-member racetrack associations
to maintain high standards, protect the legitimate business
interests and integrity of the sport, and foster and maintain
Fred Russell-Grantland Rice TRA Sports Writing Scholarship
The Fred Russell-Grantland Rice Scholarship,
begun in 1956, originally was named in honor of the late
Grantland Rice, a Vanderbilt alumnus and one of the best known
sports writers of the 20th century. In 1986, the name was
changed to also honor the late Fred Russell, another Vanderbilt
alumnus who helped guide the scholarship and its recipients. A
$500,000 grant was made on behalf of the TRA in 1986 to ensure
the future of this valuable stipend.
here for a list of previous winners.
The scholarship, co-sponsored by Vanderbilt, is awarded annually
to an entering freshman at Vanderbilt who plans a career in
sports journalism. In order to apply, high school seniors must
apply for admission and complete the online Cornelius Vanderbilt
scholarship application. Contact the Office of Student Financial
Aid and Undergraduate Scholarships, Vanderbilt University, 2309
West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203-1721; (615)322-3591 or
is the race data provider for the
Thoroughbred racing industry in North America, charting every
Thoroughbred race run in the United States and Canada and
disseminating the information throughout the vast international
network of simulcast wagering.
Subsidiaries of the TRA and The Jockey Club formed Equibase in a
1990 partnership to accumulate the racing data necessary for the
unfettered growth of simulcast wagering. Prior to that time, the
Daily Racing Form had been the sole collector of chart data and
the dissemination of past performance information.
Recognizing the broadest possible availability of race data in
daily racing programs was integral to the growth of simulcasting
revenues for the tracks, the TRA found The Jockey Club a capable
and eager partner in undertaking the technological and
logistical issues association with building a data information
With the advent of the internet to general consumer use in the
mid-Nineties, Equibase quickly found itself well-positioned to
enter and serve the fast-growing world of electronic commerce.
Equibase is the sole owner of TrackMaster, whose line of
direct-to-consumer products include a wide variety of
handicapping and selection tools for all types of bettors.
Click here for a listing of
Equibase officers and management committee.
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