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Kentucky Downs Race Track Review

Kentucky Downs is less traditional in nature than the more well-known Churchill Downs and Keeneland Race Course, and is a baby by comparison in terms of its period of existence, but it is very distinctive and unusual nonetheless. For one thing, it is a place for turf racing only, and it is European-style, which means that it is not a perfect oval, but a little more oblong. The course is very long - in fact, it measures one and five-sixteenths miles, and there are actually minor elevations throughout the course, which has also been used for steeplechase racing in the past.

The downside from the standpoint of the live racing itself is that things are not terribly active at this track. In fact, Kentucky Downs conducted only four days of racing in 2011, with a five-day meet in 2012 and a five-day meet scheduled again in September of 2013. In 2012 there were seven stakes races conducted, and one of those races happens to be the Grade III Kentucky Turf Cup, a race going a mile and a half that attracts great talent.

While the handle for the 2012 meet exceeded that of the 2011 meet, that is not where Kentucky Downs really brings in its revenues. In contrast to its old-world look, it has definitely moved into modern times when it comes to the activities it offers to customers. One of those is "Instant Racing," in which players look at races that have been conducted in the past and wager on them. This was started at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas with tremendous success, and Kentucky Downs offers 350 of these terminals on its premises.

Bingo is also available at Kentucky Downs, as it falls within the "charitable gaming" laws in the state. Every night of the week there is a different non-profit organization that benefits from bingo games. Of course, like many other pari-mutuel facilities, it offers simulcasting of races from major tracks all over the country, which customers can wager on and watch in real time.

Kentucky Downs is located in Franklin, a town named in honor of Benjamin Franklin which is right on the Tennessee border. The property on which it sits was formerly used as a dueling ground that was often used by people from Tennessee who had a "dispute" with each other. You see, dueling was illegal in Tennessee, but was not unlawful in the Bluegrass State. In fact, when the track was opened in 1990, it was called "Dueling Grounds." It was not until 1997 that the facility took on its current name.

There are plenty of creative promotions at Kentucky Downs, many of which are connected to Instant Racing, which includes a "refer-a-friend" program, and "Progressive Hot Seat" in which anybody at any time is theoretically eligible to win, as long they have a Player Club card in a machine. Since Instant Racing was brought to the facility in 2011, over $6 million in jackpots had been paid out. Kentucky Downs is open on weekdays until 2 AM and on weekends until 4 AM.