King of the Turf (and belt!) back for 2023

FRANKLIN, Ky. (Wednesday, March 1, 2023) — Kentucky Downs is again staging the online, live-money King of the Turf Handicapping Challenge at the late-summer all-turf meet that attracts the largest purses and field sizes in America. Back for the third year will be the instantly-iconic Global Tote King of the Turf Championship Belt trophy to the overall winner.

Kentucky Downs races Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, 3, 7, 9, 10 and 13 over North America’s only European-style course.

The King of the Turf Handicapping Challenge again will feature three stand-alone, one-day betting contests, this year on opening-day Thursday Aug. 31 with a $400 buy-in, Sunday Sept. 3 ($500 buy-in) and Saturday Sept. 9 ($800 buy-in). Half of competitors’ buy-ins are earmarked for their live bankrolls with the remainder going toward purses and prizes, which include 2024 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) packages and $10,000 buy-in berths for the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

The cumulative winner, who must compete in all three tournaments, will be feted as King of the Turf: National Turf Handicapping Champion, receiving a 2023 BCBC seat and the Global Tote belt at the 2024 NHC awards dinner in Las Vegas.

“The format of three one-day contests proved very popular with horseplayers last year, and we think they’ll be even more thrilled that one of the tournaments will be on our big Saturday featuring at least five graded stakes,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ Vice President for Racing. “We wanted to get the word out ahead of the 2023 NHC on March 10-12, where the Global Tote championship belt will be on display and presented to our 2022 winner, Tom Rapps of Cleveland.”

Qualifiers to win fees-paid spots in King of the Turf Handicapping Challenge will begin this summer on


While still offering the lowest overall rates of any major American track, significant increases in the cost of conducting its live race meet and market forces led Kentucky Downs to bump its takeout rates 1 percent for the 2023 meet.

With its average field size of around 11 horses a race, Kentucky Downs will continue to offer the most betting value of any racing product in North America, Nicholson said. Kentucky Downs’ takeout blend will be 18.2 percent, still the lowest of all major racetracks by as much as 2 percentage points.

“This is not something we did lightly,” Nicholson said. “The fact is that the fixed costs of putting on a world-class meet are prohibitive with only a handful of dates to recoup the myriad of expenses. That is exacerbated when the weather forces postponement, as we had twice last year. We’re confident that horseplayers will continue to find Kentucky Downs the premier betting product with our large fields, quality and what remains a low takeout.”