Grade 1 sponsors follow track’s upward trajectory

Gear Jockey and jockey Jose Lezcano won last year’s $1 million FanDuel Turf Sprint (G2) at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs. Coady Photography

FRANKLIN, Ky. (Monday, Aug. 29, 2022) — The corporate partners for Kentucky Downs’ seven-day run in early September are as distinctive as the unique race meet they sponsor.

Starting with the meet’s title sponsor, the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs is populated with Grade 1 partners as racing is conducted this Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and Sept. 8, 10, 11 and 14 over the undulating turf course on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. The eclectic assembly includes bourbons, breeding farms, the wagering and gaming industry, along with the best of everything from soft drinks to heavy-duty farm equipment.

FanDuel operates America’s leading horse-racing channel and online betting platform (formerly known as TVG), which serves as the official ADW of Kentucky Downs. FanDuel also is the premier online destination for betting sports, fantasy sports competitions and casino games.

“As part of our company’s overarching commitment to promote and support racing, the FanDuel Group is very excited to sponsor the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs for the second year in a row,” said Andrew Moore, General Manager of Racing, FanDuel Group. “Ron Winchell, Marc Falcone and their team stage a unique and highly competitive race meeting that attracts runners from across the country and that has become very popular with horse players. We look forward to covering every race from the meet on FanDuel TV, including the FanDuel Turf Sprint, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, and the FanDuel Tapit Stakes.”

Heading the meet’s new sponsors, Pepsi now is the official soft drink and beverage provider of Kentucky Downs and The Mint Gaming locales in Franklin, Bowling Green and (coming soon) Williamsburg, Ky.

“Our demographics for both the live racing and our simulcast product are an ideal fit for these companies’ products,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ Vice President for Racing. “Horses and bourbon are Kentucky’s signature industries, and we’re especially delighted to showcase a different bourbon or whiskey every day. We want to highlight high-quality brands that aficionados know well but that will be fun for our other guests to get to know.

“The depth and quality of our racing product keeps getting better, and our roster of corporate partners and sponsors have followed that trajectory.”

Each racing program spotlights a day sponsor and a featured bourbon or whiskey:

Sept. 1 — Day sponsor: FanDuel, sponsor of the $1 million, Grade 2 FanDuel Turf Sprint on Sept. 10 and the opening-day $400,000 FanDuel Tapit Stakes. Bourbon: Angel’s Envy, aged in hand-selected port-wine barrels by three generations of Louisville’s Henderson family.

Sept. 3 — Day sponsor: WinStar Farm, sponsor of the $1 million, Grade 3 WinStar Mint Million and home to leading stallions such as Speightstown and Constitution and a litany of up-and-coming sires. Bourbon: Louisville-based Jefferson’s Ocean, a very small batch bourbon aged at sea.

Sept. 4 — Day sponsor: Lexington-based Big Ass Fans, the world’s best-selling big fans, sponsor of the $750,000 Big Ass Fans Dueling Grounds Derby and a major Breeders’ Cup sponsor. Bourbon: Bardstown, Ky.-based Elijah Craig, small-batch bourbon that’s the namesake of the Father of Bourbon, with Elijah Craig in 1789 the first distiller to age his whiskey in new charred-oak barrels.

Sept. 8 — Day sponsor: Global Tote, sponsor of the $500,000 Global Tote Juvenile Sprint. Global Tote, which provides pari-mutuel technology and services to horse-race betting operators around the world (including Kentucky Downs), is owned by BetMakers, Kentucky Downs’ official morning-line odds-maker and presenter of the “King of the Turf” handicapping tournament and trophy. Bourbon: Castle & Key – Will Arvin and Wes Murry in 2014 bought and restored the Old Taylor Distillery (including its castle) that dated to 1887 in Millville, Ky., their motto now “classic spirits reimagined.”

Sept. 10 — Day sponsor: The Mint, the gaming and entertainment facilities aligned with Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Bowling Green and (opening soon) Williamsburg, Ky. Bourbon: Bowling Green, Ky.-based Calumet Bourbon, a singular very-small batch whiskey launched in 2013, the year that Oxbow’s Preakness victory returned the iconic farm to the winner’s circle of a Triple Crown race for the first time since 1968.

Sept.11 — Day sponsor: Nelson’s Green Brier, whose original owner Charles Nelson introduced Tennessee Whiskey to the world in the late 1880s, with his great-great-great grandsons Andy and Charlie Nelson re-launching the business in 2009 — exactly 100 years after it had closed during Prohibition. Whiskey: Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey, produced from the 1860 family recipe that made Tennessee Whiskey world famous.

Sept. 14 — Day sponsor: Pepsi – “That’s what I like!” Bourbon: Nelson Brothers aged in new, charred American oak barrels.

In other sponsorships:

// Wright Implements — established in 1936 on a farm in Harned, Ky., and with 15 locations throughout Kentucky and Indiana — is the “Official Track Conditions” sponsor. Kentucky Downs uses Wright Implements’ John Deere tractors and other equipment to keep the turf course in peak condition.

// Clark Distributing is the “Official Beer, Cider & Seltzer” sponsor. Since 1903, C.C. Clark Inc. has represented the best beverage products available throughout Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

// Exacta Systems, Aristocrat, AGS and Ainsworth — four innovative companies whose parimutuel gaming terminals are in play at The Mint Gaming Hall at Kentucky Downs and The Mint Bowling Green — are the title sponsors the $500,000 Aristocrat Gaming Juvenile Fillies on Sept. 3; $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks on Sept. 4, and $550,000 AGS Ladies Marathon (G3) and $500,000 Ainsworth Untapable on Sept. 11.

// Also: Grey Goose vodka, used in Kentucky Downs’ signature drink, The Mint Million; Tony’s of Lexington steakhouse; noted stallion farms Claiborne, Darby Dan, Darley, Gainesway and Three Chimneys; Foundation Risk Partners; Franklin-Simpson Tourism; J&M Digital Print and Racing Expressions.

In other partnerships:

// Keeneland sponsors a pair of $250,000 allowance races on Sept. 8 for 2-year-olds that were offered for sale at last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

// The Breeders’ Cup made the $1 million Kentucky Turf Cup (G2) and the $1 million FanDuel Turf Sprint (G2), both on Sept. 10, “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series qualifiers for their corresponding races on Nov. 5 at Keeneland.

// The Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund is providing around $8 million in supplemental purse money to registered Kentucky-breds, making it possible for Kentucky Downs to have some of the richest purses in the world.

// The Kentucky HBPA, which represents thoroughbred owners and trainers at the commonwealth’s five racetracks, is underwriting food and beverages for horsemen.

Grade 1 sponsors follow track's upward trajectory - The Mint Gaming Hall