Kentucky Downs Race Track in Kentucky
A notable Thoroughbred horseracing track, Kentucky Downs is located right on the border between Kentucky and Tennessee. Originally known as the Duelling Grounds Race Course due to the site's interesting history, the track was renamed to remove some of the stigma attached to a string of bad management and mishaps. Kentucky Downs has a reputation as being rather unique due to the fact that the surface is all grass instead of the more common dirt surface used on American tracks, and because of the fact that it is not oval in shape.
The Duelling Grounds Race Course was opened in 1990, taking its name from the history of the farm on which it was established. During the 1800s duelling was a popular way of settling disputes, but it was illegal in Tennessee. However, there were no laws against it in Kentucky, and duellers from Tennessee would often meet at the Inn on Samford Duncan’s farm before facing one another the following morning. However, the law eventually caught up with them and duelling was outlawed in Kentucky in 1827.
The track was initially opened as a steeplechase course but after just one year the fences were removed and in 1992 the track was converted for flat racing. Unfortunately, the initial success enjoyed on the track did not last long and there was a series of legal battles, changes in ownership and other misfortunes which resulted in the track missing meets and running under a skeleton workforce. This all changed in 1997 when the track was purchased by a number of investors who improved the management, renamed the track and reopened it.
In 2000 steeplechase racing returned to the track with the addition of an extra track. This allowed the traditional flat racing to continue but for the venue to facilitate more races and cater to a greater number of spectators. When racing season closes at Kentucky Downs, betting continues through a system of simulcast wagering on most of the top tracks in the country. Today Kentucky Downs hosts, amongst others, the Kentucky Cup Turf Dash, the Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf, the Kentucky Cup Turf and the Yaqthan Stakes during its racing season.