As we trot into late summer and early fall, consider attending this year’s Kentucky Sire Stakes, held annually at The Red Mile Harness Track. This year’s event takes place between August 17 and September 17.
Not only is the The Red Mile a historically rich location to view this breathtaking event, but the the growth of the Standardbred population is good news for the entire state. Curious? Here are 5 interesting facts about the Kentucky Sire Stakes – sure to convince you that this event is a more than worthwhile way to show your Kentucky spirit.
1. Standardbreds have a long and interesting history in the U.S.
Trotting races have been held in the Americas since the 17th century and Standardbreds (previously just known as “trotters”) have been competing in the races ever since.
Kentucky has three Standardbred race tracks, including The Red Mile. While Thoroughbreds run, these horses either trot or pace with a diagonal, not lateral or gliding, movement. They even pull a two-wheeled cart, known as a sulky, an aerodynamic piece of equipment that commemorates the “olden” days of farmers pulling buggies.
2. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has added a mare-residency component
Beginning with the 2014 breeding season, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission added a mare-residency component for the Kentucky Sire Stakes. What exactly does this mean? Two-year-old horses that are currently eligible to race could be born of either a stallion in the state of Kentucky, or a mare residing in the state for at least 180 days. Two-year-olds by resident mares are also eligible to whatever state the stallion stood in, making the horse “dual eligible,” a term that did not exist a few years ago.
Dual-eligible horses can increase the purse earning opportunity and the overall market value of Kentucky-bred horses.
Because the horses are now more plentiful – and are able to run in more than one racing jurisdiction – the horses are more valuable. According to KHRC Executive Director Marc A. Guilfoil, “the opportunity to race in more than one state increases the purse earning opportunity for the horses, as well as the market value of Kentucky-breds.”
3. The growing market value of Kentucky horses is good news for the state
Perhaps the more favorable outcome of this influx of horses is the benefit to the state’s economy. The “trickle-down effect,” according to Guilfoil, refers to the resident mares requiring feed, vet care, boarding and more. Thus, the needs of these animals equals more jobs in the state for farmers, hardware stores, supply stores and other businesses.
“This shift in the program and the industry that has greatly benefitted the state,” Guilfoil says.
4. The purses this year are bigger than ever before
To prove our point that the industry is thriving once again, this year’s purses will total over 2 million. It’s a notable amount and means that the 2017 Kentucky Sire Stakes are one of the richest finals in North America!
5. The Red Mile is a great place to visit and watch the Kentucky Sire Stakes.
The very first harness race took place at The Red Mile track in 1875 making it the second oldest harness track in the world. Named because each of the harness tracks are one mile in length, The Red Mile is made of red clay and has hosted some of the best Standardbred horses in history — including Kentucky-owned Always B Miki —breaking a world record in 2016 at The Red Mile. It’s an amazing thing to be part of, for both yesterday and today.
“This is an exciting time for the Standardbred community and the program,” Guilfoil said, adding that the growth of the program has been “noticed nationally.”
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