Joel Rosario clinched his first Kentucky Downs riding title on the second day of the meet, when he won five races for the second straight day. He went on to win seven more, including four on the final card to extend his track record total to 17. The previous record was the 12 won by Rafael Bejarano in 2004, matched by Florent Geroux in 2015 and 2016 and by Rosario on the fourth day of the meet.
Rosario rode 53 horses for a 32 percent strike rate. His mounts earned just shy of $3 million, at $2,952,097. Tyler Gaffalione, the 2020 meet leader, finished second with eight wins.
Rosario’s big meet reflected agent Ron Anderson’s decision to ride at Kentucky Downs instead of the final two days of the Saratoga meet.
“Ron is the one who is making the decision for everything, so thanks to him for all we’ve done,” Rosario said. “We really had a fantastic meet. I’m very blessed. Thanks to all the people who have supported us, the trainers, owners and everybody involved. We’re really very excited for the meet. This was the first time we stayed here for the whole meet. We really had a lot of chances with horses, and been lucky and winning.”
Rosario went 0 for 19 at Kentucky Downs, including 0 for 14 in 2019, until last year, when he went 3 for 14.
“It’s beautiful here,” he said. “I like it how it is, like a country fair.”
Brendan Walsh pulled into a tie with Mike Maker and Steve Asmussen for the Hagyard’s Leading Trainer Award with his final starter as Family Way gave Walsh his fourth win of the meet in the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon. Walsh won three races Saturday — including the Grade 2 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Franklin-Simpson to pull into the hunt.
“I didn’t even know, so that’s nice,” Walsh said. “I think that’s the first time I’ve won any trainer’s title. I love this place. The last few years have been very good to me. We always look forward to it. It’s something different, and it’s just growing. I was trying to tell somebody the other day, you come here seven, eight years ago and there was like two trailers here. That’s not that long ago. It’s developed so much.
“People you talk to, they love to come here. Big fields, the betting handle is unbelievable here. You have to have the right horse. It’s great. It’s something different. I think that’s what makes its uniqueness. And if the horse handles it, they’ll be very well-rewarded.”
Maker, the track’s all-time win leader, earned a piece of his record sixth training title. He also had 10 seconds and 10 thirds while his horses ran out $1,065,892 to lead the money standings.
Asmussen earned a share of his first Kentucky Downs training title. His four wins included Snapper Sinclair taking a division of the $400,000 TVG Stakes for his record third stakes victory at the track.
Godolphin finished with four victories for its first Kentucky Downs’ Sentient Jet Leading Owner crown, including winning the $1 million WinStar Mint Million with Pixelate and the $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks with Adventuring.
“It’s a great atmosphere down here,” said Jimmy Bell, president and racing manager of Godolphin’s North America operation. “Everybody really enjoys making the trip down here. This could be ‘horses for courses’ a little bit. Everybody comes in with great expectations but not all find the going to their liking. But it makes it interesting for racing: the undulations, the turns, the rising ground coming down the stretch.
“We’ve had four fantastic wins here from all different kinds of ways.”