A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

KY Racing Spotlight features trainer Todd Pletcher, state Rep. Al Gentry, KY Downs’ John Wholihan

Record-breaking trainer Todd Pletcher, Kentucky State Rep. Al Gentry and The Mint Gaming at Kentucky Downs director of marketing John Wholihan are this week’s featured guests on Kentucky Racing Spotlight presented by the Kentucky HBPA. The radio program runs 6-7 p.m. ET on Fridays over Louisville’s ESPN 680 AM/105.7 FM through March 4.

Pletcher, inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame last year in his first year of eligibility, won the Kentucky Derby with Super Saver (2010) and Always Dreaming (2017), the Belmont Stakes three times and 12 Breeders’ Cup races (including the 2021 Dirt Mile with Life Is Good). His horses have earned an unprecedented $423.6 million and won 5,263 races, ranking No. 6 all-time. Pletcher has been voted the Eclipse Award as North America’s outstanding trainer seven times. He captured his fourth Kentucky Oaks last May with Malathaat, the favorite to be crown 3-year-old filly champion next week.

Last week Life Is Good upended likely 2021 Horse of the Year Knicks Go in Gulfstream Park’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1). Pletcher also won the $1 million Pegasus Turf (G1) with Churchill Downs’ Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) victor Colonel Liam, who hadn’t raced since early June. This week he’ll saddle New York’s Remsen winner Mo Donegal in Gulfstream Park’s $250,000 Holy Bull Stakes, a Grade 3 Kentucky Derby points-qualifying race. Pletcher also trains such Derby prospects as Churchill Downs’ Iroquois winner Major General, impressive Dec. 11 debut winner Emmanuel and Champagne (G1) runner-up Commandperformance.

Rep. Al Gentry, who joined the Kentucky House in 2017, is a small businessman and entrepreneur with an extensive non-profit and public-service resume. He is a strong supporter of horse racing and one of the General Assembly’s most vocal advocates for sports betting. 

Gentry graduated from Bishop David, where he ranked among Kentucky’s best high-school golfers, and the University of Louisville, where he passed up the chance to play collegiate golf in order to concentrate on academics. Gentry became a champion of people with disabilities the hard way: Losing his right arm in an industrial accident while working as a geologist during grad school at the University of Kentucky. Gentry, taking inspiration from his mentor Don Fightmaster, seven months later played in his first amputee golf tournament and in 1994 founded the event that grew into the nationally prominent Amputee Players Championship. Gentry, Fightmaster and two others co-founded the North American One-Armed Golfer Association. He has been recognized for his work with wounded veterans, teaching golf for physical and emotional rehabilitation.

Kentucky Racing Spotlight co-hosts Jennie Rees and Joe Clabes also will chat with gaming-industry veteran Wholihan, the marketing director at Kentucky Downs the past three years. The track’s historical horse racing operation underwent a major expansion and was rebranded as The Mint Gaming Hall in 2020. Kentucky Downs recently opened The Mint Bowling Green, a satellite historical horse racing and simulcasting facility 24 miles away in Bowling Green. Wholihan started out in horse racing, working in marketing at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Park (now site of Super Bowl host SoFi Stadium) and going on to The Mirage in Las Vegas. 

Kentucky Racing Spotlight airs weekly through March 4 on ESPN 680-AM/105.7 FM, the region’s sports-talk leader. The program also will be streamed live at espnlouisville.com, on the ESPN 680 app and the TuneIn and iHeart apps. The replay will be available on espnlouisville.com under the podcasts tab. All shows also are archived at davisinnovation.com/kyracing.

In addition to the Kentucky HBPA, Kentucky Racing Spotlight is sponsored by Davis Innovation marketing, the Louisville Thoroughbred Society, NKYTribune.com and Equine Equipment manufacturers discounts.

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