Monday, October 6, 2003 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . OCTOBER 6, 2003 . . . With larger fields, splendid weather, strong entries in the 10th Annual Kentucky Cup Day of Champions, and an emphasis on Friday night fun, Turfway Park closed out its 18th annual Fall Meet October 2 with an increase in both all-sources mutuel handle and attendance over the same period last year.
The total wagered on Turfway Park’s 220 live races from all sources totaled $53,464,624, a 22 percent increase over 2002. That spike was driven by a notable 27.7 percent increase in out-of-state betting. In addition, wagering on Turfway races at Kentucky’s four off-track betting sites rose 7.9 percent. Those significant gains offset a slightly less than 1 percent drop in on-track wagering on Turfway races and a 5.7 decline in wagering on Turfway races at other in-state tracks.
Although average purses declined 3.2 percent from 2002, field sizes increased 9 percent to 9.2 runners per race, a factor in the increased interest in Turfway races.
Mild temps, Kentucky Cup, and fun drive attendance
On-track attendance rose 9.4 percent during live racing, thanks to mostly blue skies over all 22 days of the meet, keen rivalries on Kentucky Cup Day, and activities aimed at novice bettors and TGIF fun-seekers. One of those activities paid off in a fan of $100-dollar-bills for Bob Serra of Elsmere, Kentucky. Serra, a Turfway regular, survived Friday-night heats to gain one of six spots in the finals of Triple Corona Racing and won the game’s top prize—a $5,000 win bet voucher on the ninth race on closing night. Serra put his bet down on Bo’s Sister, the 1-3 favorite, and jockey John McKee brought her home for a $6,500 payoff.
Congaree’s nomination to the Grade 2, $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic sparked early interest in the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions, held September 13. His fight down the stretch with eventual winner Perfect Drift was the centerpiece of a day that included a romp by two-year-old filly Class Above and a disqualification that left two-year-old colt Pomeroy without victory in the Juvenile.
Bejarano, Flint, Ramseys end on top
Rafael Bejarano took top jockey honors for the meet even after riding just half the 22 days. He arrived after the meet started, missed the last five days for an infraction at Kentucky Downs, and still topped the list with 27 wins, 18 seconds, and 20 thirds from 97 starts. Those figures put him in the money on 67 percent of his mounts for earnings of $338,168. Bernard Flint was leading trainer for the 8th meet in a row and his 18th overall with 9 wins, 9 seconds, and 6 thirds from 36 starters for purses of $118,428. Ken and Sarah Ramsey led all owners with 5 wins from 12 starters and $72,643.
Live racing will return to Turfway Park with the Holiday Meet beginning November 30. The track remains open Wednesday through Monday for simulcasting.