Sunday, February 15, 2004 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . February 15, 2004 . . . Fast track, bright blue skies, a 13-1 winner in the very first race, and all 10 races in the books—it was good to be back in business at Turfway Park Sunday afternoon.
At 10 minutes to first post, the Turfway jockeys gathered in the paddock, arms banded in black, to stand in silence for jockey Mike Rowland, who died Monday, February 9, from injuries sustained in a fall on the track the previous Wednesday. The paddock ceremony had been planned for February 11, the day a memorial service was held at the track, but that Wednesday was the first of four consecutive whole-card cancellations attributed to uneven thawing of the track.
Today, horses and jockeys, trainers and owners, and fans and staff all took the first steps forward into the thrill of routine.
In the first race, a 6 1/2 furlong event for maiden claimers, She Who Dances came flying up the stretch from far back and paid $28 for her first win in six tries. Jockey Dean Butler raised his hand to his lips and then to the skies as he crossed the finish line, his silks almost spotless.
Perry Ouzts took two steps toward his next career goal, 5,000 wins, with back-to-back victories in the fourth and fifth races. American Boundary broke his maiden in the fourth race and paid $46.20 in the process, and Joann’s Joy, off at 16-1, brought Ouzts home first in the fifth. Ouzts had reached the 4,500-win milestone in the third race last Sunday, February 8, the last live race at Turfway until today.
Rafael Bejarano continued to roll, spinning off wins in the seventh, eighth, and ninth races. In the money with 70 percent of his mounts, he stands atop national leaders by wins with 70 firsts, 50 seconds, and 26 thirds in 208 starts.
Live racing resumes at Turfway on Wednesday with first post at 5:30 p.m. EST. The track is open for simulcasting Monday and dark on Tuesday.