Saturday, September 4, 2004 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 4, 2004 . . . With momentum generated by its highly successful simulcast-only summer session, Turfway Park will hit the ground running when its Fall Meet of live racing opens on Wednesday, September 8.
Through August 31, a date chosen to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison, handle for the summer stood 9.2 percent higher than the same period last year. The summer session ends September 6, five days later than last year.
Said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president of marketing and industry relations for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), “Smarty Jones’ Triple Crown bid created a lot of positive buzz for our sport heading into the summer months, but I think Turfway Park’s business increases are more likely attributable to the level of customer service they offer and the fact that there are thousands of racing fans in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati corridor who appreciate the good racing offered from coast to coast – and even in their own backyard – during this time of year.”
Improvements benefit horses and horsemen
The summer also saw $238,000 in improvements to the Northern Kentucky track, including an innovative flooring system in the receiving barn, which houses horses that ship in daily from other tracks. Although components of the stall management system have been installed elsewhere, Turfway is the first racetrack to use the complete system. The $25,000 flooring renovation is about half done and will be finished later this fall.
The system features a rigid polyethylene grid over a base of powdered limestone and gravel. Topped with sand and more limestone, the grid prevents horses from pawing uneven areas in the floor, providing safer footing and reducing maintenance costs.
The stalls will continued to be bedded with recycled corrugated cardboard instead of straw, an innovation introduced last year. The material neutralizes odors and is light, highly absorbent, and nearly dust-free, which benefits not only the horses but also the workers who clean the stalls. After composting, the material is used by the track’s groundskeepers as fertilizer.
Other upgrades to the stable area include new paving ($70,000), wash racks ($61,000), and security cameras ($27,000). Working with the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), Turfway has also invested $11,000 in a small picnic park and volleyball pit for workers who live on the grounds during live racing. Other features, including a basketball goal and a soccer field, are planned for completion next fall.
The track also spent $55,000 to freshen the surface of the racetrack. To repel water more efficiently, two inches of sand were removed from the track and a three-inch layer of new sand, about 7,500 tons, was added. The track is completely resurfaced about every five years, most recently in 2003.
Kentucky Cup Day highlights the Fall Meet
The centerpiece of the Fall Meet is the 11th running of the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions on September 18. The day features five stakes races, four of them graded, and annually attracts and reveals top prospects for the $14 million Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships held six weeks later. Topping the schedule is the Grade II, $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic. For the second year, general admission to Kentucky Cup Day is free. Reserved seating is available.
Also on the schedule are the Weekend Delight Stakes (September 11), the Marfa Stakes (September 25), and the Grade III Turfway Park Fall Championship (October 2).
“Meet me at the track” for fun every day
Centered on the slogan “Meet me at the track,” Turfway has packed the Fall Meet with fun for veteran fans and newcomers alike. The track will host a handicapping contest each Wednesday with weekly and cumulative prizes. Thursday is College Night, with free soft drinks, programs, and betting vouchers for students. A free handicapping seminar for beginners also will be offered on Thursdays. The popular $1 Dog and $1 Beer Night returns each Friday. Every Saturday except Kentucky Cup Day, families can enjoy a package deal on hot dogs, soft drinks, and programs, and Sunday offers the NFL Sunday Ticket in the Homestretch restaurant. The Corona Cantina, Turfway’s outdoor cafe, returns for its second year.
KEEP offers lunch with Smarty Jones
September 17 is “KEEP Night at the Races,” presented by the Kentucky Equine Education Project. To cap the night, KEEP will raffle off lunch with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones. Included in the prize are a limousine ride to Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky, where Smarty Jones now stands at stud, and a tour of the farm.
First annual Michael F. Rowland Award
September 17 also will feature presentation of the first annual Michael F. Rowland Award. The award was established by Turfway in memory of the jockey who died last winter from injuries sustained in a fall on the track. Jockeys at the five tracks where Rowland rode most often each presented a nominee, and the resulting ballots were distributed to nine tracks throughout the Midwest.
General admission and parking are free throughout the Turfway Park Fall Meet. Valet parking is available. First post for live racing is 7:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 1:10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, including Kentucky Cup Day. There is no live racing on Monday or Tuesday. The track is open for simulcasting every day through September except Tuesday, September 7, and Tuesday, September 14. All times Eastern. The Fall Meet ends October 7.