Friday, October 8, 2004 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . October 8, 2004 . . . Turfway Park closed its 19th Fall Meet October 7 with small increases in a couple of categories, declines elsewhere, and another Breeders’ Cup contender from its Kentucky Cup Day of Champions.
Out-of-state play on Turfway’s 220 races rose 1.6 percent over last year, a mild continuation of a several-years trend, and all-sources handle on Turfway races increased .05 percent. Offsetting those increases, however, was a 10 percent drop in the amount wagered by Turfway patrons on Turfway races. Turfway players wagered $2,940,629 on Turfway races; players at other venues wagered $50,779,966 on Turfway races. The numbers reflect greater competition from two off-track facilities in Indiana, one near Kentucky’s Ellis Park and a new facility across the Ohio River from Louisville’s Trackside venue. Neither of the Indiana facilities carries the Turfway live signal.
Average daily purses declined from $184,947 to $176,270, a drop of 4.7 percent. Field size fell from 9.2 runners per race to 8.5, with short fields in the five Kentucky Cup stakes races a contributing factor. From opening day through Kentucky Cup Day, field size was 8.1; in the 13 days following Kentucky Cup, field size was 8.7.
“We continued an unfortunate trend that began at Ellis Park, with smaller fields at the beginning of the meet and larger fields toward the end,” said Robert N. Elliston, president of Turfway Park.
Bejarano and Holthus take meet titles
Despite missing the last three days of the Fall Meet, Rafael Bejarano added the meet to his string of Turfway Park leading rider titles. From 146 mounts he finished with 35 wins, 29 seconds, and 25 thirds for earnings of $570,987. The record for the Fall Meet is 37 wins, set in 1968 by Glen Brogan. Among Bejarano’s wins this meet was the $175,000 Turfway Park Breeders’ Cup (G3) aboard Susan’s Angel for trainer D. Wayne Lukas on Kentucky Cup Day.
Bejarano has been Turfway’s leading rider since the 2003 Fall Meet and set records in both the 2003 Holiday Meet and the 2004 Winter/Spring Meet. He also was leading rider at Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, and Kentucky Downs this spring and summer and is expected to challenge for the Keeneland title this month.
Willie Martinez, who holds the Turfway record for meet titles with nine, was second in the standings with 27 wins from 124 mounts. John McKee was third with 23 wins from 124 mounts.
Robert Holthus captured a Turfway leading trainer title for the first time. He sent 20 starters to the gate and came away with nine wins, one second, and one third for earnings of $215,273. Two of those wins came on Kentucky Cup Day, when he teamed with jockey John McKee to take the $100,000 Juvenile (GIII) with Greater Good and the $100,000 Sprint (GIII) with Level Playingfield. Bernard Flint was second with eight winners from 33 starters. Dale Romans was third with five wins from 23 starters.
Roses in May adds to Ramseys’ leading owner title
Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey were once again leading owners, with five wins, three seconds, and one third from 15 starters for purses of $276,103. Among their victories was the $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (GII) with Roses in May, a leading contender for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) later this month.
Turfway is open Wednesday through Sunday year-round for simulcasting; through October the track also is open for simulcasting on Mondays. Live racing resumes with the Holiday Meet on November 28.