Thursday, March 13, 2008 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 13, 2008 . . . From food to prizes to the big white VIP tent, party preparations for the Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway Park on Saturday, March 22, are in full swing.
The prime venue on raceday is the Maker’s Mark VIP Tent. This year's version is the largest tent ever erected for a Northern Kentucky event, according to Marc Stout, president of Stout and Gallant Associates, a Cincinnati event production firm.
"You’d have to go to the Kentucky Derby to find one larger," Stout said. "It provides a true VIP experience."
The tent is 424 feet long, about 1.5 times the length of a football field, and 100 feet wide. It accommodates 2,250 guests, about 300 more than the tent used the two previous years, when the venue sold out. A favorite gathering spot is the massive oak Maker's Mark Waterfall Bar. While all common dining and bar areas of the tent are non-smoking, a special lounge accommodates those who smoke. Depending on the weather, the sidewalls will be opened or the tent will be fully enclosed and heated.
Between races tent-goers can catch NCAA tournament action on some of more than 60 TV monitors and giant screens or shop for such raceday necessities as custom Derby-style hats by Fabulous Hats of Lexington, jewelry from Love Monika Fine European Jewelry, and Fabulous Furs by Donna Salyers.
The 2008 Lane's End Stakes poster, winner of the Gateway Community and Technical College design competition, also will be available on raceday and at all Lane’s End Stakes-related events. Proceeds from the poster's $10 purchase price benefit the Gateway Community and Technical College Foundation.
Nick Lachey's Team Cincinnati, winner of the recent national Clash of the Choir competition, will open the day with the National Anthem and later entertain guests in the Makers’ Mark VIP Tent. The Greg Lynd Trio will be on stage in the tent throughout the day.
Mike Seader, Turfway's director of food and beverage, will prepare 1,500 pounds of prime rib for the tent and other reserved areas, along with 600 pounds of chicken, and 350 pounds of lobster ravioli. Exclusively for the Maker's Mark VIP Tent, Libby's Gourmet Desserts of Cincinnati will provide 275 chocolate cakes made expressly for Turfway using a recipe enhanced by Maker’s Mark premium bourbon.
The libation of the day is the Lane's End Drink, a combination of orange juice, pineapple juice, blue Curacao, gin, tequila, rum, and vodka served in the 2008 Lane’s End Stakes commemorative glass. Seader will mix up 200 gallons of the green drink, a favorite from tent to trackside.
Race fans in various venues can enter to win such prizes as Reds and Bengals tickets, tickets to the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, and Keeneland, packages from Sableux Spa and Hyatt Place Hotel, Canon Powershot digital cameras, and a Toshiba Regaza 32” LCD HDTV.
Tickets are available in advance or at the door. General admission is $10, with some areas of the grandstand available for first-come, first-served seating. Reserved seats range from $25 for other grandstand seats to $175 for seats in the Maker's Mark VIP Tent. Parking is free; valet parking is $5. In addition to Turfway’s own lot, parking and shuttles are available at Sachs Automotive of America at 15 Spiral Drive, half a mile from the track.
For race-goers, gates open at 10am, and the first 1,500 fans through the gates with paid admission will receive a free 2008 Lane’s End cap.
For some fans the day actually begins at 9am, when baseball legend Johnny Bench, Maker's Mark president Bill Samuels Jr., and Turfway president Bob Elliston will sign this year’s Maker’s Mark Lane's End Stakes commemorative bottle, which features Bench. The signing runs from 9am to 12 noon. A total of 600 tickets for the signing will be distributed at Turfway's Gate B beginning at 9am. Each person who receives a ticket may have two bottles signed. Only the 2008 Johnny Bench bottle can be signed.
The Lane's End Stakes, a $500,000 Grade II prep race for the Kentucky Derby, is sponsored by Lane’s End Farm of Versailles, Kentucky, one of the world's leading Thoroughbred operations. In addition to Maker's Mark's sponsorship of the VIP Tent, other sponsorship is provided by Key Bank and Miller Brewing Company.
The first of 12 races on the program goes off at 1:10pm. Besides the Lane's End Stakes, the program offers four other stakes races, including the Grade III Bourbonette Oaks, a prep for fillies aiming toward the Kentucky Oaks.