Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . August 26, 2008 . . . Live Thoroughbred racing returns to Turfway Park September 3 as the track opens its 50th Fall Meet. The 22-day meet features nine stakes races, including the five that comprise the Kentucky Cup series, the first Quarter Horse race at the track since 1972, and a venerable race newly named a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" qualifier. The meet runs through October 2.
15th running of the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions; NARA exhibition
The highlight of the meet is the 15th running of the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions, anchored by the Grade II $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic. Part of a 12-race card on Saturday, September 27, the five Kentucky Cup stakes races prep horses aiming for the $25.5 million Breeders' Cup World Championships in October. Since its inception in 1994, Kentucky Cup races have produced six Breeders' Cup winners and five Eclipse Award winners.
Admission and parking are free on Kentucky Cup day; reserved seating is available from $5 to $100 and features the VIP Paddock Pavilion. First post is 1:10 p.m. Gates open at 10 a.m.
Before the Kentucky Cup day card begins, Turfway will present an exhibition race featuring jockeys who are graduates of the North American Racing Academy (NARA). Founded by Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron in 2006, the academy is based at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington and is part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
Fall Championship, Quarter Horse Sprint Stakes, other stakes, new wager
Also significant to the Breeders' Cup is the $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship on Saturday, September 6. At its new distance of 1 1/2 miles, the Grade III contest for horses three years old and up is now a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You’re In" race. The winner will automatically qualify to enter the inaugural Breeders' Cup Marathon on October 25.
Conducted on Turfway's all-weather Polytrack, this year's Kentucky Cup stakes and Fall Championship provide especially useful preps for Breeders' Cup hopefuls. The 2008 Breeders' Cup, set for October 24-25 at Santa Anita Park in California, is the first in which the series' traditional dirt races will be run over an all-weather surface.
The first American Quarter Horse race run at Turfway since 1972 and the first ever run on Polytrack is set for Friday, September 12. A field of eight or more is expected to contest the $25,000 John Deere Sprint Stakes at a distance of 330 yards.
Rounding out the fall stakes schedule are the $75,000 Marfa Stakes on September 13 and the $75,000 Weekend Delight Stakes on September 20.
Already popular at other tracks, the Super Hi 5 wager makes its first appearance at Turfway this fall. A winning wager selects the first five finishers in order on a designated race. At Turfway, the Super Hi 5 is available on the last Turfway race of the day.
4th annual College Scholarship Day
Turfway will host its fourth annual College Scholarship Day on Kentucky Cup day, September 27. In conjunction with the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the track will give away ten $1,000 scholarships by random drawing, one after each of the day's first 10 races. To be eligible, students must be enrolled full-time for the 2008 fall semester at an accredited educational institution that qualifies for federal aid. The 10th drawing is open only to eligible students who are affiliated with the Thoroughbred industry or whose parents are so affiliated; the first nine are open to eligible students not affiliated with the industry. Students must show a valid college ID to enter and must be present to win. Registration is free and begins at noon on the 27th. The first 500 students to register receive a free t-shirt, compliments of All Pro Championships.
Events, Dollar Fridays add to Fall Meet fun
Turfway hosts its second barbecue fest, renamed the Kickoff Cookoff, September 12-13. The event features national barbecue teams including Sgt. Oink's, Aussom Aussie, and Porky N Beans and music from regional favorites After Midnight, Doghouse, and The Sonny Moorman Group. Scheduled to appear as barbecue judges are former Bengals Joe Walter, Robert Jackson, Richard Carey, David Wilkins, and David Fulcher. The event runs 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday and noon to midnight on Saturday, with food service ending at 11 p.m. both days. Admission is free. The Kickoff Cookoff is presented by Cincinnati radio station 700WLW, with additional sponsorship by Guitar Center. The event benefits Goodwill Industries.
During live racing hours September 19 and 20, local sororities and fraternities will compete for bragging rights as top Greek in Turfway's first Battle of the Greeks. Saturday's competition features live music. Admission is free.
Turfway again will host Dollar Fridays, its popular start to the weekend that offers $1 draft beer, $1 hot dogs, and $1 bets beginning at 6:30 p.m. Fans also can play games and enjoy live music trackside in the Corona Cantina.
First post during the Fall Meet is 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 1:10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The track is closed for live racing Monday and Tuesday but open for simulcast racing every day in September except September 2, 9, and 30. Except Kentucky Cup day as noted, gates open daily at 11:15 a.m. Admission and parking are free every day.