Friday, October 3, 2008 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . October 3, 2008 . . . Facing economic hurdles that have tripped up virtually all segments of the racing industry this year, Turfway Park closed its 2008 Fall Meet with declines in both on-track and all-sources handle.
On-track wagering on Turfway races totaled $2,642,594, down 18.3 percent compared to the same period last year. Wagering on Turfway races from all sources fell 20.2 percent to $42,596,033.
Field size dipped slightly from 8.9 in 2007 to 8.5. The track presented 214 races compared to 222 last year, high winds forcing the cancellation of eight races on Sunday, September 14. Purses were down 6.9 percent. Turfway does not charge admission and attendance estimates are not released.
"Unfortunately, our handle for the Fall Meet tracked very closely to many other racetracks whose recent meets closed with declines across the board," said Turfway president and CEO Robert N. Elliston. "We were actually holding our own on-track until a tough wagering day on Kentucky Cup last Saturday. Honestly, given the key match up between Street Sense and Hard Spun on Cup day last year and the 11 Grade I races at Belmont and Santa Anita this year, we knew matching 2007 was going to be a difficult task. We didn't know we'd also lose a Sunday to—of all things here in Kentucky—hurricane winds!
"But while handle figures were soft, the racetrack performed exceptionally well, and we are appreciative of all the horsemen who raced with us this fall."
Meet titles come down to the wire
Like head-bobbing stretch duels, leading trainer, owner, and jockey titles came down to the wire. Trainer Mike Maker entered closing night one win ahead of Steve Margolis, who tied Maker by winning the fourth race. Maker then won the eighth race with Ashima to earn his 7th win from 24 starters and his third consecutive Turfway training title. Margolis finished second with six wins from 12 starters. Thomas Trione Jr. and George Logsdon tied for third with four wins each.
That same win by Ashima nudged Ken and Sarah Ramsey's total to 5 wins from 14 starters, tying them with Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein as the meet’s leading owners. The Kleins finished with 5 wins from 9 starters, including the Weekend Delight Stakes with Vote Early. The tie gave the Ramseys their third consecutive Turfway title and their sixth overall at the Florence track. The partnership of James Wright and David England finished third with three wins from 12 starters.
Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. came into closing night one win behind Otto Thorwarth, who had led or tied for the lead from opening day. Hernandez tied Thorwarth in the fourth race, riding Winter Knight for Margolis, and went one up in the eighth, riding Ashima for Maker. That edge held, leaving Hernandez atop the rider standings with 19 wins from 89 mounts. Thorwarth was second with 18 from 128 mounts, and Corey Lanerie was third with 15 wins from 78 mounts.
Turfway will be open for simulcasting Wednesday through Sunday each week and on Columbus Day and Election Day as well. Live racing returns to Turfway on November 30.