Tuesday, July 21, 2009 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . July 21, 2009 . . . With its 50th anniversary approaching, Turfway Park has planned a full slate of events leading up to and during the 2009 fall meet and today unveiled the logo commemorating the milestone. The track opened as Latonia Race Course on August 27, 1959.
The 2009 fall meet opens September 9 and closes October 8. First post is 7pm Wednesday through Friday and 1:10pm Saturday and Sunday.
The anniversary logo, designed by Cornett-IMS of Lexington, includes the track's familiar horse and facility silhouettes and features the tag line "Thoroughbred Excitement – Fifty Years Running."
The track's website, www.turfway.com, has been updated with graphics recalling opening day.
"We planned our anniversary events not only to celebrate our history but also to recognize and thank our neighbors," said Turfway Park president Robert N. Elliston. "We've scheduled three community days, one for each Northern Kentucky county, and a Fifty-Plus Day, when we will recognize other businesses that have hit the 50-year mark and beyond.
"We've seen ups and downs over the past half-century, and we certainly face some challenges today, but we're still here, still committed to making Northern Kentucky a vital part of the commonwealth's unique, world-wide identity as the Horse Capital of the World."
Anniversary events begin July 29 with Turfway Park Night at Florence Freedom, where Hall of Fame jockey and Turfway associate vice president Steve Cauthen will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Freedom's matchup with the Washington Wild Things.
Beginning in August, Turfway staff will share the track's story with local civic groups and at the Boone County Fair. Dr. James Claypool, track historian and author of The Tradition Continues: The Story of Old Latonia, Latonia, and Turfway Racecourses, will speak at the main branch of the Boone County Library in Burlington at 7pm on August 26 and at Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington in early October. Photos and memorabilia will be on display at both locations, at the library from August 3 through September 25 and at the museum from August 3 through October 31.
Opening day, September 9, kicks off with music and giveaways on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati from 11:30am to 1:30pm. Racing begins that night at 7pm.
Community days are scheduled for September 13 (Boone County), September 20 (Campbell County), and October 4 (Kenton County). Local businesses, especially those unique to their counties, and civic groups such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, and Pony Club are invited to set up displays and kiosks at the track. In addition, civic and high school choirs and ensembles have been invited to perform.
Fifty-Plus Day, October 3, will feature and honor such businesses as Graeter's, Klosterman Baking Company, Husman's Snack Foods, Skyline Chili, LaRosa's, Trauth Dairy, and Kroger.
Opening weekend features a mascot race on Friday night, September 11, when mascots from area organizations will race on the Polytrack between the fourth and fifth races. That night is also the first of the meet's popular Dollar Fridays. American Cornhole will be on hand Saturday, September 12, inviting fans to face off in tournaments.
The following weekend is Vintage Weekend, which begins with an old fashioned sock hop on Friday, September 18, from 7 to 11pm. Admission is $5 or a new pair of socks to benefit Goodwill, and prizes will be awarded for the best '50s costumes. On Saturday, September 19, the 1st Annual Horse Power Cruise-In will feature classic, custom, and hot rod cars and custom motorcycles. The cruise-in, set for 11am to 4:30pm, is free to the public. Entry fee is $10 per car. Ten trophies will be awarded.
On Friday, September 25, Turfway will welcome Horses and Hope back to the track. An initiative of Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear, Horses and Hope advances breast cancer education among workers in Kentucky’s equine industry. Survivors are invited to join the first lady in the VIP Pavilion and the winner's circle. Participation is free but reservations are required; more information will be posted to the Turfway website.
Turfway will host its 5th annual College Scholarship Day on Saturday, September 26. Ten area students enrolled full-time for the 2009 fall semester will be awarded $1,000 each by random drawing. Scholarship funds are provided by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Turfway Park.
In late spring, former turf writers Jack Murray and Jack Hicks, Enquirer sports columnist Richard Skinner, Claypool, racing secretary Rick Leigh, Elliston, and track announcer Mike Battaglia collaborated to identify the top 50 horses to race at Latonia/Turfway Park. Throughout the meet, fans will be invited to rank their top 10 via the track's website and e-newsletter.
The fall meet is highlighted by graded stakes racing, including the Kentucky Cup series and the Grade III Turfway Park Fall Championship. The Kentucky Cup series, first run in 1994, is anchored by the Grade II Kentucky Cup Classic. The Fall Championship, first run at the original Latonia in 1919, has again been designated a "Win and You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Marathon at the World Championships in November.