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Leading jockeys return to Turfway for 50th anniversary meet

Monday, October 5, 2009 12:00 AM
  • General
Autograph session to benefit Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund
FLORENCE, KY . . . October 5, 2009 . . . Jockeys who won leading rider titles at Turfway Park over the past 50 years will return to the Northern Kentucky track Thursday, October 8, as the track closes out its historic 50th anniversary meet.

Twenty to 25 jockeys are expected to welcome fans and sign autographs from 6:30 to 9:30pm. Most will be available throughout the evening in a designated area near the paddock. Those who have mounts Thursday will be available as time permits between races. The first 300 fans will receive a free poster picturing or naming all 61 jockeys who have won meets at the track.

Donations will be taken to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Established in 2006, the fund provides financial assistance to some 60 former jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries.

Turfway raced one meeting each year from 1959 through 1963 and added a second race meet in 1964. The third meet, called the holiday meet, began in 1979.

Among those representing the track's early days is Mike Manganello, who won leading rider titles in 1964, 1969, and in 1970, the year he also won the Kentucky Derby aboard Dust Commander. Also expected in from the track's days as Latonia are Billy Phelps, who won meets in 1965, 1967, and 1970; and Ron Herbstreit, winner of the 1965 winter/spring meet and today an accredited racing steward. At 66 years of age, Robert "Cowboy" Jones not only represents the early years, having tied for a 1972 title, but also still exercises horses and occasionally has a mount in a race.

Willie Martinez, who owns the most Turfway titles with nine, is also expected to be on hand for the event. Martinez earned five consecutive fall meet titles from 1995 through 1999 as well as three holiday meet titles and one winter/spring title. Martinez also is tied with Pat Day for the most stakes wins at the track with 37.

Also planning to attend is Patricia "P.J." Cooksey, who holds titles from the winter/spring meets of 1981, 1983, 1985 (tie), and 1995. Cooksey, one of the first women to ride with considerable success, at one time led all female riders nationally in career wins and is one of only three female jockeys to earn riding titles at Turfway.

Turfway races at 7pm Wednesday and Thursday, October 7 and 8, and then closes until November 29. As the last day of the fall meet, Thursday substitutes for Dollar Friday, and $1 beer, $1 hot dogs, and games and prizes will be available.

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