Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., August 30, 2011 – Live Thoroughbred racing returns to Turfway Park Thurs., Sept. 8, with a packed slate of events over 16 racing days, a new Pick 5 wager, and the renaissance of the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions under sponsorship by WinStar Farm.
The 17th running of the WinStar Kentucky Cup Day of Champions on Sept. 24 revives three of Turfway's graded stakes races after a one-year hiatus and two ungraded stakes shelved the last two years. The series has a long history of prepping winners of the $25.5 million Breeders' Cup World Championships held each fall. General admission to the WinStar Kentucky Cup Day of Champions is free; reserved seating is available from $5 to $100, including the trackside VIP Paddock Pavilion. Post time is 1:10 p.m. on that Saturday.
Fan Appreciation Day is back but this year expands to two nights on opening weekend, Sept. 9 and 10. Presented jointly by the Turfway Park horsemen and track management, Fan Appreciation is billed as free family fun and offers pony rides, a playground, and other activities for children, a budget-friendly dollar menu, handicapping sessions, tours of the stables, visits to the announcer's booth, mascot races, free t-shirts, horse care demonstrations, and opportunities to meet jockeys and trainers. Activities vary by day.
"We had an exceptional turnout for our first Fan Appreciation Day last year. We saw a lot of young families who had never been here before," said track president and CEO Robert N. Elliston. "They really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at racing and interaction with horsemen. This year we switched to the start of the meet, and after some growing pains the first year, we're ready for an even larger crowd."
Expanding on Fan Appreciation events, the playground will be open every day of the fall meet, and pony rides and handicapping classes are scheduled every Saturday.
Brand new to the meet is the Maker's Mark Bourbon Dinner on opening night, Sept. 8. Kentucky's youngest master distiller, Greg Davis, will guide guests through a tasting tour of Kentucky's original handmade bourbon, complemented by a Maker's Mark-inspired feast from Turfway Park executive chef Peter Haubi. The event begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are $55.
The track's popular Dollar Friday series returns, kicking off every weekend with dollar draft beer, dollar hot dogs, and live acoustic music, games and giveaways in the trackside Corona Cantina.
Turfway will again open its Top of the Park dining room for Saturday Night Lights, a date night concept highlighted by Chef Haubi's elegant $26.95 buffet. Fans at the track on Saturdays can enter to win prize packages including an overnight stay at Horseshoe Southern Indiana, and the Corona Cantina again boasts live acoustic music.
Fridays and Saturdays also offer a $19.95 buffet in the first-floor Homestretch restaurant. The Homestretch offers a la carte service as well and is open Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations are strongly recommended for both dining areas.
On Sept. 18, Turfway hosts a superqualifier handicapping contest leading to the 13th Annual DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship next January, which is expected to offer a $1 million top prize. Superqualifier contestants will vie for cash prizes up to $10,000 and 10 spots in the national tournament. Entry details are available at www.turfway.com.
Horses and Hope, a breast cancer initiative developed jointly by Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear and the Kentucky Cancer Program, makes its fourth annual stop at Turfway on Sept. 23. The Kentucky Thorough-Breasts, a dragon boat team of breast cancer survivors, will make a special appearance, and the Kentucky Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup Horses and Hope Mustang pace car will be on display. The event is free but reservations are required; call the Kentucky Cancer Program Northern Kentucky office at (859) 442-3525.
Turfway introduces a daily 50-cent Pick 5 wager to its menu this season, replacing the Pick 6. The new wager requires players to choose the winners of five consecutive races beginning with the third race. If no perfect tickets are sold, the wager pays 25 percent of the pool to those holding the most winners and the rest carries over to the next racing day.
Turfway will offer live racing Thursday through Sunday during the fall meet, which runs Sept. 8 through Oct. 2. Post time on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday is 5:30 p.m., with the exception of a 1:10 p.m. post for the WinStar Kentucky Cup Day of Champions. Post time on Sunday is 1:10 p.m.
Admission and parking are free every day.
Unless otherwise noted, tickets and reservations for events that require them are available by calling (859) 371-0200. More information is available at www.turfway.com.