Thursday, December 29, 2011 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Dec. 29, 2011 – Turfway Park closes its 2011 Holiday Meet on New Year's Eve but racing continues uninterrupted as the Northern Kentucky track opens its 2012 Winter/Spring Meet on New Year's Day.
The highlight of the meet is the 41st running of the $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (G3) on March 24. In 2011, its first year under Vinery sponsorship, the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds produced the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner. Animal Kingdom trained up to the Derby after winning the Spiral Stakes over the Turfway Polytrack, becoming the first horse to win the Derby without previous experience racing on dirt.
The $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (G3), a mile for 3-year-old fillies and a prep for the Kentucky Oaks (G1), tops the Spiral undercard. The undercard also includes the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes, 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds; the $50,000 Hansel Stakes, six furlongs for 3-year-olds, and the $50,000 Queen Stakes, six furlongs for older fillies and mares.
Three stakes serve as local preps for the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes: the 6.5 furlong $50,000 Turfway Prevue on Jan. 7, the one-mile $50,000 WEBN on Feb. 3, and the 1 1/16-mile $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial on March 3.
Two stakes serve as local preps for the Bourbonette: the 6.5 furlong Cincinnati Trophy on Jan. 21 and the one-mile Valdale on Feb. 25, each offering a $50,000 purse.
The Winter/Spring calendar also includes seven other stakes, each with a $50,000 purse:
Jan. 14 Wishing Well Stakes, six furlongs, older fillies and mares
Jan. 28 Forego Stakes, 6.5 furlongs, horses 4 years old and up
Feb. 11 Likely Exchange Stakes, one mile, older fillies and mares
Feb. 18 Dust Commander Stakes, one mile, horses 4 years old and up
Mar. 10 Wintergreen Stakes, one mile, older fillies and mares
Mar. 17 Tejano Run Stakes, 1 1/8 miles, horses 4 years old and up
Mar. 31 Fairway Fun Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, older fillies and mares
Two traditional giveaway days lead up to the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes. On March 10, Turfway will give away Spiral Stakes caps to the first 1,000 fans through the gates, and on March 17, the first 1,500 fans through the gates will receive a commemorative Spiral Stakes glass.
Turfway will continue its popular Dollar Friday events featuring draft beer and hot dogs for a dollar each and live music on the Willis Music Stage. To begin the meet, the music line-up on successive Fridays in January includes the Columbus, Ohio-based Feedback, My Sister Sarah, The Truth, and Doghouse. Fridays also offer a $19.95 dinner buffet and menu service in the Homestretch restaurant.
With the exception of Spiral Stakes day, Turfway continues its date-night theme on Saturdays, opening its fifth-floor Top of the Park dining room for a deluxe buffet priced at $26.95 and again offering the $19.95 dinner buffet and menu service in the Homestretch restaurant.
While the Top of the Park is open only on Saturdays and for group events, the Homestretch is open Wednesday through Sunday. Kitchen hours vary; more information is available at www.turfway.com. Reservations are recommended for both dining rooms. Both are non-smoking areas.
Admission is free every day except Spiral Stakes day, and parking is free every day. Valet parking is available.
Turfway will present 45 days of live racing from Jan. 1 through April 1, racing Thursday through Sunday in January and then cutting back to three days a week, Friday through Sunday, for the remainder of the meet. The lone exception is a Monday card on Presidents Day, Feb. 20.
Post time during the Winter/Spring Meet remains at 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Racing begins at 1:10 p.m. on Sundays, the Presidents Day card, and Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes day. All times are Eastern.