Wednesday, August 8, 2012 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Aug. 8, 2012 – Turfway Park will open its 54th fall race meet Sept. 6 with a new post time for night racing, a full slate of events, and a change in smoking policy, but with no stakes on the 16-day schedule.
Pending approval by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, post time Thursday and Friday will be 6:00 p.m., a half-hour later than last fall. Post time Saturday and Sunday remains at 1:10 p.m. The track will present nine races on Thursdays and Sundays and 11 races on Fridays and Saturdays. The meet closes Sept. 30.
In order to maintain daily purses, the track has cut all stakes from the fall schedule, including the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions, five races timed as preps for the Breeders' Cup World Championships. After a year's hiatus, the series was reintroduced in 2011 under partial sponsorship by WinStar Farm of Versailles, Ky. While WinStar remained ready to continue its sponsorship this year, Turfway has elected to shift the track's share of the series' funding to the overnight purse account. Daily purses are expected to average $110,000, including $18,000 from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.
Smoking and Non-Smoking Areas Reconfigured
In response to customer requests, Turfway has reconfigured the smoking and non-smoking areas of its grandstand. A section of the first floor is being renovated to offer smokers a unique sports bar-like area, and with that change the trackside area of the first floor becomes a smoking zone. The opposite side of the first floor then becomes entirely smoke-free.
"By reconfiguring our existing space and adding a new area for smokers, we are able to accommodate smokers and non-smokers alike with as little air exchange as possible," said Director of Operations Chip Bach. "Patrons will now be able to enter the grandstand, buy a program, access concessions, and find seating without walking through any smoking areas. At the same time we're able to offer improved seating for our fans who do smoke."
Also newly designated smoke-free are the north side of the second floor, which features grandstand seating and the stage, and the mezzanine/third floor. The fourth and fifth floors and the Homestretch restaurant retain their existing non-smoking designation. In addition to the trackside area of the first floor, smoking will be permitted on the south side of the second floor and on balconies outside the second and third floors.
Fall Meet Packed with Events
Turfway's popular Dollar Friday promotion returns with a Double Down twist, as new $2 specials complement the familiar dollar draft beer and dollar hot dogs. One dollar win, place and show bets, which had been off the Friday schedule in recent years, also make a comeback on Fridays. Also popular on Friday nights are acoustic music in the trackside Corona Cantina and the Homestretch's $19.95 dinner buffet.
Saturdays feature a $16.95 lunch buffet in the Homestretch. Also on Saturdays, children can enjoy free pony rides. A trackside play set for children will be open every race day.
Opening weekend begins with the fifth annual Horses and Hope celebration on Fri., Sept. 7. A breast cancer awareness initiative of Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear, Horses and Hope brings together breast cancer survivors for a day at the races, with special guest former jockey P. J. Cooksey, herself a survivor. There is no charge to attend, but reservations are required and available by calling 859-240-3024.
Mascot races also return opening Friday but this year the characters will run for more than fun. Fans will be encouraged to "bet" a dollar on the mascot of their choice, with all proceeds benefiting Horses and Hope. Three tickets will be drawn from winning mascot bets, with the top prize an overnight stay at Horseshoe Casino Southern Indiana.
The third annual Fan Appreciation Day, a family-friendly event co-produced by the track and the horsemen, highlights the opening Saturday, Sept. 8. The day features pony rides and other free activities for children, stable tours, visits to the announcer's booth, horse care demonstrations, a dollar value menu, handicapping lessons, t-shirt giveaway, and more. All events are free.
New on the schedule is the Craft Beer Festival, trackside on Sat., Sept. 15. Fifteen niche breweries will offer 50 craft beers, including 15 rare in the Cincinnati market. Tickets, available via turfway.com or at the door, are $30. Designated driver tickets are $7.50.
WUBE, Cincinnati's top radio station, and its sister station WYGY will partner with Turfway to present Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy races on Sat., Sept 22. Teams will compete in piggyback races for tickets and meet-and-greet passes to country star Eric Church's Blood, Sweat and Beers show in October.
On Sat., Sept. 29, radio stations WGRR and WOFX will compete in the first annual Turfway Chili Cook-off to crown the best chili and hot sauce cooks in three categories: His, Hers, and Heroes. Listeners, race fans, horsemen, firefighters, and competitors from American Legion posts and the Armed Forces are invited to participate. Between sampling and voting, fans will enjoy prize giveaways and live music. Cook-off entries are $25. Tickets to sample chili and cornbread are $5. All proceeds from entries and sampling benefit Special Olympics.
Admission and parking are free every day of the fall meet; valet parking is available. More information about all events and the racing schedule is available at turfway.com.