Wednesday, August 29, 2012 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Aug. 29, 2012 – Turfway Park will open its 54th fall Thoroughbred race meet with four days of events that celebrate longstanding connections to its community and fans.
The fall meet runs Sept. 6 through Sept. 30.
On opening night, Thurs., Sept. 6, Turfway welcomes the Florence Community Chorus to perform the National Anthem and other songs during the nine-race card. Under the direction of Don Whitis, the chorus was established in 1986. The group last performed at Turfway during the track's 50th anniversary celebration in 2009. First post on Thursday is 6:00 p.m.
The first Friday of the meet, Sept. 7, brings together three of the track's most popular events. The centerpiece is the 5th Annual Horses and Hope Pink Race Day, a celebration of breast cancer survivors from all walks of life. About 200 guests are expected for a reception and a race named in their honor. There is no charge to attend, but reservations are required and available by calling the Kentucky Cancer Program at (859) 240-3024. Horses and Hope is an initiative of Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear.
The evening's special guest is Patricia "P. J." Cooksey, a breast cancer survivor, former jockey, and now director of public relations for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. A trailblazer for female riders, Cooksey in 1984 was the second woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby and the following year was the first woman to ride in the Preakness Stakes. She holds four riding titles from Turfway and it was at Turfway that in 1988 she notched her 1,203rd career win to become the leading female jockey to that time. In March 2004, 11 months after breaking both legs in a racing accident at Keeneland, she chose Turfway for her comeback. Cooksey retired in 2004 with 2,136 career victories, one of just three women to break the 2,000 mark.
Turfway's popular mascot races also return Sept. 7, but this year's costumed competitors will run for more than a trophy. Fans on track can "bet" their favorite mascot, with proceeds going to Horses and Hope. Those who pick the top three finishers will be entered in drawings for prizes, with the winner's backers eligible for an overnight stay at Horseshoe Casino Southern Indiana.
Sept. 7 also marks the meet's first Dollar Friday, newly renamed Double Down Dollar Friday. Besides the familiar dollar draft beer and hot dogs, soft drinks also can be had for a dollar and fans can place dollar win, place, and show bets. Larger drafts and other specials debut for two dollars. Live acoustic music in the outdoor Corona Cantina provides the soundtrack for Friday's 11 races. First post on Friday is 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 8, brings back the free family fun of Fan Appreciation Day. Scheduled from noon to 6:00 p.m., the day offers enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, carnival-style games, balloon art, and a playground area for children as well as strolling musicians, demonstrations of horse care, visits to the stables, handicapping lessons, and giveaways of t-shirts, racing programs, and a flat-screen television. Among the day's unique attractions, fans may sign up to visit track announcer and NBC commentator Mike Battaglia as he calls a race. All Fan Appreciation Day events are free, and a dollar menu makes the day easy on the family budget. Saturday's 11 races start at 1:10 p.m.
The meet's opening week ends Sunday with nine races and special recognition marking the retirement of Chaplain Tom Farley. Under the auspices of the Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy, Chaplain Farley has ministered to the trainers, grooms, hotwalkers, exercise riders, and others on the Turfway Park backside since 1998. During the past year he has been instrumental in transforming a trailer into a food and clothing pantry to serve the backside population.
Licensed and ordained in Gospel Ministry, Chaplain Farley is a member of the Beechgrove Baptist Church in Independence. He received his Ministry certifications from Boyce College and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also has served as chaplain at Ellis Park in Henderson.
Turfway's fall race meet runs Sept. 6 – 30, Thursdays through Sundays. Post time on Thursdays and Fridays is 6:00 p.m., a half-hour later than previously. Post time on Saturdays and Sundays is 1:10 p.m. Admission and parking are free; valet parking is available.