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Turfway Celebrates Kentucky Derby Fun and Tradition at Rock the Derby

Friday, April 26, 2013 12:00 AM
  • General
  • Spiral Stakes
FLORENCE, Ky., April 26, 2013 – Turfway Park will celebrate the most exciting two minutes in sports all day long May 4 as the Northern Kentucky track hosts Rock the Derby: the Biggest Derby Party in Town, its annual Kentucky Derby simulcast and party.

The party area--outdoors in pleasant weather, indoors otherwise--opens at noon. Hat contests, handicapping games, and live music by popular Cincinnati rockers Doghouse, on stage at 3:30 p.m., will keep fans busy until Derby post time at 6:24 p.m.

In honor of Black Onyx, the nearly black colt who earned his way to the Derby by winning the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes at Turfway, one lucky fan will win a $1,375 diamond and onyx necklace designed by Gabriel & Co. of New York, compliments of Marshall Granger Jewelers of Cold Spring, Ky. The name of the winner will be drawn from entries that correctly predict where Black Onyx finishes in the race. The winner must be present at the drawing.

Hat contest winners will be determined by audience response to designs in three categories: sexiest, most creative, and traditional. Judging begins at 5 p.m.

Bridgette, afternoon DJ from Cincinnati radio station 96ROCK, will broadcast live from Turfway from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Appropriately for Derby day, the first 96 fans to stop by her broadcast booth will receive free tickets to the Foals concert at Bogart's on May 14.

More prize packages will come from The Owens Group, who will be on site to promote the May 10 release of the movie The Great Gatsby.

General admission, including admission to the party area, is free. First come, first served seating is available in smoking and non-smoking areas around the grandstand. Parking also is free; valet parking is available.

Reservations are available, some with buffet service. Buffet service in reserved areas begins at noon, with courses progressing through the day until desserts are served from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Time-honored Derby fare tops the menu in reserved areas, including Kentucky Hot Brown, prime rib with Henry Bain Sauce, southern grits, classic Derby Pie, and bourbon-laced bread pudding, among other dishes.

Heading the libations list is a new drink created especially to honor the Spiral Stakes winner. The Black Onyx will be sold in a Spiral Stakes commemorative glass for $6, with refills available for $5.

Other Derby day thirst-quenchers include Mint Julep and Bloody Mary cocktails, Derby Rose shots, rum buckets, and Pinnacle vodka fishbowl specials. Stella Artois, the official beer of the Kentucky Derby, will be on tap, and the first 96 party guests to order the Belgian import for $4 will receive the lager's iconic glass chalice and $3 refills throughout the day.

While the popular Homestretch restaurant on the first floor has sold out, reserved seats with buffet service are still available on the fifth floor. A few seats remain in the Top of the Park, which offers tables with TV monitors at $40 per seat. Available seats are more plentiful in the Racing Club, which offers tables with views of wall-mounted monitors for $35 per seat. All dining areas are smoke-free.

Reserved seats without buffet service are available for $5 in Players' Row, handicapping stations on the first floor that offer workspace and individual TV monitors. The non-smoking section of Players' Row is sold out. Reserved seats remain in the smoking section.

The star of the show is the simulcast of the 139th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby, the first of the Triple Crown races and the most famous race in the world. Turfway's Spiral Stakes has produced two Derby winners, Lil E. Tee in 1992 and Animal Kingdom in 2011, and several winners of the remaining two jewels in the crown, the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

The filly counterpart to the Kentucky Derby is the Kentucky Oaks, run annually on the Friday before the Derby. This year's Kentucky Oaks field is expected to include Silsita, winner of the Fathead Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway, and Pure Fun, third in the Bourbonette. The third-place filly in the 2006 Bourbonette, Lemons Forever, won that year's Kentucky Oaks.

Both the Bourbonette Oaks and the Spiral Stakes were designated by Churchill Downs as qualifying races for the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby, respectively, in this first year of the new points system. Each of Turfway's qualifiers offered a total of 85 points: 50 to the winner, 20 to the runner-up, 10 for third place, and five for fourth place.

Turfway's gates open at 10 a.m. both Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4. The first race from Churchill Downs both days goes off at 10:30 a.m. Admission and parking are free on Friday as well. Reservations in the Homestretch for a la carte menu service are available on Friday as usual.

From about 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, Turfway will accept advance wagers on Saturday's entire Kentucky Derby card. Any opportunity to advance wager on the Oaks has not yet been announced.

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