Sunday, January 4, 2004 12:00 AM
Bejarano sets record as leading rider
FLORENCE, KY . . . January 4, 2004 . . . Turfway Park ended its 2003 Holiday Meet with a tie for leading trainer that came down to the last race of the last card, total handle that was nearly as close a call, and a leading rider record that was away and gone before the meet even ended.
Total handle from all sources was $78,597,113, down 0.6 percent from the same period last year. Like last year, the track lost six races when changing track conditions led officials to cancel after four races on Sunday, December 21.
On-track wagering was less a photo finish, falling 5.5 percent from the 2002 Holiday Meet. Wagering on Turfway races from all sources inched up 0.7 percent to $56,421,373.
With 10 wins each, Dale Romans, Greg Foley, and perennial leader Bernard Flint shared leading trainer honors for the meet. Foley needed three winners on the final day to catch Flint, including the last two on the card, and Romans needed one; jockey Jason Lumpkins rode all four. Flint saddled 53 starters, Romans, 29, and Foley, 32. In the money 62 percent of the time, Romans led all trainers with $167,985 in purses.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano broke the Holiday Meet record for wins on his way to the leading rider title, but he didn’t need the last day to do it. He didn’t need the five days before that, either. Although the meet ran through December 31, Bejarano left early to spend the holidays in his native Peru. Riding into the money a remarkable 67 percent of the time, he ended the meet with 46 firsts, 26 seconds, and 20 thirds from 137 mounts in just 16 days. His mounts earned $512,196 in purses. Bejarano rode four winners five different days, five winners twice, and had at least one winner every day he rode. The record for wins during a Holiday Meet had been 39, set in 1991 by Fabio Arguello, Jr.
Second to Bejarano was Jason Lumpkins with 27 winners from 126 mounts for $354,459 in purses. Rodney Prescott finished third with 17 winners from 162 mounts.
The meet’s leading owner was the Robert S. Mitchell Trust with purses of $44,560 on four wins, two seconds, and one third from eight starters. Purses paid increased 1.3 percent to slightly more than $3,000,000 for the 22-day meet. Average number of starters held steady at 9.9 per race.
Turfway does not charge general admission; attendance comparisons are therefore not available.
Live racing continues at Turfway through April 1 with the Winter/Spring Meet. Post time is 5:30 p.m. EST Wednesday through Friday and 1:10 p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday. On February 1, Super Bowl Sunday, post time is 12:00 noon. Centerpiece of the Winter/Spring Meet is the Grade 2 $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes, set for March 20.