Friday, January 2, 2009 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . January 2, 2009 . . . Turfway Park closed its 2008 Holiday Meet with slight increases in average daily handle both on-track and from all sources. Daily on-track wagering on Turfway races was $127,992, an increase of 0.3 percent, while daily all-sources wagering on Turfway races was $2,775,799, up 1.8 percent.
"In light of the current economy, we are pleased to post even slight gains in activity," said Turfway Park president Robert N. Elliston. "I've seen blog comments that argue who's more important to tracks today, players or fans. We don't answer the question as either-or but as both. For players, our horsemen allowed us to offer attractive field sizes—10.4 compared to 10.1 last year. Additionally, we promoted the value of Turfway payoffs and provided information on playing our Polytrack surface. For novice fans, we aggressively marketed Turfway as a great place to have a lot of fun without breaking the bank. While we don't change admission and can only estimate attendance, we estimate that daily attendance rose almost 10 percent during the meet, most due to increases on Fridays and Saturdays."
Although the track posed declines for the meet as a whole, the drop at least in part reflects differences between the 2007 and 2008 calendars. Races were held only 21 days in the 2008 Holiday Meet, while the 2007 meet ran 27 days. In 2008, one full card was lost to frigid wind-chill temperatures. Two were lost to the track’s tradition of closing Christmas Eve and Christmas day, which in 2008 fell on Wednesday and Thursday; in 2007, the two days fell on Monday and Tuesday, when the track was already scheduled to be dark. The remaining difference resulted from a shift in the calendar that put opening day three days earlier in 2007.
Racing six fewer days in 2008, the track posted $2,687,822 in on-track wagering for the meet, a 22 percent decline, and $58,323,060 in all-sources wagering, a drop of 20.9 percent.
Pompell, Maker, and Ramseys earn meet titles
Jockey Tom Pompell earned his first Turfway riding title with 20 wins from 168 mounts. Bill Troilo was second with 19 wins from 89 mounts, including the Gowell Stakes with Step Out Smartly. A four-win day last Saturday, including the Holiday Cheer Stakes with Officer Rocket, helped propel Orlando Mojica into third place with 17 wins from 100 mounts
Mike Maker saddled 12 winners from 39 starters to win his fourth Turfway training title, each earned consecutively beginning with last year’s Holiday Meet. Among his wins were the Holiday Cheer Stakes with Officer Rocket for Ken and Sarah Ramsey and the Prairie Bayou Stakes with Canela for Scarlet Stable. Bill Connelly was second with eight winners from 39 starters, and Bill Helmbrecht was third with six winners from 29 starters.
Officer Rocket's win was one of eight for the Ramseys, who sent out 25 starters en route to their fourth consecutive leading owner title and seventh overall at Turfway. Billy Hays was second with six winners from 23 starters. Dawn Martin, who also tied for fourth in the trainer standings, was the meet's third-leading owner with five winners from 13 starters.