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Lane's End Stakes offers dress-up, dress-down fun

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 12:00 AM
  • Spiral Stakes
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 11, 2009 . . . Like Thoroughbred racing everywhere, the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park offers something for everyone, from the serious handicapper to the most casual fan, and from those dressed Derby-style to the blue-jeans crowd along the rail.

The 2009 Lane's End Stakes is scheduled for Saturday, March 21. This year marks the 38th running of the race, which was established in 1972 as a prep race for the Kentucky Derby. The race carries a $500,000 purse, virtually guaranteeing the winner a spot in the Derby field.

The first of 12 races on the program goes off at 1:10pm. Besides the Lane's End Stakes, the program offers four other stakes races, including the Grade III Bourbonette Oaks, a prep for fillies aiming toward the Kentucky Oaks.

With seating for about 1,800 guests, the prime venue on raceday is the Maker's Mark VIP Tent, sponsored since 2002 by Maker's Mark, distiller of premium Kentucky bourbon. Guests in the tent will enjoy Chef Peter Haubi's buffet spread featuring Poulet Rotî Vesuvio and Prime Rib, a premium open bar, and live entertainment. A favorite gathering spot is the oak-paneled Maker's Mark Waterfall Bar. Between races, partiers in the tent can keep up with NCAA basketball on some of the more than 60 TV monitors and giant screens, shop for custom hats by Fabulous Hats of Lexington, furs by Donna Salyers' Fabulous Furs, horse-themed gifts and jewelry, and Lane’s End souvenirs, or relax with a mini-massage from Cincy Chic.

Exclusively for the Maker's Mark VIP Tent, Libby's Gourmet Desserts of Cincinnati will provide 225 chocolate cakes made expressly for Turfway. The recipe is liberally enhanced with Maker's Mark bourbon and iced to mimic Maker's Mark's signature red wax.

All common areas of the tent are non-smoking; a special lounge accommodates those who smoke. Depending on the weather, the tent can be closed and heated or its sidewalls opened.

Seating in the main building ranges from the intimate Bluegrass Boxes to all-business handicapping stations to tiered seats in the grandstand. Some reserved seats include buffet service; several preferred areas are sold out.

The signature drink of the day is the Lane's End Drink, a combination of orange juice, pineapple juice, blue Curaçao, gin, tequila, rum, and vodka served in a 2009 Lane's End Stakes commemorative glass. Director of Food and Beverage Mike Seader will mix up 100 gallons of the green drink, a favorite from tent to trackside.

From the second race through the sixth, prizes will be given away by random drawing both in the Maker's Mark VIP Tent and in the main building. Prizes vary by location and include John Deere lawn equipment, box seats for Keeneland's spring race meet, fur coats and throws from Fabulous Furs, hats from Fabulous Hats, cash vouchers, a Canon digital camera, and a variety of gift baskets.

Tickets to the Lane's End Stakes are available in advance or at the door. General admission is $10, with some areas of the grandstand available for free, first come-first served seating. Reserved seats range from $25 for other grandstand seats to $175 for seats in the Maker's Mark VIP Tent. Parking is free; valet parking is $5. In addition to Turfway's own lot, parking is available at ZF Lenksysteme's lot at 15 Spiral Drive, a half-mile walk from the track.

For race-goers, gates open at 10:00 a.m., and the first 1,200 fans through the gates will receive a free 2009 Lane's End cap with paid admission.

For some fans the day begins at 9:00 a.m, when former Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason, Maker's Mark president Bill Samuels Jr., and Turfway president Bob Elliston will sign the 2009 Maker's Mark Lane's End Stakes commemorative bottle, which features Esiason. Sales of the bottle benefit the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which funds research into cystic fibrosis. The signing runs from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. Beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Turfway’s Gate B, 400 tickets for the signing will be distributed to those 21 years and older. Each person who receives a ticket may have two bottles signed. Only the 2009 bottle will be signed.

One week earlier, on Saturday, March 14, the first 1,500 fans through the gates will receive a free Lane's End Stakes commemorative glass. This year marks the 29th year a souvenir glass has been produced to commemorate the race.

On Wednesday, March 18, community leaders, horsemen, and fans are invited to attend the Call to the Post Luncheon and Post Position Draw, when entries are drawn and morning line odds set for the Lane's End Stakes. The luncheon begins at noon in the Maker's Mark VIP Tent at Turfway. Tickets are $35 each or $300 for a table of 10. Live racing follows the luncheon and draw.

The night before the race, Platinum and Elite members of Turfway’s FasTrack Rewards loyalty program will attend an invitation-only dinner in the Racing Club.

The Lane's End Stakes, a $500,000 Grade II prep race for the Kentucky Derby, has been sponsored since 2002 by Lane’s End Farm, the leading Thoroughbred operation in North America for 10 years, seven consecutively. Covering more than 3,000 acres of Central Kentucky bluegrass, the farm is owned by William S. Farish, former U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James's.

In the years since Lane's End has sponsored the race, attendance has averaged just over 21,000. The largest crowd during Lane’s End’s sponsorship was 23,815 in 2007.

In addition to Maker's Mark's sponsorship of the VIP Tent, other sponsorship is provided by Miller Brewing Company, the official beer of the Lane's End Stakes.

More information and tickets are available by calling (859) 371-0200. Further details are available at

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