The Kentucky Cup Day of Champions card is once again a victim of the Thoroughbred industry’s economic struggle.
In order to maintain daily purses, Turfway Park announced Wednesday it will cut all stakes from the fall schedule, including the Kentucky Cup card, when the track opens its 16-day fall race meet beginning Sept. 6.
After a year’s hiatus, the five-race Kentucky Cup series – featuring the Grade II Kentucky Cup, Grade III Kentucky Cup Distaff and Grade III Kentucky Cup Sprint – was reintroduced in 2011 under partial sponsorship by WinStar Farm. While WinStar remained ready to continue its sponsorship this year, Turfway has elected to shift the track’s share of the series’ funding to the overnight purse account. Daily purses are expected to average $110,000, including $18,000 from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.
Also gone for a second consecutive year is the Grade III Turfway Park Fall Championship, which was dropped from the 2011 fall meet schedule to help facilitate the Kentucky Cup card. First run at the original Latonia racecourse in 1919 and a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race from 2008 through 2010, the Fall Championship prepped the 2010 winner of the Breeders’ Cup Marathon in Eldaafer.
Due to its two year hiatus, the Fall Championship will lose its graded stakes status.
Last year’s Kentucky Cup card featured eventual 2-year-old champion Hansen as the son of Tapit won the Kentucky Cup Juvenile by 13 1/4 lengths in just his second career start. Hansen then went on to defeat Grade I winner Union Rags in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs en route to securing the Eclipse Award for divisional honors.
The Kentucky Cup Day of Champions had also prepped the winners of seven others Breeders’ Cup races: Boston Harbor (1996 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile); Reraise (1998 Breeders’ Cup Sprint); Cat Thief (1999 Breeders’ Cup Classic); Spain (2000 Breeders’ Cup Distaff); Vindication (2002 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile); Cajun Beat (2003 Breeders’ Cup Sprint); and Furthest Land (2009 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile).
Pending approval by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, post time Thursday and Friday will be 6:00 p.m., a half-hour later than last fall. Post time Saturday and Sunday remains at 1:10 p.m. The track will present nine races on Thursdays and Sundays and 11 races on Fridays and Saturdays. The meet closes Sept. 30.
In response to customer requests, Turfway has reconfigured the smoking and non-smoking areas of its grandstand. A section of the first floor is being renovated to offer smokers a unique sports bar-like area, and with that change the trackside area of the first floor becomes a smoking zone. The opposite side of the first floor then becomes entirely smoke-free.
“By reconfiguring our existing space and adding a new area for smokers, we are able to accommodate smokers and non-smokers alike with as little air exchange as possible,” said Director of Operations Chip Bach. “Patrons will now be able to enter the grandstand, buy a program, access concessions, and find seating without walking through any smoking areas. At the same time we’re able to offer improved seating for our fans who do smoke.”
Also newly designated smoke-free are the north side of the second floor, which features grandstand seating and the stage, and the mezzanine/third floor. The fourth and fifth floors and the Homestretch restaurant retain their existing non-smoking designation. In addition to the trackside area of the first floor, smoking will be permitted on the south side of the second floor and on balconies outside the second and third floors.