A committee has approved use of $100,000 from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund for several Kentucky Cup races, but it remains to be seen whether the stakes series—at least part of it—will be run at Turfway Park in September.
The KTDF advisory committee July 26 allocated $50,000 for the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) and $25,000 each for the Kentucky Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies. The Classic wasn’t run in 2010, while the 2-year-old races haven’t been offered since 2008.
The Kentucky Cup, typically a five-stakes package, was shelved last year to maintain overnight purses at Turfway. If the Classic, Sprint (gr. III), and Distaff (gr. III) aren’t run this year, they will lose their graded status per American Graded Stakes Committee regulations.
The Juvenile lost its grade III ranking after it wasn’t run for two consecutive years.
In a letter to the KTDF committee Turfway vice president and chief financial officer Cliff Reed said the track had a KTDF surplus of $350,000 after the 2011 winter/spring meet and expects to earn an additional $225,000 during the late summer/early fall meet. The KTDF, which supplements purses for Kentucky-registered horses, is funded by 0.75% of pari-mutuel handle at in-state tracks and wagering outlets.
Turfway management, which ultimately would like to restore all five Kentucky Cup races, remains in negotiations with the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which must sign off on use of the purse money, track president Bob Elliston said July 26.
Kentucky HBPA executive director Marty Maline couldn’t be reached for comment July 26.
If the Kentucky Cup is held this year, it most likely will be supported by multiple sources. Turfway ended its last meet with a purse underpayment, so some money is available there; the $100,000 Turfway Park Championship (gr. III) could be shelved for a year, freeing up funds; and officials have been looking for a sponsor.
The Championship, at 1 1/2 miles, was a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race last year and produced the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon (gr. II) winner Eldaafer. It did not earn “Win and You’re In” status this year.
Because of the challenging environment at Ellis Park and Turfway, only five black-type stakes were scheduled in Kentucky from early July through early October. Member of the KTDF advisory committee in June also expressed concern about the lack of even one 2-year-old stakes in the state in the three months between the Churchill spring meet and Keeneland fall meet.
Ellis Park in its final condition book lists two $32,000 “handicap” races for 2-year-olds going long on the grass. Elliston has said it would be important to Kentucky racing for the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles and Juvenile Fillies at one mile to return to the schedule in September at Turfway.