Having the top two finishers in this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) entered in the Sept. 29 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) has led to an increase in local and national coverage of the event and could help spike on-track attendance, Turfway Park officials said.
The Kentucky racetrack found out Sept. 23 Street Sense and Hard Spun, who finished one-two in the Derby, would go in the Kentucky Cup Classic, centerpiece of the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions program. That gave management a few days to prepare.
“In our market, we cranked up our earned media,” Turfway president Bob Elliston said. “We thought, ‘Now, we’ve got a real story to sell.’ The story gives us legs in the mainstream press.”
The track’s ad agency created a “rematch” logo, which has appeared on various Web sites. Elliston appeared on a Channel 9 news program in the Cincinnati, Ohio, market, and the story got play on local radio stations. Through the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, about 140,000 racing fans received e-mails about the event, and TVG, which will broadcast the Kentucky Cup program live, has included related mini-features in its programming.
“This race has given us the ammunition to do that kind of stuff,” Elliston said. “It also has allowed us into audiences we sometimes don’t get into.”
Turfway began offering free admission for Kentucky Cup in 2003, and since that year, attendance has averaged about 10,000, according to figures reported by the track. With ideal weather forecast for Sept. 29, and the Cincinnati Bengals playing a Monday night game, officials are hoping for more interest in the program.
“For a lot of reasons, I think we have a good shot (at attracting more people),” Elliston said. “Almost every reserved seat is sold. If we can’t get folks out to see the Derby winner, I’m not sure we can get folks out.”