Turfway Park, which wrapped up its winter/spring meet April 1, reported across-the-board business increases even though it lost nine full cards and parts of six others during the session that began Jan. 1.
Total in-state and out-of-state wagering on Turfway races increased 19.8% to $138,338,918. On-track handle was up 3.9%. There was a 2.3% drop in the number of races conducted--564 in 2004 vs. 577 in 2003--though the track held five more racing days during this year's meet.
Purses paid came in at $8,938,320, up 1.1%. Average field size improved from 8.1 starters per race to 8.8.
On track, the meet was marked with highs and lows. Jockey Mike Rowland died Feb. 9 as a result of injuries suffered in a racing accident at Turfway five days before. Turfway established the Michael F. Rowland Fund at Fifth Third Bank to benefit Rowland's wife, trainer Tammy Rowland, and three daughters. The fund, together with similar efforts by the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, had raised almost $70,000 by the end of the meet.
On closing night, Turfway introduced veteran rider Perry Ouzts as its nominee for the first Michael F. Rowland Award, which has been established in cooperation with Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort in West Virginia, and Beulah Park, River Downs, and Thistledown in Ohio. Rowland did most his riding at those tracks.
Each of the other four tracks will present a nominee this summer, and the winner will be announced at Turfway during the Sept. 18 Kentucky Cup Day of Champions. Jockeys riding at the participating tracks choose the nominees and the winner.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano had a record Turfway meet with 150 winners from 472 mounts. The previous record of 111 was set by Jason Lumpkins last year. Bejarano also posted 99 seconds and 65 thirds, and his mounts earned $2,008,233 in purses, another winter/spring meet record.
Trainer Greg Foley topped the standings with 24 wins from 71 starters, while M.Y. Stables Inc. (Ron McKay) was the leading owner with six wins. Eight other owners each had five winners.