Turfway Park has asked the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to approve a request to cut four Wednesday cards and all but one stakes race from its 2010 fall meet, track president Robert Elliston announced July 7.
The request will be considered at the commission’s next meeting, set for July 20.
If the changes are approved, Turfway’s live meet will run Thursdays through Sundays from Sept. 9-Oct. 3, comprising 16 cards instead of 20. With the exception of the $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship (gr. III), a contracted Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, the stakes schedule will be eliminated.
Newly lost are the three Kentucky Cup Day of Champions races that were not slashed last year, the Classic (gr. II), the Distaff (gr. III), and the Sprint (gr. III). The three together represent $400,000 in purses at their 2009 levels. Cut last year from the five-race series were the Juvenile (gr. III) and the Juvenile Fillies. The Marfa Stakes and Weekend Delight Stakes, both ungraded, also were dropped last year.
“We were forced to make deep cuts to at least stay even with last fall’s daily purse averages and support our local horsemen as best we can,” said Elliston in a release. “We have to do whatever we can to maximize our field size, which means fewer race dates, and we are not alone.
“Churchill Downs ran four days instead of five except for Derby week during their spring meet, and their average field size fell below eight. Keeneland cut more than $1 million from its fall meet purse structure and dropped two graded stakes. Except for Labor Day weekend, Ellis Park is racing only three days a week. Meanwhile, Indiana Downs just increased their purses by 30%, and last month, on an ordinary Wednesday card, set a track wagering record.
“We are especially disappointed to have to drop the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions,” Elliston continued in a statement. “Great horses came from all over for those races, and they’ve had a significant impact on the Breeders’ Cup. If the state legislature allows us to level the playing field with surrounding states that enhance their purses with gaming revenue, the Kentucky Cup would be high on the list of races we would restore.”
Established in 1994, the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions has produced six Breeders’ Cup winners: Boston Harbor (1996 Juvenile); Reraise (1998 Sprint); Cat Thief (1999 Classic); Spain (2000 Distaff); Vindication (2002 Juvenile); Cajun Beat (2003 Sprint); and Furthest Land (2009 Dirt Mile). Boston Harbor, Reraise, and Vindication became Eclipse Award champions, as did the Kentucky Cup Classic’s second winner, Thunder Gulch. Two 2008 Kentucky Cup winners, Bear Now and Fatal Bullet, were among Canada’s Sovereign Award champions.
Turfway has aditionally asked permission to move its fall meet post time on Thursdays and Fridays to 5:30 p.m. ET, consistent with its holiday and winter/spring meets. Post time those days had been 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday post time will remain at 1:10 p.m.