Turfway Park, in an attempt to drive ontrack business, hopes to replicate its Friday night success by switching to an evening post time on Saturdays beginning Feb. 5.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved the change, track president Bob Elliston confirmed Jan. 13.
For the final two months of its meet with the exception of March 26, Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) day, Saturday post time will switch to 5:30 p.m. EST from the traditional 1:10 p.m. Turfway will cut back to three-day weeks in February, March, and early April, so its allotment of races will change—there will be 12 races on Fridays, 12 instead of 10 on Saturdays, and 10 instead of nine on Sundays.
Elliston said Friday night programs with various specials and entertainment have grown in popularity in recent years. The idea is to carry that over to Saturday evenings.
“From a financial standpoint—ontrack handle and food and beverage sales—Fridays have been better than Saturdays,” Elliston said. “We asked ourselves, ‘Why couldn’t we do as well on Saturdays?’ It also gives us a chance to bring our product to a new fan base.”
Elliston said he doesn’t expect export handle to suffer because Turfway is one of the more prominent nighttime Thoroughbred signals on Thursdays and Fridays. By racing at night Saturdays, the track’s weekly stakes could attract more attention as well.
“I think the signal will do just fine, and maybe see some growth,” he said. “And if the experience on Fridays is replicated on Saturdays, I think we’ll see growth in ontrack handle, which contributes more to purses.”
Saturday could feature food and beverage specials geared around a date-night program, as well as live entertainment.
“We’re not just moving a post time,” Elliston said. “We’re trying to create a party and trying to enhance the product.”