The gaming partnership that is part of the Turfway Park ownership group has focused on putting new energy—and money—into the Northern Kentucky track's biggest race day.
Rock Ohio Gaming and Caesars Entertaiment, partners in the recently opened Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati and in Turfway, have stepped up to have the casino sponsor the Spiral Stakes (gr. III), assuring the key Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) prep race on March 23 will have its largest purse in a decade at $550,000.
"They wanted to make sure the race was bigger than it had been in over a decade. That's why it's $550,000 this year," said Turfway general manager Chip Bach of this year's Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes. "Really if our purse structure could afford it, they want it to be greater than that."
A Rock Ohio-Caesars partner company, Fathead, will sponsor the $100,000 Bourbonette Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies on the Spiral card.
While many assumed Caesars, which has been a partner in Turfway for 14 years, and Rock Ohio were interested in the potential for the Northern Kentucky track to land added gaming or Instant Racing games, the company has shown an interest in improving the track's biggest race day.
In addition to the title race sponsorship, the casino hosted the race draw March 20 at its Jack Binion's steak house. The Spiral tent, already a popular destination on race day, will receive an upgrade as well.
"Their people with the vision have come to us and re-imagined the tent a little bit. It's being reconfigured and will be more fun than ever," Bach said. "We're even going to have showgirls at the tent. They are all about world class delivery. They are all about taking a sincere interest in making our property better. I know they will."
Horseshoe Cincinnati general manager Kevin Kline has been a frequent visitor to the races at Turfway. He sees an opportunity for a strong partnership between the two properties.
"We are very committed to reinvesting in Turfway," Kline said at the post position draw.
Bach noted that Rock Gaming and Caesars plan to bring some of their top customers to the tent on Spiral day, noting such an event is not something other casinos can readily offer.
While Bach has seen a commitment to racing from the owners, he said Kentucky needs to act to approve added gaming for tracks. Short of that, he hopes the courts will soon give final approval on Instant Racing. Turfway has been more conservative awaiting that court decision; tracks like Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park already have added Instant Racing.
"We have a player who is willing to invest in our property if some of these things can happen," Bach said. "We have the best company in the world supporting our property. They just need the legislative authority to do it, to make it happen."