Turfway Park

Turfway Park

Pat Lang

Horsemen, Turfway Explore Training Proposal

The Kentucky track would need enough horses to justify staying open in the summer.

The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and Turfway Park are working together to determine whether there is enough interest in having the racetrack stay open for summer stabling and training.

The Kentucky HBPA formed a committee to examine the possibility. Turfway a few years ago kept its barn area open after its winter/spring meet but eventually determined it didn't have enough horses on the grounds to make it financially viable.

Trainer Jeff Greenhill, currently stabled at Turfway and a member of the Kentucky HBPA committee, said trainer David England is drawing up a business plan for the proposal.

"We're testing interest on the backside as far as the trainers there now go," Greenhill said. "We don't want to say especially (next) year, but especially next year if River Downs isn't an option. There are guys that don't want to go to Beulah Park, especially with the purses in Indiana.

"Turfway becomes a very good place to sit and (ship to other tracks). It's very well-placed."

River Downs in Ohio and Turfway in Northern Kentucky for decades have formed an almost year-round racing circuit in the Cincinnati area. Though the Ohio State Racing Commission hasn't awarded River Downs dates for 2013, it appears the meet will move to Beulah Park near Columbus because of gaming-related construction at River Downs.

Also, Turfway is located about 90 minutes from Indiana Downs, which could end up racing all the Thoroughbred dates in the state next year and beyond if Hoosier Park Racing & Casino owner Centaur Holdings closes on the track's purchase by March 1, 2013. Indiana Downs always has been short on stalls, and Centaur would be required to add 150 by July 29 of next year and another 150 by July 1, 2014.

Greenhill also noted the proximity of Turfway to Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Thistledown, Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, and Presque Isle Downs & Casino.

"There seems to be pretty high interest (in staying at Turfway), especially from people that won't be able to stable at River Downs," Greenhill said. 

Turfway general manager Chip Bach earlier said River Downs officials initially contacted him about leasing the Turfway barn if a live meet was held at the Ohio track in 2013 because training most likely wouldn't have been possible. Bach has said Turfway remains open to any plan as long as it makes financial sense for the track.