With little time to spare and graded status for three races on the line, all five Kentucky Cup stakes will return to the calendar at Turfway Park in September, with Kenny Troutt's WinStar Farm as the presenting sponsor.
This year’s event will be held Sept. 24, officials with the Kentucky racetrack said Aug. 3. The meet begins Sept. 8, with release of a condition book on hold until the Kentucky Cup situation was resolved. The day of racing will be called the WinStar Kentucky Cup Day of Champions.
“We deeply appreciate WinStar’s willingness to sponsor this outstanding day of racing,” said Turfway Park president Robert N. Elliston. “This isn’t the first time WinStar has stepped up to support our racing, but it is critical at this juncture. We likewise appreciate the horsemen’s willingness to work with us to return this day to our calendar in the face of continuing economic challenges that are unique in this region to Kentucky racing.”
“When we read that the Kentucky Cup had to be cancelled due to the economic conditions in our state last year, we were deeply saddened,” said Elliott Walden, president/CEO and racing manager of WinStar. “The Kentucky Cup has been an integral part of Kentucky’s racing calendar for the last 15 years. We are committed to helping this industry that gives Kentuckians so much and felt like we wanted to get involved with this spectacular day. We also have some creative ideas that you will hear about in the coming weeks, and we are very excited to help promote our industry through the WinStar Kentucky Cup Day of Champions.”
Returning to the schedule after a one-year suspension to preserve overnight purses are the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II), $100,000 Kentucky Cup Distaff (gr. III), and $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint (gr. III). The $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile and $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies, not run since 2008, are back as well.
The Juvenile lost its grade III ranking because it wasn’t run for two consecutive years (2009-10).
Kentucky Cup will be funded by a variety of sources, including WinStar's sponsorship, purse money from a suspended stakes, and a commitment by horsemen to use some of the underpayment in the purse account at Turfway, which will be able to maintain overnight purses at previous levels, Elliston said.
Also, a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission committee in July ruled that Turfway could use $100,000 of its Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund allotment to supplement Kentucky Cup purses if the track was able to restore the stakes. The Classic purse includes $50,000 from the KTDF and the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies purses each include $25,000 in KTDF funds.
Elliston called it a morale booster for Kentucky racing. Without the Kentucky Cup, only five stakes would be run in Kentucky from early July through early October. One of them—the $100,000, grade III Turfway Park Championship at 1 1/2 miles—has been shelved this year to provide money for Kentucky Cup.
The Championship last year was a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race for the grade II Marathon. Even though the winner, Eldaafer, went on to win the Marathon, the stakes wasn’t included in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series this year.
Turfway, which opens after the current Ellis Park meet, will race Thursdays through Sundays through Oct. 2. For the most part first post time will be 5:30 p.m. EDT Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and 1:10 p.m. Sundays.