Plan to Save Turfway Training Falls Short

Kentucky horsemen were unable to keep Turfway Park open for off-season training.

An effort by Kentucky horsemen to keep Turfway Park open for off-season training and stabling has failed, meaning the Northern Kentucky track will close its barn area in mid-April.

The Blood-Horse reported March 6 that Turfway management had informed horsemen of the plan to end off-season training because it has lost money. Track president Bob Elliston had said the horsemen requested some time to find ways to cut costs and keep the track open for training.

On March 18 Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association executive director Marty Maline said horsemen “were shocked” when they found out about the plan March 1. He said horsemen had come up with a way to reduce costs by about $50,000; Turfway said it lost almost $150,000 on off-season stabling in 2010.

“The horsemen asked about cutting training hours and days, and even raising the stall rent,” Maline said. “Bob (Elliston) told us we’d never get to where we needed to be.”

Elliston said the track needs about 500 horses on the grounds to break even. Last year it had about 350.

Maline said Ellis Park in western Kentucky has agreed to open its barn area early on May 1. Still, Maline said the end of off-season training isn’t a good sign; it could impact Keeneland—a 50% owner of Turfway—and perhaps force even more horsemen out of state at a time when Kentucky tracks are short on horses.