from the Kentucky Quarter Horse Racing Association
Quarter Horses will race on the synthetic Polytrack for the first time Sept. 12 when Turfway Park hosts the $25,000 John Deere Turfway Park Sprint Stakes. The race will be part of the Friday night program of Thoroughbred racing during Turfway's late summer/early fall meet.
The last time Quarter Horses raced at the Northern Kentucky track was in 1972, when the track was known as Latonia. Quarter Horses currently have two pari-mutuel dates in the Bluegrass State at The Red Mile in July.
The John Deere Turfway Sprint Stakes, for 3-year-olds and up, will be contested at 330 yards on Polytrack. The $25,000 purse, which carries black-type status in American Quarter Horse racing, includes a $5,000 John Deere premium for Bank of America Challenge-enrolled horses.
“Our patrons have long enjoyed Quarter Horse racing via simulcast, but it’s a special treat to be able to bring that excitement to them live again,” Turfway president and chief executive officer Bob Elliston said. “Our Polytrack has been a laboratory since it was installed in 2005, and we’re eager to see racing’s fastest horses in action over it.”
They will be closely observed by those involved in Quarter Horse racing.
“To be running at Turfway Park is just another great opportunity for American Quarter Horse racing to be seen by horseracing fans in Kentucky, and on the national scene via the Turfway simulcast signal,” said Trey Buck, executive director of racing for the American Quarter Horse Association. “It’s also a tremendous opportunity to see how our athletes perform on an artificial surface, and to be a part of Turfway Park’s race program. Bob Elliston and his staff have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome. All of us at the AQHA are looking forward to this significant day to our industry.”
Nationally, Quarter Horses last raced on an artificial surface at Remington Park in Oklahoma in the late 1980s on Equitrack, which was replaced with traditional dirt after only a couple of seasons.
“The question of how racing American Quarter Horses will perform on a synthetic racing surface has been discussed numerous times since the 2006 Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit,” said Ed Ashcraft, treasurer of the Kentucky Quarter Horse Racing Association and a licensed trainer. “While a limited number of running Quarter Horses have trained on new synthetic surfaces around the country, there has never been a pari-mutuel Quarter Horse race over one. With several racetracks that conduct American Quarter Horse racing considering installing a synthetic surface, that question needs to be answered sooner rather than later.”