Kentucky to Maintain Year-Round Circuit in 2002

Despite rumors that racing dates may be cut, it appears as though Kentucky's year-round Thoroughbred racing schedule will remain intact for 2002.

Track officials discussed next year's schedule during a Kentucky Racing Commission dates committee meeting Tuesday at Churchill Downs. There had been backstretch talk that Turfway Park, which carries the unpredictable winter dates, might scale back its meet.

"A lot of people have been talking about (Turfway) not running the month of January because of the weather," commissioner Richard Klein said. "I've heard rumors to that extent."

Not so, said Turfway president Bob Elliston. When the weather cooperates, the Northern Kentucky track makes "pretty good money," he said, and any revenue lost in January couldn't be made up in February and March.

Turfway probably will apply for its customary dates: January through early April, September, and December. There could be a few adjustments to avoid one-day overlaps with Churchill and Keeneland.

Elliston also said the track will request a 5:30 p.m. post time on weekdays from January through early April, and may seek the same post time for this year's December meet. The track experimented with a 4 p.m. post this winter, and in September and December has raced at 7 p.m.

Ellis Park, now in the midst of a successful summer meet, will apply for its usual schedule of early July through Labor Day, while Keeneland wants its customary April and October meets. The Churchill spring and fall meets would be scheduled as usual, with perhaps a few adjustments.

Churchill president Alex Waldrop said the track is considering a 12:40 p.m. post time on weekdays during the spring meet, instead of 3 p.m. He said a switch in the racing week from six to five days for the 2002 fall meet has been discussed because the track will race an extra week by the way the calendar falls.

"We've had no problem filling races, and would be hard-pressed to come up with a firm reason to change (the six-day schedule)," Waldrop said. "I think it would probably stay at six days."

Kentucky Downs, the all-turf facility, is expected to apply for seven days of racing in mid-September. It will race the same schedule this year.