Whoa! Two-Year-Olds Start Early in Kentucky

No, that quarter-mile maiden allowance race scheduled for Saturday at Turfway Park isn't for Quarter Horses. But it may look like it.

For the first time in recent memory -- maybe for the first time ever -- Turfway has scheduled a 2-year-old race at the tail end of its winter-spring meet. The two-furlong, $29,400 event has lured a field of 10: six fillies, three colts, and a gelding. It's carded as the first race.

One of the 2-year-olds entered in Saturday's race is Haven't Seen Dad, a bay colt who has no sire of record, according to Jockey Club information. Sam Penn, farm manager at Penn Farm near Lexington, said he purchased the colt's mother, Spring in My Step, who was said to be in foal to the stallion Inspired Prospect. "The blood didn't match up," said Penn, a co-owner of the colt. "They couldn't verify who the stallion was."

(According to The Jockey Club, a foal produced from a known mare but with an unknown sire is ineligible for registration; however, at their discretion the Stewards of The Jockey Club can issue a racing permit).

One of the fillies in the race, Roaring Lake, is by Roar, who won the grade II Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway in 1996.

"One of the reasons we've scheduled a 2-year-old race is there are a lot of horsemen on the grounds with 2-year-olds they say are ready to run," said Robert Forbeck, director of communications and marketing for Turfway. "Some people are for it, and some people aren't, but as long as the horsemen support it, we'll run the races."

Forbeck said there could be at least another one before the meet ends April 5. The 2-year-old race wasn't in the condition book; it was added by racing secretary Rick Leigh when horsemen expressed an interest.

Traditionally, 2-year-old racing in Kentucky debuts with the April meet at Keeneland. Elsewhere, 2-year-old races have been held in California, Florida, and Louisiana.