Turfway Park will celebrate its long and colorful history Feb. 23 and 24 with Latonia Days, two days of storytelling, special guests, memorabilia displays, films, and photos. The event supports the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which assists riders who sustain catastrophic on-track injuries.
"We're proud of our history and our place in Kentucky's racing heritage," said Turfway Park general manager Daniel "Chip" Bach. "We're looking forward to welcoming old friends and hearing their insider stories about the characters and horses that have come through this place over the last 60 years. We want to share that with our Florence neighbors, who may not know about the history in their own backyard."
Latonia Days festivities include dinner in the Racing Club Feb. 23, when guests will enjoy stories and Q & A from Triple Crown-winning jockey Steve Cauthen; national racing analyst and former Turfway track announcer Mike Battaglia; Smithsonian consultant, track historian and Northern Kentucky University professor emeritus Jim Claypool; and Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Mike Manganello. Invited guests include former Turfway executives, who no doubt will be swapping stories of their own.
The dinner is open to the public. Tickets are $50 per person. Reservations are due by Feb. 16, and may be made by calling (859) 647-4846. Doors open at 5 p.m., with dinner and the program planned for 5:45 to 7 p.m.
Friday's feature race is the $75,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, the local prep race for the grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks March 17, itself an official prep for the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).
Also on Feb. 23, Turfway will welcome current and former jockeys for an autograph session on the first floor from 6:45 to 8 p.m. A souvenir poster will be available for $10 for signing. A silent auction will run concurrently, featuring such items as a signed saddle cloth, signed Steve Cauthen bobblehead, an autographed limited edition Maker's Mark bottle, and a copy of The Dark Side, signed by author and former jockey Mike Bryan.
Friday's entertainment includes the short film "Old Latonia, America's Most Beautiful Race Course" on screens around the building and a free concert by 1970s cover band Gee, Your Band Smells Terrific. The track's usual Dollar Friday deals—one-dollar draft beer, Queen City Sausage hot dogs, sodas and bets—are in play as well.
Saturday's featured entertainment is a screening of the 1931 classic film "Sporting Blood" starring Clark Gable. The movie was filmed partly at old Latonia, the Covington, Ky., racetrack that operated from 1883 to 1939 and inspired a group of businessmen to open a new Latonia 20 years later—what is now Turfway Park. The movie will be shown in the Turfway Park Party Deck on the third floor toward the end of live racing. Admission and popcorn are free.
Both Friday and Saturday, the Party Deck also will be a museum, with displays of memorabilia, photos, vintage post cards, trophies, commemoratives and collectibles, racing programs and more from the days of old Latonia to the present. There is no charge to view the display.
Live racing begins at 6:15 p.m. both days, ending about 10:40 p.m. Friday and 10:15 p.m. Saturday.
Admission to the track and parking are free both days. Valet parking is available.