Turfway Park, which has again cut racing dates in the hope of increasing overnight purses when it reopens in late November, will offer a slimmed down stakes schedule for its holiday and winter/spring meets.
The Kentucky track scheduled three $50,000 stakes–the Holiday Inaugural, Prairie Bayou, and Holiday Cheer–for the holiday meet that runs from Nov. 29-Dec. 31. Seven stakes including the $500,000 Spiral and $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (both gr. III) are scheduled for the winter/spring meet that spans Jan. 1-March 30.
Officials kept intact the 3-year-old stakes that lead to the Spiral: the $50,000 Turfway Prevue, the $50,000 WEBN, and the $75,000 John Battaglia Memorial. The two winter stakes for 3-year-old fillies that serve as preps for the Bourbonette–the $50,000 Cincinnati Trophy and $50,000 Valdale–remain on the schedule as well.
Stakes that have been suspended for the December-through-March period are the My Charmer, Gowell, Wishing Well, Forego, Dust Commander, Rushaway, and Hansel.
Turfway, whose majority owner is a partnership of Caesars Entertainment and Rock Ohio Gaming, earlier agreed to surrender its September dates to Churchill Downs for 2013. Turfway this year ran 16 days in September; Churchill was awarded 12 for next September.
Turfway officials said they reduced dates in February and March to adhere to a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission desire to have higher purses throughout the year. The move apparently caught horsemen by surprise; the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association objected after taking no public position on the 2013 September race dates.
Turfway added two more dates in February for a total of four, but there most likely will be a three-week period with no live racing in Kentucky.
Turfway said it hopes, depending on response from bettors and horsemen, to pay about $140,000 in overnight purses, which is up from about $100,000 in September. The December condition book hasn't been released.