Status Quo for 2014 Kentucky Dates Requests
The successful September stand at Churchill Downs has resulted in a decision by Turfway Park not to seek those dates the track had traditionally raced and instead focus on its four-month winter meets.
All-sources handle for Churchill's 12-day session dubbed the "homecoming meet" totaled $46,285,926 for an average of $3,857,135 per day. Last year Turfway averaged $1,280,418 on total handle of $20,486,694 for a 16-day stand.
Horsemen also benefited from the venue change for September racing, with $4,476,223 in purses paid out at Churchill for a daily average $373,019, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. TJCIS shows average daily purses of $96,883 on total purses of $1,550,134 at Turfway in September 2012.
Though Turfway and Churchill competed for the 2013 September dates eventually awarded the Louisville track, the success of the recently completed meet means there will not be a dates fight this year, said Chip Bach, director of operations at Turfway.
"We are working toward the idea that this is a new landscape in Kentucky racing," Bach said Oct. 4. "We know we can't compete with the type of racing Churchill Downs can produce. People had asked if there are some hard feelings about the September meet. We want the Churchill Downs meet to be successful.
"We will do everything we can to support it. We want the Kentucky racing brand to shine. We were pleased to hear it was a successful meet for them."
As a result of Turfway's decision not to seek September dates, the 2014 calendar requests filed by the state's five Thoroughbred tracks maintain the status quo of 2013, with 193 total days of racing and 13 optional dates. This year's Kentucky Thoroughbred racing calendar consisted of 189 dates, with 12 optional dates.
The three Standardbred tracks submitted requests for 58 days in 2014, down seven from the number allocated for this year.
Turfway has requested a 35-day winter/spring meet that begins Jan. 1 and runs through March on a Friday-Sunday weekly schedule in January and February and Friday-Saturday in March. The track has requested five optional days of racing that can be added if business trends show they are needed.
Turfway raced four of the eight optional dates approved for the winter/spring meet in 2013. Turfway has also requested a 16-day holiday meet on a Thursday-Sunday schedule during December 2014.
"We need to build upon our winter racing over four months," Bach said. "Our focus is going to be to continue to try to improve racing during that time and make sure there is a reliable, quality product coming out of Turfway Park from December through March."
2014 dates requests for Kentucky Thoroughbred tracks:
Churchill Downs: spring meet, 38 days, April 26-June 29; homecoming meet, 13 days (four optional days), Sept. 1-28; fall meet, 24 days, Oct. 26-Nov. 29.
Keeneland: spring meet, 15 days, April 4-25; fall meet, 17 days, Oct. 8-25.
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