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Turfway to Run More Winter Dates, Maintain Purse Levels

Speaking during a Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund Advisory Committee meeting, officials from Turfway Park indicated the Northern Kentucky track plans to expand its race dates to four days a week throughout the winter and early spring. In recent years, it ran a reduced three-day schedule during part of its winter/spring racing season.

Provided it has the horse population and the necessary purse funds, Turfway also hopes to expand its cards from eight to nine races daily, track general manager Chip Bach told the committee. He added that racing will take place at night, except when the track hosts the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) next year for an afternoon card.

Turfway opens for a 20-day holiday meet Nov. 29 after the Churchill Downs fall meet. A 52-day winter/spring meet at Turfway immediately follows the holiday meet.

The track intends to race on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule. 

Bach and Turfway Park racing secretary and director of racing Tyler Picklesimer said their aim is for purse levels to match those from last year, when straight maidens raced for $70,000, counting KDTF incentives.

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Bach said a grassy area of the track apron has been concreted to allow for patron access, and the track is exploring adding a seating area that may provide more of a grandstand-like feel. Turfway’s new facility is designed to capitalize on historical horse racing gaming, which has been instrumental in purse growth throughout Kentucky. A revamped Turfway opened in 2022. 

The track also wants to provide a better on-track experience for owners and horsemen attending Jeff Ruby Steaks Day in 2024. A tent used for some seating last March was deemed inadequate by some attendees.

The committee passed a motion recommending Turfway’s request to offer between $8.5 million and $9.2 million in KTDF funding for the upcoming two meets. The committee’s recommendation is subject to full Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approval, which is expected.

Also during the meeting, Chauncey Morris, executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, revealed that an investigation found that some qualified horses were unregistered over the past three years “owing to some errors in the database.” He said 10 such horses have been discovered, making 26 starts. Manual examination of records continues, a process he called “incredibly time-consuming.”

“We will continue with the manual manipulation, if you will, until we can find a more robust digital solution,” he said.

Morris said action was taken to pay the deficit caused by the errors, totaling $47,712, with payments going to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Churchill Downs Inc. for racing at Churchill Downs and Ellis Park.

He added that the KTOB board of directors passed a new policy regarding future occurrences.

He read that new policy: “Now, in the event a KTDF recipient receives funds while ineligible to do so under the provisions…KTOB may take any and all actions necessary or appropriate to recoup that fund from the recipient for the benefit of the KTDF fund policy.”

He said the policy was approved Sept. 26 and became effective immediately.

The committee and Morris agreed on the need to ensure similar registration errors do not continue.


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