09/26/2009 12:00AM

Kentucky Downs cancellation hurts Turfway


FLORENCE, Ky. - Wet and potentially hazardous conditions with the racecourse at Kentucky Downs led the Franklin, Ky., track to cancel its six Saturday races, wreaking havoc with the wagering format of a combined 16-race card with Turfway Park on the second-biggest day of the year at Turfway.

All multi-race wagers involving scheduled Kentucky Downs races had to be scrapped after the decision was made at noon Central to cancel at Kentucky Downs, where about an inch of overnight rain rendered the turf-only track oversaturated, according to Corey Johnsen, president of Kentucky Downs. The cancellation of races 4, 6, 9, 11, 14, and 16 led to the loss of 11 of the 15 daily doubles, all but one of the 14 pick threes, and all three of the pick fours.

With raceday medication and other non-alterable scheduling issues involved, Turfway still had to space out the remaining 10 Saturday races over a six-hour span, from 1:10 to 7:10 p.m. Eastern, with some races held as much as 50 minutes apart.

Johnsen said he was optimistic Kentucky Downs would be able to conduct its scheduled 12-race program Monday, closing day of the abbreviated 2009 meet. That program originally was supposed to comprise nine races but now is scheduled to include three races being made up from the Sept. 21 card, when the final three races were canceled because of course conditions. Johnsen said it was unlikely the track would be able to make up the lost races by racing another date this year.

Bob Elliston, president of Turfway, said it was impossible to determine how much wagering revenue would be lost Saturday because of the cancellations, "but obviously it's terrible this had to happen. Multi-race wagers are so much a big part of a day like this. Bottom line, it's not good."

Turfway, a one-time managing partner in Kentucky Downs, still has a 5 percent ownership interest in the track, "so it's in our interest to see them do well," said Elliston. "I don't think this would preclude us from a similar arrangement" in interspersing races with each other in the future.

The Kentucky Cup is second only to the Lane's End Stakes in March as the top live racing date annually at Turfway.