09/13/2001 12:00AM

Kentucky Downs/Turfway cards begin Saturday

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FLORENCE, Ky. - A familiar fall tradition involving Turfway Park and its sister track, Kentucky Downs, begins Saturday.

A combined 16-race program, consisting of 10 races here at Turfway and six from Kentucky Downs, are scheduled. The card is the first of the seven-day meet at Kentucky Downs, the undulating, all-turf course just across the Tennessee border near the south-central Kentucky town of Franklin.

At Turfway, the feature is the $75,000 Weekend Delight Stakes, which drew a solid field of seven filly-mare sprinters led by Nasty Storm and Hidden Assets. The Weekend Delight is the 13th of the 16 races on the combined card. At Kentucky Downs, the $45,000 Yaqthan Stakes for older horses is the main attraction.

In previous seasons, the only stakes at Kentucky Downs have been the Kentucky Cup turf series, which this year will be run Sept. 23. However, a reconfiguration of the meet, which again consists of a total of 44 races through Sept. 24, includes three smaller stakes, the first being the one-mile Yaqthan.

Turfway president Bob Elliston said he hopes fans will be able to use the weekend action at both tracks as a welcome diversion to the grim realities of the past week.

"In the whole context of what's happened the past week, what we do here is pretty inconsequential," said Elliston. "At the same time, as President Bush said, Americans need to get back to what they do."

*Nominations are out for the five-race Kentucky Cup series at Turfway, to be run next Saturday, Sept. 22. Guided Tour and Fajardo appear to be the top horses for the richest Cup event, the $400,000 Classic.

*Veteran jockey Patti Cooksey was scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday in Louisville after having recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Cooksey, 43, said her riding career is on hold until at least early next year, pending her rehabilitation.