07/17/2008 11:00PM

Kruytbosch memorial on for Monday


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Churchill Downs will hold a memorial service for Luke Kruytbosch at 1 p.m. on Monday, one week after the veteran race caller died unexpectedly at age 47.

Churchill vice president John Asher has been instrumental in coordinating the service and will serve as emcee. Kruytbosch's father and sister, his lone immediate survivors, will be in attendance.

"We needed some time to have everything in place for Luke's family," said Asher. "We also wanted to have it after training hours so that horsemen could attend and also so that people could drive in from Evansville, Lexington, or wherever else. Luke had a lot of friends in a lot of different places."

The service, which is open to the public, will be held on the ground floor of the clubhouse facing the paddock. In case of rain, it will be moved indoors.

Kruytbosch's body has been cremated. After the service, his ashes will be spread across the Churchill Downs track, in accordance to what his family said he would have wanted, said Asher.

Kruytbosch was found dead on Monday morning in the apartment he rented seasonally in Evansville, Ind., a short drive from Ellis Park, the Henderson, Ky., track where he called his final race the previous evening. He had not been feeling well, according to friends, and begged off hosting the Ellis replay show that night. Kruytbosch apparently died of a heart attack.

Kruytbosch had called races at Churchill and Ellis since 1999. A native of McLean, Va., and a graduate of the University of Arizona racetrack industry program, he also had been the regular caller at Turf Paradise in Arizona since 1993 and had called at a handful of other tracks.

Memorial donations can be made to the racetrack chaplaincies of America or Kentucky.

Ellis joins in tribute

Ellis, which runs through Sept. 1, has honored Kruytbosch in several ways, including having run its first race Wednesday without an announcer. The track also has set up a memorial display at its front gate and was scheduled to hold a brief service before the races Saturday. Also, a 6 1/2-furlong overnight handicap named for Kruytbosch will be run on closing day, said the track's racing secretary, Dan Bork.

Mike Battaglia called races for the rest of the Wednesday card and through Friday, after which a tag team of announcers was scheduled to take over through the end of the meet, according to Bork. Frank Mirahmadi, who was a close friend of Kruytbosch's, is among the callers who will fill in.

Meanwhile, at Churchill, where live racing will not be held until the fall meet begins Oct. 26, officials said it was too early to begin considering applicants to replace Kruytbosch.

Cuts at Churchill Downs Inc.

Officials at Churchill Downs confirmed Friday that an unspecified number of jobs across the parent company, Churchill Downs Inc., are being eliminated.

Without giving further details, Churchill spokesman Darren Rogers said the slumping economy was one reason for the job cuts. The latest round of cuts is at least the fourth in two years at Churchill Downs Inc., which also owns and operates Calder in Florida, Arlington Park in Illinois, and Fair Grounds in Louisiana.

Raving Rocket starting over

Raving Rocket was set to embark on a new streak Saturday before moving on to the Aug. 2 Claiming Crown in Minnesota. After winning 11 straight races, Raving Rocket finally tasted defeat when finishing second on July 11, the first day of the Ellis meet.

Raving Rocket, trained by Ralph Martinez, is being pointed to the $50,000 Claiming Crown Express at Canterbury Park. A 6-year-old gelding, he was scheduled to have his final prep Saturday in another starter-allowance sprint.

Lebron out front early

Victor Lebron jumped out to a sizable lead atop the jockeys' race by riding 14 winners during the first five days of racing at Ellis. Through Thursday, Jamie Theriot, who leaves soon for Saratoga, was tied for second with apprentice Lyndie Wade, each with six wins.

Among trainers, Ron Moquett got a fast start by winning with 4 of his first 7 runners, while Kelly Ackerman also was quick from the gate with a 3 for 5 mark.

* The Sunday feature at Ellis is the fifth race, a $27,000 overnight handicap at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. A pair of graded winners, Carnacks Choice and Sgt. Bert, are among the seven older horses entered. Eleven races are on tap, with first post set for 12:40 p.m. Central.

* Kentucky Downs, the turf-only track in south-central Kentucky, has released the stake schedule for its 2008 meet, which runs Sept. 13-23. There are no substantive changes, with the three-race Kentucky Cup turf series set for opening day. In all, six stakes are scheduled for the six-day meet.