03/12/2010 12:00AM

More than a rooting interest in NCAAs


No one will be paying closer attention than Bob Elliston when the seedings and pairings are announced Sunday evening on the "Selection Sunday" telecast for the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament.

Elliston, president of Turfway Park, is hoping that the University of Kentucky will be a No. 1 seed in either the South or Midwest region.

"The No. 1 seed in those regions play their Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games on a Friday and Sunday [March 26 and 28]," Elliston said. "That would avert a huge conflict for us."

The Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End Stakes, the annual showcase race at Turfway in Florence, Ky., will be run Saturday, March 27, and a Kentucky game on that afternoon or evening could severely hurt ontrack attendance because many people would choose to be elsewhere to focus on the ballgame, Elliston said. Few, if any, sports teams in this region have a greater following than Kentucky basketball, which has been among the top-rated teams all year.

"I'm a big UK fan but an even bigger Lane's End fan," Elliston said with a laugh. "I've been zeroed in on this situation for a month. Let's just hope the brackets fall the way it looks like they should."

Lane's End Day usually attracts an ontrack crowd of about 20,000, with the record of 23,815 set in 2007. The race is being televised this year on the USA cable network.

Churchill exec on 'Undercover Boss'

Tracks owned by Churchill Downs Inc. will be in the national spotlight Sunday evening when Bill Carstanjen, chief operating officer for the Louisville, Ky., company, is featured on the show "Undercover Boss" on CBS.

"Undercover Boss" features senior executives at major corporations working incognito in entry-level positions. Carstanjen spent a considerable amount of time working last summer at a variety of jobs at Calder and Arlington Park, including a maintenance stint at Calder where he helped clear drains of sand and mud following a storm.

"That was probably the most demanding job," Carstanjen said.

Carstanjen said the overall experience was very enlightening and rewarding and that the show has spawned the idea of other CDI employees trading places at various times so as to get a broader understanding of the company. Carstanjen said he has seen no footage from the show but that he expects CDI employees "to get a big laugh at my expense."

'Thoroughbreds' film airs in Kentucky

A terrific documentary called "Thoroughbreds" began airing this week on the public-service network Kentucky Educational Television. The 90-minute piece takes an in-depth look at the culture and history of the Thoroughbred industry in America, with footage and interviews from Dubai, New York, Kentucky, and elsewhere.

"Thoroughbreds" is so far unavailable outside of the Kentucky market but is soon expected to be more widely distributed throughout the country. More information is available at ket.org/thoroughbred.

Lopez rides 1,000th winner

Jockey Jimmy Lopez notched the 1,000th victory of his career when he guided Dance Hall Darlin to win the last race Thursday at Turfway.

Lopez, 32, has been riding professionally since age 16 and won his first sanctioned race in 1996 at Retama Park. He had been riding at Tampa Bay Downs this winter but returned to Kentucky for the balance of the Turfway meet, which ends March 28, and for the Keeneland and Churchill Downs spring meets.

Woodard on top at two tracks

Joe Woodard is fighting a war on two fronts. Into Friday action, Woodard led the Turfway trainer standings by a 17-16 margin over Mike Maker. Meanwhile, at Beulah Park in Ohio, where the meet ends May 1, Woodard led the standings by a 23-22 count over Charlie Lawson.

Woodard is based primarily at the High Pointe training center in LaGrange, Ky., while also having strings at Beulah, Churchill, and Oaklawn Park. He said Friday that he plans to continue entering horses "just the same as we always do."

"We're not going to be putting a horse on a huge class drop just to win a race," he said. "It seems like any time you try to rearrange things or manipulate them in a case like this, it backfires on you, so we're going to just keep doing what we're doing."

* When the Lane's End was moved earlier this year from March 20 to March 27, Turfway did not reshuffle the rest of its lineup to fill the stakes void that now exists for next Saturday, when the feature will be the March Madness overnight handicap. The $30,000 race includes $16,600 in Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund bonuses and is for older horses at six furlongs.