09/10/2008 12:00AM

Quarter Horses give Poly a try


Horseplayers looking for a little something different will get just that Friday night at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., where what is believed to be the first Quarter Horse race ever run on a synthetic surface will serve as the nightcap of an 11-race program.

The $25,000 Turfway Park Sprint Stakes, to be run at 330 yards, drew a full gate of 10 Quarter Horses, including shippers from Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, and Ohio.

Four of the starters are entered off victories, including Jessluvchicks, an Aug. 12 winner at River Downs as part of an odds-on entry. Two races before his River Downs triumph, Jessluvchicks, a gray 6-year-old bred in Texas, won a $17,000 stakes at the Red Mile, the Lexington, Ky., harness track that held two days of Quarter Horse racing in July.

Other last-out winners are Georgia Ryon, Dials Struttin, and Georgia Halo. Oughttobecashedout, Ridin a Easy Streak, and Run Likea Streaker also look like logical contenders.

The top earner in the field is Dials Struttin, a sorrel 4-year-old filly with a career bankroll of $54,730. It is very common for fillies to race against males in Quarter Horse events.

Partly because of the newness in matching Quarter Horses with synthetics, Turfway permitted the Sprint Stakes's runners to break from the gate and train over the Polytrack on Tuesday morning.

As the last race of the Friday program, which begins at 7 p.m. Eastern, post time for the Quarter Horse sprint is set for 11:21. Turfway president Bob Elliston said a primary reason for scheduling the race so late was to dovetail with the program at Los Alamitos in California and "try to take advantage of all the Quarter Horse fans watching at that time."

In the past, Thoroughbred horsemen in Kentucky have been highly reluctant to give their permission for Kentucky customers to wager on Quarter Horse races, even on simulcast imports; however, horsemen's representatives signed off on this one-time-only arrangement. The purse is being funded by the American and Kentucky Quarter Horse racing associations.

Turfway, which as the old Latonia once conducted harness meets on a regular basis, last conducted a Quarter Horse race in 1972, according to track archives. In September 2005, Turfway became the first North American track to install a synthetic track as its main racing surface.

TVG is scheduled to broadcast the Sprint Stakes live as part of its featured programming for the night.