01/25/2008 12:00AM

Too early to evaluate day cards


Turfway Park president Bob Elliston said that results were inconclusive regarding the ongoing experiment of daytime racing on Wednesdays and Thursdays, although there already have been benefits since the track made the switch after the first of the year.

"I'd say it's been up and down, with good days and bad days, although making any kind of decision about it would be premature," Elliston said last week.

For years, Turfway had conducted nighttime programs during the week while racing during daytime hours on weekends and holidays. The basic idea of night racing during the week is to attract horseplayers who otherwise are working during regular business hours. The Florence, Ky., track has retained Friday as its only nighttime program, citing the festive atmosphere the track has worked to foster on those nights.

After years of horsemen and management considering a switch to days, the move was made on Jan. 3.

"It has certainly been more convenient for most of our horsemen and jockeys, and I would imagine for many of our employees and fans," said Elliston. "We even had a program or two that we salvaged because later that night the weather really turned cold on us."

But the most important factor in determining whether daytime racing will become permanent at Turfway is business. Elliston said there has not yet been enough time to see whether all-sources handle on the Turfway simulcast signal will reflect an increase or decrease of significant proportions.

"So far I would just say that, overall, we're happy with the experiment," he said. "But we're only a few weeks into this, so we'll just keep monitoring it as we go along."

Turfway most likely will still conduct night racing during the week for its fall meet in September, when weather is milder and daylight lasts longer. The more pressing question is whether to maintain the current daytime schedule during the four-month span (late November to early April) that encompasses the annual holiday and winter-spring meets.

Polytrack trouble-free this winter

The Polytrack problems that plagued Turfway for much of last winter - the synthetic surface was "balling up" and sticking to horses' hooves - evidently has been eradicated this year following the adjustments that occurred over the summer.

Elliston said he and other officials are perpetually seeking input from horsemen and jockeys, and there have been no major problems with the surface so far this winter.

"It's been dynamite," he said. "And we ask - every day - for input. Obviously it's something we are always keeping up on."

Last August, the Turfway track crew tilled in an oil-based wax to the Polytrack recipe in what appears to have greatly abated the troubles of the 2007 winter-spring meet.

Pompell off to good start

Tommy Pompell has assumed command atop the jockeys' race through the first three weeks of the winter-spring meet, while the trainers' race has produced no clear-cut leader.

Into Friday night action, Pompell had ridden 19 winners, three more than his closest pursuer, John McKee. Four trainers had sent out five winners, while seven more trainers had registered at least three wins.

* Sunday's feature is a starter allowance race, restricted to 3-year-olds who have won maiden races for a claiming price of $30,000 or less. Pascal, second in each of his last three starts, looks like a deserving favorite among a field of 10 entered in the one-mile race.

* The highlight next Saturday is the $50,000 WEBN Stakes for 3-year-olds. The one-mile WEBN is a local prep for the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial on March 1. In turn, the Battaglia is the prep for the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes on March 22.