10/04/2012 5:03PM

Turfway Park handle down 26 percent


Turfway Park closed its 16-day fall meet Sunday with major decreases in business, part of it attributable to the cancellation of its entire stakes program.

A Thursday release from the northern Kentucky track showed that all-sources handle totaled nearly $20.5 million, down nearly 26 percent from comparable dates in 2011, when a 12-race card including the five-stakes Kentucky Cup series was part of a 16-day meet.

Ontrack handle totaled just $1.2 million, also down 26 percent. Admission at the track is free. Field size averaged 8.0 horses per race, down from 8.4 horses last fall. Purses grossed nearly $1.55 million, down substantially from the $2.23 million paid out last year, but the Turfway release noted that when the 2011 Kentucky Cup date was taken out of the equation, purses were down only 1 percent in comparison.

On the racetrack, Victor Lebron was easily the leading jockey with 29 wins. Mike Maker was leading trainer with 11 wins, and ownership team of Billy, Donna, and Justin Hays was the leading owner with 7.

The mere existence of the fall meet for 2013 is being threatened by the fact that Churchill Downs in Louisville has applied for 12 dates in September next year.