08/08/2012 10:14AM

Turfway Park scraps stakes schedule for September meet


Not only has the Kentucky Cup series been abandoned again at Turfway Park, but there won’t even be one stakes race during the 16-day fall meet at the Florence, Ky., track.

The track issued a media release Wednesday with a brief statement that there are no stakes on the schedule “in order to maintain daily purses.” Turfway has undergone intense financial problems in recent years, and the track president of 13 years, Bob Elliston, resigned in May to become chief operating officer of the Breeders’ Cup. No replacement has yet been named, although Lee Dillard, an official with co-owner Caesar’s, is serving as an interim general manager at Turfway.

The Kentucky Cup series was inaugurated in 1994 and attracted major stars such as Tabasco Cat, Serena’s Song, and Silver Charm in its heyday. Turfway did not run the series in 2010 but revived them last September with lower purse values and with the help of partial race sponsorships from WinStar Farm. Turfway said WinStar was still willing to help fund the Kentucky Cup again but that the track had to use their own share of the purse account to maintain daily levels at around $110,000 for the coming meet.

If the Kentucky Cup races are brought back next year they will have lost their grades since they will not have been run twice in the last three 3 years, which is the criteria used for grading. Last year the Kentucky Cup Classic was a Grade 2 and the Distaff and Sprint were Grade 3s.

Meanwhile, it was announced that weeknight post time for the meet, which runs Sept. 6-30 with a Thursday-to-Sunday schedule, will be 6 p.m. Eastern, a half-hour earlier than last year. Saturday and Sunday post time remains 1:10.

Some of the Turfway dates will be run in conjunction with Kentucky Downs, where purses have been enhanced by the Instant Racing machines installed last year. Turf-only Kentucky Downs will be giving away $2.4 million during its six-day September meet.