Enhanced Turfway Park purses keep Kentucky horsemen home

By Kevin Kerstein/Churchill Downs
November 30, 2019 09:45am
The 2019 racing season at Churchill Downs is entering the final stretch, and several local jockeys and trainers have firmed up winter plans that call for staying in Kentucky the month of December to run at Turfway Park.

“It’s very exciting with the enhanced purses at Turfway,” trainer Mike Maker said. “It should make for some very good racing up there.”

Maker, who is a mainstay at the Florence, Ky., oval, will have some additional competition as he attempts to defend his 2018 Holiday Meet title. Trainers like Steve Asmussen, Cipriano Contreras and Dale Romans all plan to leave horses in Kentucky to run this winter at Turfway.

Romans, Churchill Downs’ all-time leading trainer, plans to split his string of horses between Gulfstream Park and Turfway, where purses for the 16-day holiday meet essentially double last year’s, averaging $204,812 a day. Maiden special weight races offer $46,000, with allowance optional claiming purses ranging from $48,000 to $52,000.

"Horsemen and horseplayers nationwide will appreciate and directly benefit from Turfway’s renaissance as more high-quality horses remain in Kentucky year-round and produce a compelling and competitive racing product," Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack, said recently.

Several jockeys who plan to winter at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. plan to stay in Kentucky to ride at Turfway until their meet opens on Friday, Jan. 24, including Declan Cannon, Martin Garcia and Joe Rocco Jr.

“It should be some good racing at Turfway in December,” said Cannon, who won two races Wednesday at Churchill Downs. “Winning races at the end of the meet should hopefully help keep my name out there and business will be good in December.”

Current Churchill Downs leading rider Corey Lanerie will head to New Orleans after the meet ends on Sunday to ride at Fair Grounds. Lanerie will be joined in New Orleans with Florent Geroux, James Graham, Brian Hernandez Jr., Miguel Mena and Gabriel Saez.

Jockeys Calvin Borel, Jon Court and Ricardo Santana Jr., will head to Oaklawn Park for their meet. Cannon, Garcia and Rocco are likely to join them following Turfway’s Holiday Meet.

Tyler Gaffalione, Chris Landeros and Julien Leparoux will ride this winter at Gulfstream Park.

Trainer Brad Cox will defend his Fair Grounds training title. His string of horses will be split between Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park and Aqueduct. Other trainers headed to Fair Grounds include Tom Amoss, Asmussen, Bret Calhoun, Chris Hartman and Joe Sharp.

Trainer Tim Glyshaw, who previously stabled at Fair Grounds, will ship his string of horses to Tampa Bay Downs.


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