Turfway MSW Purses Projected to Hold Steady at $70,000

Turfway Park | Coady


Turfway Park purses for maiden special weight (MSW) races are projected to stay level at $70,000, the same as last season. The dovetailed 2023-24 meets that run through March will open Nov. 29.

Chip Bach, Turfway's general manager, reported that projection during the Oct. 3 Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) advisory board meeting.

The overall purse structure, Bach said, will also be “similar” to the previous meet “even though we're adding days and races.”

Bach said Turfway plans on running Wednesdays through Saturdays with a 5:55 p.m. Eastern first post, with the GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks S. program a traditional afternoon racing exception.

Exact 2024 racing dates have yet to be awarded by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, but Turfway's corporate parent, Churchill Downs, Inc., lists Mar. 23 as the date of the 2024 edition of the Jeff Ruby on its “Road to the GI Kentucky Derby” points races calendar.

In the recent past, Turfway has experimented with various under-the-lights first post times, and also tried running during some afternoons on Saturdays. This year management wants to establish a more consistent niche, timing-wise.

“We confuse the handicappers if we're all over the place,” Bach said. “We found once we start building a consistent pattern for them, it's better for us,” he noted, citing Turfway's 5:55 p.m. slot as being more profitable.

“We believe we have enough not only in purse money, but horse population to keep us running four days a week,” Bach said.

“We are planning on running nine races a day in December and January,” Bach said, adding that track management will evaluate that number mid-season to see if carding nine races nightly is still sustainable heading into February.

This season will be Turfway's second with its entirely rebuilt racing facility.

Prior to upping MSW purses to $70,000 last season, Turfway paid out $62,000 in MSW purses in 2021-22. The dual meets that season were conducted with temporary trackside amenities as the multi-year grandstand rebuild was nearing completion.

In 2020-21, Turfway paid just $32,000 for MSW races, when the dual meets were heavily compromised by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the initial phases of the grandstand construction that kept the northern Kentucky oval closed to on-track spectators.

During the 2019-20 season, Turfway paid MSW purses in the $46,000-48,000 range.

The KTDF advisory committee approved the requested recommendation of the Turfway allotment that the MSW purse estimates were based on. The full Kentucky Horse Racing Commission still has to vote on final approval of that funding.

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