Turfway Msw Purses Rise Again, to $70k from $62k

Turfway | Coady


Turfway Park purses for maiden special weight (MSW) races are projected to rise to $70,000 for the dovetailed dual meets that will span Nov. 30, 2022, through Apr. 1, 2023.

Chip Bach, Turfway's general manager, reported the projection during the Sept. 28 Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) advisory board meeting. He also disclosed that Kentucky's recently rebuilt winter racing venue–with its new grandstand and updated stabling–will be shifting Saturday post times from early evenings to afternoons this season.

Bach said Turfway will card 24 total stakes worth $4.35 million in purses over the course of its holiday (19 dates over Nov. 30-Dec. 31) and winter/spring (48 dates over Jan. 1-Apr. 1) meets.

Turfway's signature race, the GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks S., will see a purse boost from $600,000 to $700,000, Bach said, noting that management is “not only adding stakes, but we're also putting a little bit more meat on the bone for those stakes as well.”

Night racing will remain a staple at Turfway on Wednesdays through Fridays, with an expected 6:15 p.m. first post, Bach said. The afternoon post time for Saturdays is listed as 12:45 p.m. on Turfway's website.

Rick Hiles, the president of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, expressed a minor quibble with the timing of the first races on the evening cards. He said 5:30 p.m., which had been used in previous years, worked much better for both patrons “and the horsemen shipping, especially in inclement weather.”

Bach promised he'd look into a possible change to 5:30 p.m. But he added that “Turfway has changed. I can't base things on what happened six or seven years ago, because we had some really tough racing going on there. We used to really get killed in those first two races, going up against a lot of tracks that were going on at that time.”

However, Bach also stated that Turfway's quality of racing has evolved to a point where it might be better able to withstand the competition in that tight bridge-signal simulcast window.

“I think our product, it should be very good right now,” Bach said. “Again, that's why we're stepping into the afternoons on Saturday. We feel we can compete. It's going to take some time to win back some of the handicappers out there that aren't used to seeing us during the day. But I think we have a great opportunity to get back to where we were.”

Last season, Turfway paid out $62,000 in MSW purses. The dual meets were conducted with temporary trackside amenities as the multi-year grandstand rebuild was nearing completion.

The previous season of 2020-21, Turfway paid just $32,000 for MSW races, and the dual meets were heavily compromised by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the initial phases of the grandstand rebuild 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.

Separately, Austin Schmitt, the vice president of finance at Churchill Downs Racetrack, told KTDF board members that for his track's November meet, “Our purse levels per race type are planned to be similar as we are executing upon in September, so our [MSW races] are about $120,000.”

The changes are subject to KHRC approval.

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