Kentucky Blues

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 8, 2010 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

Since 1994, Turfway Park has put on a great day of racing action. Now, this wasn’t Keeneland or Churchill. It is a middle-sized little sister that showcased quality races. But, that was last year, and it is all gone for now.

Kentucky is in a bad way. If you are a naysayer, take a look at Keeneland. They have cut purses, and have brought in an outside money-man who is cutting heads. Yep… the long tradition loyal track of the Bluegrass is being put on notice. This is no joke…..

Turfway Park has allowed the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions to showcase some of the quality runners who are heading to Keeneland to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup. Have you ever heard of: Tabasco Cat, Thunder Gulch, Silver Charm, Street Sense, Boston Harbor, Reraise, Point Given, Serena’s Song and many others?  TP has put on a great show, and now it has faded. I assume they will be using the money to supplement the purses for local horsemen. This part is welcome, as they are usually overshadowed by the big outfits on this day.

They have slashed days last year, and according to the Daily Racing Form, it will continue this meet by going Thursday through Sunday. The staff feels the cuts, and the players have lost confidence. Everyone is worried about the impending arrival of casinos, and VLT’s at Ohio tracks…. Kentucky has reached that point. It is time to get off the pot, and do something to save itself. There are at least ten other states that could be used as great models. They are owned by Harrah’s and Keeneland, and they know the game. Harrah’s is branching out in Ohio by purchasing Thistledown in Cleveland. Keeneland is cutting back, and watching every penny even though they are structured as a not-for-profit track. They have been the leader for many years, and in the upcoming decade they will surely fade from the view of the racing world if the lifeboat does not arrive.

For the folks who believe that racing in Kentucky will always survive, you are wrong. Now is the time, and the hourglass sands are draining away. Just watch Ellis Park this meet. This will be round one…. Turfway will be round two, and who knows what will happen? It is getting scary, and as a lifelong fan, I hope they act now. Instant Racing will not be the savior, and they must be allowed to fight back with full-scale gaming.  If not Kentucky, what state deserves the opportunity? Hurry up, time is drifting, and so is our game. Please don’t allow the Derby to turn into an after-thought or worse. Other tracks would fight over the chance to host the big race, and what a joke that would be. Racing has always been there for us, and it is our turn to return the favor.