Kentucky is synonymous with horse racing, and there are several high-quality racetracks located in the southeastern state. Turfway Park is one of the most popular venues for horseplayers, and it is situated to the north of Florence. The track is just outside the city limits and is roughly ten miles from the Ohio River. It is also handily positioned close to Northern Kentucky International Airport.
The track is about a 15-minute drive from the nearest casino, which is an unusual feature amongst North American racetracks, and it is the only track in Kentucky not to currently offer historical racing games.
There are two live meets which take place throughout the year, beginning in December. The holiday meet is swiftly followed by four months of high-class action throughout the winter months. It begins in January and typically concludes at the beginning of April. Year-round simulcasts are available at the track focusing on other North American tracks which tend to race during Turfway’s off-season.
Turfway Park was voted the eleventh-best thoroughbred racetrack in North America in 2009 according to the Horse Players Association ranking system.
About 1,000 horses can be housed at Turfway Park at any given time, although the track is rarely at full capacity.
Turfway Park is one of a number of racetracks which do not have a turf course. There is a one-mile polytrack oval track, which also features a quarter-mile and six and a half furlong chute. The Kentucky venue boasts a five-story grandstand, which is often fully occupied whenever the tracks hosts stakes action.
Turfway Park History
Unlike a number of a North American tracks, Turfway Park doesn’t necessarily have a rich and varied history. It rose from the ashes of the now-defunct Latonia Racecourse, which was demolished in 1939. 17 years later, the track reopened ten miles south of the original spot, and it continued to operate under the Latonia moniker until changing its name to Turfway Park in 1986.
It was owned by Jerry Carroll for 13 years before he sold his stake to Gtech, the Keeneland Association, and Harrah’s Entertainment in 1999.
For many years, Turfway Park was the home of the Kentucky Cup Series, which was staged just weeks before the Breeders Cup. There were four graded stakes races on the card including the Grade II Kentucky Cup Championship. Unfortunately, this series was scrapped at the beginning of 2012. The Breeders Cup “Win and You’re In” race has also bitten the dust. This Grade III contest was last held in 2008.
Turfway Park has been a trailblazer in recent years, and it became the first North American track to install a polytrack surface in 2005. It contained Silica Sand, wax, and various fibers, and it is able to drain quickly. As the track holds regular winter meetings, this has proved to be a savvy move. As a result, track conditions are always listed as “Fast.” It has also helped prevent regular cancellations of race-days.
In 2012, the track changed hands once again with Rock Gaming purchasing 40% the track, before buying out Keeneland’s share three years later.
More recently, Rock Gaming have relinquished their share, selling ownership of the track to Hard Rock International for an estimated $780 million.
Turfway Park Known Track Bias
The stats at Turfway Park have changed over the years, with the track tending to ride slowly shortly after switching to the polytrack surface. However, in recent years, times have begun to quicken, and recent data shows that frontrunners are particularly well-treated over six furlongs.
Around 30% of races held over six-and-a-half furlongs have been won wire-to-wire, although this has varied over the years.
Races held over a mile tend to offer a fair spread of winners with only around 20% of winners going gate-to-wire. These numbers dropped further when the distance was extended to one mile and a sixteenth.
The favorites won 39% of the time during the 2019 winter meet.
Winning Post Positions
The stats for Turfway Park’s most recent meet prove that there is no overwhelming bias when it comes to sprint races. Stall seven was the most profitable post position, with 17% of winners being drawn here. The outside posts were generally more productive with eight of the fifty runners drawn in stall nine also finding the winners enclosure (16%)
Posts one, two, and nine had the lowest percentage of winners with just 9% each. The inside post is not necessarily the ideal draw for horses over the shorter trip at Turfway Park.
The wider trip could also be the best policy in races of over a mile. 30% of winners (small sample) came from stall eleven. The inside draw was slightly more productive over the longer trip with 13% of winners being drawn against the rail. Stall 3 was the least profitable position, yielding just 7.94% of winners at Turfway Park so far this year.
Top Trainers at Turfway Park
Turfway Park is handily located in Kentucky, which means that it attracts a large number of horsemen. With a number of trainers opting to send their horses to race on the polytrack over the winter months, it is the perfect track for powerful yards to test their newcomers ahead of the summer season.
There a number of names to keep an eye at future meets:
Stats (2019 winter meet)
- Kenneth McPeek (20% Strike Rate)
- Kim Hammond (24% Strike Rate)
- Tim Drury Jr (24% Strike Rate)
- Douglas Danner (26% Strike Rate)
- Claudie Marshall Godsie Jr (31% Strike Rate)
- Wesley Ward (36% Strike Rate)
- Laura Wohlers (36% Strike Rate)
- Cipriano Contreras (48% Strike Rate)
Top Jockeys at Turfway Park
With very few options during the winter months for Kentucky-based jockeys during the winter months, Turfway Park offers the perfect opportunity for them to practice their craft in the colder conditions.
Some of the top riders at the track are adept at managing the polytrack and will be able to make the difference between winning and losing a race at Turfway Park.
There are a number of talented jockeys who regularly compete here:
Stats (2019 winter meet)
- Azael De Leon (16% Strike Rate)
- Rogelin Miranda (16% Strike Rate)
- John McKee (18% Strike Rate)
- Abel Lezcano (19% Strike Rate)
- Luan Machado (19% Strike Rate)
- Rodney Prescott (21% Strike Rate)
- Malcolm Franklin (24% Strike Rate)
- Tyler Gafflione (25% Strike Rate)
- Rafael Bejarano (60% Strike Rate)
Turfway Park Racing Season and Key Races
The Stakes action begins at the end of November with the Holiday Inaugural Stakes typically taking place at the end of November/start of December.
Racing runs throughout December at Turfway Park, with meetings taking place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Additional meets are also occasionally staged on Wednesdays. Turfway Park also races on December 31st each year.
The winter meet begins on January 1st and continues until the end of March/beginning of April. The Racing Commission usually announces the exact dates at the end of September.
There are a number of stakes races which take place at the track throughout the year:
Grade III Stakes
Jeff Ruby Stakes, Burbonette Stakes
Other Graded Stakes
Holiday Cheer Stakes, Gowell Stakes, Holiday Inaugural Stakes, My Charmer Stakes, Prairie Bayou Stakes, Fairway Fun Stakes, Hansel Stakes, John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, Queen Stakes, Rushaway Stakes, Tejano Run Stakes, Wintergreen Stakes, Valdale Stakes, Dust Commander Stakes, Likely Exchange Stakes, Forego Stakes, WEBN Frog Stakes, Wishing Well Stakes, Turfway Prevue Stakes, Clipsetta Stakes, Cincinnati Trophy Stakes
Turfway Park Racetrack Address
7500 Turfway Road, Florence, KY 41042