A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

John Schickel: Friday’s opening of new Turfway Park facility a monumental win for NKY and horseracing

I’m ecstatic to announce that this weekend horse racing history will be made in northern Kentucky’s premier thoroughbred track, Turfway Park.

Kentucky thoroughbred racing has come roaring back from the not-so-distant dark days thanks to the policies enacted by the General Assembly, which allowed for the renovation of the track. Turfway Park will now pay some of the most substantial winning purses in the country and is attracting world-class trainers and the best horses from throughout the nation. The brand new Turfway Park racing and gaming facility will be at the center of this during the upcoming holiday and winter/spring meet.

Kentucky Senate Majority Floor Leader and longtime thoroughbred racing advocate Senator Damon Thayer emphasized the outsized role that the General Assembly played in making this possible:

Sen. John Schickel

“I have always considered Turfway Park to be one of the gems of the horse industry, and this exciting news leaves little doubt that it’s the case,” Thayer said. “Thanks to the enormous success of historical horse racing here in the Commonwealth, the Kentucky General Assembly formally legalized a parimutuel game based on horse racing which was signed into law by the Governor. We now have some of the largest purses offered in North America and will be attracting some of the world’s best thoroughbred horses, trainers and jockeys.”

This weekend will be a fun-filled festive occasion, kicking off at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, with live music and $1 hot dogs. With world-class horse racing, great food, and entertainment, you can bet I will plan on being there.

After Churchill Downs acquired Turfway Park in 2019, construction began to replace its original track with a new $8.1 million synthetic surface. In addition, improvements were made to the aging backside of Turfway Park to improve dormitories for track workers. The renovation also saw the installation of a new stormwater collection system which will improve the environment around the facility, five new horse barns, a new winners circle, and renovated paddock and jockeys room.

Thanks to Churchill Downs’s expansion, which is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2023, our region will now be home to some of the best trainers and jockeys in the world. These efforts allowed for the creation of 400 well-paying jobs for local residents. Additionally, this will allow the track to host 24 stakes during the holiday and winter/spring meet, with a total payout of $3.5 million in purses up for grabs, four of which will feature $100,000 purses for the holiday meet alone.

The winter/spring meet will conclude On Saturday, April 2, a new date set for the marquee event, Road to the Kentucky Derby Jeff Ruby Steaks, now worth $600,000, which is a $350,000 increase from 2021.

Yes, Kentucky thoroughbred racing has come roaring back bigger and better than ever.

Thanks to all parties involved, our racetrack now offers record-breaking purses which will keep world-class trainers and horses in Kentucky year-round. This is not just a monumental win for Northern Kentucky, but a win for the entire thoroughbred racing industry. With Turfway Park’s long and fabled racing history, northern Kentucky will be at the forefront of it.

Feel free to contact me via my Legislative Research Commission webpage, which you can access at legislature.ky.gov. You can also contact me by phone at 502-564 8100 ext. 57948, at home at 859-384-7076 or by U.S. Mail at Capital Annex Room 283, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601.

Senator John Schickel represents the 11th District in northern and central Boone County.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment