Turfway Park press release from Churchill Downs media department (Coady Photography photo of Like the King taking Saturday’s $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks):
FLORENCE, Ky. (Wednesday, March 31, 2021) – A stout 36.5% increase of all sources handle, along with a rise in starters per race, topped Turfway Park’s 38-day Winter/Spring meet that opened Jan 1. and concluded Saturday.
Turfway Park’s meet saw overall handle grow to $81.7 million, a $21.9 million increase from 2020. All sources handle per day was up 32.9%. The average field size topped 9.8 horses per race compared to 2020’s 9.7 starters per race.
“We can’t thank our owners, trainers, jockeys and horseplayers enough for supporting our meet,” Turfway Park’s General Manager Chip Bach said. “Our team put together a competitive racing product that appealed to horseplayers nationwide. The positive feedback from the installation of our Tapeta surface was universal from trainers and jockeys. Through Churchill Downs Incorporated’s continued investment to renovate Turfway Park, we are looking forward to the future of horse racing in Florence.”
Six live racing days were cancelled due to inclement weather at Turfway Park. However, five of those days were made up by adding an additional race day each week.
Winter/Spring Meet Leaders
Jockey Gerardo Corrales (177-40-27-23—$655,831) had a 23% win clip during the meet and led all riders. He finished seven victories ahead of second place Rafael Bejarano, who had 33 wins. A graduate of the Laffit Pincay Jockey School, Corrales’ meet was capped by a victory aboard Outadore in the $65,000 Animal Kingdom Stakes on the undercard of the Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII).
Trainer Wesley Ward’s victory with Like the King in the $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) were among his 21 wins at the meet. He had an outstanding 38% win clip with purse earnings of $410,997. Ward topped the trainer standings, 21-12, nine wins in front of Bill Morey, who relocated to Kentucky in 2019 from California.
“Kentucky is the epicenter for sales and racing,” Morey said. “We had a fantastic meet at Turfway and really enjoyed running over the Tapeta surface.”
Augustin Stable led the owner standings with eight wins through 20 starts. All eight victories were ridden by jockey Chris Landeros. They finished two wins in front of Small Town Paddock, who recorded six wins through nine starts. They were one win in front of Live Oak Plantation’s five wins from eight starters.
A trio of horses recorded three wins at the meet: Richard Alderson’s Till Then, who won two of his races under former owner Augustin Stable and Small Town Paddock’s Floroplus and Kynance (IRE).
Like the King Stamps Ticket to Kentucky Derby with Victory in Jeff Ruby Steaks
M Racing Group’s Like the King stamped his spot in the starting gate for the Grade I, $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve with his victory in the 50th running of the $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII), the premiere race of Turfway Park’s meet.
Trained by Ward, Like the King earned 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby for his one-length win in the Jeff Ruby Steaks. Jeff Ruby Steaks day also featured a victory by Godolphin’s Adventuring in the $150,000 Bourbonette Oaks (Listed). She was awarded 50 points towards a spot in the April 30, $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Racing in the Commonwealth of Kentucky will shift to Keeneland on Friday for their Spring Meet, which runs through April 23. Kentucky Derby Week at Churchill Downs will begin April 24 and their Spring Meet will run through June 26.