Wednesday, March 01, 2000

Turfway races spring

Planting begins as Spiral nears

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FLORENCE — Spring was in the air and on the grounds at Turfway Park Tuesday, as maintenance crews and landscape specialists spruced up the thoroughbred track with the first decorative plants of the season.

        They were prettying up the track in preparation for the $600,000 Spiral Stakes race March 25.

        In the bright, warm winter morning, specialist Keith Howard prepared dozens of shiny, deep-green shrubs known as blue princess holly to be planted in the new rectangular flower boxes that decorate the apron area between the clubhouse and the fence. The holly, which catches the sun and gives off a slight blue tint, is almost impervious to weather changes and is perfect for year-round growth at the track, he said.

        “We'll do the holly now and probably some flowers just before the race day,” he explained.

        “Through the summer we'll plant a lot more flowers

        so that the track will be in full bloom by the fall meet and the Kentucky Cup races.”

        Turfway has a new logo for the Spiral Stakes incorporating the sun and a jockey riding a horse with yellow, golden brown and green colors.

        “For race day, I'll have a 25-foot Spiral Stakes logo on the grass in the paddock area,” Mr. Howard said. The logo will be applied in much the same manner as team logos are done on a football field.

        This is in sharp contrast to last year's red and blue logo touting the Gallery Stakes sponsored by the Houston company of the same name.

        Track officials have spent about $100,000 on a variety of cosmetic alterations to make the track a little more attractive and customer friendly. That includes additional television monitors all around the facility.

        Another new feature already enjoyed by patrons during the winter meet is the disappearance of the 30-foot gravel strip between the fence and the race track. Race fans standing at the rail now enjoy an up-close-and-personal experience, complete with the sights, sounds and smells of horses at full speed as they cross the finish line.

        The Spiral Stakes, a Grade II stakes, is one of the top 3-year-old preps for the Kentucky Derby. It already has attracted some big name nominations in horse racing. Some noteables:

        • Eclipse Award winner Anees, owned by The Thoroughbred Corp. of Prince Ahmed bin Salman and trained by Alex Hassinger Jr.

        • A total of 11 horses trained by Nick Zito, who won last year's spring race with Stephen Got Even. Among his nominees are Greenwood Lake and Bare Outline.

        • Thirteen nominations from Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, including Exchange Rate, winner of the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Feb. 20, and Millencolin, winner of the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway last September. Mr. Lukas has saddled two previous spring race winners — Marfa in 1983 and Serena's Song in 1995.


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