Friday, March 23, 2001

Luncheon is 'good start'

Turfway opens up race draw party to the public

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FLORENCE — It was almost like old times Thursday at the Call to The Post luncheon for this year's $600,000 Spiral Stakes race, but old- timers admitted the event has a way to go to match the glory days.

[photo] James Bunch, of Erlanger Window Cleaning, washes the grandstand windows at Turfway Park on Thursday in preparation for Saturday's Spiral Stakes.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        About 250 people turned out at Turfway Park for the luncheon, the first time in 10 years the draw party, where post positions for the Spiral Stakes are selected, had been open to the public.

        “I think everyone is glad to see this (luncheon) back as part of the event,” said Verona resident Steve Cauthen, a racing Hall of Fame member and the last jockey to win the Triple Crown when he rode Affirmed as a teen-ager in 1978.

        Turfway handicapper and track announcer Mike Battaglia, who made trainer D. Wayne Lucas' Buckle Down Ben the 5-2 favorite, said it brought back memories of luncheons in the 1980s, when 1,000 people would fill the banquet room at the Drawbridge Inn in Fort Mitchell.

        “It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since we had one of the luncheons,” Mr. Battaglia said. “Obviously, this race means a lot to me. I've been here for every one.”

    • What: The $600,000 Spiral Stakes.
    • Where: Turfway Park, Florence.
    • When: Saturday. Gates open at 10 a.m.; post time for first race is noon.
    • Cost: General admission is $10. General seating is $15 to $150. Parking is free.
        His father, the late John Battaglia, was general manager at the track, then known as Latonia, when he got the idea of a major spring stakes race to serve as a Kentucky Derby prep.

        Ted Bushelman, spokesman for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and the man who started the Call To The Post luncheon about 20 years ago and restarted it this year with Turfway President Bob Ellison, liked what he saw Thursday.

        “This is an extremely good start,” Mr. Bushelman said. “We made the decision to try to revive the feel of the Spiral Stakes week just three months ago. We've been able to put things together in a very short period of time. I think this shows the interest in thoroughbred racing in Northern Kentucky.”

        Boone County businessman and developer R.C. Durr, who once held a Call To The Post luncheon at his home, was on hand and said: “I think we all had a good time. We need to keep this going.”


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