Sunday, March 9, 2003

Canceled races cost Turfway $3 million

The Associated Press

FLORENCE, Ky. - Turfway Park has lost nearly $3 million this season because winter weather caused the thoroughbred track to cancel more than a dozen races.

The Northern Kentucky track has had to cancel races on 15 days since Jan. 1, most in mid-February, said track president Bob Elliston.

Racing resumed this week after workers scraped the top layer of sand off the track and replaced it.

"We're optimistic that the bad stuff is behind us," Elliston said.

The problem was a slow but steady buildup of moisture in the track's surface.

"From about February 13th we had 17 inches of snow, but no more than 2 inches at a time," Elliston said.

That, coupled with rain, ice and constant fog, saturated the sand.

The track budgets for five or six days lost to weather, but the extra closings meant

Turfway lost $25 million in betting handle, he said.

The track, however, continued to take in money from the races simulcast from other, warmer tracks. That money is being funneled into a 10 percent purse increase announced this week.

Turfway will be open Mondays this month, and extra races will be added to other regular cards during the week to make up for lost races.

"We're still going to fall short (in overall betting)," he said.

Last year's winter and spring meet had total betting handle of $224million, with an average of nearly $3.7 million a day.

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