(Turfway Park’s ballroom was packed to the gills on Saturday for the G3 Jeff Ruby Steaks / Photo by Gene McLean)

Editor’s Note:

Here is an excerpt from Gene McLean’s opinion piece that concentrates on the success of Saturday’s G3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at the new and improved Turfway Park.

Here are the hard numbers:

Earlier this year, Churchill Downs unveiled a new racetrack and a genuine, first class entertainment location in Northern Kentucky.

And, this past Saturday, the new and improved Turfway Park hosted its’ first Jeff Ruby Steaks in the new location.

Without question, it was the best day of live racing ever presented in the history of Northern Kentucky.

The Jeff Ruby Steaks — with a purse of $700,000 — suddenly had become one of the richest prep races for this year’s 149th running of the Kentucky Derby.

The Jeff Ruby Steaks — with an increase in points assigned for the Kentucky Derby — suddenly had attracted some of the best possible contenders for the biggest and most important race in the history of the sport.

The Jeff Ruby Steaks recruited the likes of Hall of Fame Trainer Todd Pletcher and some of the best riders in the sport in John Velazquez and Irad Ortiz, Jr.

The Jeff Ruby Steaks attracted a crowd that packed the facility’s new ballroom to the gills and spilled over to the track’s apron and paddock area.

Now look at the real numbers:

On Saturday, this year’s Jeff Ruby Steaks had a total betting handle of $10.1 million. Just a year before, the Ruby-day handle was $7.9 million. That’s an increase in $2.2 million in handle. That’s an increase of 27.85%. 

Are you kidding me?

Going into the final three days of this year’s meet, Turfway Park has raced 45 days this year. The total betting handle has been $135,365,327 million. The total purse allocation has been $17,784,500. There has been 373 races with a total of 3,653 horses to start. The average field size has grown to a whopping 9.79 horses per race. And, there is still 3 days to go.

A year ago, Turfway Park had run 39 days of live racing. The total betting handle was $89,658,354. The total purses was $13,425,000. There were 332 races run. There were 2,993 horses to race. The average field size was 9.02. That’s an increase in handle of an amazing $45,706,973 — with 3 days to go. And, that’s an increase in handle of nearly .51%.

Are you kidding me?

There is one reason for these massive gains and increased economic indicators in every important category. One reason. One reason only.

The General Assembly passed HHR legislation. The Governor signed HHR legislation.

The shackles removed. The industry invested.

The business has soared.