Turf Paradise has just wrapped up its 61st season, marking another milestone and serving as the Valley’s only horseracing track. When Turf Paradise opened its doors in 1956, we were the state’s first professional sports franchise. A lot has changed since then, but we believe competition breeds innovation.
Turf Paradise’s races are viewed at Off Track Betting locations from London to Dubai and from Flagstaff to Yuma. Wagering and attendance remain brisk. This past season more than 1,800 horses were stabled at our facility as trainers, jockeys, and horse owners continue to come to Turf Paradise for a chance to compete. They come from 18 states and three Canadian provinces. That’s about 150 more horses than last year and a tribute to the outreach efforts by so many.
Our purses have been about $11 million, an amount we hope to maintain or increase next year as a key part of one of the largest horseracing meets in the country.
Our contribution to the sport of horseracing merited a visit from Triple Crown winning jockey Victor Espinoza, who spoke with local reporters and state leaders about the vital role horseracing plays in Arizona’s economy.
Turf Paradise was once again honored to host its annual Wine, Women, and Horses Charity event in April which raised $53,000 for Child Crisis Arizona. Turf Paradise was also proud to host a Relay for Life event benefitting the American Cancer Society.
Nearly 8,000 people attended the annual Wiener Dog races which raised $15,000 for Arizona-Adopt-a- Greyhound. Turf Paradise also worked with the Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (AzHBPA) to entertain nearly 8,000 fans with the track’s annual Camel, Ostrich, and Zebra races.
That’s in addition to special events such as Thanksgiving weekend, Super Saturday, and our Anniversary celebration marked by the $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile. Once again the widow of the legendary Phoenix Suns Coach was on hand to commemorate the event.
Betting on the Kentucky Derby from Turf Paradise was up from the previous year.
Turf continues to bring new fans to the sport. Off Track Betting, wagering via smart phones, and social media are just some of the ways our sport reaches out to a new fan base. The track holds ‘Fiesta Sundays’ as horseracing becomes more popular with our state’s growing Hispanic population.
The impact Turf Paradise has on the Arizona economy can’t be understated, it’s $91 million a year according to a recent economic impact study.
With one of the longest racing seasons in the country, Turf Paradise gives fans more opportunities to see live, local horse races. It also gives those in the horseracing industry an opportunity to settle in for a long season as opposed to bouncing from city to city. It gives the backside a sense of community, that’s why there is a permanent place of worship and a full-time chaplain at the backside.
This is not to say there aren’t any challenges. Due to a changing sport, many tracks around the country have gone from five days a week to four. Here at Turf, we have kept five, affording horsemen more opportunities to race. Additionally, a southern Arizona tribe recently opened a massive casino not too far from us, despite opposition from Arizona’s Governor, congressional delegation, and state legislature. National and local challenges are very real. Why, for example, should this tribe be allowed massive gaming rights, and Turf Paradise be allowed none? Why should hundreds of thousands of fantasy sports players in Arizona be some of the few people in America that can’t play because many tribes don’t want to allow this?
Through all of the changes and challenges, there remains one constant, the thrill of watching thoroughbreds and quarter horses race to the finish line. It was compelling entertainment in 1956 and it remains so today.
Our 62nd season starts October 14th. We hope you can join us for season 62 and for many years to come. Ownership and management led by Jerry Simms and Vince Francia will continue to do its very best to do right by you. And as always, please let us know your thoughts and suggestions by writing us at email@example.com
With 11-1 outsider Go Max winning the $30,000 Hasta La Vista Handicap Sunday, Turf Paradise brought its 61st season to a close.
Go Max and Scott Stevens got up in the final strides of the one mile and seven-eights turf marathon to best 2-5 defending champion Blue Bomber with Sir Searsucker finishing third in the field of eight older horses.
Owned by Doug Blair and trained by Debbie O’Brien, Go Max covered the distance over firm going in 3:11.42 and returned $25.80 for a $2 win wager.
In the co-featured $74,000 Open Spring Futurity, 1-9 favorite Squeeze Me ($2.20) with Ry Eikleberry up was an easy 6 ¼ length winner over Rocky Rogue with Primo Touch third in the field of ten 2-year-olds.
Owned and trained by Kevin Eikleberry, Squeeze Me, one of six fillies in the race, covered the 5-furlongs in :59.09. Now a perfect two-for-two, Squeeze Me earned $43,236 for her victory.
Leading rider honors went to Andrew Ramgeet with 107 wins. It was the Jamaican-born rider’s first title in his second season at the track. David Lopez finished second with 98 wins and eight-time leading rider Scott Stevens third with 96 wins
Robertino Diodoro won his fourth consecutive trainer’s title with 84 victories. One of Diodoro’s mainstays, Charles Garvey, won the owner’s title with 22 victories, one more than Silva Racing with 21 tallies.
Turf Paradise will conduct summer simulcasting from major race tracks, seven-days a week. Live racing will return in mid-October.
Turf Paradise brings its 61st season to a close this three-day weekend, highlighted by Saturday’s simulcast of the 143rd running of the $2,000,000 Kentucky Derby. Closing day Sunday will feature the marathon, traditional closing day marquee stakes, the one mile and seven-eights Hasta La Vista Handicap.
There will be special live racing Friday plus a simulcast of the $1,000,000 Kentucky Oaks. Live race post time will be 1:25 pm. Advanced wagering on the Kentucky Derby will be available.
Saturday starts early, with gates opening at 7:00 am and the first simulcast from Churchill Downs set for 7:30 am. Live race post is 11:35 am. Kentucky Derby post time is 3:25 pm.
Sunday’s closing day’s will offer free Grandstand admission and a first post of 1:25 pm.
Derby Day Saturday
America’s most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, will be simulcast live at Turf Paradise on to all its 60 in-state Off Tracks Betting sites.
On track, the first 5,000 fans will receive a free commemorative Kentucky Derby glass, listing all the previous Derby winners. A free Family Fun Park for the kids will feature multiple bounce inflatables and face painters.
Mint Juleps, the traditional Derby beverage, will be offered.
Sunday’s $30,000 Hasta La Vista
At one and seven-eights miles, the Hasta La Vista, is one of the longest turf races in America. A field of eight will line up, including last year’s winner Blue Bomber and race runnerup Pacific Nights.
Blue Bomber, who will be ridden by regular rider Natasha Coddington, is coming off a win and a new stakes record in the one mile and three-eights Wildcat Handicap. The 6-year-old’s strength is to go to the front and make others tire trying to catch him. The tactic resulted in a neck victory last year. Blue Bomber is the only entrant to have won at the distance.
Pacific Nights has not won since February 28 of 2016 when he defeated Blue Bomber at 7 ½ furlongs on the turf.
$30,000 Spring Futurity
The co-featured stakes has attracted a full field of 12 2-year-olds, divided among seven fillies and five colts and geldings, for the 5-furlong sprint. All 12 have made their maiden start with three of those winning their debuts.
The most impressive winner of the three was the Kevin Eikleberry-trained filly Squeeze Me, who won her maiden race by 6 ½ lengths over eight rivals.