A Phoenix church has conducted Easter sunrise services at Turf Paradise horse racetrack for the past 53 years. On Easter morning in Phoenix, Jesus is off to the races, where his biblical resurrection is celebrated every year at a sunrise service at the Turf Paradise horse racetrack.
People familiar with the Bible might get a mental image of an angry Jesus overturning tables of money in the temple courts from the book of Matthew, but the intersection of god and gambling has been a peaceful one since the sunrise services started at the track 53 years ago. “The sunrise service is a celebration, and the racetrack – even though we are a business that makes our money by gambling – we celebrate that,” Turf Paradise general manager Vincent Francia says. “It's good for us.”
Three-year-olds looking to enhance their reputations will be featured in the $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby and $35,000 Arizona Oaks Saturday at the track.
The ‘Derby,’ which drew a field of nine will be run at 1 1/16 miles and will go as the sixth of eight races.
The ‘Oaks,’ which will go as the fifth race and be contested at one mile for 3-year-old fillies, attracted a field of ten. Both races will be run on the main track.
Seven locally based sophomores will be joined by California and New Mexico entrants.
Among the locals the Molly Pearson-trained duo of Ride Hard Kowboy, winner of two of four efforts including the Chuck N Luck stakes and three-time winner Highway Boss appear with the best chances of contending with a field totally devoid of a clear front runner.
The west coast invader Why Two, recent maiden winner trained by Michael Machowsky, is posed to stretch out to two turns and perhaps gather in his first stakes win.
The Justin Evans-conditioned Dirt Monster has won two of six while never being out of a top three finish.
The sleeper in the field may be Grand Full Moon, winner of three of eight starts including Canterbury’s Juvenile Stakes. The son of Malibu Moon has been favored in six of his eight efforts and has been showing up competitively but failing to get the brass ring.
All eyes will be on Mercedes Stables’ Freakin Amazing. The daughter of Zensational has only made four starts, while breaking her maiden at Santa Anita. She then won the Az Juvenile Fillies stakes locally but was disqualified from victory due to a drug positive, resulting in a 15 days suspension for her trainer Robertino Diodoro. She then finished fourth as the favorite in the El Paso Times Handicap at Sunland Park
Freakin Amazing will be saddled by Diodoro’s assistant Ken Knudsen.
Of the two entered by trainer FC Frazier, SUM Racer and Hip Ninety Three, the latter, who won the Angi Go Stakes at one mile in her last start, seems to be a filly on the rise.
Trainer Machowsky will send forth Bullwinkle Babe, a winless in seven starts maiden in southern California.
Never take a defending champion lightly.
Let go at 13-1 odds, Absolutely Cool successfully defended his title by winning the $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup in a thrilling come-from-behind performance Saturday at Turf Paradise.
Last on the stretch turn, Absolutely Cool ($28.60) was asked by jockey Rocco Bowen to let lose against the competitors in front of him and the 8-year-old responded, gobbling up ground and rivals with every stride while posting a half-length victory over Valiant Flame with Omar third in the field of eight older horses.
Trained by Valorie Lund for owner-breeder Karl Krieg, Absolutely Cool covered the 6-furlongs in 1:08.75 in winning the Gold Cup for the second consecutive year.
“He’s been in the Gold Cup the last four years,” said Lund. “He’s finished twice and now won it twice.”
Earlier in the program, Lund won the $35,000 Sun City Handicap with Lady Rosberg ($6.00).
Absolutely Cool, a Washington bred, has now won eight of 32 efforts for earnings of $269,698.
One of California’s top sprinters, Ankeny Hill, will ship in to face the local talent in the $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup Saturday at Turf Paradise.
The Gold Cup which attracted a field of nine including a filly, will be celebrating its 59th renewal, and is one of a trio of stakes comprising Super Saturday. Complementing the marquee stakes will be the $35,000 Turf Paradise Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf and the $35,000 Sun City Handicap at one mile, also on the grass.
Super Saturday will also feature a free T-shirt giveaway to the first 4,000 fans; a Kids’ Fun Park with multiple bounce inflatables, pony rides and face painters; live music and $2 draft beer.
Ankeny Hill has been keeping company with tough California sprinters like Goldencents, Secret Circle and Rich Tapestry. Trained by Mark Glatt, the 5-year-old horse has won five of 17 lifetime efforts for $240,805 in earnings. Ankeny Hill’s most recent win came in the Pirates’ Bounty Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 3 of last year.
In a showdown between west coast and local-based sprinters a total of 18 horses have been nominated to the $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup to be run Saturday, February 14 at Turf Paradise.
Entries for the Valentine’s Day card will be drawn Tuesday, Feb. 10.
The Phoenix Gold Cup, which will be celebrating its 59th renewal, is the marquee event among a trio of stakes races that comprise Super Saturday. The ‘Gold Cup,’ which will be contested at 6 furlongs, will be joined by the $35,000 Turf Paradise Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf and the $35,000 Sun City Handicap at one mile, also on the grass.
Super Saturday will also offer a free T-shirt to the first 4,000 fans, free Kids Fun Park, featuring multiple inflatables, pony rides and face painting and live music.
Absolutely Cool, last year’s Gold Cup winner, returns to defend his title for trainer Valorie Lund.
Castletown, winner of the Swift Stakes – the traditional prep for the Gold Cup, is a Robertino Diodoro nominee along with stablemates Omar, who finished third in the Swift and Oligarch, shipping in from Santa Anita.
Five others have been nominated from southern California, topped by the Bob Baffert-trained Pimpernel, Mark Glatt’s Ankeny Hill and Paul Aguirre’s Spirit Rules.
A filly and mare have also been nominated: west coast-based trainer Carl O’Callaghan 4-year-old filly Unforgettable U and local based trainer Dan McFarlane’s 6-year-old, multiple stakes winning mare Maker Or Breaker.
Phone Wagering Comes To Turf Paradise
New Way To Bet Keeps Valley’s Only Horseracing Track Competitive
(PHOENIX Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW), phone betting, is now in effect in Arizona.
Last year, then-Governor Jan Brewer signed the legislation into law permitting what is also known as Telephone Account Wagering. On Friday the Arizona Department of Racing authorized Turf Paradise for ADW.
The ADW legislation permits betting on horse and dog races by phone, giving Turf Paradise the tools to be more competitive as 37 other states already have ADW.
Sign-ups for ADW began Saturday nationally and sign ups through Turf Paradise began Tuesday, February 3rd.
Turf Paradise General Manager Vince Francia said, “At a time when horse racing faces ever-increasing competition, ADW gives Turf Paradise patrons another way to wager on horse racing in Arizona.”
For the time being, ADW is not permitted for horse racing in Pima County because of some legal statute technicalities which are being addressed.
For more information on how to sign up for ADW click here or call 866-597- 7337.
The additional wagering option means that Turf Paradise is able to offer record purses for the horsemen, attracting some of the top horses, trainers, and jockeys.
Turf Paradise opened its doors in in 1956 and has been at 19th Ave. and Bell Road ever since making it Arizona’s first sports franchise.