Take your mark as Turf Paradise opensPosted: Updated:
The wait is almost over for horse racing fans. Turf Paradise, opens its doors for its 61st season tomorrow, Sat., Oct. 15th. Expect a full card of live horse racing and free t-shirts for the first 5,000 paid admissions.
Turf Paradise opens to 61st Season
"Turf Paradise is the place where the horses go fast and the dollar goes far," says Turf Paradise General Manager Vincent Francia. As the venue enters its 7th decade of horse racing tradition, fans can expect live music, a kids' fun park and a barbecue tent, in the hopes of gaining and keeping fans. Francia says, "we look forward to welcoming a new generation of horse racing enthusiasts," adding that they're excited to "welcome back loyal fans. "
This morning on Good Morning Arizona we were there as horses, trainers and jockey's were prepping for the big day. Stables opened at 5am, and horses began practice runs at 6am. Horses also took to the large equine pool for a swim after their tough workouts.
This season, there are 35 stakes races, including the $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile (Jan. 14), the $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup (Feb. 11), and the $50,000 Turf Paradise Derby (Feb. 20).
Chaplain for the Jockeys
For many in the horseracing industry, traveling from city to city is part of the business. But, finding a church while on the move isn't easy. That's why Turf Paradise provides a chapel and a chaplain for its jockeys, trainers and extended family of those who work in the horse racing industry.
Reverend John Shumaker has been the on-site Chaplain at Turf Paradise since 2007. "I just preach the word," says Rev. Shumaker. "I make sure that everybody's needs are met." Rev. Shumaker presides over church service on Sundays at 10:30am at Turf's on-site chapel, and leads a bible study Tuesday nights at 5:30pm.
He also prays with the jockeys before the races each day. "Just for safety," he says. "It helps them feel more confident in the things they're doing," Rev. Shumaker adds. Rev. Shumaker is part of a network of racetrack chaplains across the country. "For people to go from one track to the next and know that there is going to be a church service provided... it helps them to know things are going to be right wherever they go."
A study, recently released by economist Dr. Margaret Ray of the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia found that Turf Paradise Race Course generates an annual economic impact of $91 million to the state of Arizona. Since its establishment in 1956, the racetrack has continually been ranked among the Top 5 sports attendance attractions, according to Turf Paradise, attracting horse racing enthusiasts not only from all across the United States, but from Canada and Mexico as well.
It's significant to note that the economic impact of Ray's report, takes place within a seven month window, mid-October thru early May, which coincides with Turf Paradise's race meet. The report does not factor in the economic impact of Turf Paradise as a stand-alone tourist attraction. The 2016-2017, 130-day live meet runs from October 15th through May 7th.
The study closely analyzes the direct, indirect, and induced economic impact of Turf Paradise's activities in order to determine the total baseline economic impact in 2015. Direct economic impact includes expenditures made by Turf Paradise. Indirect economic impact consists of Turf Paradise's direct impact expenditures in other business sectors of the local economy. Finally, induced economic impact is comprised of the amount of money spent by racetrack employees on goods and services in the region.
In addition to the $91 million annual impact of Turf Paradise to Arizona, the report also listed other major points of economic contribution in 2015:
·When in season, Turf Paradise provides employment for 1,040 workers in both racetrack and stable operations.
·More than 1,600 horses were housed at the racetrack during the October to May 2015 racing season, leading to operating expenses of nearly $18 million.
·Recent construction and renovation at the track contributed $1.5 million to the Arizona economy.
·Turf Paradise paid $2.5 million in taxes in 2015.
·As a major sports attraction, in 2015 over 290,000 attendees walked through Turf Paradise's gates to take part in on-site live horse racing and an additional 525,000 fans attended one of 65 Off Track Betting sites located throughout the state.
·Every $1 injected into the racing industry has a final economic impact of $2 on the Arizona economy.
·Turf Paradise now hosts one of the longest seasons of thoroughbred racing in the United States and the racetrack's races are simulcast to more than 2,000 locations in 40 different countries around the world.
Gates open at 11am, and the first post time is 12:55pm. As always Grandstand admission is $2 and general parking is free. Fans can watch and wager on races locally as well as on simulcasts from major racetracks from around the country.
Opening day is just the beginning. The season also includes:
Special Fiesta Sundays throughout the season featuring Mexican food and music
Breeders Cup Party, November 5th
A Thanksgiving Weekend Party
61st Anniversary Party featuring the $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile, January 14th
Super Saturday, February 11th
Wiener Dog Races, March 11th
Camel and Ostrich Races, March 25th
Kentucky Derby Party, May 6th
For more info: TurfParadise.com or Call (602) 942-1101