Turf Paradise Opens 136-Day Meet Saturday

The track's 60th-anniversary season runs through May 8.

Q-Racing Journal

Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Arizona, opens its 2015-16 meet with a nine-race card on Saturday.

Turf Paradise will open its 60th anniversary season with a nine-race program on Saturday. Post time for the first race is set for 12:55 p.m. (MST).

Located in Phoenix, Arizona, Turf Paradise will be increasing its overnight purses up to 10 percent during the 136-day season, which runs through May 8. Racing secretary Mike Harlow traveled extensively throughout North America to recruit horses.

“Personal contact with the horsemen makes a difference,” Harlow said. “We’re going to have more horses than we’ve had the past couple of years. That’s essential because we have a long meet with live racing five days a week.

“The climate’s great here for winter race, with a fast track and firm turf most of the meet,” he added.

Turf Paradise’s Quarter Horse stakes schedule is topped by the 300-yard, $30,000-added Desert Classic Futurity on May 1. The track will also play host to three Bank of America Challenge Championship races in the spring, all of which will be run on May 1 -- the 440-yard, $60,000-added Bank of America Turf Paradise Championship Challenge; the 350-yard, $25,000-added John Deere Turf Paradise Juvenile Challenge; and the 870-yard, $17,000-added Zoetis Turf Paradise Distance Challenge.

Turf Paradise will also welcome Robert Fox as its new track announcer. A graduate of the Columbia School of Broadcasting and the longtime racecaller at Ruidoso Downs, Fox has also called races at Rillito Park, Zia Park, and Evangeline Downs.

General admission at Turf Paradise is $2 per person. The first 5,000 fans through the gates on Saturday will receive a free T-shirt.

“Very few businesses in Phoenix have been continually operating at the same location for 60 years,” said Turf Paradise general manager Vincent Francia. “At a time when the sport of horse racing is struggling, we have been blessed with a loyal and growing fan base.

After American Pharoah’s Triple Crown victory, more people are discovering the sport of horse racing,” he added. “We welcome them to our growing family of fans.”

Turf Paradise will offer live racing on a Saturday-through-Wednesday schedule, with two exceptions -- the track will offer live racing on Friday, October 30 (Breeders’ Cup Friday) and Friday, May 6 (Kentucky Oaks Day).

For more information, visit www.turfparadise.com.

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