The Maker’s Mark VIP Tent, sponsored since 2003 by premium bourbon distiller Maker’s Mark, is again the day’s premium venue, but guests in the massive tent will find a new, airier décor in soft blue and white. The tent seats about 1,800 and offers a deluxe buffet, premium open bar, live entertainment by the Greg Lee Trio, and a private viewing area. Returning favorites in the tent are the Maker’s Mark cake, deep chocolate generously flavored with Maker’s Mark and iced to resemble the bourbon maker’s famed red wax, and the Rube Goldberg-esque Maker’s Mark bar.
Also new to the tent this year is a booth by InstaPro Photo, whose photos will place fans into a racing scene via “green screen” technology. The keepsake photos are free to guests in the tent, compliments of Maker’s Mark.
Guests in the Maker’s Mark VIP Tent also can enter to win a fur coat and throws from Fabulous Furs; Derby-worthy hats from Fabulous Hats; gift baskets from Maker’s Mark, Budweiser, and Miller Brewing; an autographed Bengals football; autographed Maker’s Mark bottles commemorating past races; box seats at Keeneland; and overnight getaways to Horseshoe Casino and Hotel Southern Indiana.
All common areas of the Maker’s Mark VIP Tent are non-smoking; a smokers’ lounge is provided. The tent is heated, or its sidewalls can be opened to pleasant weather. Tickets to the Maker’s Mark VIP Tent are $175.
Reserved grandstand seating, priced from $25 to $80, ranges from fifth floor dining to individual handicapping stations on the first floor. Smoking and non-smoking areas are available and some tickets include buffet service. Other areas are first come, first served with $10 general admission. Several reserved areas are already sold out. Tickets are available in advance by calling (859) 371-0200 or at the door.
Another tradition unique to the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes is the popular “green drink,” a potent mix of orange and pineapple juices, blue Curaçao, gin, tequila, rum, and vodka served in a commemorative glass. Turfway’s in-house food and beverage division, Turfway Concessionaire, will prepare 200 gallons of the drink.
Returning for the second year is Racehorse Adoption Awareness, an emphasis on the care of retired racehorses. New Vocations and the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, both of which work directly with Turfway Park to accept retiring racehorses and place them in new homes, will be represented. New this year, the agencies will raise funds for their work by raffling “Weekend in the Country,” an overnight stay at the Vinery Thoroughbred farm in Lexington.
For the past several years, the sponsor of the Spiral Stakes has presented the Best Turned Out Award to the groom in each of the day’s five stakes races whose horse is most impeccably turned out for the race. This year Vinery Ltd. extends the recognition of stable employees’ valued work with a matching donation to the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America, specifically to benefit outreach on the Turfway Park backside.
Racing traditions run deep, and the bugler is among the oldest. Phil Thomas, the regular bugler at Churchill Downs, returns to play the familiar “First Call” before each race. Making her first appearance at Turfway to sing the National Anthem is 11-year-old Rosa Mejia, a student at R. A. Jones Middle School in Florence. Rosa began performing on stage at age four and has sung the National Anthem for the Florence Freedom and at the Western & Southern Open. She performs with the Northern Kentucky Children’s Choir and the Cincinnati Children’s Choir.
Tomorrow, March 19, Turfway will give away 1,500 souvenir glasses, the 31st in the series commemorating the race. Vouchers will be given out at the gates beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Race week kicks off tomorrow with the Northern Kentucky Leadership Foundation’s 10th annual Charity Night at the Tables. Guests play casino games and assign play-money “winnings” to one or more of the eight participating charities. In order of their winnings, the charities then select horses running in the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes, receiving $4,000 to $10,000 based on how their horses finish. Tickets to Charity Night at the Tables are $75 and include a grazing buffet, beer, wine, and soft drinks, silent auction, and live entertainment by party band Naked Karate Girls. The event runs 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. in the Maker’s Mark VIP Tent. Tickets are available at the door. Horseshoe Casino and Hotel Southern Indiana is the presenting sponsor
The charities will choose their horses at Bourbon, Bill and ‘Breds: The Call to the Post Reception and Post Position Draw, 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23, in the Maker’s Mark VIP Tent. This annual event is presented for the first time by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and features special guest Bill Samuels Jr., retiring president of Maker’s Mark, and the drawing of entries for the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes.
The Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes is supported by four undercard stakes: the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks for three-year-old fillies; the Rushaway Stakes and the Hansel Stakes for three-year-olds; and the Queen Stakes for older fillies and mares. There are 12 races on the day. First post is 1:10 p.m., and the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes will go off at 5:31 p.m. Gates open at 9:30 a.m., half an hour earlier than previously announced, to accommodate simulcast racing from Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
Spiral Stakes title sponsor Vinery Ltd. is a comprehensive Thoroughbred breeding, racing, rehabilitation, bloodstock and sales operation with locations in Kentucky, Florida, and New York. In addition to Maker’s Mark’s sponsorship of the VIP Tent, further sponsorship is provided by Miller Brewing, the official beer of the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes.
Television Games Network (TVG) will broadcast live from Turfway on race day, with coverage carried by regional networks coast to coast. The feature race also will be carried by Horse Racing Radio Network.