Kentucky Downs to Fund Four New Turf Stakes at Ellis Park
Kentucky Downs, near the Tennessee border in Franklin, has been a strong supporter of Ellis Park in recent years, transferring a combined $3 million to Ellis’ purse account the past two years. Now Kentucky Downs is funding four new turf stakes, each potentially worth $100,000.
Positioned as Kentucky Downs Preview Day on Aug. 5 at Ellis Park, each race offers a $75,000 base purse, with an additional $25,000 available in Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund purse supplements for horses sired and born in the commonwealth. The stakes are designed as steppingstones for Kentucky Downs races during that track’s five-date meet Sept. 1-13, as well as being summer objectives in their own right.
“This is going to really fill a void in turf stakes in Kentucky for the summer,” said Ellis Park president and majority owner Ron Geary. “We are thrilled to be able to present what will be one of the Midwest’s top days of summer racing.”
Ellis Park runs July 1 through Labor Day, Sept. 3, with racing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays plus July 4 and 5 and now will have 10 stakes worth a total of $825,000, up from six stakes totaling $400,000 last year.
The Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup for 3-year-olds and upward at 1 1/4 miles is a prep for the Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles, which last year carried a $600,000 purse, including KTDF money. The Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf for fillies and mares at 1 mile is a prep for the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, worth $350,000 last year.
The Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf is a prep for the Grade 3, Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint, worth $400,000 last year. The Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Mile is a prep for the Tourist Mile, worth $400,000 last year.
“Horse racing needs creative modeling,” said Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen. “The new Kentucky Downs Preview Day is a perfect example of that. We’re proud and pleased that we’re in position to help strengthen Ellis Park, which strengthens the entire Kentucky circuit.”
The Preview Day date is one week before the Arlington Park “International Festival of Racing” and also could attract turf runners who competed in “Million Preview Day” in July.
The added races will provide more betting on bigger races, and increase handle at Ellis Park. Those races will add interest and horses to the Kentucky Downs meet in September, which in 2017 set handle records including the top two days in track history when more than $14 million was bet on a Saturday and Sunday.