Purse Increases Only Part of the Progression at Ellis Park
The 31-day meet at Ellis Park begins Saturday, and expectations are high following last year’s strong meet. For the second-straight year, Ellis Park purses are strengthened by Kentucky Downs and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund. This year’s meet will be supported by a $1.65 million KTDF supplement.
“Our enhanced purses have resonated with horsemen, and we expect to keep building on the memorable 2016 season,” said Dan Bork, now in his 11th year as Ellis’s racing secretary.
Average daily purses are scheduled at $210,000 a day. That’s the highest in track history and surpasses last year’s mark just shy of $200,000. Maiden races will carry a record total of $40,000 each in purses for Kentucky-breds, which make up a majority of the races.
A total of six stakes are on the race schedule.
July 8 – Ellis Park Turf Stakes ($50,000), 1 1/16 miles on turf, fillies & mares 3-year-olds & up
July 22 – Don Bernhardt ($50,000), 6 ½ furlongs 3-year-olds & up
Aug. 13 – Groupie Doll, G3 ($100,000), 1 mile fillies & mares 3-year-olds & up
Aug. 13 – Cliff Guilliams Handicap ($50,000), 1 1/16 miles on turf 3-year-olds & up
Aug. 20 – Ellis Park Juvenile ($75,000), 7 furlongs for 2-year-olds
Aug. 20 – Ellis Park Debutante ($75,000), 7 furlongs 2-year-old fillies
Ellis Park has some strong trainers stabling including last year’s training champion Steve Asmussen. The recently completed spring meet at Churchill Downs also brings the top-2 riders from that meet to Ellis Park in Corey Lanerie and Brian Hernandez Jr.
Ellis Park welcomes a new analyst in Joe Kristufek, who also is the paddock host at Churchill Downs and Kentucky Downs. He will make Ellis’ morning line. Kristufek, one of the sport’s leaders in fan education, will join track announcer Jimmy McNerney at the free handicapping seminars every Saturday, starting July 8.
A new infield LED video and Daktronics tote boards replace the structure struck by lightning last year. There are also 121 new Sportech mutual machines to make it easier and faster to place bets. Patrons can enjoy another betting experience with the track’s new historical horse racing machines, the innovative technology that marries pari-mutuel wagering with the flavor of electronic gaming based on the outcome of previously run races.
Founded in 1922, Ellis Park is located in Henderson, KY and is situated on a parcel of land north of the Ohio River that serves as a border separating Kentucky from Indiana for much of its length. Saturday begins the 95th racing season, and opening weekend will consist of four days of racing through Tuesday, July 4 with an average of 9.85 entries per race to kick off the opening four-day run.
“For the first four days the entries went well, for sure,” said racing secretary Dan Bork.
The Ellis Park meet will run through Labor Day Sept. 4 with races Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Post time is 12:50 local Central time. Fans enjoy free admission and parking, and at least one promotion every day.