Following the July 4 conclusion of the spring meeting in Churchill Fallsraces in Kentucky move from July 8 to Ellis Park.
The Henderson Track, located near Evansville, Ind., celebrates its 100th anniversary this season after it first opened in 1922 as Dade Park. It organizes 23 dates during the summer spread over eight weeks before ending on August 28.
During this stretch, the track has a scheduled break for a race day on August 13 at Churchill Downs.
Eight races are scheduled on the opening day card, with Friday purses ranging from $12,500 for first $10,000 runners who enter the opening to $52,000 for optional first-timer stipend claimants. level who participate in the seventh race, the characteristic of the day.
Four races are carded for grass, a surface no longer available for racing in Kentucky since Churchill Downs suspended the use of its struggling new turf course after the June 10 race.
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Trainers Steve Asmussen, Bret Calhoun, Mark Casse, Mike Maker, Shug McGaughey, Kenny McPeek and Brendan Walsh are among those whose horses are entered on opening day.
Francisco Arrieta, Rafael Bejarano, Gerardo Corrales, James Graham, Brian Hernandez Jr., Corey Lanerie and Joe Talamo are among the jockeys with mounts scheduled for Friday.
Ellis Park spent more than $4 million before its barn and facade upgrades, including a new audio system, said general manager Jeff Inman.
“It’s an inherited property – it needs a little love and care,” Inman said.
The track uses a different barn as a reception barn while work continues to replace the one that was ravaged by fire last summer.
Ellis Park’s growth is tied to a historic horse racing gaming satellite facility in Owensboro that the track intends to open in mid-2023 and which will accommodate 600 slot-like HHR terminals, Inman said. . Ellis Park’s on-site HHR game with 320 machines allows play at other major Kentucky tracks.
“Installation updates are the key there,” Inman said. “But again, we’ve been comfortable telling people that we think our Owensboro property can generate $6-8 million a year in scholarships.”
Improving Ellis Park is a goal every year, he added, “and Owensboro is the engine that will allow us to do that.”
Ellis Park’s management has come under periodic criticism from some Kentucky Horse Racing Commission commissioners for lackluster feedback and capital improvements well below plans announced when it acquired the track. As of 2019, Ellis Park is owned by a subsidiary of Laguna Development Corporation of Albuquerque, NM
The track’s stakes schedule includes two races honoring those who have died over the past year due to ties to the track. The $75,000 Jeff Hall Memorial Stakes will take place on July 24 and the $60,000 RA “Cowboy” Jones Overnight Stakes will take place on August 6.
Ellis is the only thoroughbred track in Kentucky without a graded stakes race. The $200,000 Runhappy Ellis Park Derby on August 14 is his richest run.
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