Ellis Park ownership change approved by horse racing commission

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A proposal for Saratoga Casino & Hospitality Group to take ownership of Ellis Park was approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Tuesday.

The commission had to approve the deal before it can be finalized.

The proposal comes amid reports of ownership changes at the Henderson race track.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission board members voted to approve the takeover of Ellis Park by Saratoga Casino & Hospitality Group.

Ellis Park owner Ron Geary released this statement:

“It’s been 12 years, and I just turned 71. My wife and my two kids and my nine grandkids for years have asked me to slow down. I think it’s time. I’ve enjoyed working with Saratoga over the years.

It’s been a really fun and fast-moving 12 years. I feel like we’ve had some great successes and we’ve brought it a long ways with so many people’s help. I know Saratoga will be focused on continuing the progress.”

Geary said he’s pleased that Saratoga Casino & Hospitality Group has indicated that current staff management, headed by manager Jeff Hall, will stay in tact.

(Note: This year Ellis Park is offering a record $230,000 a day in purses, made possible in part because of a strategic relationship with Kentucky Downs, in which the Kentucky HBPA facilitated the transfer of $2.9 million in purses from Kentucky Downs to Ellis Park to bolster purses and encourage horsemen to stay in Kentucky for the summer.)

“This is going to be one of our best operating years in our history, especially if we ever get a break with the weather, and I just think it will get better and better,” said Geary.

Geary also released this in his statement:

“Back in 2011, I was trying to figure out what it took to get Ellis into the black and make it profitable. I decided I had to invest in Instant Racing, called Historical Horse Racing now. I took a whole year and visited 44 different racetracks, casinos, racinos and met a bunch of people and talked to them that I would like to bring in a 20 to 30-percent partner to help me launch Instant Racing. Seven groups or people were interested. One of the last groups I met with was Saratoga, and there was kind of a bond immediately. We always got along great. We always dealt with each other with openness and candor. They are a very dependable group of people, ones you can trust. I went with them. They put up $4 million to get the original Instant Racing open in the clubhouse, and we’ve been working together ever since. They are good people.”

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(This story was originally published July 17, 2018)

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