HENDERSON, KY. (WEHT) – Final preparations are being put into place ahead of Friday’s start to the racing season at Ellis Park but there were a few questions left on the table as the season begins.
Park staff say they have high hopes for the upcoming season and after 100 years of being operational, Henderson, KY Mayor Steve Austin says it speaks to the consistency of the park.
“Up and downs in every economy every item in the economy for years and years and years but Ellis has always been steady,” Mayor Austin explained. “This year I think we’ll draw good crowds this year.”
Different renovations have been completed at the park including to the audio equipment and the grandstand but there is still at least one thing Ellis Park general manager Jeff Inman says they want to fix.
“We got some repairs done this season but the real repair that parking lot needs to be replaced so that’s probably going to be a six month project,” Inman explained. “We just couldn’t get it done without affecting our race meet this year.”
Just as horses are full of energy when they hit the track, so are the trainers that work with the thoroughbreds.
“Running here we have a lot of fun,” assistant trainer Marissa Short said. “The grandstand area is really fun for my guys even if we aren’t running horses, we’re able to enjoy everything so it’s a great atmosphere. It’s a lot of fun and it’s very inclusive.”
Inman says with celebrating 100 years of Ellis Park, it’s about celebrating family and this weekend they will have different activites for all ages including face painting.
“Everybody tells me they went to to Ellis Park with their father, their uncle their grandfather their grandmother and we want to celebrate that with our 100 year,” Inman said.
Inman says family is very important at Ellis and in June, they lost one of their own. Jeff Hall, the director of racing operations at Ellis Park passed away. He was with Ellis Park more than 40 years. To celebrate his life, the park will hold the “Jeff Hall Stakes” on July 26th.
Mayor Austin believes this could be a great racing season as long as the weather cooperates.
“Ellis park is always brings excitement to our tri-state and to our community in Henderson,” Mayor Austin said. “If we can get lucky and the weather comes along with us and its not too hot we’ll be great. It’ll be a great meet.”