Evansville, Ind. (WEHT) – The 148th running of the Kentucky Derby has horse racing fans in the tri-state making their final decisions on their selections and spending time with friends and family at Ellis Park.
Derby weekend is one of the main times they head to the racetrack but for others Ellis Park is like a second home and for one specific friend group this years Derby will be all about making memories.
“We’re here practically everyday,” horse racing fan Dennis Snyder said. “Our old buddy is going to be 91 and he’s got cancer and he will be here tomorrow. We all hang around here at Ellis together amongst old friends.”
With the nearest horse track being over 100 miles away, staff at the park are making sure everything is ready for the biggest Saturday in horse racing. Renovations are ongoing at the par and gaming will be taking place in the clubhouse so there won’t be a party for Derby but Ellis Park staff say there will still be a lot of excitement at the track.
“Everyday is a different experience here because you don’t know what’s going to happen on a racetrack,” explained Jeff Hall director of racing operations for Ellis Park said. “Groups of people that come and they come to eat have fun and drink and it all goes hand in hand.”
Owensboro resident Randy Bryant says when he and his friends can’t make it to Churchill Downs for the Oaks and Derby they know they’ll enjoy themselves at Ellis.
“I love horse betting,” Bryant said. “Even though it’s Oaks day, I normally bet every weekend so this just being Oaks and Derby weekend is just a little more special.”
This year the park will celebrate their 100th anniversary and for Synder and many of his friends they have been visiting the track since they were toddlers.
“I’ve been running around here,” Snyder explained. “My good friend Johnny Handcock’s a trainer and his brother Jackie. We all been around here since, three four, five years old.”