Ellis Park requests delayed opening day for July 2

Sports

HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – Ellis Park has put in a request for a delayed opening day of July 2 instead of the originally scheduled opening day of June 28.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will need to approve the proposal. Ellis Park plans to race without spectators in the grandstand and grassy area in the paddock.

Ellis Park will continue it’s Kentucky Downs Preview Day on Aug. 2nd.

Here’s more information from the Ellis Park press release

Even with the challenges, Ellis Park will stage a pair of signature cards that promise to be in the national spotlight, with five $100,000 turf stakes on Kentucky Downs Preview Day on Aug. 2 and another stakes quintet on Aug. 9 headed by the $200,000 Ellis Park Derby, with four other $100,000 races. 

The Ellis Park Derby, whose distance has been expanded from a mile to 1 1/8 miles, is part of Churchill Downs’ Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying series. With 50 points to the winner, the horse is virtually assured a spot in the 20-horse field for America’s greatest race, which was delayed to Sept. 5 because of the pandemic. 

The Aug. 9 undercard features the seven-furlong Audubon Oaks, a one-time Ellis Park fixture that was revived this year to serve as a local prep for the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks. Additionally, that day will include the Groupie Doll for fillies and mares, the Ellis Park Juvenile for 2-year-olds, and the Ellis Park Debutante for 2-year-old fillies. 

In its first two years, Kentucky Downs Preview Day quickly stamped itself as one of the most important days of summer racing in the Midwest. The five $100,000 all-turf stakes are designed as launching pads to corresponding stakes at Kentucky Downs’ meet four weeks later in Franklin. The Ellis stakes are largely funded by money generated at Kentucky Downs and transferred to the Ellis Park purse account in an agreement with the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, which represents horse owners and trainers at both tracks. Winners of the Kentucky Downs Preview stakes receive an automatic fees-paid spot in their associated Kentucky Downs stakes. 

Last year Totally Boss swept Ellis’ Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint and Kentucky Downs’ Grade 3 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint to earn a “Win and You’re In” spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Factor This, winner of the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup, finished fourth in Kentucky Downs’ Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup before sweeping the two biggest turf stakes in New Orleans, the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Stakes and Grade 2 Muniz Memorial Classic.

Arklow captured the inaugural Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup and Kentucky Downs’ Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup in 2018 before finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs. 

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(This story was originally published on June 11, 2020)

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