Visiting and Betting Ellis Park

Western Kentucky’s Ellis Park, positioned in Henderson, has had a resurgence in recent times. The small, rustic monitor positioned on the north banks of the Ohio River (on the Indiana aspect, but nonetheless in Kentucky) has seen area dimension and purse ranges rise after the introduction of historic horse racing machines to the power as a brand new, year-round supply of gaming income in 2012.

In fall 2022, Ellis Park was purchased by Churchill Downs Inc. – and final summer season, the nationwide highlight fell on the monitor in June when racing was halted on the firm’s flagship venue in Louisville and transferred to Ellis whereas Churchill carried out a complete security assessment after a spike in fatalities. Main races such because the Stephen Foster Stakes have been held at Ellis till the conclusion of Churchill Downs’ standard spring/summer season meet, after which Ellis seamlessly moved into its regular schedule.

On July 4, Ellis kicks off its 2024 summer season meet totaling 25 days of dwell racing. With that in thoughts, let’s check out what Ellis Park has to supply horseplayers and followers as the one supply of Kentucky horse racing for the subsequent 7 ½ weeks. The monitor is affectionally nicknamed “The Pea Patch” as for years it had a crop of soybeans rising within the infield; nonetheless, in a current interview with BloodHorse, Churchill Downs Vice President of Racing Gary Palmisano stated that the soybeans have been eliminated this 12 months to enhance water drainage on the facility, which rests on property adjoining to wetlands and simply a number of hundred yards from the Ohio River.

The right way to Get There

For these driving from the Louisville space or factors east akin to Lexington, the quickest route is to take 1-64 westbound via southern Indiana all the way in which to the I-69 intersection north of Evansville, then take I-69 south and west to state highway 41, after which drive south lower than a mile on that very busy thoroughfare to the monitor. Be certain to examine beforehand the standing of the Sherman Minton Bridge, which carries visitors on I-64 from Louisville into southern Indiana and is closed periodically for repairs as a part of a seemingly-eternal “renewal challenge,” together with the weekend of July 19-21.

Observe Developments, Main Race Dates, and Betting Choices

Ellis Park has a 1 1/8-mile fundamental dust monitor with a seven-furlong chute and a one-mile chute; the latter begins at a 90-degree angle within the first flip. This configuration is much like the one-mile chute that Saratoga Race Course as soon as had after which re-installed in 2022, and makes one-mile dust races 1 ½-turn affairs. Ellis Park’s turf course is a one-mile oval.

Final summer season when Churchill racing shifted to Ellis, pace horses dominated throughout the first couple of weeks on the dust monitor, particularly in sprints, however by mid-July the principle monitor started to play extra pretty. The one-mile fundamental monitor chute positioned within the first flip will help horses drawn to the within take command early in the event that they break properly, however horses that reel off blazing fractions in each sprints and routes can be inclined to tiring within the homestretch. Ellis’ turf course typically favors forwardly positioned horses slightly than far-back closers.

To start its conventional meet, Ellis will conduct dwell racing for 4 consecutive days beginning on Thursday, Independence Day, and ending Sunday, July 7. Nevertheless, after that monitor operators are attempting one thing new for 2024 and can maintain dwell racing on a Saturday-Monday three-day schedule every week till closing day, Monday, Aug. 26. It will likely be attention-grabbing to see deal with figures for Mondays as soon as the meet is concluded to see how Ellis fared matched up in opposition to tracks akin to Parx Racing and Thistledown slightly than on Fridays in opposition to Saratoga (which begins on July 11) and Del Mar (opening July 20). Submit time for the primary race every day of the meet is 11:50 a.m. CT. 

Main race dates are Saturday/Sunday, Aug. 3-4, when seven stakes races together with the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes can be held as preps for Kentucky Downs’ elite turf meet in late August and September; and on Sunday, Aug. 11, when six stakes are provided, together with the Groupie Doll Stakes for fillies and mares, which was previously the Gardenia Stakes and is now named after the two-time champion feminine sprinter who gained the race in 2011. The one-mile Ellis Park Derby for 3-year-olds additionally can be held on Aug. 11.

Horseplayers have loads of playing alternatives on every racecard at Ellis all through the meet, with at the very least two each day Decide 5s provided (50-cent minimal), a $3 all-turf Decide 3, and a 20-cent Dade Park Decide 6 provided, every with a 15% takeout. Advance-deposit wagering on races at Ellis is obtainable via, owned by Churchill Downs Inc.

Jockeys and Trainers to Watch

The Churchill Downs jockey colony was deep in expertise this spring, and most of these riders will relocate to Ellis. Gerardo Corrales led all jockeys in wins for each the 2022 and 2023 summer season meets together with a five-win day final summer season, and he stands a very good likelihood at securing a three-peat after just lately coming back from an harm. He’ll have competitors from Brian Hernandez Jr., reigning profitable jockey of the Kentucky Derby Offered by Woodford Reserve and Longines Kentucky Oaks, fast-rising younger rider Cristian Torres, and several other different acquainted names from final 12 months’s prime ten, together with Rafael Bejarano, Francisco Arrieta, Corey Lanerie, James Graham, Declan Cannon, and Edgar Morales. Florent Geroux may also trip usually at Ellis whereas taking big-race assignments elsewhere as alternative supplies.

As talked about, purses have elevated considerably at Ellis over the previous a number of meets, and that has drawn a few of the nation’s most profitable trainers to function stables on the monitor. Louisville native Brad Cox, the runaway 2023 regular-meet chief in wins, has been an Ellis fixture since his days coaching primarily claimers and may have a handful of promising 2-year-olds able to debut on the Pea Patch. The identical might be stated for Corridor of Fame member Steve Asmussen, the all-time winningest coach in North America. Different trainers who can be energetic embrace Kentucky Derby and Oaks winner Ken McPeekMike Maker, Cherie DeVaux, John Ortiz, Tom AmossGreg Foley, and Joe Sharp.

Facilities and What to Do within the Space

Followers visiting gained’t get the identical expertise watching top-class horses compete at Ellis as they’ll on the recently-completed meet beneath the Twin Spires in Louisville, and that’s a part of the monitor’s allure – even sans soybeans. As an alternative of Millionaire’s Row buffets, Kentucky Derby murals, a $200 million paddock, and ample air con, there can be picnic tables, ceiling followers, beer buckets, and ICEE stands. Ellis does have a separate air-conditioned constructing with a restaurant, which is now largely populated by historic horse racing machines and the folks enjoying them. However the majority of the monitor is open-air, and plenty of followers congregate in a picnic space with a number of tents set as much as mitigate solar publicity.

It’s a family-friendly, laid-back egalitarian vibe at Ellis, with quick access to the small paddock and ample house for watching the races on the monitor apron and rail. Basic admission is free throughout Ellis’ common meet beginning July 4, and a schedule of occasions might be discovered right here.

When you’re staying within the space for a day or two, keep away from the same old preponderance of chain eating places and shops lining state highway 41 on the Kentucky aspect or on the principle buying drag in Evansville, Indiana (John Lloyd Expressway) and spend time on the riverwalk areas in each Henderson and Evansville for some picturesque views of the mighty Ohio River. John James Audubon State Park (named after the famend ornithologist and painter) is correct throughout the Ohio River from Ellis Park in Kentucky and gives a pleasant refuge for climbing and fowl watching in addition to a museum. 

I can be remiss to fail to say close by Owensboro, Ky., about 25 miles east of Henderson alongside the Ohio River. Owensboro is one in every of Kentucky’s greatest cities and is thought for an additional vacation spot riverwalk space, the Bluegrass Corridor of Fame and Museum downtown, and maybe most of all because the mutton capital of the world. Each the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn (for the buffet expertise) and Outdated Hickory Bar-B-Que (dine in or perform) are really useful.

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