Record numbers gathered at Ellis Park on Derby Day - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Record numbers gathered at Ellis Park on Derby Day

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A Tri-State race track benefited from the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. A record number of people gathered at Ellis Park to watch the derby.

Ellis park reported a turn-out of about 5,500 on Saturday, and they set a record for the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, as well, at a mark of 2,500.

Those 14 News spoke to said they're happy about Ellis' recent rise in popularity and that the park's renovations are to thank for that.

"You can't walk through the grandstand, it's so crowded. You can't walk through the clubhouse, it's so crowded. But, people are having a good time," said Bob Jackson, the Director of Operations at Ellis Park. 

Jackson said the park has seen a steady rise in attendance over the past two months, leading up to this weekend's record-setting numbers.

"It's not where we want it to be. But believe me, it's much better than it was in October, November," Jackson said.

"This is the first time I've been here, since they've done the remodeling and I just love it," attendee Marlene Ashley said. 

Many of those in attendance on Saturday said last year's renovations and the addition of the 'instant racing machines' have greatly improved the park, and made for an excellent venue to enjoy the derby.

"I've been coming out here for 40 years," attendee Bo Sutton said. "It's pretty big. I haven't seen it since they put the casino slots is. It's nice, nice out here."

"It's an even flow now. You can just flow, you can go where you want to go. It's wide open. I love the camaraderie here. It's just a great place to be," Ashley said.

Not everyone picked the right horse Saturday afternoon, but as nice as it would've been to walk away with some cash, many agree the experience, and the improved park, were enough to keep them coming back.

"Anybody that don't want to come down here, is missing it. They're missing a good day out," Ashley said.

Jackson said race simulcasting continued at the park until 11:00 Saturday night and the instant racing machines stayed open until 2:00 a.m.

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