HENDERSON, KY. (WFIE) - Ellis Park officials said the track will run Sunday’s card as scheduled after excessive heat forced the cancellation of Friday and Saturday’s live racing. First post for the nine-race card is 12:50 p.m. CT.
The forecast calls for slightly cooler temperatures, resulting in a lower heat index and break from the oppressive heat, with more cloud cover and a chance of rain.
Ellis Park has almost a century of experience racing in the summer heat of the Ohio Valley.
The key precaution? "Water, water, water," racing secretary Dan Bork said Thursday.
"There's water everywhere," he said. "We have water stations for horses that are walking on their way over. On their way back, there are hoses -- at the finish line, by the paddock. So they're being cooled off as they're coming over, when they're here and then immediately after a race. We have state veterinarians manned all the way around the racetrack, monitoring the horses as they come, as they leave. Any horse that is showing signs of distress, they won't be running. And of course the trainers keep an eye on their horses themselves. If they feel the horses can't handle the heat, they won't run."
Sunday’s card will feature the weekly $1 hot dogs and $2 16-ounce Bud and Bud Light draft beer available in the grandstand. It also is Kentucky HBPA College Day, with a laptop and $1,000 scholarship given out for each race via drawing to a full-time college student, including those enrolled in graduate school, two- or four-year colleges, vocational, technical, barber, beauty etc. Students must have college i.d. card, a letter of registration or similar for incoming freshmen.
Sunday’s Family Days drawing will be for a 55-inch Samsung 4K Smart TV.
Ellis announced on Friday that it has received permission from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to run a make-up card on Monday July 29. Post time will be the usual 12:50 p.m. Entries for that card will be taken this Thursday July 25, when Ellis’ racing office will also take entries for the Sunday July 28 program.
Believe in Royalty starts back in Good Lord
Believe in Royalty, winner of last year’s inaugural Ellis Park Derby over stablemate Kowboy Karma, makes his first start in almost 10 months in Sunday’s $75,000 Good Lord Stakes presented by the University of Louisville Equine Industry Program.
The field of 10 older horses could have at least one defection. Trainer Chris Hartman said Churchill Downs’ Aristides winner Wilbo, the 2017 Good Lord winner and this year’s 3-1 morning-line favorite, will be scratched, saying the 7-year-old gelding does not do well in the heat.
The royally-bred Believe in Royalty, a son of world-renowned stallion Tapit and out of co-owner Brereton Jones’ 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can, last ran in Remington Park’s Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby by a nose. The 4-year-old colt is 5-1 in the morning line.
Trainer Larry Jones was pointing Believe in Royalty for Churchill Downs’ Grade 1 Clark Handicap against older horses last fall when the colt sustained a tiny crack in his final workout.
“We had a little healing that needed to be done,”Jones said. “Thank goodness it didn’t need any surgery. But he’s coming back. I know 6 1/2 furlongs is not his best distance, but we’ve got to start somewhere. He will come closing. We know he likes the track. He’s ready to do something with, so here we are. He’s training well. We’ll see how much of it we can get.”
Believe in Royalty came over from Jones’ Churchill Downs division for his last workout, when he went five-eighths of a mile in a sparkling minute flat.
Jones had seriously considered running Kowboy Karma in the Good Lord. In fact, he gave jockey Gabriel Saez his choice of which horse to ride and the jockey picked Believe in Royalty, the trainer said.
“I guess that tells me that Believe in Royalty is sitting on a good one,” Jones said.
Saez, the regular rider of both horses, made the same choice before last year’s Ellis Park Derby, and wound up beating favored Kowboy Karma by a half-length.
“This is a pretty nice colt,” Jones said of Believe in Royalty. “We’ve had high hopes for him the whole time. We still have those expectations. We’re definitely looking for bigger and better things with him.”
A couple other trainers are using the Good Lord as a starting point after a layoff. The Dale Romans-trained Seven Trumpets, who finished second in last summer’s Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens at Saratoga behind stablemate Promises Fulfilled, hasn’t raced since finishing last of 14 in Santa Anita’s Grade 1 Malibu on Dec. 26. Seven Trumpets has been working brilliantly at Churchill Downs as he seeks his first stakes victory in a career where he’s ground out $400,945 in earnings.
Grade 3 winner Guest Suites last ran Nov. 4 when third in an off-the-turf three-horse allowance race in which the first two finishers were the talented Tom’s d’Etat and Pioneer Spirit.
An interesting horse is the Ian Wilkes-trained Done Deal, impressive winner of last summer’s Iowa Sprint Handicap. Back on dirt after three races on turf, Done Deal makes his second start of the year after finishing a close fifth in a tough Churchill Downs allowance race won by multiple graded-stakes winner Om.
The Good Lord field in post position order with jockeys and odds: Guest Suite (Brian Hernandez Jr., 8-1), Balandeen (Joe Rocco Jr., 15-1), Wilbo (Corey Lanerie, 3-1), Smart Remark (Stewart Elliott, 8-1); Silver Ride (David Cohen, 12-1), Believe in Royalty (Gabriel Saez, 5-1), Done Deal (Tyler Baze, 9-2), Seven Trumpets (Channing Hill, 4-1), Futile (Calvin Borel, 20-1), Concord Fast (Miguel Mena, 15-1).