HENDERSON, KY. (WFIE) - Live horse racing at Ellis Park is finally out of the gates as the track opened what will no doubt be an unforgettable summer meet on Thursday in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
This is the 98th live race meet in track’s history and it got underway with plenty of COVID-19 protocols in place.
Opening day at Ellis Park is always a special day, and this year was no different.
The finish line and winner’s circle are the centers of attention. While this statement still holds true, the races are a lot quieter this time around since no fans were allowed to watch outside due to strict COVID-19 protocols.
“I think the fans have overall been positive,” Jeff Inman, general manager at Ellis Park said. “There’s a lot of people that want to be on the rail, that want to be in the grandstands. We’re trying to get those open, but most people are understanding and really happy that there’s some live racing.”
Protocol states that all fans must reserve their seats ahead of time in either the Sky Theatre or Clubhouse Lounge. Visitors must also have their temperature taken upon arrival.
14 News spoke with some guests and they didn’t seem to mind the changes.
“Most people do mask up,” Joe Whipkey said. “They’ve done a really nice job of social distancing in here and keeping the place really clean.”
“I don’t think any of us are really used to it, but it’s one of those things we kind of have to do what we have to do to keep racing going,” Joe Talamo, a jockey riding for the first time at Ellis Park said. “You definitely love to see fans here, but for the safety and health of everyone I think it’s worked out pretty well.”
It’s healthy, safe and little more quiet for now, but still filled with plenty of excitement.