HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - While the 2021 Kentucky Derby will soon be off to the races at Churchill Downs this weekend, Ellis Park is gearing up for the upcoming summer meet, which track officials say is set to be bigger and better than ever.
Ellis Park is offering record purse payouts, while adding two more stakes races.
According to racing secretary Dan Bork, average daily purses should top $350,000, which would be the highest in track history.
Meanwhile, Kentucky Downs Preview Day will now become a two-day event. With the addition of two more stakes races, seven races in total are set to take place during the event.
Those will be split up to run three races in one day, and four races the following day.
Track officials say 14 stakes races are currently scheduled.
“COVID hit and our purses dropped — as HHR and simulcasting and horse wagering came back on line, we’ve all been doing very well,” Ellis Park General Manager Jeff Inman said. “That money that’s wagered on HHR machines, on the simulcast, on the horse betting, a portion of that goes into a pool that’s allocated to our purses. Mumbers have been very good, so Kentucky’s having really good purses this year.”
Inman told 14 Sports that he’s hopeful they will be able to host fans with at least 50% capacity, but he will follow whatever the Governor’s Office allows.
Opening day is set for June 27.