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Ellis Park gearing up for summer meet as fans return

Summer meet begins June 27 and runs through Sept. 4
Published: Jun. 17, 2021 at 6:25 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 11:12 PM CDT
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HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - Ellis Park is gearing up for its 99th season, and by all accounts, it will be bigger and better than ever.

The 99th season at the “Ol’ Pea Patch” will feature record purse monies, an all-star jockey colony and hall of fame trainers galore, but most importantly, this meet will have a whole lot of fans back in the stands.

“Getting the fans back in here is a big deal,” John Hancock, a horse trainer based in Henderson said. “I can’t wait, you walked over here last year, to saddle a horse, and you walked up through the grandstands and you didn’t bump into anybody, you didn’t see anybody or anything else, but now you got ‘excuse me here’ and ‘excuse me there,’ it’s going to be great.”

“Ellis Park has a state fair vibe to it - everybody always says that, and that’s due to the people,” Ellis Park general manager Jeff Inman said. “We’re really looking forward to having that extra jolt of excitement. Watching a horse race with thousands of people in the stands, there’s just nothing like it.”

As for the purses, Ellis Park officials say they’re going to average a track-record $350,000 per day, with maiden races over $50,000 per event.

Since Churchill Downs is rehabbing its turf track, all horses stabled there had to go elsewhere, and many of them are coming to Ellis Park.

In response, hall of fame trainers William Mott and D. Wayne Lukas are bringing their runners to the Ellis Park backside.

“With the quality of people that are going to be here and the quality of horses that are going to be here, it’s going to be different,” Hancock said. “You’re going to get a chance to see somebody famous every weekend, instead of just seeing them on TV. It’s going to be an upstaged meet.”

The 2021 summer meet begins next Sunday, June 27, and runs through September 4.

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