Ellis Park celebrating 100 years of racing

Ellis Park to host a Kentucky Derby qualifying race for the first time ever
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 12:22 PM CDT
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HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - Ellis Park is celebrating 100 years this year.

The 23-day meet will begin July 8 and end August 28, with live racing Friday through Sunday. First post time is 12:50 PM CT.

The 8-week schedule includes both dirt and turf racing, with 14 stakes races indicated in the initial condition book.

“One of the things that makes this track so special is our unique location, which makes our racing surface one of the most forgiving there is. We’ve seen Ellis Park, year after year, provide a starting point for promising two-year-olds, most recently the 2022 Kentucky Derby winner, Rich Strike,” said Ellis Park General Manager, Jeff Inman.

Ellis Park, originally Dade Park, was built in 1922 by the Green River Jockey Club. The 1 1/8 mile track opened the gates for the first Thoroughbred meet on November 18, 1922. In 1954, the track was renamed to honor Dade Park’s longtime owner, James C. Ellis.

Several famous horses have raced over the track at Ellis Park, including Kentucky Derby winners Behave Yourself (1921), Black Gold (1924), Bubbling Over (1926), Burgoo King (1932) and Brokers Tip (1933). More recently, the Ellis Park graduate list has grown to include the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up and leading sire, Not This Time, and 2021 Horse of the Year, Knicks Go, trained by 2020 and 2021 Ellis Park leading trainer, Brad Cox.

“In addition to the horses, what I hear most about our track is the impact it has on racing fans who came here with their grandparents, and their children, and eventually their grandchildren. It’s the sense of family that truly makes Ellis Park unique. In that spirit, we wanted this historic milestone to celebrate that feeling of family and community,” Inman noted.

This year, there are reduced ticket prices in every venue area, including the Sky Theater, Clubhouse and Grandstand Boxes.

Inman added, “Field & Main Bank is sponsoring our annual Family Fun Day this year. And we’re bringing back our famous Weiner Dog Races, an event I am asked about every time I am in public.”

Field & Main Family Day on July 9, will feature free Family Day t-shirts for the first 50 kids, face painting, a jockey autograph signing with posters, and a 100-Year Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at 2 p.m.

For enthusiasts of the Ellis Park Weiner Dog Races, qualifying heats will be held on July 16 before the finals on August 27. Registration is now live at

Heroes Weekend will be July 22-24 and include First Responder Day, Veterans and Humana Golden Gamesters Day. College Day, sponsored by the Kentucky HBPA, will host giveaways for college students on July 31. On August 20, Charity Day, guests can bring a can of food for the Tri-State Food Bank, or other local charity, in exchange for a free program. Tickets can be purchased on-site in the Admissions office during regular business hours or online at

Visitors can get a close-up experience with the horses and horsemen with the Sunrise Trackside Program. You can have breakfast and view the morning workouts every Friday from 6 – 9 a.m. for the duration of the meet. The Ellis Park gift shop will once again offer the much-beloved “Ellis Relish”.

“We wanted to honor our own Ellis family, as well. This year, we lost three icons whose impact on racing cannot be measured. Cowboy Jones, Jeff Hall, and Don Haas will all be honored for their contributions. Each of them helped Ellis Park to get to this historic point and they will not be forgotten,” said Inman.

As tribute, the race schedule will include a Memorial Race for Don Hass, The $75,000 Jeff Hall Memorial Stakes (6.5 furlongs for 3-year-olds and up) and The $60,000 R.A. “Cowboy” Jones Overnight Stakes (1 mile for 3-year-olds and up).

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