Churchill Downs to move remaining races in the Spring Meet to Ellis Park

Churchill Downs to move remaining races in the Spring Meet to Ellis Park
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 10:41 PM CDT
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HENDERSON CO., Ky. (WFIE) - Henderson County is gearing up to receive some of the highest-level horseracing talent in the world.

Friday afternoon, Churchill Downs announced that after this weekend, the remainder of their Spring Meet will happen at Ellis Park.

After 12 horses died at the Churchill Downs racetrack over the course of a few months, officials decided to shift their activities to Ellis Park.

While this move is happening under unfortunate circumstances, it does present some opportunities for Henderson County.

Henderson County Judge Executive, Brad Schneider says Ellis Park doesn’t really need any kind of boost.

“There was a recent survey done of all the tourist attractions in the Tri-State, and particularly Henderson County, and which one gets the most visitors, and by far and away it’s Ellis Park,” said Schneider.

With Churchill Downs announcing that the remaining races in their Spring Meet from June 10 on would move to the historic track, they’re getting a boost anyways a big one.

“We’re going to have Churchill Downs level racing, Churchill Downs level purses being run at Ellis Park,” said Schneider.

This move was also big news for 10-year-old racing fan, Brylee.

“I just like watching the horses and trying to pick which ones will win,” said Brylee.

The most famous horse racing site in the nation, possibly the world, is shifting its races to the Tri-State.

“That’s actually going to be great, because with all those tourists here, it might actually get Henderson famous? I don’t know,” said Brylee.

Schneider says they expect an economic boost with plenty more visitors, and maybe, they can expect this to be the start of a deeper connection with Churchill Downs.

“We just want to make sure that the horsemen and all their teams are taken care of and that they have a good experience,” said Schneider. “I think if they have a good experience they’ll come back.”

The company says while their track has been tested and shown to be safe, they feel that “what has happened at (their) track is deeply upsetting and unacceptable” and that they need to take more time to fully review their track.

Meanwhile, the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and protective Association have questioned the decision, particularly without sufficient evidence that Churchill Downs is dangerous.

Whatever the case may be, Churchill Downs says their races come to Henderson on June 10.

Schneider says they’ll try to make the best of a bad situation.

“It’s an unfortunate circumstance, but I’m glad they have faith in our community and Ellis Park to finish out their last month here in our county,” said Schneider

Racing fans have some bigger events to look forward to now.

“Hopefully a lot of people come from different countries,” said Brylee. “I doubt different countries, but there’s a close bet to that.”

Officials say the horses will be done racing in Louisville on June 7 and they’ll be at Ellis starting on June 10.

The Spring Meet will go all the way through July 3.

Some of these events in the Spring Meet are huge, one is the Stephen Foster Stakes, which could have a purse of around a million dollars this year.

The Stephen Foster Stakes is also a qualifying race for the Breeders Cup.

We also caught up with a longtime trainer at Ellis Park, Dana Hancock who shared her reaction to the remaining races taking place at Ellis Park.

“I’m pretty excited that Ellis Park’s starting a whole month early because this is my home, where I’ve lived, where ‘ve always been stationed so for someone who has to travel al the time, it’s nice just to be home and it’s nice to see all the big time coming to Ellis Park. It needs to be ready in a week,” said Hancock. “I think it’s a big team effort at Ellis Park and I think we’ll be ready to welcome all the new people whenever they get here.”