A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Ellis Park wraps successful race meet with significant wagering, purse increases, sets sights on 2020

The end of Ellis Park’s 2019 race meet — which saw wagering increase 21 percent over 2018 and purses paid to horsemen go up 30 percent — conjures bigger visions for 2020. Ken Mimmack, manager of new owner Ellis Entertainment LLC, was mesmerized by the huge crowd that turned out Sunday for Kids Day. While Ellis Park doesn’t charge admission, making it impossible to know crowd size, he said,...

Legendary Cowboy Jones was back in winner’s circle at Ellis — as a horse owner; ‘first time on foot’

R.A. “Cowboy” Jones for many years was a fixture in the Ellis Park winner’s circle. He’s still a fixture at the track, but until Sunday his last time in the winner’s circle was aboard Awtair on Aug. 24, 2004, according to Equibase.  That’s Cowboy — in the cowboy hat (Photo provided) But that was Cowboy front and center in the winner’s circle — however, as an owner — after...

Casino.org reports big increase (85%-plus) in total handle for instant racing at Kentucky’s four venues

The total handle for instant racing in Kentucky jumped more than 85 percent in the 2019 fiscal year ending June 30, reports Steve Bittenbender for Casino.org. Bittenbender attributes the growth in large part to the addition of Churchill Downs-owned Derby City Gaming in Louisville but notes that the Kentucky Downs in Franklin generates the most revenue of the state’s four betting parlors. The...

Sensitive squeezes out victory over Stave, Valentine Wish to take $75,000 Ellis Park Turf stakes

LNJ Foxwoods’ 5-year-old mare Sensitive had finished second in her three prior races in 2019 and in five of 13 career starts. But she got a breakthrough stakes victory Sunday in the $75,000 Ellis Park Turf, prevailing by a head over Stave in a four-horse rush to the finish. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan sent the Brad Cox-trained Sensitive through a narrow opening between horses in the final yards to eek...

First of 11 stakes races at Ellis Park meet is today, the $75,000 Ellis Park Turf for fillies, mares

Ellis Park stages its first of 11 stakes this meet with Sunday’s $75,000 Ellis Park Turf for fillies and mares. Among the fillies seeking to earn their first stakes victory is Hinkle Farms’ 4-year-old Stave, trained by Henderson favorite son Larry Jones. The daughter of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper comes into the 1 1/16-mile Ellis Park Turf off a snappy front-running victory in a third-level...

Oh Baby: Hall of Fame jockey Borel says pending fatherhood more exciting than winning the Derby

A year ago this holiday weekend, Calvin Borel was a visitor on the Churchill Downs backside, his first time at a racetrack since he suddenly retired with little explanation three months earlier at Oaklawn Park. The Hall of Fame jockey said he was just “chilling,” trying to decide what he wanted to do with his life after the relationship with a long-time girlfriend disintegrated. A lot has changed...

Court is in Session: Six-time Ellis Park champion jockey Court looking for 600th win at track

Jon Court is a six-time Ellis Park champion jockey and the only rider ever to win the meet title five years in a row. The winner of 4,035 North American races (which does not include his victory in the $1 million Japan Cup Dirt in 2003) and more than $100 million in purses, Court remains a force at age 56. The next time Court wins at Ellis Park, it will be his 600th victory at the track. His career...

People in the News: UK’s Renzetti receives leadership award; global fellowship for Model Lab director

Claire Renzetti, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, has been chosen to receive a leadership award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP). The national organization promotes and protects sociological research and teaching on significant problems of social life and encourages the application of scientific method...

Pea Patch to Big Apple: Ellis Park’s burgeoning two-year-old program on full display at Belmont

By Jennie Rees Ellis Park Communications HENDERSON — Pea Patch to Big Apple: Ellis Park’s burgeoning 2-year-old program will be on display this week in New York. Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee and Preakness third-place finisher Senior Investment are among the twelve 3-year-olds entered in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. Lookin At Lee won an Ellis maiden race in his second start and the...

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approves transferring $1.65 million in purses to Ellis Park

A Kentucky Horse Racing Commission advisory committee on Tuesday approved transferring $300,000 in state-bred purse supplements from Kentucky Downs to Ellis Park for the Henderson track’s 2017 summer meet. The action of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund advisory committee, which must get final approval from the KHRC, paves the way for a total package of $1.65 million in purses and KTDF...

Bill defining horses as livestock goes to Bevin for signature, called a ‘step forward for the industry’

The Kentucky House of Representatives unanimously passed Senate Bill 139, which would amend the definition of livestock in Kentucky to include horses and equines. The bill now moves to Gov. Matt Bevin for his signature. Securing livestock classification has been among the top policy priorities of the Kentucky Equine Education Project since its 2004 creation. “SB 139 is an important step forward...

State’s Thoroughbred Breeders’ Incentive Fund awards nearly $10.8 million to Kentucky breeders

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) announced Tuesday the release of the 2016 Kentucky Thoroughbred Breeders’ Incentive Funds (KBIF). The 2016 awards total approximately $10.8 million for Kentucky breeders. The KBIF was implemented in 2005 to ensure the strength of Kentucky’s equine industry by awarding funds to individuals that choose to breed a thoroughbred in Kentucky. In order to qualify,...

Kentucky Downs closes record meet with wagering up 34 percent, on-track handle increases 48 percent

Spurred by unprecedented purses for horsemen and a Horseplayers’ Racetrack mantra that resonated with bettors, Kentucky Downs closed its five-date boutique meet Thursday with total wagering up nearly 34 percent. Betting on the closing-day card of $3,660,588 brought all-sources handle to $22,540,761.22 for an average of $4,508,152 a day. Already a record after Sunday’s card, the final numbers reflect...

Calvin Borel’s unretirement day — gets a third and a fourth — and a big lovefest from Ellis Park fans

Calvin Borel — fitting right back in. (Cody Photography) By Jennie Rees Ellis Park Three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel resumed his race-riding career Saturday at Ellis Park, with a third and fourth in two mounts, and you’d think he’d been retired five years rather than five months from the love-fest he received. Fans lined up for more than the scheduled hour autograph and picture-taking...

Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel to resume riding career at Ellis Park on Saturday, aboard Kiss My Note

Hall of Fame jockey and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel will resume his riding career in Saturday’s sixth race at Ellis Park. Post time for the race is 3:24 p.m. Central time. Borel is on Kiss My Note, the No. 4 horse owned and trained by Buff Bradley and the 9-2 third choice in the 5 1/2-furlong maiden race on grass. He also has agreed to sign autographs for fans’ between...

Riding champion Lanerie grabs 4,000th career victory with win at Ellis Park

Upon earning his 4,000th career victory Sunday at Ellis Park, jockey Corey Lanerie recalled thinking he’d never make it to 1,000. “That was fun,” Lanerie, a two-time Ellis and 11-time Churchill Downs riding champion, said after guiding Fred Allor’s Crooked Stick to a three-quarters of a length score over favored Put Da Blame on Me in Ellis’ seventh Sunday, a mile allowance race. “It’s...

Ain’t In No Hurry wasn’t — until he finally got to race at age 7; then he hurried right to Winner’s Circle

By Jenny Reis Ellis Park reporter Ain’t In No Hurry certainly proved appropriately named when it came to getting to the races. But the 7-year-old gelding wasted no time getting to the winner’s circle, leading most of the way in his first start ever to take Ellis Park’s second race on Friday by three lengths over favored Red Blue and True in the field of $16,000 maiden-claimers. “He just got...

Fun-for-all at Ellis Park — ostrich race, camel race, and Dial Me wins in second start for his 200 owners

By Jennie Rees Ellis Park reporter “Was that a maiden race at Ellis or the Kentucky Derby?” trainer D. Wayne Lukas asked by phone from Saratoga minutes after Dial Me won Ellis Park’s seventh race for 2-year-old fillies Saturday afternoon. It was Dial Me’s second start and also reflected the first victory for the Churchill Downs Racing Club, a pair of 200-person partnerships that cost $500 per...

UK, Jockeys’ Guild announce three-year study on concussion management protocol for jockeys

The University of Kentucky and the Jockeys’ Guild Monday announced a three-year pilot study, supported by a broad cross-section of Thoroughbred organizations, that is designed to evolve into the first comprehensive concussion management protocol for jockeys. Carl Mattacola, the director of the Graduate Athletic Training Program and a professor in the College of Health Sciences at the University of...

Additional regulations on historical racing are 'imperative,' state lawmakers told

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission wants to implement additional regulations on historical racing even though a legal challenge to betting on replays of horse races remains unresolved.   “Is there nothing odd about promulgating regulations … before the case is resolved?” Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, said during a meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations.   Racing...