Kentucky Downs to transfer $1.65 million in purses to Ellis
‘Plan is to keep more horses here, the Kentucky circuit growing’
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Tuesday, April 4, 2017) — A Kentucky Horse Racing Commission committee on Tuesday endorsed the transfer of $1.65 million in purse funds from Kentucky Downs to Ellis Park for its 2017 summer meet.
Pending KHRC approval of its Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund committee recommendation, Ellis’ maiden special-weight (non-claiming) races will be a record $40,000 for Kentucky-bred horses, up from $38,000 last year.
Under the agreement with the two tracks and with the Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association’s blessing, Kentucky Downs will transfer $1.35 million of its purse revenue to Ellis Park. An additional $300,000 will go from Kentucky Downs into Ellis’ KTDF account. The KTDF augments purses for maiden and allowance races for horses born in the commonwealth and sired by a Kentucky stallion, which account for the majority of horses racing.
Kentucky Downs provided Ellis with $1.35 million last year, a move that allowed Ellis to beef up its purses and keep horses in the state that otherwise might have run during the summer in New York, Indiana, New Jersey or Illinois. The funding comes from Kentucky Downs’ astronomically successful historical horse racing terminals, which utilize parimutuel technology to provide patrons another gambling option. Ellis Park also has historical horse racing, this year switching to the same Exacta Systems operator used by Kentucky Downs.
“The plan is to keep more horses here in the region and to keep the Kentucky circuit growing,” said Ellis Park racing secretary Dan Bork. “We made a step forward last year. Now we want to build on that, keep the momentum going.”
“This historic transfer of KTDF and purse monies from Kentucky Downs to Ellis Park represents a cooperative effort which will greatly benefit the Kentucky racing and breeding industries,” said Corey Johnsen, Kentucky Downs’ president and part-owner. “Last year’s transfer was very successful, and it should reap greater dividends this summer. With the continuing growth of historical horse racing and the sharing of purse money, we are able to keep more race horses in the state and create more value for Kentucky-breds. Kentucky Downs is proud to be part of that effort.”
Ten years ago, the purse for an Ellis maiden race was $20,500, including KTDF.
“Kentucky is really on the upswing, and Kentucky Downs, historical horse racing and the excellent working relationship we have are a key catalyst,” said Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky HBPA. “Ellis’ purses will be among the best in the country that time of the year outside of Saratoga and Del Mar. Owners and trainers increasingly are seeing the benefits of staying home during the summer to develop their young horses and race over a good, safe track. That creates and keeps jobs in the state.”
Bork said the extra KTDF funds will boost first-level allowance races to $41,000 and second-level allowance races $42,000 for Kentucky-breds. Overall, Ellis Park will offer an average of $210,000 a day in purses after paying out just under $200,000 a day in 2016.
The track on the Ohio River between Henderson, Ky., and Evansville also is bringing back the $75,000 Ellis Park Debutante for 2-year-old fillies the first time since 2008.
With a five-date meet in September, Kentucky Downs offers the most lucrative purses for maiden and allowance races in North America. Kentucky Downs and Ellis have a strategic partnership, including Kentucky Downs overseeing the distribution and marketing of Ellis’ simulcast signal. As part of the purse arrangement, Ellis for the second year has given the Saturday of Labor Day weekend to Kentucky Downs for its opening card. Ellis runs July 1 through Sept. 4, racing Fridays through Sundays, plus July 3, July 4 and Labor Day. Kentucky Downs’ all-grass meet runs Sept. 2, 7, 9, 10 and 14.