Kentucky Gaming

Source for Kentucky Gaming Information Header

Ellis Park Race Track Review

Ellis Park, which is located in Henderson, KY, originally had the name Dade Park when it opened its doors back in 1922. Furthermore, the first day of racing was a harness meet. A month later, they started with thoroughbreds. It was originally designed along the lines of Saratoga Race Course. The first few years were rocky, and even included some auto races to keep some activity going, then a man named James Ellis actually rescued the facility from financial ruin.

There have been a lot of other things this track has been through over the years, and it has survived to be still standing today. For example, there was a tornado in 2005 that wreaked considerable havoc, destroying barns doing damage to the paddock and jockey's quarters, and later a dispute with the horsemen's association that very nearly caused Ellis Park to be closed permanently. There has been a lot more tragedy for the place to overcome.

In 1937 a flood invaded the entire grandstand. Thirty-one horses were killed in a barn fire in 1978. Another fire destroyed 27 horses in 1995. There apprentice jockeys have died in racing-related accidents.

The death blow to the venue was almost dealt in 2008 when a legal dispute erupted over how simulcasting revenues were going to be distributed. It had prevented Ellis Park from offering its races to a national feed. That situation was resolved, however, and the track got a reprieve.

One of the recent developments that is helping Ellis Park stay afloat was the installation of instant racing machines, which enable customers to place wagers, within a pari-mutuel framework, on races that have happen in the past. They are presented somewhat innocuously, although there are some statistics that are put before the horse player on the screen before the instant race is shown. There are almost 200 of these machines available for customers at the facility, and like slot games on a casino floor, they do offer jackpots and bonus rounds.

As for the live racing layout, the dirt track itself is a mile and an eighth around. For years, there was only the dirt surface, but then a mile-long turf course was added on the inside. The live meet runs from the Fourth of July through Labor Day. The track plays host to one graded stakes race, the Gardenia Stakes, a mile contest for three-year-olds and up with a purse of $150,000. .

Simulcasting is also a very big part of Ellis Park's calendar. In case you are not familiar with it, this is the process of televising races from venues all over the country, while customers watch them on television and wager on them in real time.

Ellis Park is situated in a very interesting location. It is on the Indiana-Kentucky border (outside Evansville) but if you looked at a map, it would be within the land area of Indiana, because it is literally on the Indiana side of the Ohio River. The town was established before the flow of the river, which had defined the border, actually changed course. Ellis Park, interestingly enough, has an Indiana area code (812).