A 3-length score by Aaliyah Ezri marked the end of the eight-race card on Opening Day of the RUNHAPPY Ellis Park meet. The 100-year celebration began July 8 and concludes on August 28, a total of 23 days of racing.
“As Ellis Park completes our first day of the 100-year anniversary season, I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. We’ve received compliments on our improvements, and we will have more to offer as we continue to grow. We’ve added some topflight talent this year. Megan Devine has been a welcome addition to our simulcast signal bringing much needed color and commentary to the broadcast. Veteran racing professionals Allie Sclafani and Vince Gabbert have brought a wealth of experience and energy to our racing efforts. Most importantly I’d like to thank all our staff, especially those responsible for the backside and track, who have done incredible work getting the property in A-One shape for this season,” said General Manager, Jeff Inman.
The overall sources handle was reported as $1,928,249.75 which is 7% higher than 2020, which resulted in $1,805,034.95. The competitive day of racing was split evenly with 4 races on the turf and 4 races on the dirt course, with an average win payout of $11.85.
Veteran rider Brian J. Hernandez, who won race 3 aboard the Asmussen trainee, Mean Jakey, commented “Ellis Park is always a great meet for the summer. It’s a bit like a working vacation with three racing days each week. But the most exciting part about Ellis is the two-year-old program. It’s exciting to get aboard some of these young horses in the morning and during the races. You can start to see which ones want to go long or short, and really see how they develop. Ellis has always been a launching pad for talented horses in Kentucky.”
Hernandez, who rode five of eight races on Opening Day, also commented on the condition of the turf course, “It’s nice to be on the grass and it seems to be in really good shape. It’s firm, it’s even and it’s fair. I’m looking forward to some good turf racing this summer at Ellis.”
Other notable performances came from apprentice rider Rene Diaz and trainer James DiVito, who both won two races on the card.
With the first day of racing at the 2022 Ellis Park meet in the books, Jeff Inman added, “I’d also like to take a moment to thank the community, and especially our Kentucky Legislators. Suzanne Miles, Jonathan Dixon and Jim Gooch have offered Ellis Park unwavering support over the past few years when we really needed it. Majority Leader Damon Thayer has been a driving force for improving the circuit and the sport, as evidenced by his efforts in increasing our claiming purses. We also appreciate the support offered by Kentucky Downs over the years in ensuring Ellis Park maintains its position in the Kentucky racing circuit.”
Racing at the RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Meet will resume with Field & Main Family Day on Saturday, July 9 at 12:50 pm CT. The nine-race card will feature the $60,000 Pea Patch Overnight Stakes, the first of 14 stakes this summer.
Ellis Park Press Release
Photo: Ellis Park Starting Gate and Grandstand (Coady Photography)