racetracks > Ellis Park
Ellis Park Race Course
Officially based in Henderson, Kentucky, Ellis Park was first imagined as a stop-over for horseplayers on their way to the winter session in New Orleans. That turned out to be a bad business move, and the track was forced to shut down after just three years.
Local businessman James Ellis bought the track – then known as Dade Park – in 1925. Ellis not only built an impressive grandstand, he also introduced pari-mutuel wagering. The facility was renamed in honor of James Ellis in 1954 before his untimely passing in 1956.
Those that oversaw the Ellis estate eventually sold the track in the 1980’s. It would continue to pass through a few different groups before eventually landing with Churchill Downs Incorporated.
Most recently, Ellis Park was purchased by Ron Geary, who took over in July 2006. Geary has fought for larger purses and more financial support from the governing bodies of Thoroughbred racing to keep Ellis Park in business.
Today the track remains open and offers an entertaining summer schedule for fans in the area. The fact that the track straddles the border between Kentucky and Indiana helps bring in a substantial amount of business that has helped Ellis Park remain a fixture in racing.
2017 Ellis Park Racing Schedule
Ellis Park meets during the summer, beginning in July and ending in early September.
The marquee event is the Groupie Doll Stakes, which was formerly known as the Gardenia Stakes up until 2015, when track officials moved to honor the race’s 2011 winner Groupie Doll.
The summer meet is highlighted by five total races which are listed below.
Saturday, July 8th, 2017
Ellis Park Turf Stakes
$50,000 – 3+ Year Olds Fillies and Mares – 8.5 Furlongs Turf
Saturday, July 15th, 2017
Don Berhnardt Stakes
$50,000 – 3+ Year Olds – 6.5 Furlongs
Saturday, August 5th, 2017
Groupie Doll Stakes
$100,000 – 3+ Year Old F&M – 8 Furlongs
Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes
$75,000 – 2 Year Olds – 7 Furlongs
Monday, September 4th, 2017
Cliff Guilliams Handicap
$50,000 – 3+ Year Olds – 8.5 Furlongs Turf
About Ellis Park Race Course
Ellis park boasts a 1.25 mile dirt track and is modeled after Saratoga Race Course in New York. There are chutes for seven furlong races and one mile races as well. The track is unique in that the first turn is at a 90-degree angle. This feature followed the layout of Saratoga, which at the time had a similar turn on the Wilson Chute.
A turf course was installed in 1993 and covers a distance of one mile.
Ellis Park sits on a 210-acre plot of land that offers a 6,000 seat grandstand. Behind the track are 38 barns.
The track and facilities were severely damaged during a tornado that ravaged the area in 2005. The following year on July 17th, the park was acquired by Ron Geary.