Ellis Park Gearing up for 2021 Meet, with Record Purses & more Stakes Races

Ellis-Park logoHENDERSON, KY. (WFIE) – Ellis Park is back on track to offer record purses while adding two new stakes for the 2021 racing season. The meet runs Sunday June 27 through Saturday Sept. 4.

Racing secretary Dan Bork said maiden races likely will top the record $50,000 achieved in 2019 before the pandemic forced cutbacks last year in the wake of a three-month shutdown. Average daily purses should top $350,000, which would be the highest in Ellis Park’s 99-year history. Those numbers include Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund supplements, for which the vast majority of horses are eligible.

The condition book, which details the races for which entries will be taken on a given day, will be finalized in May after the Kentucky Derby, Bork said. Meanwhile, a 14-race stakes schedule was announced today, highlighted by the highly successful Kentucky Downs Preview Day now becoming Preview Weekend on Aug. 7-8 with the two new races. Six stakes received $25,000 purse increases over last year.

All the Kentucky Downs Preview stakes carry a purse of $100,000 with the exception of the $125,000 Preview Turf Cup, a 1 1/4-mile prelude to Kentucky Downs’ $1 million, Grade 2 Calumet Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles.

“We should have very quality racing,” said trainer Larry Jones, the Hopkinsville native and long-time Henderson resident who has spent most of the summers of his training career at Ellis Park. “With the extra stakes and the money the way it is, it’s going to bring in a lot better outfits – horses that maybe would have gone to Saratoga will stay and race at Ellis. I’m looking forward to it. It reminds you of days gone by.”

Five dirt stakes take center stage a week later on Aug. 15, headlined by the $200,000 Ellis Park Derby. Last year’s running of the 1 1/8-mile race was captured by Keeneland’s Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass winner Art Collector. Also that day again will be the Groupie Doll for fillies and mares, the Ellis Park Juvenile and Ellis Park Debutante — each increased to $125,000 from 2020 — along with the $100,000 Audubon Oaks at seven-eighths of a mile…

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Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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