Ellis Park will offer higher purses for some Kentucky-bred horses under a plan approved by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund advisory committee.
Ellis Park, which opens July 10 for a 27-day meet, will have access to about $1.4 million in KTDF funding, up from 2009. Purses for some races will increase, and payments will be made to horses that finish first through last instead of just the top four finishers.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which administers the KTDF, said purses for maiden special weight events will be $30,000, up from $25,000 last year, while purses for allowance races will increase $5,500-$9,500 depending on the condition. An allowance event with no conditions will go for $38,000.
“The (advisory) committee was delighted with Ellis Park’s proposed KTDF allotments,” Dr. J. David Richardson, chairman of the advisory committee, said in a statement. “Increased purses for both maiden and allowance races allow for Ellis to compete with Arlington Park and the Indiana tracks.
“The committee hopes the increased purses, coupled with the payout percentages through last place, will entice our horsemen to remain in Kentucky and race in Kentucky.”
Ellis Park, like other Kentucky tracks, is feeling pressure from racetracks in other states that permit gaming. In 2009, the western Kentucky track raced fewer dates in an effort to boost purses and field size.
In maiden allowance races, the full $30,000 purse at Ellis Park will be available only to KTDF-eligible horses. At Indiana Downs, open maiden special weight events go for $32,000; at Arlington Park in Illinois, the purse for such races is about $38,000, but roughly $10,000 of that amount is reserved for Illinois-bred runners, making the “open” purse about $28,000.
Keeneland paid $50,000 for maiden allowance races during its spring meet, while Churchill Downs, which opens April 24, will pay $48,000. Turfway Park paid $21,000 during its winter/spring meet. All purses include KTDF money.
KTDF money isn't used for purses for claiming races.