Ellis Park

Ellis Park

Anne M. Eberhardt

NY Harness Track Interests Investing in Ellis

Filing does not state how much of Kentucky track is being purchased or for how much.

Saratoga Raceway and Casino in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has applied to purchase an interest in Ellis Park, a Thoroughbred track in Henderson, Ky.

Documents filed with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and obtained under an open records request do not disclose exactly how much of the track is being acquired by the upstate New York harness track nor how much is being invested.

The documents state that the new investors will share decision-making at Ellis Park with present owner Ron Geary. Earlier this year, Geary said he was seeking a partner willing to invest up to $3 million in Ellis to help the track implement as many as 250 Instant Racing machines.

Technically known as Historic Race Machines in Kentucky, the electronic form of gaming resembles slot machines, with the outcome contingent upon previously run horse races. The bettor does not know the outcome of the race when playing the Instant Racing game. The legality of Instant Racing, which has been a financial boon for Kentucky Downsin southern Kentucky and Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, is being challenged in Kentucky courts.

Geary, who purchased Ellis Park from Churchill Downs in 2006, did not return several calls seeking comment on the filing. A spokeswoman for SHRI said the company could not comment until the regulatory process has been completed. Susan Speckert, legal counsel for the KHRC, did not respond to requests seeking clarification of the application.

The Ellis Park purchase is expected to be considered by the KHRC at its September meeting.