Ellis Park to Suspend Simulcast Operations

Ellis Park officials said Oct. 27 the racetrack will shut down after Nov. 8 and suspend simulcast operations until April 1, 2010.

The Henderson, Ky., track made the announcement via press release. The situation wasn’t discussed during the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission meeting the same day.

Ellis Park was approved Oct. 27 to offer 27 live racing days in 2010.

“While the closing of the track comes as no surprise to some, it was still a very difficult decision to make,” Ellis Park owner Ron Geary, who attended the KHRC meeting, said in a statement issued by the track. “We will do whatever it takes to assist our employees during this difficult time and hope that many of them return in April.”

Geary said 75 full- and part-time positions are affected. He said track officials will meet with year-round employees to discuss “transition issues” and potential seasonal employment in 2010.

With Ellis Park closing for full-card simulcasts, the only wagering outlet in the area is the Indiana Downs-operated off-track betting parlor in nearby Evansville, Ind. That facility, however, isn’t permitted to take Kentucky Thoroughbred signals to protect wagering at Ellis Park.

It wasn’t immediately known whether the ban would be lifted so area horseplayers could wager on the upcoming Churchill Downs and Turfway Park meets, which combined run from November through March 2010.

Geary in the release said live racing will be held next year “because of the continued support from our fans, employees, the community, and the horsemen.” He said the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association agreed to the “designation of some one-time, non-recurring funds to create satisfactory purses in 2010.”

“I still believe the only way to salvage Kentucky’s horse industry is to do what other states have already proved to be successful, and that is to add (video lottery terminals) to the racetracks,” Geary said. “We have to keep fighting in order to keep jobs, revenue. and the tradition of the horse industry in the great state of Kentucky.”