Ellis Park got the official OK to add five days of racing to its current meet, and Keeneland will be permitted to change the way it divvies up purses in each race.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission took the action Aug. 4. Ellis Park had drawn its Friday, Aug. 7, program two days prior; track officials discussed the plan with KHRC officials the previous week.
Ellis Park will add five Fridays through Sept. 4. The track will now offer three-day race weeks—four the final weekend of the meet—instead of two-day weeks.
Ellis Park requested a reduction in dates from 48 to 23 earlier this year to combat an expected horse shortage and competition from gaming-fueled purses in neighboring Indiana.
“When the (Hoosier Park Racing & Casino) condition book came out, purses were nowhere near what they were broadcasting,” Ellis Park director of operations Bob Jackson said. “We’ve been pretty competitive with the racing in Indiana.”
“Dollar Days” sponsored by the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, will be held each Friday to promote the added days. Patrons get $1 hot dogs, small soft drinks, small draft beer, ice cream, and popcorn all day.
Keeneland, meanwhile, will begin awarding purse money to all starters. Instead of paying 62% to winners, Keeneland will pay winners 60% and use the 2% for horses than finish sixth through last, director of racing Rogers Beasley said.
Beasley said the extra money will “help defray some expenses” such as fees for jockeys and grooms.
“We’re probably the last track to pay 62% to the winner,” Beasley said. “A lot of states have gone to this. We’re just trying to catch up.”