Ellis Park

Ellis Park

Anne M. Eberhardt

Last-Chance Deal on Table at Ellis Park

Negotiations continue between Ellis Park and Kentucky horsemen.

Negotiations between Ellis Park and the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association continued July 5 in an effort to resolve a dispute that led the western Kentucky racing to shut down the day before its summer meet was to begin.

Ellis Park was to open July 4, and wouldn’t open until July 9 at the earliest. The track’s opening weekend (July 4-6) has been lost.

According to published reports, the Kentucky HBPA has prepared a counteroffer to offer financial assistance to Ellis Park owner Ron Geary, but will not change its position on advance deposit wagering, which is at the root of the dispute. The Kentucky HBPA has said its formula for ADW revenue would provide more money for purses and the racetrack; Geary disagrees.

If there is no agreement, the track in all likelihood will remain closed.

As of the morning of July 5, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission had not intervened in the conflict as requested by the Kentucky HBPA. There has been no commission movement on a contingency plan—moving the Ellis Park dates to another Kentucky track—should the negotiations collapse.

Churchill Downs, whose spring meet ends July 6, and Turfway Park, scheduled to open Sept. 3, are waiting to see if a deal is struck between Ellis Park and the horsemen’s group.

The ADW issue is national in scope. It has led to purse cuts at tracks in Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas, but Ellis Park is the first to shut down.