Rebuilt Ellis Park Reopens for Live Racing July 19

Edited press release

A rebuilt Ellis Park reopens for live racing July 19, only eight months after one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history damaged the racetrack facility and its stable area. The Henderson, Ky. track will conduct a 36-day race meet from July 19 through Labor Day, Sept. 4.

Horsemen and customers returning for the live racing season will be greeted by the most striking changes since Ellis Park's main grandstand was erected in 1922. Notable new features at the track include its first-ever infield video board, an outdoor seating area that replaces the destroyed terrace grandstand, new d├ęcor in the Sky Theatre, and a rebuilt stable area.

Also greeting fans this year is Ellis Park's new vice president and general manager, Brian Elmore, whose primary focus since assuming his new duties last February has been to oversee the track's restoration.

"Our reopening is a true milestone in both the history of the track and this community," said Elmore. "The outpouring of support we have received from across the Tri-State and the dedication of our employees throughout the rebuilding has been nothing short of remarkable."

Elmore replaced former vice president and general manager Paul Kuerzi who retired in December 2005.

The Nov. 6, 2005 tornado caused heavy damage to the track's terrace grandstand, paddock, jockeys' quarters, racing office, infield tote board, and stable area. Repairs have either been finished or are nearing completion on all of the areas that were hardest hit by the storm. Construction crews and contractors from across the Tri-State have performed all the repair work.

Ellis Park will hold a special ceremony prior to the first race on opening day to remember the 25 Tri-State area residents who lost their lives in the tornado. A gubernatorial proclamation will mark July 19 as "Ellis Park Day in Kentucky," and the track will make a special presentation to Evansville's Habitat for Humanity and its "Operation Home Again," which is working to build 60 homes for families displaced in the storm. Families that lost their homes and loved ones in the storm have been invited to attend opening day at the races and will receive a free picnic lunch.

"I truly believe our opening will be another step in the healing process for our communities," Elmore said.

As part of the opening day festivities, paid admissions will receive a commemorative CD/DVD that features a newly written song by musician Randy Beard titled "Ellis Park." The song serves as the soundtrack to a slideshow of pictures from Ellis Park's 85-year history.

Back for the 2006 racing season is Ellis Park's marquee race day, "Big Four Stakes Saturday" Aug. 5, featuring the track's signature race, the Gardenia Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares. Opening weekend will feature the season's first stakes, the $50,000 HBPA Handicap for fillies and mares, which will be conducted at one mile on turf July 22.