Trainer Flint Hopes Ellis Park Can Rebound

(from Churchill Downs notes)
Veteran trainer Bernie Flint is a native of New Orleans who has spent most of his racing career based at Churchill Downs, but the 65-year-old has a soft spot in his heart for Ellis Park.

Flint and many other members of the Kentucky racing community were eager on Sunday to receive any news about the condition of the Henderson, Ky. track that was slammed by a tornado early Sunday morning.

"It's been there a long time and, with it being a mainstay in Kentucky, it's pretty sad to see it get hit that hard," Flint said of the 83-year-old track. "The people of western Kentucky -- that's their sole place to race."

Three horses were killed when the storm roared through the barn area of the track.

Portions of the Clubhouse, paddock, jockey's quarters, and racing office also suffered damage. The track's infield tote board was blown away.

Flint, who earned 11 training titles at Ellis Park between 1989 and 2002, heard the news that Ellis had been hit shortly after he arrived at his barn on Sunday morning.

Flint hopes that the track that patrons lovingly call the "Pea Patch" can rebound from the blow and return to racing when its 2006 meet is scheduled to open in mid-July.

"One thing good is that people have insurance to try and cover some of the losses that they have, but the loss of lives is just horrendous," Flint said.

"In that area, people are just not geared for that. It's a smaller community and a good base of racing fans. It's just a terrible, terrible thing to have this much devastation follow racetracks around the country. I hope some kind of way they can get it back, and get it on their feet and get it running."