Changes, New Stakes Day Highlight 2005 Ellis Park Schedule

A few new changes will highlight the 2005 Ellis Park meeting, which begins July 13 and concludes with a special Labor Day program Sept. 5. The track will feature ten events with $850,000 in total purses and add a special day of racing with four stakes races highlighted by the 24th running of the track's signature event, the $150,000-added Gardenia Handicap (gr. III).

The Gardenia will be renewed this year at a new distance of one mile and its purse has been reduced by $50,000 from its 2004 level. The race had previously been run at 1 1/8-miles.

In addition to the change of distance for the Gardenia, two stakes races that were included on the track's 2004 schedule are not included in this year's offerings. Those races are the Ellis Park Breeders' Cup and the Dade Turf Classic.

One other stakes race will see a change in racing surface in 2005. The H.B.P.A Handicap, which had previously been run at a mile on the dirt, will be contested this year at a mile on the turf.

The four stakes races featured on "Big Four Stakes Saturday" Aug. 20 will carry total purses of $400,000, a total that will make it the largest single day of stakes competition in track history.

Along with the main event, "Big Four Stakes Saturday" will include the $100,000 guaranteed Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Turf, a new event that will be run at a 1 1/16-miles on grass for fillies and mares ages 3 & up.

The purse for the Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Turf includes a $50,000 supplement from the Breeders' Cup Stakes program.

The roster of Gardenia Day stakes races will be completed by Ellis Park's major races for 2-year-olds: the $75,000-added Anna M. Fisher Debutante for fillies and the $75,000 James C. Ellis Juvenile. Both of the stakes races for 2-year-olds will be run at seven furlongs.

"We've made some adjustments in the Ellis Park stakes schedule for 2005, but we're very pleased with the quality and variety offered in our races and we hope that the new 'Big Four Stakes Saturday' will become an even more important and attractive day of racing for fans in the Tri-State region and to simulcast fans across North America," said Doug Bredar, racing secretary at Ellis Park.

The $75,000 H.B.P.A. Handicap will open the meet's stakes schedule July 16 and its final event will be the $75,000 guaranteed Tri-State Handicap on closing day.

The track will conduct a five-day, Wednesday - Sunday, weekly racing schedule with the exception of its closing week.