"Our racing office and horsemen provided a strong product that was well-received across the country...," said Paul Kuerzi, vice president and general manager of Ellis Park. "And while we would have liked to put up on-track attendance and handle increases, to find ourselves even with last year in the face of a difficult economy is rewarding. The weather has not treated us kindly, either. We had to cancel six races on opening day due to weather and then on closing weekend, a number of races were marginal betting races when horses scratched due to inclement weather."Kim Hammond became the first female to win the Ellis Park training title, with 15 winners. Jockey Jon Court's string of five Ellis riding titles came to an end as Rafael Bejarano won his first-ever meet title with 80 winners. Court finished second, 33 winners behind Bejarano. The leading apprentice title went to 16-year-old Dallas King, who had 12 wins, and Ken and Sarah Ramsey's nine wins secured the leading owner crown.
A 10.4% drop in on-track wagering was more than offset by a rise in off-track simulcast betting at Ellis Park. The Henderson, Ky. track reported a 26.9% increase in all-source handle during the 41-day meet that concluded with the Labor Day card Monday.The track owned by Churchill Downs Inc. reported on-track and off-track handle totaled $145,796,425, compared with $114,888,810 in 2002.On-track wagering, including wholecard betting by Ellis patrons on imported simulcasts, totaled $14,285,088, which was down 10.4% from the $15,936,288 total in 2002. On-track attendance totaled 123,237 (daily average of 3,006), down 0.36% from the 123,688 total one year ago.