Horsemen, Track Embark on Marketing Initiative

The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and Ellis Park have embarked on a joint marketing initiative that could lay the groundwork for projects at the state's other racetracks.

The program will kick off Saturday with a wallet giveaway held in conjunction with the $100,000 HBPA Handicap at the western Kentucky racetrack. On Aug. 11, former jockey Shane Sellers, now a singer, will perform before and after the races in conjunction with the $200,000 Gardenia Stakes and the $100,000 Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky HBPA, said the impetus for the marketing program came when full-card simulcasting was legalized in the state. A horsemen's negotiating committee helped devise a formula whereby simulcast revenue over a certain amount at Ellis Park is set aside for promotional uses.

Money doesn't come from the purse account, and Ellis Park isn't permitted to use the funds to replace its own publicity budget.

Maline said horsemen and the track decided to let the fund grow over the years. In the future, funds could be used to help bring the Claiming Crown, which is co-sponored by the National HBPA, to Ellis Park. Canterbury Park got the first three years of the Claiming Crown, and will have it six of the first 10, but other facilities will have a chance to host it next year.