On-Track Numbers Improve at Ellis Park

Churchill Downs-owned Ellis Park reported solid gains in key business categories for the meet that ended over the Labor Day weekend.

Ellis' on-track attendance averaged 2,917 daily for this year's 41-day meet, compared to 2,211 per day during the 61-day stand in 1999. On-track wagering totaled $16,611,483 for a daily average of $405,158, up 15 percent over the corresponding period in 1999. Combining all sources, $118,602,597 was bet on the Ellis product for a 2.2 percent increase over 1999 when $116,072,435 was handled. Vice president and general manager Paul Kuerzi noted that the handle increased despite a decision by the Ontario Jockey Club not to offer Ellis simulcasts in Canada this year. He said OJC replaced the Ellis signal, on which $8.5 million was wagered through Woodbine last year, with the Arlington International simulcasts.

Kuerzi attributed the on-track increases to a cut back to a five-days-per-week racing schedule, an earlier post time, an inspired group of employees, and larger field sizes as primary reasons for the on-track increases.

"We had more than 100 horses entered on the majority of days," Kuerzi said. "In 1999, we never reached 100. That's a direct reflection on the willingness of horsemen to run at Ellis."

Trainer Bernie Flint won his ninth Ellis title with 28 winners, jockey Jon Court captured his third consecutive title with 75 victories, and for the second straight year, leading apprentice title went to Greta Kuntzweiler, who had 14 wins prior to losing her apprentice allowance Aug. 1. Robert (Country) and Bea Roberts were leading owners with eight wins during the meet.