In an effort to ensure that all health and safety protocols are in place, officials at Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky, announced that they are moving back the scheduled opening day of the season from June 28 to July 2.
“We were going to be open one day and then be dark for three days, before picking back up on July 2,” said Jeff Inman, Ellis Park's general manager. “Just waiting until July 2 gives us additional valuable time to institute all the safety protocols involved with staging horse racing in the COVID-19 era. We are looking forward to the new opening date being a kickoff to a big four-day July 4th weekend.”
The track plans on conducting spectator-free racing at the beginning of the meet, with hopes that the doors can be opened to fans at some point.
“At this point we are unable to commit to having spectators in the grandstand and in the grassy picnic areas near the racetrack apron and paddock,” Inman said. “We're awaiting word from Gov. Beshear's office as to when we can open areas outside of the Clubhouse. We cannot wait to get our fans back and we will be ready to go as soon as Gov. Beshear and his staff feel that it is safe.”
Ellis will pause following Independence Day weekend when racing shifts to Keeneland for five days and will resume July 17. The track's two marquee days are set for Aug. 2 (Kentucky Downs Preview Day) and Aug. 9, featuring the $200,000 Ellis Park Derby, a points race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Sept. 5.