Despite Covid-19 Ellis Park Successfully Navigates Full Race Meet
Sunday August 30th marked the final day of racing for the 2020 RUNHAPPY Summer Meet at Ellis Park. Just like the start of the meet, horses crossed the finish line in relative silence as fans watched from indoor reserved seating areas in the Clubhouse or Sky Theatre. Ellis Park Racing & Gaming experienced a challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent protocols that were put in place to ensure public safety for the limited number of spectators allowed at the park.
Even with a maximum number of fans limited to 475 people on property, the 2020 meet saw high quality racing, a safe and healthy environment, and HHR action that set all-time records. Total wagers were only down 2% compared to last year with increased national and international interest. With the pandemic causing a delay in the Kentucky Derby, the highlight of the season was the Ellis Park RUNHAPPY Derby, which was the first-ever Derby qualifying race in the 98-year history of the track.
Jeff Inman, the Ellis Park General Manager, summed up the race meet by saying, “From the start of this year’s live meet, we realized that we would see a significant impact in both our Live and Kentucky handle numbers. We worked to expand the scope of our signal to drive as much out of state viewership as possible. This included broadcasting our signal in HD for the first time on TVG on premier stakes race weekends.”
The final day of racing included the awarding of the trophies for the top performers during the 2020 season at Ellis. The race meet leaders include Brad Cox and Kenny McPeek sharing the honors for the best trainer, Joe Talamo securing his first Leading Jockey title in Kentucky, and PTK LLC clinching the top owners spot.
Ellis Park is already looking forward to next year. Ellis has started the process of creating plans for a number of special events including a beer festival, concert series or unique food and beverage events adding to the excitement and entertainment value of future live racing.
“2020 was my first live race meet, and it was certainly one of the most challenging that Ellis has ever seen. I’m ready to get back to the State Fair vibe and offer an extraordinary guest experience to the entire community next year,” said Jeff Inman.