Ellis Park held its first race of the season on July 2nd, but Sunday's race is more significant than usual. For the first time in the 98 year history of the track, Ellis park is hosting a qualifying race for the Kentucky Derby.
"We spoke with the folks at Churchill Downs and turned this into a qualifier so to speak, a 50 point qualifier to the winner so essentially we are probably going to see, 1,2, possibly 3 horses that go on to the Kentucky Derby," said Ellis Park Racing Secretary Dan Bork.
Officials are also welcoming of the economic opportunity and the spot light this race brings to the park that they normally wouldn't.
"Right now we're really interested to see what the results are going to be from this race. We are expecting an all time record day today. We expect to do twice of what we normally do on a weekend as far as racing handle. And we expect even more from that so, this is going to be the biggest race that Ellis Park has ever had," said Ellis Park GM Jeff Inman.
The Coronavirus Pandemic not only forced the Kentucky Derby to reschedule, but it also forced Ellis Park to limit the spectators admitted to races.
"We have a really good health department in Henderson County that serves the region and working with those two people, those two organizations, things have been put in place to do the absolute very best that we can for our citizens to be able to participate. But it's not what we would like for it to be, but I think the very best that we were able to do, said Henderson Mayor Steve Austin.
Mayor Austin also told 44 sports that while fans won't be able to enter the grandstands this season, those that do attend races this year need to socially distance and mask up so that more fans can attend races next year.