Kentucky horse racing authorities have approved a plan for Ellis Park to increase the purses for many of its thoroughbred races starting in August, helping make it more competitive with other tracks.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted Wednesday to authorize the Henderson racetrack to use $300,000 from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.
Ellis Park initially hoped to use half of that money to help fund a pair of new stakes races for two year olds this summer. The track's Director of Operations, Bob Jackson, said that wouldn't be possible this year.
The Commission authorized the track to use $200,000 to bolster purse money for Kentucky-bred horses competing in maiden and allowance races this summer. The Commission also agreed to allow Ellis Park to hold the remaining $100,000 until next year.
For the first time, the state has official figures on how much money Kentuckians bet online or over the phone on horse races that take place in the commonwealth. State Senator Damon Thayer says about $47 million was wagered in the first half of the year.
Supporters of instant racing in Kentucky are once again trying to take their case to the state supreme court. Instant racing games allow players to wager on previously-run horse races using slot-machine like-devices. The Franklin Circuit Court previously ruled that the games are legal, but an appeals court sent the decision back, saying the anti-gambling Family Foundation should've been allowed to gather evidence in the case.
The owner of Ellis Park in Henderson says he hopes to expand the horse track’s gambling options by Labor Day. Ron Geary wants to move ahead with plans to install instant racing machines, despite an ongoing lawsuit over the legality of those games in Kentucky.
It's called the "Road to the Kentucky Derby", and starting next year it will be used to determine the field for the world's most famous horse race.
The Courier-Journal reports Churchill Downs will determine the 20-horse field for the Derby through a points system. Beginning this fall, two-year-old horses will earn points based on their placement in designated races.
The points system will essentially organize the horse racing season into a regular season and playoffs, which racing officials hope will build fan interest along the way.