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Ellis Park Race Course
Ellis Park, located in Henderson, KY and just outside Evansville, IN, has been home to thoroughbred racing since 1922. Along with Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Turfway Park, and Kentucky Downs, Ellis Park makes up part of the year-round Kentucky thoroughbred racing circuit. Currently, Ellis Park holds one race meet per year which typically begins on or around July 4 and ends on Labor Day with live racing taking place Friday through Sunday.
Ellis Park Horse Racing
Originally designed with a similar physical layout to Saratoga, the Ellis Park dirt track measures 1.125 miles in length, and features separate chutes for one mile and seven furlong races. Like the original Saratoga layout, the one-mile chute at Ellis is constructed as a 90 degree angle adjacent to the first turn – an oddity in contemporary racing. The Ellis Park turf course was installed in 1993 as a one-mile oval. Both the main track and turf course are noted by horse players as fair surfaces without any unusual track biases.
Major Races and Events
The signature race at Ellis Park is the Grade 3 Gardenia Stakes which is currently its only graded stakes race. Listed stakes races held at Ellis annually include the Ellis Park Breeders’ Cup Turf, the Cliff Guilliams Memorial, and the Audubon Oaks.
Inaugurated in 1982 and elevated to Grade 3 status in 1988, the Groupie Doll (formerly Gardenia Stakes) is a one mile race held in late August for fillies and mares. The race is contested on the main track and currently carries a purse of $100,000. Champion Groupie Doll won the Gardenia as a three year-old in 2011 before winning the 2012 and 2013 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint held at Santa Anita both years. In 2013, Groupie Doll began her season in the Gardenia, but finished third at odds of 1/5 before rebounding to win the Presque Isle Masters and her second BC Filly & Mare Sprint. In 2014, multiple graded stakes winner Molly Morgan captured the Gardenia. Trainer Dale Romans has won the Gardenia a record four times.
Cliff Guilliams Memorial
The Cliff Guilliams Memorial is a $50,000 stakes race typically held near the end of the Ellis Park meeting for three year-old colts going a mile and one sixteenth on the grass. In 2014, the Cliff Guilliams Memorial was held on closing day with Gentleman’s Kitten earning the win in gate-to-wire fashion.