Live Racing Returns to Ellis Park!
Ellis Park exists in a unique place in the Tri-State. It's north of the Ohio River and south of the Indiana state line. Although it technically exists in Kentucky, all the phone lines at the track have the Southern Indiana 812 area code. And in that unique place, 92 seasons of live racing have taken place.
The reason for Ellis Park's existence in a sort of Indiana/Kentucky no man's land is due to some crazy line drawing back during the early years of the United States. The Ohio River used to run right where Ellis Park sits, but a major earthquake in the 1800's caused the river to shift south.
Live racing has taken place at Ellis Park long before the either of the Twin Bridges were on the drawing board. When the track opened in 1922, it was known as Dade Park. That name is still prominently displayed on the south side of the grandstand and can be seen by motorists coming across the Northbound Twin Bridge.
Over the winter, the staff at Ellis Park started an ambitious plan to renovate the place a little bit at a time. Most notable to visitors this summer will be the repainted Grandstand Tunnel. It's an attempt to bring a little of 2016 into a 94-year-old park. Woodwork in the Mutuel area in the tunnel was also painstakingly resurfaced this year (rumor has it that the woodwork was imported from the Club Trocadero, along with the bar that exists in the Gardenia Room).
Although most of us who have lived in the area already know Ellis Park, it is also known globally. The turf track at Ellis is popular among those who wish to place wagers at betting parlors in the United Kingdom, and races at Ellis are broadcast across the globe thanks to simulcasting.
In recent years, Instant Racing has come to Ellis Park. These machines have generated additional funds that are being used to increase purses to the highest they have been in Ellis Park's long history. This is leading to a lot of local owners deciding to keep their horses in the Bluegrass State for the season.
This weekend Ellis Park will begin its 93rd season of Live Racing. With a schedule full of fun events like Ostrich Races and Wiener Dog Races, its worth the trip to check out this piece of tri-state history. What other historical places could you leave with more money than you came with (step up your game Evansville Museum)?