06/25/2009 11:00PM

Ellis cutting Monday training


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Many racetracks conducting live racing shut down their main plant for one or two days a week to regroup or give their employees a break from the constant grind. This typically applies to simulcast operations and anything else having to do with customer relations.

But at Ellis Park - the western Kentucky track whose owner, Ron Geary, says will cease operations because of severe financial difficulties after the 2009 meet closes Sept. 7 - not even the racetrack itself will be open for horsemen to train their horses one day a week this summer.

Horses will not be permitted to train on Mondays, a move that illustrates how troubled the situation at Ellis has become. After the racing industry failed earlier this week during a special session of the state legislature in securing alternative gaming at racetracks, Geary said he had had it.

Ellis Park's racing secretary, Dan Bork, said closing the racetrack on Mondays this summer will help save on payments to outriders, ambulance workers, clockers, and maintenance workers. Bork said Friday that only about 200 horses are stabled on the grounds, although that number might double by the time the meet starts July 11.

Ellis, which has operated since 1922, has cut its 2009 meet from 48 to 23 dates. With some exceptions, the track will race only on Saturdays and Sundays, although Geary has left open the possibility of restoring a few dates during August, depending on business in July.

Going out with flourishes

Every program during the final four-day stretch of the Churchill Downs spring meet will be of some significance. Thursday will be the third and last night program while graded stakes will be run Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The Friday feature is the Grade 3, $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes. Six or eight 2-year-olds will go in the six-furlong race, according to the Churchill racing office.

The Saturday highlight is the Grade 2, $150,000 Firecracker Handicap, which is expected to get Mr. Sidney and Thorn Song, both Grade 1 winners this spring, along with Tizdejavu, 3 for 3 on the Churchill turf.

The closing-day feature on Sunday is the Grade 3, $100,000 Locust Grove Handicap, for which Tizaqueena could wind up the favorite.

Weight assignments for the Firecracker and Locust Grove, both scheduled for one mile on the turf, were to be released Saturday.

Beautician to wait for Spa

Beautician was somewhat conspicuous by her absence from the Debutante Stakes lineup here Saturday. An impressive winner of her first and only start June 5 at Churchill, where she earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90, Beautician will instead wait for the Schuylerville Stakes on July 29, opening day of the Saratoga meet.

Trainer Ken McPeek noted that owner Peter Callahan is from New York, where it is easier for him to watch the Dehere filly compete, and they agreed the additional time between races probably would be of benefit.

Two DQs don't bring bans

After reviewing replays of the incidents in question with the Churchill stewards Thursday, jockeys Brian Hernandez Jr. and Tony Farina were not penalized for their roles in disqualifications in separate races Sunday.

Bonwell, ridden by Farina, was placed seventh after finishing third in the fourth race. Miss Dixie Rose, with Hernandez up, was placed fourth after finishing second in the eighth race.

Foley joins 300 club

Greg Foley became just the 12th trainer to win 300 races at Churchill when Izzy Ali outgamed favored Clash of Arms in a long stretch drive in the fifth race Thursday.

Foley, 51, has been training since 1981. He was the fourth trainer at the spring meet to hit the 300 milestone at Churchill, following Tom Amoss, Lynn Whiting, and David Vance. The all-time winningest trainer at Churchill is Bill Mott with more than 600 victories.

* Churchill-based trainer Bill Connelly was just one winner away from a career milestone of 1,000 wins after sending out Just Memories to prevail Monday night at Indiana Downs.