07/26/2004 12:00AM

Ellis drops three stakes

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A significant decrease in wagering has caused Ellis Park officials to eliminate three stakes and reduce overnight purses by 5 percent, effective Wednesday and continuing through closing day, Sept. 6.

The canceled stakes are the $75,000 Governor's Handicap, which had been scheduled for Aug. 28; the $100,000 Dade Turf Classic, a 1 1/16-mile race originally set for Sept. 4; and the $100,000 Tri-State Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile turf race planned for Labor Day, Sept. 6.

According to Paul Kuerzi, Ellis Park general manager, ontrack handle is down only 2 to 3 percent, but gross offtrack wagering on Ellis races from in-state locations is down 17 percent from last year, even with two more days of racing this year. Out-of-state wagering on Ellis Park is also down.

The track attributes some of the in-state decline to the loss of three days of simulcast wagering revenues from Trackside, Churchill Downs's offtrack wagering center, which was without electricity from July 14-16 due to a storm.

Kuerzi also said a sagging economy and an expansion of racing from five days to six this meet have contributed to the drop in handle.