10/28/2003 12:00AM

Ellis gets extra racing days


The Kentucky Racing Commission assigned racing dates at its meeting Tuesday morning, and the only significant change to the Thoroughbred racing schedule is that Ellis Park will race six days a week in 2004. Ellis Park will add Mondays to its summer meet in part to position itself alongside Saratoga and Del Mar in the summer simulcast market. Those tracks also race Mondays.

With an extra week of summer in the 2004 calendar and an extra day of racing per week, Ellis Park will race 13 additional days, or about 150 more races. The increase will result in the Ellis purse account being diluted by an estimated $15,000 per racing day.

"Fifteen thousand dollars a day isn't a significant amount when you are talking Keeneland or Churchill," said Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky HBPA, whose group opposed the extra days of racing. "But you're talking about a track that is struggling to give away $140,000 or so."

Maline said he is concerned that diluted purses and a dramatic increase in races will reduce field size, which could lower daily handle and drop purses further.

In news related to other breeds, the commission approved two days of Quarter Horse racing - July 16 and 17 - at The Red Mile harness track in Lexington, Ky.