09/06/2011 3:23PM

Ellis Park: Average daily handle falls 21.8 percent at meet


Ellis Park ended its 2011 meet Monday with a double-digit decrease in all-sources handle, according to figures released Tuesday by officials at the western Kentucky track.

Gross all-sources handle for the 31-day meet was nearly $39.2 million, whereas the 27-day meet in 2010 grossed more than $43.7 million. That translates to declines of 10.4 percent in gross handle and 21.8 percent in average daily handle.

The track reported that ontrack attendance averaged 3,611 and was down less than 2 percent from last year, although average ontrack handle of $190,979 was down more than 13 percent.

One factor that may have sped the business declines was average field size, which went from 9.6 last year to just 8.0 this year.

Ron Geary, who bought Ellis in 2006, said he hopes to have Instant Racing machines installed within the next few months to boost what clearly has been a struggling business.

“We are afraid that Ellis Park and other Kentucky tracks are going to suffer . . . when trying to compete with our racino-enhanced competitors,” Geary said in a news release.

On the racetrack, Calvin Borel was the leading jockey with 32 wins, while Buff Bradley led all trainers with 11 wins. Borel, the three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey, won his only other Ellis riding title in 1996.