09/06/2007 11:00PM

Ellis Park averages show decline


Business trends were down at the 46-day meet that ended Monday at Ellis Park, although gross totals reflected increases because of a higher number of programs offered.

All-sources handle at Ellis totaled $95 million, according to figures released Thursday by the Henderson, Ky., track, which surpassed the $88 million wagered last year. Only 36 cards were run at the 2006 meet, however, meaning average daily handle at the 2007 meet was down 16 percent, from $2.44 million to $2.06 million.

Average ontrack handle declined 8 percent, from $346,863 down to $318,087. The gross totals were $14.6 million for 2007 and $12.5 million in 2006. The track did not release daily attendance figures.

This is the first year that Ellis has been owned and operated by Ron Geary, the Louisville businessman who bought the track last year from Churchill Downs Inc., which had owned Ellis since 1998. The highlight of the meet was the Aug. 4 Claiming Crown, which Ellis hosted for the first time. The Claiming Crown drew $4.9 million in all-sources handle, the highest in the nine-year history of the event.

Geary said in a press release that the decrease in average all-sources handle may have been attributable to Ellis having switched from Television Games Network, Youbet, and other major account-wagering services.

"If you look at losing the halo effect on being part of the Saratoga-Del Mar programming on TVG, as well as losing some key offshore betting sites, it's understandable how we could be off," he said. Ellis was available through other services, such as XpressBet and Twinspires, while its races were televised on HorseRacing TV.

On the racetrack, Orlando Mojica notched his first Ellis title, leading all jockeys with 53 wins, 12 more than Brian Hernandez Jr. Ralph Martinez was easily the leading trainer for the second straight year, with 21 winners.