08/29/2012 1:48PM

Ellis Park: Instant Racing machines open Friday


Ellis Park will open its new Instant Racing machines to the public on Friday, making the western Kentucky track the second in the state to offer the games as a means to increase revenues and purses.

Although Ellis owner Ron Geary did not return phone messages Tuesday or Wednesday, a spokesman for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, Dick Brown, confirmed that a ribbon-cutting ceremony was to be held Thursday, with the parlor opening to the public Friday.

Kentucky Downs began offering Instant Racing last September and has seen its revenues soar. The turf-only track will offer $2.4 million in purses, easily the most in its history, when running a six-day meet Sept. 8-19.

The other three Thoroughbred tracks in Kentucky – Churchill Downs, Keeneland, and Turfway Park – all have deferred decisions on whether to implement Instant Racing because of local market variables and because the legality of the games are still being challenged in the state court system by an opposition group, the Family Foundation of Kentucky.

Geary confirmed several weeks ago that he has been in negotiations to sell partial interest in Ellis, which he purchased in 2006. The commission has confirmed that a Saratoga Springs, N.Y., group has filed notice with them that a change in control of the track may be pending.

The new Ellis parlor is located on the farthest extension of the plant beyond the finish line. It is expected to house 177 machines, with another 75 or so to be installed elsewhere in the plant at a later date.