09/06/2017 8:56AM

Ellis Park sets handle mark for second straight year


Ellis Park set another record for all-sources handle this summer, when nearly $38.4 million was wagered during the meet, which ended Monday.

Officials at the western Kentucky track reported Tuesday that gross wagering was up 18 percent over its meet in 2016, when the previous record was set. Technically, the 2017 meet consisted of 31 days, but one card (Aug. 6) was canceled after three races and another (Sept. 1) was canceled after just one race. There were 256 races run this summer versus 259 in 2016. For the 29 full cards this year, average daily handle was $1.3 million.

The gross purse payout for the meet was reported at $6,223,300, or about $214,000 per day and an increase of about $2,000 per race. Field size averaged 8.2 starters per race, up slightly over last year (8.05). Attendance is free and therefore not tallied.

Ron Geary, the Louisville businessman who has owned Ellis since 2007, said in a press release: “We think this was our best race meet probably in my 11 years.”

On the track, Corey Lanerie was the leading jockey for the fourth time, riding 35 winners, eight more than runner-up Jon Court. Steve Asmussen captured the training title for the second year in a row by winning with 18 of his 109 starters, nipping Brad Cox, who went 17 for 50 with three stakes wins, including the meet showcase, the Grade 3 Groupie Doll, with Tiger Moth. The Mongo Racing partnership of J.R. Caldwell and Ruston Jennings was the leading owner with six wins.