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HomeHorse RacingEllis Park Summer Meet Preview

Ellis Park Summer Meet Preview

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The summer Ellis Park meet officially begins Friday, July 7 and will continue through the last weekend of August with a consistent Friday, Saturday, Sunday schedule. Located in Henderson, Kentucky across the river from Evansville, Indiana, this is Western Kentucky, aka the Midwest, aka first post is 11:45 a.m. Central Standard Time.

With soybeans growing in the infield, fans endearingly call Ellis “the Pea Patch”. Who stands tallest on this hill of beans? Steve Asmussen and Brad Cox. Since 2016 the trainer’s title has gone to either Asmussen or Cox with Ian Wilkes winning it in 2015. Most years Ken McPeek, Brian Lynch, Greg Foley and Brendan Walsh win between 15 and 20%.

Saratoga starts up next week, and Tyler Gaffalione, Luis Saez, and Florent Geroux will head east. Together they get the bulk of the live mounts around Kentucky. This leaves a strong colony of Kentucky local legends and up-and-comers at Ellis.

Corey Lanerie won three riding titles in a row between 2016 – 2018, but after that, it’s been up for grabs. Gerardo Corrales won it last year, Brian Hernandez Jr. the year prior, Joe Talamo, and James Graham before that. Along with those riders, keep close tabs on Rey Gutierrez, who finished third in the standings last year, winning 22%, and was in fourth place behind Saez, TGaff, and Flo through the first six weeks at Churchill this spring. Rey won his first title at Fair Grounds last winter and the speed-favoring Pea Patch plays right into the palm of his hands.

With Churchill moving the last four weeks of the meet to Ellis, we might have a good sense of hot up-and-comers before Ellis’s summer session has even begun. Christian Torres, Francisco Arrieta, and Luan Machado all rode lights out this June at Ellis, often at more than fair prices. Hot as of late, I expect Adam Beschizza to get back to his winning ways, but he’ll be back and forth between Ellis Park and Colonial Downs. Declan Cannon rode the turf course phenomenally this June.

In terms of trainers, Philip Bauer won 3 of his last 6, Juan Cano 3 of his last 9, and both Ron Moquett and Randy Morse took 2 of their last 4 at Ellis. Expect that momentum to carry forward as barns have already established their rhythms and routines in Hendersen.

We definitely know how the main track is playing, and this is a consistent trend year in and year out. Early speed and inside draws are often the key to winning at Ellis Park. And as clear cut as that seems, still there are prices to be had. Favorites only won 32% of the races, which is the lowest of any track running this June. The average payout was 5.24-1, which is the second-highest of any track.

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