Historians call the 1920s the “Golden Age of American Sports,” and who could blame them? Legendary names such as Babe Ruth, Knute Rockne, and Man o’ War were achieving improbable feats. The latter was a stunning chestnut colt with an unbelievable winning streak. While Man o’ War’s popularity boomed, horses came to Ellis Park, a new racetrack in Henderson, Ky.
This year’s opening day (July 10) may not have quite the same feverish excitement, but there’s plenty of intrigue surrounding Ellis Park’s 88th year. News headlines show Kentucky racetracks want state legislative help to combat competition from neighboring states. That aid never came this past winter, and Ellis Park, which survived the 1937 flood and 2005 tornado, isn’t waiting.
Ron Geary, Ellis owner and president, launches this season with the theme: Ellis Park is “family fun that lasts a lifetime.” Several events are designed to attract families: Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Day (July 17), Camel and Ostrich Races (July 31), Weiner Dog Race (Aug. 21), and Family Fun Day (Aug. 29).
Ellis Park still has a gambling edge, though. In 2010, the Horseplayers Association of North America ranked Ellis Park as one of the top wagering opportunities on this continent.