Tickets for reserved seating for the RUNHAPPY Summer Meet at Ellis Park to be held from July 2 to Aug. 30 are now on sale.
Following the directive from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s office, racetracks may begin having spectators on June 29 with up to 50 percent capacity. Ellis Park’s 98th summer session begins Thursday, with racing through Sunday July 5 before taking a week off to allow Keeneland to run for five days in Lexington. Ellis Park resumes its Friday through Sunday format on July 17 through the end of the meet.
For the first weekend, Ellis Park seating will be available in the Sky Theatre, which is entirely smoke-free, and the second floor of the Clubhouse, where smoking is permitted.
The Turf Club, which is between the Clubhouse and the grandstand, is available for parties of up to 25 people. Ellis will work to open additional outdoor seating as safety planning and preparations are made.
Because of safety precautions necessitated by the COVID-19 global pandemic, there will be no general admission seating available for this meet. With the exception of racehorse owners, spectators are required to have a ticketed seat, with food and beverages delivered by servers to those areas. The Dade Park Grill on the Clubhouse first floor in the Historical Horse Racing area will be the only concession stand open.
“We are opening seating to the public in a safe and prudent manner that adheres to state protocol,” said Ellis Park general manager Jeff Inman. “With this methodology, we have control over where people are during the races and can make sure they are safely separated. Additionally, protocol dictates that we must have the name and contact information for every guest coming to Ellis this summer. That’s why we can only have reserved seating this meet. If one of our guests should subsequently test positive for COVID-19, we will know who was at the races that day, where they were seated and how to get in touch with them.
“We know these circumstances aren’t ideal, and that going to the races at Ellis Park and enjoying our expansive grassy area and grandstand is a tradition for the Tri-State area. COVID-19 has changed a lot of standards, but we’re pleased that we can allow spectators at the races in a safe and responsible fashion this summer.”
For opening week, the Sky Theatre will have 47 tables available, mostly four-tops, for a total capacity of 196 people, with 62 tables in the Clubhouse (for two, four and six people) for an additional 234 individuals. Clubhouse options include the Terrace Lounge area offering a view of the racetrack, the adjacent Thoroughbred Room (also used for year-round simulcasting) and the Gardenia Room.
Admission to the track for live racing is by reservation only. Race-day reservations will be accepted as space allows, but Ellis asks that everyone try to make plans in advance. An entire table must be purchased, with no partial tables sold due to social-distancing requirements. For the first week, the minimum age for reserved seating and HHR is 18 years old. Ellis is reviewing plans to allow additional guests and younger race fans later in the summer.
Access to Historical Horse Racing on the Clubhouse first floor is available on a first-come, first-served basis with gaming terminals adhering to the state’s social-distancing standards. Guests with reserved seating, along with Historical Horse Racing players, must enter through the main gate and have a non-invasive thermal screening before being admitted.
Horse owners licensed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission can watch their horses run from the racetrack apron, where media members will also be allowed. Owners and the media should enter through the paddock pavilion entrance, where they will undergo thermal screening and have their name and contact information recorded. Media members must make arrangements with Ellis Park staff prior to arrival, as there is limited space available each racing day.
Ellis Park hopes to add two additional outdoor seating areas in phases as the summer progresses. First, 40 grandstand box seats opening later in July. The boxes, which will accommodate four people each, will be sold as reserved seating and also have food and beverage delivered by servers. A third phase could see six-seat picnic tables on the racetrack apron sometime in early August.
Should all of the phases become available, the maximum capacity will be 1,010 for live racing. Concession areas at the track will not be open during the meet.
Ellis Park 2020 stakes
July 5 — $50,000 Ellis Park Turf Stakes, fillies & mares 3 years old & up, 1 1/16 miles (turf).
July 26 — $50,000 Good Lord Stakes, 3-year-olds & up, 6 1/2 furlongs.
Aug. 2 (all on turf) — $100,000* Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Sprint, fillies & mares 3 years old & up, 5 1/2 furlongs; $100,000* Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup, 3-year-olds & up, 1 1/4 miles; $100,000* Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf, fillies & mares 3 years old &up, mile); $100,000* Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint, 3-year-olds & up, 5 1/2 furlongs; $100,000* Kentucky Downs Preview Tourist Mile, 3-year-olds & up, mile.
Aug. 9 — $200,000* Ellis Park Derby, 3-year-olds; 1 1/8 miles; $100,000* Audubon Oaks, 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs; $100,000 Groupie Doll, fillies & mares 3 years old & up, mile; $100,000* Ellis Park Juvenile, 2-year-olds, 7 furlongs; $100,000* Ellis Park Debutante, 7 furlongs.
*-includes $25,000 from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund