From the Ellis Park Media Team:

Mike “Hotdog” Utley wasn’t sure what he was buying into when approached last year about acquiring part-interest in Yes It’s Ginger, a winless 4-year-old filly who’d been off for a year. But he trusted trainer Greg Foley, who already planned to buy into the horse on behalf of a partnership spearheaded by his sons.
“We rolled the dice, and I tell you what, it was a good roll. A really good roll,” said Utley, who runs his family’s Edward Utley Jr. Inc. beer and wine distributors in Henderson. “I’ve known Greg a long time. If he was going to get in it, as long as he was the trainer and we were going to be partners, I thought it was a good deal.”
Utley’s faith in Foley has turned into the ride of his life as a racehorse owner. Yes It’s Ginger won her first start for her new trainer and Brilliant Racing’s new partners last summer at Ellis Park – and then won right back. Her fifth win came in her last start, taking Lone Star Park’s $75,000 Chicken Fried Stakes by four lengths for Utley’s first stakes victory.
Yes It’s Ginger will be entered in Sunday’s $100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Ladies Sprint, running in either that 5 1/2-furlong turf race or three days later in Indiana Grand’s $65,000 IU Hoosiers Stakes at five furlongs on grass.
Foley said the 5-year-old Yes It’s Ginger will be entered in both races with a decision to be made later. The Ladies Sprint is one of four turf stakes Sunday, the second day of Ellis Park’s Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Weekend, created as a launching pad to stakes at Kentucky Downs’ September meet. Four stakes also will be held Saturday, three on turf as well as an overnight stakes on dirt.
Utley makes no secret that he hopes Yes It’s Ginger runs at his hometown track, where he’s a fixture at the races and also sells a lot of beer. But he said that call is completely up to the Foleys and Brilliant Racing.
“It’s been a great ride,” said the 59-year-old Utley, who has been a regular at Ellis Park since first going with his dad about age 12. “All the guys in the group, we communicate, send out a text, keep everybody updated. Everybody’s happy. They’re all riding this good ride. Because I’ve been on some bad ones. I’ve been in it a long time. I had several horses back when my dad was living. The first horse I was actually part of was trained by Greg’s dad, C. Wesleys Tiger. Greg’s dad, Dravo, trained the stud, Tiger Lure. Goes back a long time with the Foleys.”
Brilliant Racing is a Louisville-based syndicate whose founding members include Churchill Downs and racing analyst Joe Kristufek. He approached Greg Foley’s son and assistant, Travis, about buying half-interest in the filly, who was back in training after having arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip. The Foleys’ Tagg Team Racing partnership – named for Travis, his brother Alex and dad Greg, with the last “g” being Group – agreed and the trainer then asked Utley if his group wanted to invest. They did, and got almost immediate gratification as Yes It’s Ginger won — and won again — at Ellis Park’s 2020 meet.
“Her form looked good,” Greg Foley said. “She was still a maiden but had run second and third, had a good chart. I went out and watched her gallop. She looked great. She’s made a little money and now that she’s got some ‘black type’ (stakes win or placing), she’s got a little value to her as a broodmare.”
“The Henderson group had been wanting to get involved with us in some capacity,” Travis Foley said. “That was just the first opportunity. He said yes, and the rest has been a good year and a half. We’ve had a blast with her.”
Utley’s group involves nine people from the Henderson and Evansville area. He said some are racing fans “and some aren’t. But everybody is getting to know it. Everybody is getting to have fun. So everybody is a fan now.”
If Yes It’s Ginger runs at Ellis, Utley estimates his partnership group alone will have 100 people in attendance.
“We may only own 25 percent, but we’re having 100 percent of the fun,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how much you own of it, hey, you feel like it’s yours.”
Yes It’s Ginger has earned most of her $237,266 in purses since Brilliant sold half-interest. Far from having any seller’s remorse, Kristufek is thrilled how things have gone.
“This is our first horse with Foley, and it couldn’t have gone any better,” he said. “Travis’ group and Hotdog’s group, the way things worked out for us to find such fantastic partners, I think we’ll always be involved with them. They like to have a good time, they love racing, and what a great first horse to experience ownership with. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Foley has two other horses under consideration for the Ladies Sprint in Skinny Dip and Dance Rhythms.
Skinny Dip has never raced on the turf, but it’s not for lack of trying: She has been in three races taken on the grass and put on the main track, with two wins and a second.
“She’s bred for the grass,” Foley said. “It’s Mike and K.K. Ball’s filly, and they’ve always wanted to try her on the grass at some point. She’s a nice filly but hopefully will step it up a notch on the turf. Big, gorgeous filly. I got her this winter. She’d been laid up for a little while, and Mike asked if I’d take her to the Fair Grounds. I’ve loved her from day one.”
The 6-year-old Dance Rhythms, an eight-time winner, was third in last year’s Ladies Sprint. She has two seconds and five thirds in nine races since then.
Yes It’s Ginger, with Brian Hernandez Jr. up, won her first start for her new ownership group last summer in an Ellis Park maiden race …
… then promptly won her second start in an Ellis allowance race, also with Hernandez aboard for trainer Greg Foley. Coady Photography photos
A quick look at Saturday’s stakes quartet:
$60,000 Tri-State Overnight Stakes
(fourth race, 2:14 p.m. CT)
Shared Sense, last year’s Indiana Derby (G3) and Oklahoma Derby (G3) winner, figures to be favored in the field of six older horses running a mile on dirt. But then, he also was a prohibitive favorite in Indiana Grand’s Michael Schaefer Memorial and tired to fifth. He also was fifth in last year’s Ellis Park Derby. The second- and third-place finishers in the Schaefer return in this mile dirt race in the 8-year-old Exulting and Beau Luminarie. The value horse could be Beaver Hat, who won the mile allowance prep with style in a fast time. The stakes-winning Fact Finding, who makes his first start of the year in the Tri-State, figures to challenge Exulting for the early lead.
$100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Dueling Grounds Derby
(fifth race, 2:42 p.m. CT)
The Brad Cox-trained Royal Prince is consistent and battle-tested but other horses boast higher speed figures. Trainer Vicki Oliver has put the 3-year-old filly Core Values up against the boys in this 1 1/8-mile stakes rather than in the 1 1/16-mile filly counterpart (for which she has another horse). Core Values captured Arlington Park’s Hatoof in her stakes debut last time out. Trainer Mike Stidham has been trying to get Gershwin on the turf but has been rained off in all three attempts. That includes winning the Grade 2 Penn Mile in the slop. He most recently was fourth in Belmont’s Grade 3 Dwyer. Modern Science, whose career began last year with a third over the Ellis turf, most recently was third by a total of a neck in the Mystic Lake Derby. The second- and third-place finishers in Arlington’s American Derby are entered in Accredit and Red Hornet, who was making only his second start in the Chicago race.
$100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Dueling Grounds Oaks
(seventh race, 3:40 p.m. CT)
Throw out her 42-length drubbing on dirt in Pimlico’s Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan and the Cox-trained Adventuring has shown a lot to like, including taking Turfway Park’s Bourbonette Oaks on the Tapeta surface. Her stablemate Caldee, second in last fall’s Grade 2 Miss Grillo in New York, should be part of what appears to be a fair amount of speed in the field of nine running 1 1/16 miles on turf. The same is true of 2-for-2 Takntothecleaners and $1.9-million weanling Stillchargingmaria. The latter makes her stakes debut after racing very well on grass at Lone Star Park for record-setting trainer Steve Asmussen. Oliviaofthedesert is a two-time stakes-winner on dirt but in her only turf start came in third in a tough edition of the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies last fall. The Vicki Oliver-trained Flippant broke her maiden at Ellis at 1 1/4 miles on turf in her last start and would benefit from a fast pace to set up her closing kick.
$100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Turf Sprint
(eighth race, 4:10 p.m. CT)
Don’t blink. This shapes up as a great betting race with a field of 11 turf sprinters gunning 5 1/2 furlongs. Archidust, Born Great and Gray Attempt are quality turf sprinters.The one to catch is likely to be the New Mexico-bred, Texas-based My Boanerges. The 5-year-old gelding has a 7-3-1 mark in 11 starts, with two wins and two seconds in four starts for trainer Dallas Keen after My Boanerges was off for 1 1/2 years. Siem Riep comes back for the third year after taking second in the mile Preview race twice.
Sunday Aug. 8 Preview Weekend stakes (entries close Thursday)
$125,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Turf Cup, 3-year-olds & up, 1 1/4 miles (turf); $100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Ladies Sprint, fillies & mares 3 years old & up, 5 1/2 furlongs (turf); $100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Ladies Mile, fillies & mares 3 years old & up, mile (turf); $100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Mint Million, 3-year-olds & up, mile (turf).
2021 RUNHAPPY Meet at Ellis Park
Dates: Sunday June 27 through Saturday Sept. 4. Racing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Post time: 12:50 p.m. Central
Admission: General admission is free. Tickets for Clubhouse and Sky Theatre dining and grandstand boxes can be purchased at or by calling 812-435-8918.
Remaining stakes schedule
Saturday Aug. 7 —$100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Oaks, 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles (turf); $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Derby, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles (turf); $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint, 3-year-olds & up, 5 1/2 furlongs (turf). Sunday Aug. 8 — $125,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup, 3-year-olds & up, 1 1/4 miles (turf); $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Sprint, fillies & mares 3 years olds & up, 5 1/2 furlongs (turf); $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf, fillies & mares 3 years old & up, one mile (turf); $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Mint Million Mile, 3-year-olds & up, mile (turf). Sunday Aug. 15 — $200,000 RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Derby, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles; $125,000 RUNHAPPY Groupie Doll, fillies & mares, 3 years old and up, mile; $125,000 RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Juvenile, 2-year-olds, 7 furlongs; $125,000 RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Debutante, 2-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs; $100,000 Audubon Oaks, 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs.
*Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund
2021-08-05T12:04:44-04:00By |

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