UPDATE: Ellis Park Cancels Friday’s, Saturday’s Race Cards

(Ellis Park / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the Ellis Park Media Team:

Ellis Park has canceled live racing for Friday’s card out of precaution given the forecast for extreme heat in the Tri-State area. The after-racing performance by the band Tailgate Revival also has been canceled.

According to a tweet issued from the track, Saturday’s card will also be cancelled — due to the same hot conditions that are expected to sweep the area.

Simulcast wagering on other tracks throughout the country and Ellis Park’s Historical Horse Racing gaming operation will be held as scheduled. Those coming to the track on Friday will get free simulcast programs to bet on other tracks.

Friday’s forecast calls for temperatures hitting 95 degrees, with humidity pushing the heat index into triple digits.

“We’re going to take every precaution,” said Ellis Park general manager Jeff Hall. “When it comes to safety, we’re walking the walking. It was important to get the word out early, because of horses shipping in, patrons who might be coming from a distance and with many of our jockeys living in the Louisville area or elsewhere out of town.”

Other officials agreed with the move.

“The forecast is heat index looking up to upwards of 110 degrees,” said racing secretary Dan Bork. “Consulting with our state veterinarians and other officials, we just thought it would be in the best interests of everybody to not go ahead and run tomorrow (Friday). Then we’ll look ahead to Saturday and go on a day-by-day type of thing. It’s just safer for everybody — for horses, for jockeys, for the fans. It’s going to be an extreme day. Any time that number gets to 105 and above, we start taking a really close look.

“We did want to make this decision early. We could have waited until tomorrow but we decided to do it today. There are a lot of people who come (from out of town) whether it be horses or fans. We wanted to let them know early. Of course we will open for simulcasting and the historical horse racing room for gaming.”

Bork said that all the trainers who had horses entered to run Friday were notified. He said those races will be offered again, starting next week, and used as he can fit them in among the races already scheduled for certain dates.

People who had purchased reserved seating and dining for Friday also were notified and had the option of rescheduling or getting a refund, track officials said.

“Any time you’re racing in the middle of the summer in the Evansville/Henderson area, we know this (heat) is going to happen,” Bork said. “We’re prepared for it, but when you get to this extreme, it’s not worth it. Safety comes first. Running in the summer here, we know it’s going to be hot. We’ve got water, we’ve got veterinarians. We’ve got staff for people and horses. But this case, with the prediction and what’s going on, we’re going to sit this one out.”

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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