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Efforts Begin to Reopen Ellis Park

10 November 2005

HENDERSON, Kentucky -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- Clean-up efforts are underway at Ellis Park to tentatively reopen the storm-battered track for simulcasting operations on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Structural engineers from Louisville construction firm Luckett & Farley certified the track's clubhouse, its historic main grandstand, the Sky Theatre and the lower level of the jockeys' quarters as structurally safe late yesterday afternoon.

Ellis Park's main business during the off season is its simulcast operation, allowing patrons to wager on tracks currently racing from around the country. Off-season simulcast operations are centered solely in the track's clubhouse, which was spared the brunt of the Nov. 6 tornado. Clean-up efforts are currently focused on repairing damage to the clubhouse and securing the grounds to allow patrons a safe return. Those efforts include repairing damage to the clubhouse roof, fencing and the replacement of blown-out doors.

"We are taking deliberate steps to make sure that the facility will be safe and secure for our patrons to return next week," said Ellis Park Vice President and General Manager Paul Kuerzi. "To hopefully be up and operating so soon after this amount of devastation is really a testament to the outpouring of support we've received and to all our employees who have worked so hard through all of this. Our reopening will be a big morale boost, not only to our staff, but to the whole community."

During its reopening week, Ellis Park will take donations for the Kentucky victims of the tornado. For a $1 donation, patrons will receive unlimited programs for the day's races. Twins Spires Club members will also receive a 1000-point bonus for each day they come to the track from Nov. 16-20.

The track's grandstand terrace, adjacent to the main grandstand structure, sustained heavy damage, as did the paddock, jockeys' quarters and infield tote board as the result of a tornado that hit the track at approximately 2 a.m. (CST) Sunday morning. The tornado also destroyed 10 barns in the Ellis Park stable area and caused light to moderate damage to several others. Three of the 158 horses on the grounds died from injuries suffered in the storm.

There was no racing at Ellis Park at the time of the storm as the track had completed its 2005 meet on Sept. 5. Horses were on the grounds because the track and stable area remained open for training.

As of midday Wednesday, 108 horses remained on the grounds. Ellis Park officials hope that all horses can be moved out of the barn area by the end of the week to allow clean-up efforts to proceed.

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