Ellis Park will return to racing Friday

HENDERSON — The Ellis Park racetrack in western Kentucky will open after its owner and horsemen reached a deal giving the group a larger share of account wagering revenues.

Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said owner Ron Geary and the group reached an agreement Saturday that gives the horsemen at least 6 percent of money generated by advance deposit wagering accounts.

Geary could not be immediately reached by The Associated Press for comment but told The Gleaner newspaper in Henderson that he is in effect giving up his share of that percentage to the horsemen's purses with the belief that a corresponding rise in total betting will help make up the difference.

”We still expect to lose $1.3 million this year,“ said Geary, ”but with the increased exposure of our signal and our product, we see this as a chance to grow business.“

Geary released a statement Saturday, which said he was glad the deal was made.

”This is a win/win for the horsemen and Ellis Park,“ he said. ”You can't imagine my relief to have the track opening.“

Geary said after the deal was announced that the 86-year-old track in Henderson would open on Friday.

Geary had announced Thursday the track would shut down amid a dispute over account wagering. He wanted to offer Ellis races to national account wagering outlets that take bets by phone and online.

Geary had previously said he doubted he could finish the upcoming meet schedule without the $15 million he had been depending on from account wagering.

The account wagering was blocked by the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which had been seeking a larger share of those revenues.

Maline said the group — which represents between 5,000 and 6,000 owners and trainers — is ”immensely pleased and felt (the agreement) was equitable.“

”This is where this industry is going, people betting via their computers and watching races on TV and betting by phone,“ Maline said. ”Horsemen need to definitely get a greater share of this revenue.“