HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - TwinSpires, the industry leader in online and mobile wagering on horse racing, has become the title sponsor of Ellis Park’s pair of 2-year-old stakes.
The $100,000 TwinSpires Ellis Park Juvenile and $100,000 TwinSpires Ellis Park Debutante, will be held Sunday, Aug. 18, with entries taken Thursday. Both races are seven-eighths of a mile. The purses include a $25,000 enhancement from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund for Kentucky-bred horses, which comprise the vast majority of those running.
Ellis Park’s 2-year-old stakes are positioned to be stepping stones in timing and distance to the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois and Pocahontas at Churchill Downs in mid-September. Those stakes are the first points races on Churchill Downs’ qualifying system for the next spring’s Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve and the Longines Kentucky Oaks. The Grade 3 Iroquois and Grade 2 Pocahontas also are part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series, with the winners receiving an entry fees-paid berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
Last year, Joel Politi’s 2019 Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress captured the Ellis Park Debutante by 13 1/2 lengths and romped by 19 1/2 lengths a month later in the Pocahontas.
L & N Racing’s $1.3 million-earner Lookin At Lee won the 2016 Ellis Park Juvenile, the first time the stakes was run since 2008, then finished second in the Iroquois. He went on to finish second in the 2017 Kentucky Derby.
“With her WOW performance in last year’s Ellis Park Debutante, Serengeti Empress really got my attention," said Churchill Downs and Twinspires.com racing analyst Joe Kristufek. “When scouting horses for races like the Kentucky Oaks, I look for that kind of brilliance. Serengeti Empress had it, and it carried her all the way to the winner’s circle on the first Friday in May. It’s super exciting to watch these young stars strut their stuff. The road to the Oaks and Derby officially begins next month under the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs with the Pocahontas and Iroquois. But Sunday at Ellis Park serves as the entrance ramp to that journey.”
“With Ellis Park offering two juvenile races that have big implications heading into the start of Kentucky Derby prep-season, the TwinSpires Juvenile and TwinSpires Debutante, watch for exiting runners to appear in the Pocahontas and Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs," said TwinSpires author Adam Spradling. "Running and winning during a Thoroughbred’s 2-year-old season has been a positive trait when finishing strong in the Kentucky Derby.”
TwinSpires, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Churchill Downs Inc., will offer horse players free Bris past performances for the TwinSpires Ellis Park Juvenile and TwinSpires Ellis Park Debutante. TwinSpires account holders will get the entire card for free.
Ed DeRosa, TwinSpires' director of communications, will join Ellis Park’s Rocco O’Connor as paddock analysts throughout Sunday’s card. Kristufek will provide spot plays on the full card. Stakes previews, blogs on how to bet both stakes and additional handicapping content about the rest of the card will be posted at brisnet.com and shared on Ellis Park’s social media channels.
“We are proud of our 2-year-old program at Ellis Park, and TwinSpires is a natural partner for our juvenile stakes,” said track general manager Jeff Hall. “Ellis Park is the launching pad to stardom, and Churchill Downs is the landing pad, where you dream of having your good babies next spring. We’re excited about this association for the TwinSpires Ellis Park Juvenile and TwinSpires Ellis Park Debutante. I also can’t wait to see who their racing analysts like in these races.”
Courtesy: Jennie Rees