A new overnight stakes for 3-year-olds and up at a mile on the main track next month has been added to the condition book at Ellis Park.
Racing secretary Dan Bork has created the $60,000 Tri-State Overnight Stakes that will be run Aug. 7 to join three turf stakes that day, as part of Kentucky Downs Preview Weekend. Another four grass stakes will be held Aug. 8, with the seven races serving as stepping stones to Kentucky Downs‘ lucrative meet in September. The winners of the seven Preview stakes receive a fees-paid spot in the corresponding Kentucky Downs race.
“This fills a void for older males going long on dirt,” Bork said. “We have the Good Lord for sprinters, and the mile distance out of the first-turn chute could attract sprinters stretching out another three-sixteenths of a mile as well as two-turn horses—and, of course, milers. It’s the male version of our popular Groupie Doll Stakes for fillies and mares.”
The $125,000 Runhappy Groupie Doll, at a mile for fillies and mares, is Aug. 15.
The Tri-State revives a name used on a stakes that started on dirt and was moved to 1 1/16 miles on turf before being discontinued some years ago. Preview Weekend, which features 5 1/2-furlong, mile, and 1 1/4-mile races for older males, has filled the niche for male turf horses, along with a new 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Derby for 3-year-olds.
One horse already under consideration for the Tri-State is Beaver Hat , who won the July 16 mile allowance optional claiming feature at Ellis just in time to use the race as a prep for the new overnight stakes.
Trainer Brian Williamson said he definitely would be interested in running the 4-year-old Istan colt in the Tri-State.
Beaver Hat, ridden by Corey Lanerie, shook off the 3-year-old pacesetter Irish Unity in the stretch for a 4 1/4-length victory over his younger rival. He covered the mile in 1:34.89, just missing Looking Cool ‘s 2014 track record of 1:34.41.
“What a solid horse. He just shows up every time we run him,” said Williamson, who trains Beaver Hat for his wife, Lyda Williamson, and mother-in-law Nancy Vanier, also the colt’s breeders. “It’s just been a pleasure to us. Can’t say enough about him. He always comes through, old Beaver Hat.”
Beaver Hat was bred in Kentucky out of the stakes-winning, graded stakes-placed Royal Academy mare Beret . He is a half brother to multiple stakes winner Kepi . The Tri-State would mark his first start against stakes company.
From 22 career starts, Beaver Hat has a 4-4-3 record and has earned $216,650.