O Besos takes on Necker Island in Jeff Hall Memorial

Ellis Park media notes by Kevin Kerstein (Churchill Downs photo of O Besos)

HENDERSON, Ky. (Saturday, July 15, 2023) – Trainer Greg Foley will attempt to keep his stakes hot streak intact when Bernard RacingTagg Team RacingWest Point Thoroughbreds and Terry Stephens’ O Besos makes his 5-year-old debut in Saturday’s $125,000 Jeff Hall Memorial at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming.

          The 6 ½-furlong Jeff Hall Memorial is slated as Race 8 of 9 with a post time of 3:22 p.m. (all times Central) First post is 11:45 a.m.

          O Besos is a multiple graded stakes-placed son of Orb and an alumni of Kentucky Derby 148 where he crossed the wire fifth. The four-time winner finished fifth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) and has been on the sidelines since. As a 3-year-old, O Besos finished third in the Louisiana Derby (GII) and second in the Matt Winn (GIII). Jockey Corey Lanerie will have the mount from post No. 2.

          Last year’s Jeff Hall Memorial winner Necker Island will defend his title for his owners The Scherr Boys and trainer Chris Hartman. The eight-time winning son of Hard Spun defeated two rivals last time out in the $225,000 Mighty Beau at Ellis Park, his first victory since last year’s Jeff Hall Memorial. In last year’s event, Necker Island overcame a tough start and edged clear late of Tut’s Revenge for a neck victory. Jockey Mitchell Murrill will be back aboard from post 3.

          Another accomplished horse that entered the Jeff Hall Memorial is Here Mi Song. Owned by Nathan Hayden and trained by Billy Stinson Jr., Here Mi Song pulled an 11-1 upset victory in the Commonwealth Stakes (GIII) at Keeneland. The 5-year-old gelded son of Cross Traffic sports a solid record of 20-5-7-1 with purse earnings of $599,193. Regular rider Alex Achard will be in the irons from post 9.

          Here is the complete field from the rail out (with jockey and trainer):

          1. Chasing Time (Cristian Torres, Steve Asmussen)

          2. O Besos (Lanerie, Foley)

          3. Necker Island (Murrill, Hartman)

          4. Droppin G’s (Luan Machado, Jerry Antonuik)

          5. Solidify (Yoel Navas, Juan Cano)

          6. Go West (Rey Gutierrez, Bret Calhoun)

          7. Classier (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kieron Magee)

          8. Tut’s Revenge (Francisco Arrieta, Shea Stuart)

          9. Here Mi Song (Achard, Stinson)

          The Jeff Hall Memorial is named in honor of the longtime Director of Racing Operations at Ellis Park who died last year at age 75. Ellis Park recently unveiled the new name for the winner’s circle, “The Jeff Hall Winner’s Circle.”

          For more information about racing and gaming from Ellis Park, visitwww.ellisparkracing.com

POPULAR COLLEGE DAY RETURNS JULY 30 – Kentucky HBPA College Day Presented by Ellis Park returns to the Tri-State racetrack on Sunday July 30 – and virtually every full-time post-high school student who registers will be a winner.

In partnership with Ellis Park, the Kentucky HBPA will give out nine $1,000 scholarships and, in a separate set of drawings, nine iPad Minis with AirPods included. There also will be drawings before every race for a $150 gift card.

Every qualified student who registers will get an Ellis Park belt bag or a $10 voucher for food and beverage (excluding alcohol) while supplies last. 

A valid college I.D. or letter of admission is required to register, with incoming freshmen welcome. Those attending or enrolled in two- and four-year colleges, graduate school, professional school, vocational, technical, barber and other post-high school programs that qualify for federal aid are eligible. Students must register in person, be present to win and can only enter once. 

“Every year we look forward to Kentucky HBPA College Day,” said Mike Bruder, a horse owner from Evansville and a Kentucky HBPA board member. “We know from speaking with the students that a fair number have never been to a racetrack before. These could be our future horse owners, horsemen and racetrack executives, as well as the next generation of racing fans. But you have to get them in the door first. And Ellis Park is so family-friendly that it’s a great environment for an introduction to horse racing.”

Registration for the drawings will be held at a table in the grandstand tunnel. The last-race drawings are restricted to full-time students who also work in, or whose parent works in, the equine industry, either on the backstretch, at a racetrack or a horse farm, including part-time and seasonal employees. Those participating in the industry drawing cannot enter the main drawings.

Representatives from the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program, the Kentucky Equine Management Internship program and potentially other colleges with equine-connected programs will be on hand.

Sunday also is Kentucky HBPA Dollar Day, featuring $1 hotdogs, ice cream, chips, soft drinks and popcorn and $2 draft beer. The Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, which represents racehorse owners and trainers at the state’s five thoroughbred tracks, underwrites the weekly promotion.

“We are proud to support Kentucky HBPA College Day at Ellis Park again this year,” said Matt Pressley, Ellis Park Racing & Gaming General Manager. “We look forward to supporting future leaders in our community with this scholarship program.”

Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.