Jennie Rees

Special to the Courier & Press

Published 5:02 p.m. CT Aug. 17, 2019


Toby Keith visited Ellis Park on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. (Photo: Jennie Rees)

HENDERSON, Ky. — Country music icon Toby Keith stopped by Ellis Park to watch one of his horses run before performing Saturday night at Evansville’s Ford Center.

Shell Fire, who runs in the name of Keith’s Dream Walkin Farms, finished third in the second race, with Keith saying afterward, “We ran third but we’ll run first at the concert tonight. The only negative comment I have about these wonderful people is that they don’t have any red Solo cups.”

That’s a reference to Keith’s song “Red Solo Cup.” But Ellis Park general manager Jeff Hall rectified that later, taking Keith a drink in the popular plastic cup. “And here’s something for your horse,” Hall said, presenting an aluminum Budweiser bottle in reference to Keith’s hit “Beer for My Horses.”

For good measures, Hall also sent over to the singer Red Solo Cup shot glasses from the Ellis Park gift shop, joking, “This is for tonight.”

One thing Hall wasn’t able to do was convert Keith to bourbon. “Nooo, I’m a sour mash man,” he said.

Keith last was at Ellis Park in 2003 when the Bret Calhoun-trained Cactus Ridge came in to win the Ellis Park Juvenile by 6 1/2 lengths.

“It’s been great,” he said of this visit. “The memories I have of this place is that I had a wonderful colt named Cactus Ridge and he established himself the day he won this Juvenile easily under a hand ride. Then we went over and won the Arlington-Washington Futurity before he broke down, unfortunately. But I remember how excited we were.

“They have a great staff. All is good.”

Toby Keith visited Ellis Park on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. (Photo: Jennie Rees)