With the general manager of Ellis Park saying June 27 that the track is "over the hump" in its efforts to clean up an inordinate amount of rock in its dirt surface, horsemen are hopeful the safety problem has been corrected and the 29-day meet begins with solid support in the entry box.

Ellis’ maintenance crew has been working diligently over the past week in an effort to clean up the rock that was apparently contained in a large amount of sand brought in last fall to renovate the racing surface. Many trainers who have had horses there since it opened for training May 20 in preparation for the July 4 opener in the Henderson, Ky., had expressed concern over substances that were in the sand.

"I think we have gotten over the hump, but there is still work to be done," Ellis general manager Bob Jackson said June 27.

The track reopened June 26 for training after being closed for three days to permit crews to remove as much of the rock as possible. There have been no official recorded workout times yet, according to Equibase. But Jackson said there were a number of horses that galloped over the track both days to the satisfaction of the riders and trainers.

Jackson said some rocks were still in the dirt surface, but that is common at the track since water trucks and tractors are on the oval as often as 50 times a day.

While there has been considerable progress made in cleaning up the problem, Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said June 27 "everybody admits there are still rocks in (the surface). I don’t think they can let up now.&qu