Churchill Downs to “to restore Turfway to its former glory” in $46m acquisition

Louisville-headquartered racetrack and casino operator, Churchill Downs Inc. (NASDAQ: CHDN), has reportedly entered into an agreement to acquire the Thoroughbred racetrack in Northern Kentucky, Turfway Park, from Jack Ohio LLC and Hard Rock International.

The $46 million deal is contingent on approval by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC), which will meet on Tuesday.

“Our team is poised to restore Turfway to its former glory.”

According to the Associated Press via the West Kentucky Star…

…Churchill Downs’ plans include the demolition of the five-story grandstand located just outside the city limits to the north of Florence, Kentucky following the track’s 2019-20 meet, with the construction of a $150 million racing and gambling property on the site to begin after that.

The one-mile Polytrack oval with quarter-mile and 6½ furlong chutes opened in 1959 as Latonia Race Course.

Quick flip: 

In April 2019, Jack Entertainment, part of Detroit billionaire Dan Gilbert’s empire, agreed to sell the horse racing track to Hard Rock International as part of a $780-million bundled deal that would also include Jack Cincinnati Casino, which accounted for the lion’s share ($745 million) of the sale price. The Seminole Tribe of Florida-owned company said at the time that it would spend “significant dollars” on the Northern Kentucky racetrack, but appears to have opted to quickly offload the property. 

KHRC app withdrawn:

Turfway will reportedly retain its 2019-20 winter racing dates the publicly traded company had sought for its “Latonia Racing & Gaming” project in Campbell 7BALL County. The official application submitted in September to the KHRC seeking permission to bring winter thoroughbred horseracing meets to the planned venue will reportedly now be withdrawn.

Commenting on the acquisition, President of Churchill Downs, Kevin Flanery, said in a recent press release…

“Our team is poised to restore Turfway to its former glory, anchored by northern Kentucky’s first historical racing machine facility,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Race Track. “The result will be a first-class racing product fueled by increased purses that keeps high-quality horses in Kentucky year-round and appeals to horseplayers nationwide.”

The Detroit Free Press further reports that also commenting on the deal was Chief Executive Officer for Jack Entertainment, Mark Dunkeson, who said…

“Throughout the competitive bidding process, JACK Entertainment held fast to the belief that the new owner of Turfway Park must be dedicated to keeping the historic racing institution a strong part of the Northern Kentucky racing community.

“We know that Churchill Downs has Turfway’s best interests in mind and will ensure that Turfway remains an exceptional facility that is well-positioned to carry on the rich history of thoroughbred racing.”

Historical racing:

The new Park will reportedly feature 1,500 historical racing machines along with a new dirt track to replace the existing one-mile synthetic racing surface.

Opened in 1959, the aged facility boasts a prime location, being just 10 minutes south of Cincinnati and a half-mile from I-75.

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