Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) has entered an agreement to purchase Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky as part of a $79m all-cash deal. The prominent gambling and racing-focused company announced the news on Thursday. As a result of the deal, CDI will have the option to develop a track extension facility in Owensboro, about 25 miles from Henderson.
sale will close quickly after approval
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission must still approve the deal. The expectation is that the sale will close quickly after approval has been granted.
Good business for the state
CDI chief executive officer Bill Carstanjen is happy with the agreement, saying: “We are very enthused to welcome Ellis Park to the Churchill Downs racing family.”
CDI currently operates a number of racetracks and other facilities in the US, including the home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs. Other tracks under its ownership include the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and Turfway Park in Kentucky. It is in the process of selling Arlington Park to the Chicago Bears.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear also welcomed the news, saying: “Churchill Downs has proven it has the experience, resources, and desire to reinvigorate Ellis Park into a premier racing destination and provide unmatched gaming entertainment.”
Continuing the legacy
Ellis Park has been hosting horse races for 100 years, celebrating its centenary this year. Located near Evansville, Indiana it has thoroughbred racing in the summer, as well as a gaming facility that contains about 300 historical racing machines. CDI plans to continue the summertime races, with the intent of keeping Kentucky-based trainers and horses in the state.
CDI has already begun the planning stages to develop Owensboro Racing & Gaming. It would be both an entertainment and track extension venue, located at the Towne Square Mall in Owensboro. There would be 600 historical racing machines at the facility and a center for simulcast betting. CDI is forecasting that it will invest another $75m across Owensboro and Henderson counties.