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Churchill Downs to acquire Kentucky’s Turfway Park


Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) has agreed a deal to acquire Turfway Park in Kentucky from Jack Ohio LLC, an affiliate of Jack Entertainment LLC and Hard Rock International, for total consideration of $46m.

The agreement is subject to approval by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC), which will meet on October 8 to discuss the proposal. Should the KHRC give the go-ahead, the deal is expected to close shortly after the hearing.

CDI said that immediately after it finalises the acquisition, it will proceed with plans to demolish the existing grandstand to make way for a new Turfway Park Racing & Gaming facility.

The New Turfway Park project, which will cost up to $150m, will create as many as 400 direct full and part time equivalent jobs. The historical racing machine facility will feature up to 1,500 machines, clubhouse, food and beverage venues and a new inner dirt track to complement the existing synthetic track.

Work on the new project will begin after the 2019-2020 meet, with dates for the 2019-20 winter thoroughbred racing meet at the facility to remain unchanged.

“We are thrilled to welcome Turfway Park to the Churchill Downs racing family,” Churchill Downs Race Track president Kevin Flanery said. “Our team is poised to restore Turfway to its former glory, anchored by northern Kentucky’s first historical racing machine facility.

“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.”

Should the acquisition go ahead as expected, CDI said it that will not pursue its previously announced New Latonia Racing & Gaming project in north Kentucky and will also withdraw its New Latonia race dates application with the KHRC.

Sports betting remains limited in Kentucky, with the only gambling currently permitted being pari-mutuel horse and dog race betting and charitable games such as the state lottery.

However, Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear last month set out plans to significantly expand Kentucky’s legal gambling market by legalizing commercial casinos, sports betting and online gaming if elected.

Under Beshear’s proposed policy, tax revenue raised through gambling expansion would be fund the pension system for public servants. This would benefit the state’s teachers, police officers, firefighters and social workers.