Churchill Downs, Keeneland Partnering On Two New Gambling Facilities

by | 09.15.2017 | 8:41am
Initial rendering of the proposed Corbin facility

Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) (“CDI”) and Keeneland Association, Inc. (“Keeneland”) announced today an historic partnership to propose the construction of two new state-of-the-art facilities that will house historical racing machines and include a live race meet. One will be in southeastern Kentucky in Corbin (Knox County), and the second will be in southwestern Kentucky in Oak Grove (Christian County).

The largest market near Corbin is Knoxville, Tenn., with Oak Grove located within an hour to the northwest of Nashville, which currently supports  Kentucky Downs gaming and racing in Franklin, Ky.

To share the news, the two companies released a video featuring CDI Chief Executive Officer Bill Carstanjen, Keeneland President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Thomason, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association Executive Director Chauncey Morris and Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Marty Maline.

“Horse racing is a $4 billion industry in the Commonwealth that creates thousands of jobs, strengthens our statewide economy and attracts millions of visitors from around the globe,” Carstanjen said. “Churchill Downs and Keeneland share a deep commitment to making Kentucky's horse racing industry the very best version of itself, and the new racing facilities in Corbin and Oak Grove will help us achieve this by generating much needed funds to increase purses and breeders' incentives.”

“Keeneland is excited to partner with Churchill Downs on this initiative which builds upon our mission to strengthen the sport and create new opportunities for horsemen and fans,” Thomason said. “Not only will these racing facilities strengthen Kentucky's vital horse industry, but just as importantly, they will positively impact the Commonwealth and the local communities by stimulating significant economic growth, generating hundreds of new jobs and enhancing tourism and hospitality.”

Churchill Downs and Keeneland are working closely with the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and other state and local officials on a number of incentives and necessary infrastructure improvements to bring the Corbin and Oak Grove facilities to fruition.

“Corbin is thrilled to be a part of this historic venture between two of the horse racing industry's most iconic names,” Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney said. “The new racing facility will be a welcome addition to our city's already long list of sites and attractions for local residents and visitors.”

“We are proud of the significant investment Churchill Downs and Keeneland are committed to making in our community, and are excited to see the infusion of tourism, economic development and new jobs it will bring to Oak Grove and Christian County,” Oak Grove Mayor Bea Burt said.

Initial rendering of the proposed Oak Grove facility

Each facility is contingent on receipt of an initial pari-mutuel racing license by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and Churchill Downs and Keeneland are filing their applications with the commission today.

“Churchill Downs and Keeneland have the support of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association as they move forward with their plans to bring two new racing facilities to our state,” Morris said. “The proposed facilities will benefit our industry and the Commonwealth as a whole through new jobs, greater revenues and more tourism.”

“The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association is excited for what this announcement means for our sport,” Maline said. “We represent more than 6,000 owners and trainers who depend on a strong racing industry, and we know this historic partnership will help draw the eyes of millions to Kentucky's signature industry.”

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Kentucky Downs issued the following statement concerning the planned gambling facility in Oak Grove:

Statement from Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen on Churchill Downs and Keeneland's proposed plan to build a track in Oak Grove, Ky.:

“We are disappointed at the announcement of Churchill Downs and Keeneland's plans to pursue a racetrack license in Oak Grove. Nashville is the primary market for Kentucky Downs. A track a short drive away in Oak Grove would provide undue competition to Kentucky Downs' already-established and successful historical horse racing, simulcasting and live-racing operations.

“It makes no sense to put a new track in an existing track's market. We would never consider applying for a racetrack license in close proximity to Louisville or Lexington, such as Elizabethtown or Georgetown.

“We just completed a record-shattering meet, paying horsemen the best purses in North America while getting accolades from horseplayers for keeping our takeout rates low. We have worked hard to be a good citizen and improve the entire Kentucky circuit. In the past, Kentucky Downs has sent Kentucky-bred purse supplements to the state's other thoroughbred tracks, including Churchill Downs and Keeneland. In cooperation with the Kentucky HBPA, we moved $3 million in purses and KTDF funds to Ellis Park the past two summers, kindling that track's own record meets, thereby keeping racehorses and jobs in the commonwealth to the benefit of everyone, including Churchill and Keeneland's fall meets.”

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