Newly founded Kentucky Racing Acquisition, spearheaded by Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone, has entered into an agreement to purchase all assets of Kentucky Downs from parent company Kentucky Downs Partners.
Featuring 750 historical horse racing machines, betting on racing at the facility has increased from just $20m in 2010 to almost $800m to date in 2018, since introducing the electronic gambling system.
Located in close proximity to the Kentucky and Tennessee border, the thoroughbred horse racing track also conducts live turf racing each September, including the annual running of the Grade III Kentucky Turf Cup race, on North America’s only “European-style” race course.
Ray Reid, president of Kentucky Downs Management and Kentucky Downs Partners, praised the new prospective owners as a perfect fit: “We purchased Kentucky Downs in 2007, with the goal of reversing the business fortunes of Kentucky racing, and I believe we have done that.
“Kentucky Downs Partners is confident that Ron and Marc are the right people to continue to expand on this momentum, so much so that many of our current owners intend to be part of and support the new investment group moving forward.”
Winchell, one of the co-founder of KRA, is to draw upon a wealth of horse racing and casino gaming experience, which sees him oversee the family’s Winchell Thoroughbreds business, a prominent racing and breeding operation located in Lexington, KY, that currently owns over 120 horses, including racing and breeding stock, as well as operating in excess of 20 gaming facilities across Nevada.
“Our agreement to acquire Kentucky Downs represents a terrific opportunity”
“Some of my fondest early memories are of visiting race tracks with my father, and thoroughbred racing has been a passion of mine ever since. As such, I am personally thrilled to be carrying our family name into this exciting opportunity to take the reins of Kentucky Downs, one of American racing’s great success stories of the past decade,” stated Winchell. “This represents the first step in KRA’s plan to further advance racing and HHR in the Commonwealth.”
Further, Falcone is to bring significant financial and gaming experience, having previously served as executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of Red Rock Resorts and Station Casinos from 2011 to 2017.
Falcone explained: “Our agreement to acquire Kentucky Downs represents a terrific opportunity that is consistent with our business plan, to grow through strategic investments in racing facilities and apply our operational and management expertise to support future growth.
“Our commitment to horse racing extends beyond this announced plan to acquire Kentucky Downs, as Ron and I believe there are other opportunities where our combined expertise and experience can help foster consistent growth for the sport.”
“KRA is committed to continually improve and enhance the business at Kentucky Downs, by investing new capital in additional food, beverage and hospitality offerings, as well as in technology and property infrastructure to grow the customer’s entertainment experience.
“KRA also is focused on the potential opportunity to develop a new facility in Oak Grove, KY, if awarded that license by KHRC. An Oak Grove property under the umbrella of the new Kentucky Downs ownership would enable constructive marketing and operational synergies, optimising market development and economic return to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the many stakeholders in Kentucky racing, including owners, trainers, breeders and other professionals.
“With Kentucky Downs’ familiarity and understanding of the Nashville market, KRA would be strategically positioned to maximise that market for Kentucky.”
The KRA transaction is expected to close early in Q1 2019, subject to regulatory approvals from Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and other customary closing conditions.