Ellis Park purchase progresses Churchill Downs’ transformation plan

Churchill Downs Incorporated is to acquire Ellis Park Racing & Gaming from Enchantment Holding, an affiliate of Laguna Development Corporation, for $79m, subject to certain working capital and other purchase price adjustments.

In a move that progresses a prior pledge of placing horse racing at the forefront of a five point transformation plan, the transaction will also see the company gain the Henderson-based entity’s opportunity to construct a track extension facility in nearby Owensboro, Kentucky.

Ellis Park, which celebrated 100 years of racing this year, also features a gaming facility venue with approximately 300 historical racing machines.

“This is an exciting announcement for the horse racing industry, the cities of Henderson and Owensboro, and the entire commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear

“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.”

Alongside this transaction, CDI has commenced planning for investments in both the Ellis Park racing infrastructure and to construct Owensboro Racing & Gaming.

This latter venue will have 600 HRMs, a simulcast wagering centre, and multiple food and beverage offerings, and forms part of an expected $75m outlay in Kentucky’s Henderson and Daviess Counties over the next 12 months.

“We are very enthused to welcome Ellis Park to the Churchill Downs racing family,” added Bill Carstanjen, Chief Executive Officer of CDI. 

“Our team is committed to building a summer meet at the ‘Pea Patch’ that keeps more Kentucky-bred horses and Kentucky-based trainers’ in their home state while attracting top horse racing talent from across the country to the Bluegrass State each July and August.”

The closing of the transaction is contingent upon approval by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. If change of control is approved, the parties expect to close the transaction shortly thereafter.

“This investment will ensure our Kentucky horsemen and women have the best year-round racing circuit in the country and create jobs throughout the region and state,” added Beshear. “Churchill Downs is a great corporate citizen and an important part of Team Kentucky.”