Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky.
Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN) announced on September 15 that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ellis Park Racing & Gaming in Henderson, Ky., from Enchantment Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of Laguna Development Corporation, for full consideration from $79. million in cash, subject to certain working capital and other purchase price adjustments. CDI will also assume Ellis Park’s opportunity to construct a track extension facility in Owensboro, Ky.
Churchill Downs previously owned Ellis Park from 1998 (when it paid a purchase price of $22 million) until 2006 when the facility was sold to Ron Geary.
“This is an exciting announcement for the horse racing industry, the cities of Henderson and Owensboro, and the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said. “Churchill Downs has proven it has the experience, resources and desire to reinvigorate Ellis Park into a premier racing destination and provide unparalleled gaming entertainment.”
Ellis Park, located north of the Ohio River and just south of Evansville, Indiana, celebrated 100 years of running this year. In addition to being recognized as the historic home of summer thoroughbred racing in Kentucky, Ellis Park also features a gaming site with approximately 300 historic racing machines (“HRMs”).
“We are very excited to welcome Ellis Park to the Churchill Downs racing family,” said CDI Managing Director Bill Carstanjen. “Our team is committed to hosting 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 all over the country in the Bluegrass State every July and August. .”
“Churchill Downs Incorporated is a proven partner in the communities in which it already operates, delivering both entertainment and economic development benefits,” said Kentucky House President David Osborne. “This acquisition is also a boost to one of our state’s iconic industries and a direct result of the legislation we passed to help make our tracks more competitive. Churchill Downs’ commitment to a racetrack Year-round horse racing in the Commonwealth is not only a smart business move, but also necessary to sustain and grow an industry that provides 80,000 jobs and millions to local and state economies.
“Churchill Downs Incorporated is taking the lead as we pursue our shared goal of ensuring Kentucky has the strongest year-round horse racing circuit in the nation,” Kentucky Sen. Damon Thayer said. “With Churchill Downs’ commitment to modernizing the racecourse infrastructure and improving the experience for riders and visitors, Ellis Park will now become an even better choice for summer racing. Investments like this were made possible in part by the excellent work of the General Assembly to pass SB 120 in 2021. I look forward to continuing our work of strengthening Kentucky’s iconic equine industry during the upcoming legislative sessions.
Closing of the transaction is subject to the approval of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (“KHRC”). If the change of control is approved, the parties expect to close the transaction shortly thereafter.
CDI has begun planning critical investments in Ellis Park racing infrastructure and building Owensboro Racing & Gaming, a track extension and entertainment venue at Owensboro’s Towne Square shopping center that will include 600 HRMs, a simulcast betting and multiple food and beverages. offerings. Over the next year, CDI expects its total investment in Henderson and Daviess counties to be approximately $75 million in addition to the purchase price.
“The opportunity to bring Churchill Downs to Owensboro is particularly important to us,” said Jason Sauer, senior vice president of corporate development for CDI, “We look forward to beginning the work to elevate the reputation of Ellis Park as a summer Thoroughbred racing destination while providing a premier gaming and entertainment experience for Daviess County. We look forward to sharing more exciting details about our plans in the coming days.”
“This is a great day for our city and our region. The announcement of the purchase of Ellis Park by Churchill Downs Incorporated is great news,” said Steve Austin, Mayor of Henderson. “Their plan to revamp the facility and provide unparalleled game entertainment will not only attract top-notch trainers and horses, but also tourists and economic development. . This investment will create jobs at the racetrack and gaming site and increase employment opportunities in the industries supporting these operations. Churchill Downs has proven to be a reliable community partner across the Commonwealth. We are delighted to welcome them to Henderson and to work together.
“Kentucky racing has just reached a new milestone with the purchase of Ellis Park by Churchill Downs Incorporated,” said Rick Hiles, president of the Kentucky Division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “We have seen the results from CDI owned properties and it is our pleasure as KY HBPAs to work with them to bring Ellis Park back to where it was. As riders we know they will get it right.