Churchill Downs has acquired its second Kentucky racetrack, after the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved a $46m deal with Jack Entertainment to purchase Turfway Park.
The operator is set to push through a $104m expansion project at the Florence site, restoring the track “to its former glory” with a 1,500 machine historical racing facility, new dirt track and new clubhouse.
“Our team is poised to restore Turfway to its former glory, anchored by northern Kentucky’s first historical racing machine facility,” said Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery.
“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 horse-players nationwide.”
The historical betting programme will allow fans to place wagers on past races, with live racing still taking place at the property’s one-mile synthetic racetrack during December, and likely January to March next year, despite the commission not yet awarding 2020 race dates.
“We know that Churchill Downs has Turfway’s best interests in mind and will ensure that Turfway remains an exceptional facility that is well positioned to carry on the rich history of thoroughbred racing,” said Jack CEO Mark Dunkeson.
“Together, Turfway and Churchill Downs will bring an exciting future to this mainstay of the Kentucky racing circuit.”
Jack Entertainment will receive $36m of the purchase price, while Hard Rock International – who acquired Jack Cincinnati Casino in September for $745m – will receive $10m.
The purchase forms part of Churchill Downs’ ongoing expansion programme, alongside an extension of the Casino Des Plaines in Illinois, two new historical horse racing facilities at Churchill Downs and Oak Grove, and a new casino proposal for Waukegan, Illinois.
Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president Brent Cooper added the Turfway deal “will ensure quality thoroughbred horse racing remains in the Northern Kentucky region.”