Kentucky Downs Purchased by Kentucky Racing Acquisition, LLC

Kentucky Downs 2015FRANKLIN, Ky. – Kentucky Racing Acquisition, LLC (“KRA”), a new company co-founded by Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase all the assets of Kentucky Downs from parent company Kentucky Downs Partners, LLC, the investment group that has owned the race track since 2007.

Located near the Kentucky and Tennessee border, just off Interstate 65 and approximately 45 miles from Nashville, Tenn., Kentucky Downs features more than 750 Historical Horse Racing (“HHR”) machines and 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. Kentucky Downs is a pioneer in modern Historic Horse Racing, the electronic form of pari-mutuel betting on horses gaining nationwide recognition as one of the great financial success stories in the sport’s history. Since the introduction of the HHR machines, betting on racing at the southern Kentucky facility has increased from $20 million in 2010 to nearly $800 million to date in 2018.

The co-founders of KRA are well-known within the horse racing and casino gaming industries. Ron Winchell oversees his family’s Winchell Thoroughbreds, a prominent racing and breeding operation located in Lexington, KY that currently owns more than 120 horses including racing and breeding stock. Marc Falcone brings significant financial and gaming experience to Kentucky Downs, having previously served as Executive Vice President VP, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Red Rock Resorts, Inc and Station Casinos from 2011 to 2017. His previous investment business background includes Goldman Sachs & Co., where he focused on restructuring transactions in the hospitality and gaming sectors; Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., where as managing director he was recognized as one of the gaming, lodging and leisure industry’s top analysts; and Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc.

The Winchell name is immediately recognizable in racing circles from its nationwide success and association with two extraordinary horses – recent Horse of the Year Gun Runner and three-time leading sire Tapit. Winchell also operates more than 20 gaming locations across Nevada. His passion for racing is a tribute to his late father Verne’s commitment to and history in Kentucky horse racing and breeding.

“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,” Winchell said. “This represents the first step in KRA’s plan to further advance racing and HHR in the Commonwealth.”

Ray Reid, President of Kentucky Downs Management, Inc. and Kentucky Downs Partners, LLC, said he sees KRA, Winchell and Falcone as a “perfect fit” for the next chapter in the track’s history. “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.”

Marc Falcone commented, “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, optimizing 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 maximize that market for Kentucky,” Falcone added.

“Kentucky Downs is a great facility with a hard-working team of more than 200 employees and a bright future,” Winchell said. “The total commitment of Kentucky Downs to the horse racing industry, the Commonwealth and its guests and employees has been conclusively demonstrated by continuous reinvestment in the facility and the development of the blueprint for HHR elsewhere in the state. Marc and I are committed to leveraging our passion and love for this great sport and our knowledge of gaming operations to help Kentucky Downs and Kentucky racing to continue to thrive.”

The KRA transaction is expected to close early in Q1 2019, subject to regulatory approvals from Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) and other customary closing conditions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

(Photos: Ron Winchell, courtesy Winchell Thoroughbreds, Anne Eberhardt Keogh photo. Ron Winchell talked with NBC’s Laffit Pincay III after Gun Runner won the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar. Credit: Breeders’ Cup)

Source: Kentucky Downs

Rock Bottom New Takeout for Kentucky Downs’ Pick-4 Wager

Kentucky Downs has lowered the takeout on its Pick 4 wager from 19 to 14 percent for its meet which begins September 1st, further reducing what already was the country’s lowest overall cost for placing bets.

“I think that’s awesome,” said Jeff Platt, president of the Horseplayers Association of North America, which has ranked Kentucky Downs its No. 1 track for the past three years. “I’m at a loss for words, it’s that awesome. The Pick 4 is hugely popular among players, insanely popular. Having a 14-percent Pick 4 is huge.”

America’s most unique race meet runs Sept. 1, 6, 8, 9 and 13 over the country’s only European-style race course. Kentucky Downs offers among the world’s highest average-daily purses at $2 million a day for that five-date run as well as the highest average field sizes in North America,11 horses per race last year.

The low takeout combined with big fields is what puts Kentucky Downs on top, Platt said.

Takeout is the amount of each dollar wagered that comes off the top before winning bettors are paid. That money goes toward horsemen’s purses, the racetrack and parimutuel taxes. The Pick 4 is a 50-cent minimum wager where horseplayers seek to have in a single combination the winners of the four consecutive races comprising the bet. At 14 percent, the Kentucky Downs’ Pick 4 is among the lowest in the country. By comparison, most major tracks are at least 20 percent, some 24 percent or higher.

“We want to be known as the horseplayers’ racetrack,” said C.J. Johnsen, Kentucky Downs’ director of broadcasting and interstate wagering. “In keeping with that goal, we felt a reduction in our Pick 4 takeout was warranted. The low takeout combined with our field size and quality should boost pool sizes even more to make it one of the best and most attractive wagers in racing.”

Going from 19 to 14 percent reflects a 26-percent reduction in the cost of the bet. Kentucky Downs has been widely praised for lowering the cost of betting, while under state regulations the track could assess a takeout on multi-horse bets as high as 22 percent. Nineteen percent is the highest of any wager at Kentucky Downs.

“That’s a big drop, for sure,” Ray Arsenault, winner of the 2017 National Horseplayers Championship, said of the Pick 4. “That’s great for the horseplayers. It’s like a rebate. I play the Pick 4 all the time. That’s one of our main bets.”

Kentucky Downs also has a 14-percent takeout on its Pick 5 wager, with its 18.25-percent rate on the popular exacta bet and 16-percent takeout on win, place and show wagering among the lowest in the country. The minimum wager is 50 cents for the trifecta, Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5 and Super Hi-5; $1 for exactas and daily double; $2 for win, place and show, and 10 cents for the superfecta.

Said Platt: “It’s an incredibly enjoyable handicapping and betting experience.”

Source: KYD

Kentucky Downs Opens September 1. Record Purses on Tap

Kentucky Racetrack to Offer Record Purses

Kentucky Downs will offer a record $10 million in purses and Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund supplements at its five-date meet Sept. 1-13, with all 13 existing stakes getting increases and the creation of the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint.

The Juvenile Turf Sprint, to be held Sept. 8, is designed as a steppingstone to the new $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint to be held Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint, with $250,000 of its $500,000 purse available to Kentucky-bred and -sired horses through the KTDF, will be run at 6 1/2 furlongs.

The Kentucky Downs Juvenile and the Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies were stretched in distance from seven furlongs to a mile. Those races are Sept. 1 and go from $350,000 to $400,000, including KTDF money.

“We have witnessed the rise in the importance of turf racing in America, as evidenced by the Breeders’ Cup adding the Juvenile Turf Sprint, so we want to mirror that trend,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “We believe the Juvenile Turf Sprint will be a home run for the Breeders’ Cup in its first year, and it made sense for us to provide a logical pathway to that race.

“One of our goals is to be complementary to the great turf stakes at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill Downs. We see it as a terrific opportunity for horses to run at Kentucky Downs, Keeneland and Churchill Downs, never having to leave the Commonwealth as the international spotlight shines on our racetracks.”

The all-turf course on the Tennessee line will stage two stakes worth $750,000, with its Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup on Sept. 8 bumped from $600,000 and the Sept. 1Tourist Mile jumping from $400,000. Both races offer $400,000 in base purses plus an additional $350,000 in KTDF money.

The Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint and Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, both Grade 3 races, were raised to $500,000, from $400,000 and $350,000 respectively. The Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint, which earned Grade 3 status for 2018, now is $450,000, up $100,000.

Maiden ($130,000 for Kentucky-bred horses) and allowance races ($140,000-$145,000 for Kentucky-breds) remain the highest in North America.

The track also is offering four $100,000 races held under starter-allowance conditions on Sept. 9 to serve as preps for the Claiming Crown late in the year at Gulfstream Park. The races (two apiece for males and for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs and a mile and 70 yards) are for horses who have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2017. The winners receive an automatic spot in the associated Claiming Crown event and up to $1,000 for shipping to Florida.

The enhancements are made possible by the success of Kentucky Downs’ historical horse-racing operation. In addition, Kentucky Downs is transferring $2.4 million in purses and KTDF money to Ellis Park in an arrangement approved by the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, which represents owners and trainers at the state’s five thoroughbred tracks. The deal includes creating four $100,000 turf stakes Aug. 5 for a Kentucky Downs Preview Day positioned as launching pads to their corresponding Kentucky Downs race.

Kentucky Downs 2018 turf stakes*

Saturday, Sept. 1 — $750,000 Tourist Mile, 3yo & up, mile; $400,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile, 2yo fillies, mile; $400,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile, 2yo, mile; $250,000 One Dreamer (non-winners of a stakes in 2018), fillies & mares 3yo & up, mile and 70 yards.
Thursday, Sept. 6 — $250,000 Old Friends (non-winners of a stakes in 2018), 3yo & up, mile and 70 yards.
Saturday, Sept. 8 — $750,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup (G3), 3yo & up, 1 1/2 miles; $500,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3), 3yo & up, 6 1/2 furlongs; $500,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3), 3yo &up, 6 1/2 furlongs; $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint; $450,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint (G3), fillies and mares 3yo & up, 6 1/2 furlongs.
Sunday, Sept. 9 — $400,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby, 3yos, 1 5/16 miles; $300,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks, 3yo fillies, 1 5/16 miles.
Thursday, Sept. 13 — $400,000 Ramsey Farm, fillies and mares 3yo &up, 1 5/16 miles; $300,000 Franklin-Simpson, 3yo, 6 1/2 furlongs.

Source: Press Release

*includes Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund money

Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs Make Upgrades for Wagering

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Historical Racing Lawsuit Thrown Out

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$34.8M Sets New Single Month Historic Horse Racing Handle Record

Historic Racing game slot machines Kentucky Downs Breaks Record with Historic Racing Game

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