Bill Carstanjen

Churchill's Paddock to be Expanded by 2024 Derby

Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) will launch a $185- to $200-million redesign of the paddock that will be in place for the 150th GI Kentucky Derby in 2024. The "Paddock Project," a massive expansion and redevelopment, is the final phase of CDI's three-year capital investment plan. The transformation will increase the current 5,000 square feet of guest space to 12,000 square feet, update the capacity inside the paddock from 1,000 to 2,400 people, and add various club spaces and seating, including 3,612 new premium reserved seats and 3,250 new standing room-only...

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CDI to Abandon Online Sports Betting

Bill Carstanjen, the chief executive officer of Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), said during a quarterly conference call with investors Feb. 24 that after only a brief foray into online sports betting, the gaming corporation plans to phase out operating in that sector by mid-2022. "When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting in May of 2018, we had high hopes for the potential to build a profitable business in this space," Carstanjen said. "Our initial strategy was to leverage a variable cost technology model and be...

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CDI To Acquire Colonial Downs

Churchill Downs, Inc. is set to acquire Colonial Downs, as well as several historical horse racing facilities in the state, after the company announced it has entered into a purchasing agreement to acquire the assets of the Virginia racetrack's owner, Peninsula Pacific Entertainment LLC. A Tuesday morning release from CDI put the value of the deal at $2.485 billion. "This unique set of assets expands our geographic footprint and provides additional scale," said Bill Carstanjen, Chief Executive Officer of CDI. "P2E has done an exceptional job developing and managing this...

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Report: Baffert Threatens to Sue Churchill Over Derby Ban

According to a report in the New York Times, Bob Baffert has threatened to sue Churchill Downs and its CEO Bill Carstanjen if the track does not lift a two-year ban that will keep the trainer from competing in the 2022 and 2023 runnings of the GI Kentucky Derby. The ban was put into place after Medina Spirit (Protonico) tested positive for the substance betamethasone following his win in last year's Derby. In addition, Churchill is not awarding any points to Baffert-trained horses who compete in preps for the Derby...

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Report: CDI Exploring Selling Off Twinspires

Churchill Downs Inc. is reportedly exploring selling off TwinSpires Racing, which the gaming corporation describes as the "premier online horse racing wagering platform in the United States." The financial news site Bloomberg first broke the CDI scoop at 3:40 p.m. Eastern Dec. 2, citing several sources who requested anonymity because they were sharing information that hadn't yet been divulged by the publicly traded company. A CDI official declined comment. Bloomberg reported that CDI "is working with an adviser to solicit potential interest in the wagering platform." One of the sources...

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Churchill Downs Unveils Renovation Plans

Churchill Downs has unveiled plans for three capital investments to the historic Louisville track, beginning with the Homestretch Club for Kentucky Derby 2022 and culminating with a Paddock area redesign for the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby in 2024. The Homestretch Club will renovate and update the grandstand area adjacent to the Twin Spires along the track's homestretch. The project will convert what is currently outdoor bleacher seating next to the Winner's Circle Suites and below the Jockey Club Suites into three unique seating options with all-inclusive amenities. Ticketed...

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Visit Horse Country Adds TRF Farm to its Membership

The board of directors of Horse Country voted unanimously to add the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation's Chestnut Hall facility in Prospect, Kentucky to its membership roster. "Since our first tours in 2015, the members of our not-for-profit organization have opened their gates to more than 150,000 leisure travelers, fans, clubs and schools in service of our mission of fan development for racing and equine sport," said Anne Sabatino Hardy, executive director of Horse Country. "Aftercare is a critical part of the story of racing and experiential storytelling is an effective and...

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The Beginning of the End? Arlington Kicks Off 2021 Meet Friday

In years past, opening day at Arlington Park has been an event. It comes at a time when winter is giving way to spring in the Chicago area and takes place at what may be the most beautiful racetrack in the U.S. But Friday's opening day at a track that first ran in 1927 will occur under a pall. To some, it will seem more like the opening to a funeral than the opening to a race meet. "Under that thinly disguised veil of happiness for this opening day will...

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The Week in Review: 31 Shades (and Counting) of Derby Gray

   Gray horses have been in a GI Kentucky Derby rut the past 15 years. No fewer than 31 consecutive grays (or roans) have gone to post without winning on the first Saturday in May (or September) since Giacomo roared home in front at 50-1 in 2005. That's the longest Derby drought for grays in terms of consecutive starts since 1930, when Churchill Downs began compiling detailed records related to horse colors. There's an asterisk as to whether it's the longest stretch in terms of years. There was a 17-year...

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Churchill Abandons $300M On-Track Hotel Project

The gaming corporation that owns Churchill Downs Racetrack is abandoning plans to build a $300 million hotel and historical horse race (HHR) gaming facility on the first turn of the track. Instead, Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) will focus on a three-phase expansion of its Louisville-area properties, with expected completion dates for each project dovetailing with the runnings of the next three GI Kentucky Derbies. Bill Carstanjen, CDI's chief executive officer, said during a Thursday earnings conference call that he was not at liberty to divulge details about the new projects...

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TRF to Open Chestnut Hall, a New Sanctuary Farm Near Louisville

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) will open a first-of-its kind farm designed to give the Louisville community and fans from around the world a direct connection to the horses at the heart of horse racing. The new TRF Sanctuary Farm at Chestnut Hall will be the permanent home of 11 horses from the organization's national herd of 500 retired Thoroughbred racehorses. These "herd ambassadors" will serve as educators to tell the story of the long life and diverse second careers that await these equine athletes when their racing days are...

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Possible Suitors for Arlington Park, But Will Churchill Sell to a Racetrack Operator?

With the track having been put up for sale and with parent company Churchill Downs Inc. failing to commit to a meet after this year's season, Arlington Park's days may be numbered. But there may be a flicker of hope. Mike Campbell, the president of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, told the TDN that he knows of a number of companies and individuals interested in buying the track and keep it open for racing. "There is interest, for sure, from different parties that wish to keep it just as a...

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