Churchill Downs Inc.

Baffert Sues CDI, Carstanjen & Rankin Over Suspension

Trainer Bob Baffert has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky against Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI), CDI CEO Bill Carstanjen and CDI Board Chair Alex Rankin. Baffert is seeking a preliminary or permanent injunction that will enjoin Churchill from barring him. At present, Baffert cannot compete in the 2022 or 2023 runnings of the GI Kentucky Derby or any other races at Churchill or Churchill-owned tracks. He  is also fighting a separate action from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which suspended him for 90...

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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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Fair Grounds Not Definite on Dates Reduction

Jason Boulet, the Fair Grounds director of racing, was repeatedly pressed by Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) member Tom Calvert Tuesday about whether or not his track would once again seek a statutory change to reduce its required number of race dates from 80 to 75 when the state legislature convenes its 2022 session Mar. 14. The exchange did not yield a definitive answer beyond Boulet's disclosure that the Fair Grounds and its corporate parent, the gaming firm Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), would be in favor of participating in discussions...

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Three CDI-Brokered Simo Signals Return to Nevada

An impasse whose origin dates back more than two years that has prevented Nevada race books from taking betting on three simulcasting signals controlled by Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), was reportedly resolved on Wednesday, although it remains unclear which side budged or what changed in the negotiations. Mike Brunker of the Las Vegas Review-Journal broke the story Dec. 1. Three signed contracts for the Fair Grounds, Turfway Park and Oaklawn Park that were suddenly offered by CDI were inked into agreement on Wednesday by the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association, which represents...

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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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Arlington Horsemen Beg for Help. IRB Instead Tweaks 15-cent Admissions Tax

For the fourth consecutive meeting of the Illinois Racing Board in the six months since Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), announced its industry-devastating intention to sell Arlington International Racecourse for "non-horse racing" purposes, the 10-member board on Tuesday remained stunningly silent on the prospect of suburban Chicago's premier Thoroughbred venue going dark forever after Sept. 25. How pronounced was the "elephant in the room" syndrome during the IRB's one-hour Aug. 17 teleconference? After listening to impassioned pleas from the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ITHA) and members of Arlington's backstretch community for...

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Report: Two New Non-Racing Bidders Revealed for Arlington

Two additional bidders in the controversial Arlington International Racecourse sale have been revealed, and neither explicitly mentions the continuation of Thoroughbred racing as a component of their proposed development. Eric Peterson of suburban Chicago's Daily Herald broke the story over the holiday weekend. Of the four now-known bids submitted to seller Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), only one--submitted by the track's former president, Roy Arnold--calls for the track's grandstand and track to remain in place alongside a new 60-acre entertainment district and 300 units of housing. Before this past weekend, the...

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Presque Isle Takes HBPA to Court to Keep ADW 'Money Grab' from Arbitration

Federal court documents filed June 24 show that Presque Isle Downs and Casino (PID) and the Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (PAHBPA) have been locked in an ongoing dispute over the revenue sharing of advance-deposit wagers (ADW). The disagreement centers on allegations by the PAHBPA that over the past several years, PID--whose corporate parent is Churchill Downs, Inc., (CDI)--has been steering on-track patrons to make bets through ADW platforms like TwinSpires that are controlled by another CDI-owned entity, the Churchill Downs Technology Initiatives Company (CDTIC). Allegedly, PID is not...

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This Side Up: The One Thing to Envy Most at Ascot

It is as true to say that Americans and Europeans are united by an ocean as divided by one. And while horsemen are often considered insular, their transatlantic engagement--fluctuating but perennial--means that they always have things to learn from one another. In recent times, contrary to European prejudice, it is the Americans who have been more willing to leave their comfort zone. Whereas not even Coolmore have lately been rolling the dice on the dirt at the Breeders' Cup, American raiders have increasingly enriched the pageant of Royal Ascot. And...

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Churchill Employees Union Threatening Derby Day Strike

Local 541, the racetrack employees union that includes Churchill Downs valets, has threatened this week to strike over a wage and contract dispute. A press release sent on behalf of the group Friday said that, "With less than 24 hours until the 147th Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs Incorporated failed to attend a meeting early this morning to, once and for all, finalize a contract with its valets and avoid major disruptions at the Derby. The governor and mediator were notified of the meeting last night; even still, the valets were...

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Under Glare of Probing Questions, Curious Answers in Kentucky

The Week in Review by T.D. Thornton In theory, state racing commissions are supposed to provide a layer of checks and balances by making both racetrack operators and horsemen accountable for their actions. In practice though, that often doesn't happen because regulators in many jurisdictions fail to ask probing questions of licensees during open, public meetings. In Kentucky, for example, if you want the most concise on-the-record snapshot of what's going on with the circuit, the best source generally isn't a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) meeting. Instead, the proceedings...

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PETA Files Resolution with Churchill Downs

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has been buying stock in racetrack companies this year and earlier had purchased stock in Churchill Downs, submitted a resolution calling on Churchill Downs, Inc., to report to shareholders on the feasibility of replacing the Churchill main track with a synthetic surface. The Jockey Club's Equine Injury Database, which compiles statistics regarding racing fatalities, indicates fewer horses sustain fatal catastrophic injuries on synthetic surfaces than on dirt tracks. The incidence of fatality per 1,000 starts for dirt in 2019 was 1.6...

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