Churchill Downs Inc.

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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Turfway Construction Halted Until KY Clears Up Historical Racing Ambiguity

Turfway Park's new grandstand and historical racing machine (HRM) facility won't get built until the state of Kentucky clears up the ambiguity surrounding the apparent illegality of that form of video gambling, which contributes tens of millions of dollars annually to purses in the state. That news was delivered by Bill Carstanjen, chief executive officer of Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), in an Oct. 29 third-quarter earnings call with investors. CDI, a gaming corporation with six Thoroughbred tracks in its portfolio, acquired Turfway last year and soon thereafter embarked upon a...

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Illinois Grants 2021 Dates Amid Distrust for Arlington's Corporate Ownership

Citing distrust in Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), the gaming corporation that owns Arlington International Racecourse, the leadership of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ITHA) on Sept. 16 asked the Illinois Racing Board (IRB) to impose a condition on 2021 race dates that would withhold millions of dollars in purse fund "recapture" money from the track if it did not end up racing its applied-for 68 days next year. The IRB, which was meeting with three newly appointed commissioners for the first time on Wednesday, probed Arlington president Tony Petrillo about...

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Arlington Contract Finally Inked, New Controversy Erupts Over Hawthorne Stabling

The long-overdue contract between Arlington International Race Course and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ITHA) was inked just minutes before a 9 a.m. Monday Illinois Racing Board (IRB) meeting, enabling racing commissioners to finally approve a 30-date summer season at the suburban Chicago track that will run July 23 through Sep. 26. Racing will be conducted Thursdays through Saturdays, with no open stakes races in 2020, including the track's signature event, the GI Arlington Million. TDN requested purse level specifics from ITHA representatives, but received no response prior to deadline...

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Amid Pandemic, CDI Reports TwinSpires Growth

Predictably, Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), on Wednesday reported 2020 first-quarter revenue drops because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down racing and gaming throughout the nation since mid-March. But CDI noted within those results that it experienced "strong performance" from its TwinSpires advance-deposit wagering platform, with handle growth of 8.3% over the prior year's quarter. "For the first quarter of 2020, net revenue increased $4.3 million from the prior year quarter primarily due to a $3.7 million increase at TwinSpires," CDI reported in its Apr. 29 United States Securities...

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Two COVID-19 Positives at Turfway; Churchill Reopening Remains Up in the Air

A pair of workers at Turfway Park--one backstretch worker and one track employee--have tested positive for coronavirus in recent weeks, according to a report first published by Blood-Horse. Turfway's parent company Churchill Downs ended the Turfway meet--which had been being conducted without spectators--three days earlier than scheduled last month, citing Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear's "Healthy at Home" executive order. Churchill Downs, Inc. spokesperson Tonya Abeln confirmed to the TDN Wednesday that the ill backstretch worker was symptomatic more than two weeks ago and was subsequently hospitalized and tested positive for...

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