Churchill Downs announced Thursday that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ellis Park Racing & Gaming in Henderson, Kentucky, from Enchantment Holdings, an affiliate of Laguna Development Corporation, for a total consideration of $79 million in cash. The company will also assume Ellis Park’s opportunity to construct a track extension facility in Owensboro.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said in an official statement: “Churchill Downs has proven it has the experience, resources and desire to reinvigorate Ellis Park into a premier racing destination and provide unmatched gaming entertainment”.
Located north of the Ohio River and south of Evansville, Indiana, Ellis Park celebrated 100 years of racing this year. In addition to being recognized as the historic home of summer Thoroughbred racing in Kentucky. It also features a gaming facility venue with approximately 300 historical racing machines.
Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs, said: “Our team is committed to building a summer meet at the Pea Patch that keeps more Kentucky-bred horses and Kentucky-based trainers’ in their home state, while attracting top horse racing talent form across the country to the Bluegrass State each July and August”.
The state’s Governor also pointed out that this investment will “ensure our Kentucky horsemen and women have the best year-round racing circuit in the country and create jobs throughout the region and state”.
The closing of the transaction is contingent upon approval by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. If change of control is approved, the parties expect to close the transaction shortly thereafter.
Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs
CDI has commenced planning to make both critical investments in the Ellis Park racing infrastructure and to construct Owensboro Racing & Gaming, which will feature 600 HRMs, a simulcast wagering center, and multiple food and beverage offerings.
Jason Sauer, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for CDI, said: “The opportunity to bring Churchill Downs to Owensboro is particularly significant to us. We are eager to start the work to elevate Ellis Park’s reputation as a summer destination for Thoroughbred racing”.
CDI will acquire all of the outstanding equity of Ellis Entertainment, LLC, the parent company of Ellis Park. For tax purposes, the transaction will be treated as an asset purchase, allowing CDI incremental tax benefits that will provide additional cash flow and will enhance the overall economics of the transaction.