Churchill Downs Inc. Hopes to End Racing at Calder

Horsemen note that such a move would cost some $10 million in purse money.

Florida industry groups have lined up to oppose a plan by Churchill Downs Inc. to end Thoroughbred racing at its Calder property, a move that could cost horsemen about $10 million a year in purses generated by slot machines at Calder Casino.

In February, CDI was awarded a pari-mutuel jai alai license from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. With that approval, CDI currently holds pari-mutuel licenses for both jai alai and Thoroughbred racing at Calder, but the latter will expire in 2020.

In documents submitted to the DPMW, CDI said it wishes to switch from racing to jai alai, a move that would reduce its expenses associated with statutory purse fund requirements. On July 31, Calder submitted an email to the DPMW requesting a declaratory statement from the regulator about whether the switch would jeopardize its casino license.

Under state law, the casinos at Gulfstream Park and Calder both pay into a single Thoroughbred purse fund, a commitment of 10% of their slot machine revenues. Even though Gulfstream owner The Stronach Group has taken over racing operations at the former Calder Race Course property—now run as Gulfstream Park West—the Calder casino generates revenues for purses and breeder awards all year. The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association estimates revenue from the Calder casino committed to the purse fund will reach $9 million-$10 million this year.

The Florida HBPA has filed motions with the DPMW opposing CDI’s plans to change the Calder pari-mutuel license from Thoroughbred racing to jai alai. Late Aug. 23 in a joint release, Gulfstream Park, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, and the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company each expressed opposition to CDI ending racing in favor of jai alai.

The Florida FTBOA noted that voters approved casino gaming at Calder with the understanding that it would support Thoroughbred racing. It said that support has allowed CDI to successfully operate slot machines at its Calder property since 2010.

“Now, Churchill Downs apparently sees the opportunity to pull a ‘bait-and-switch’ in the interests of increasing its profits, with little regard for the economic harm its moves will cause to the faithful Florida trainers, owners, and breeders that have long supported its racing program, as well as the other Florida tracks and participants in Florida’s Thoroughbred industry,” the FTBOA noted.

Calder officials believe that under the language of the state law, a move from racing to jai alai should be allowed. Under the company’s interpretation, it’s not a high bar to clear for such a switch. It said the law only requires the property be located in Miami-Dade County, existed at the time added gaming was adopted, and conducted live racing in the calendar years 2002-03—all standards Calder meets. If the DPMW agrees with the company’s assessment, Calder plans to offer summer jai alai and discontinue Thoroughbred operations.

The Florida HBPA noted that following the 2004 state-wide vote that allowed slot machines at Calder and six other pari-mutuel facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the legislature recognized the “importance of protecting and promoting Florida’s Thoroughbred racing industry against the possibility that Calder and Gulfstream Park, the state’s two Thoroughbred tracks eligible for slot machine gaming, would abandon their Thoroughbred racing activities and instead offer patrons slot machine gaming only.”

In a filing with the DPMW, the Florida HBPA noted that in 2004 it committed $1 million to Calder to help campaign for the approval of slot machine gaming at tracks. It also outlined the far greater interest in Thoroughbred racing, as opposed to jai alai.

“The division knew, or should have known, that the substantial interests of FHBPA and its members would be or would likely be adversely affected,” the FHBPA argued.

In the release, Florida industry groups said if Calder is allowed to abandon Thoroughbred racing, the negative impact will be significant.

“It is extremely disappointing to watch Churchill Downs continue its effort to extricate itself from the racing business in Florida while adding millions more to its bottom line in slot revenue,” OBS officials said, before referencing the elimination of the grandstand and barns on the Calder property. “Calder’s Florida mission is illustrated by its past performances, which include bulldozing over half of the barn area, taking a wrecking ball to the grandstand, and supporting decoupling. Its latest attempt to exit racing via jai alai is a backdoor effort to continue operating slots and reopen its card room without horse racing. If Churchill gets its wish, the implications will stretch far beyond the Florida borders, and ripple effects will be felt nationwide in the sales ring, on the racetrack, and in the breeding shed.”

Decoupling is a proposal being debated that, if adopted, would allow operators to cease pari-mutuel wagering but retain their casino license.

In terms of casino operations, Gulfstream noted that if Calder eliminates its commitments to racing, that reduction in expenses will provide its casino a competitive advantage in the South Florida area. It also said Thoroughbred racing and breeding in the state would be hurt.

“We are obviously worried about the unlevel playing field and advantage Calder would have, along with the loss of breeders’ awards and purse money that has helped grow the industry,” Gulfstream officials said. “The ability just to change the use of a license after being granted slots under a different license would undermine all the growth we have achieved.”

On Aug. 24, a CDI spokesperson declined to comment on the Florida industry release.

Calder began advertising a part-time position on the company website and on LinkedIn for a jai alai player manager/trainer Aug. 6 and a position Aug. 9 for a cesta and pelota maker. A cesta is the basket a jai alai player wears on his or her hand to throw and catch the ball, and the pelota is the ball.

Since 2014, The Stronach Group has run the racing operations at Calder, which races as Gulfstream Park West. According to the DPMW, in fiscal year 2016-17, Gulfstream Park West offered 37 race dates and 346 races, with total purses of $7,593,910.

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CHURCHILL DOWNS ANNOUNCES NEW DERBY WEEK ENTRY PROCEDURES & SECURITY MEASURES

Track encourages guests to visit KentuckyDerbyParking.com for parking, arrival & entry information

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs Racetrack (“Churchill Downs”), home of the world-famous Kentucky Derby, announced today new entry procedures that will be in effect for guests visiting the track any day of Derby Week (Saturday, April 28, 2018 through Saturday, May 5, 2018). The track unveiled its new parking and traffic plan last week and launched KentuckyDerbyParking.com to help visitors plan their arrival.

“Churchill Downs has invested heavily to improve the arrival and entry experience for all our guests and employees. We want to ensure a safe and secure environment, while helping people get in and out of the venue as efficiently as possible,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “We encourage everyone joining us for Derby Week to visit KentuckyDerbyParking.com so you know exactly what to expect before you get to the track.”

Derby Week visitors will be the first to use Churchill Downs’ new expanded entry plaza, which will lead guests from Central Avenue to the newly constructed Paddock Gate that’s replacing previous entrances at Gates 1 and 17.

Churchill Downs has renamed its admission gates to reflect their locations in the venue. Ticket holders will enter Churchill Downs through one of three admission gates: the new Paddock Gate, the Clubhouse Gate (formerly Gate 10) and the Infield Gate (formerly Gate 3). The Infield Gate will only be available to guests with a General Admission ticket. All others will enter through the Paddock or Clubhouse Gates.

Once ticket holders arrive at Churchill Downs, a new entry process will help them enter the track safely and efficiently:

  1. To ensure the safety and security of all Churchill Downs guests and employees, anyone entering the track will walk through metal detectors as part of the security screening measures. Prohibited items are not allowed past the security screening area.
  2. Next, guests entering through the Paddock or Clubhouse Gates will scan their ticket at one of the new self-scanning entry turnstiles. Or, if someone has a General Admission ticket and is entering through the Infield Gate, an attendant will scan their ticket by hand. Once inside the track, guests are not allowed to leave the venue and reenter.
  3. Once a ticket is scanned, guests will proceed through the turnstile and follow staff direction and new signs from the admission gate to their seating section or venue.
  4. As guests make their way to their seating section, they will be greeted by an usher at the appropriate access control point. The usher will scan the ticket for a second time, stub the ticket and then apply an official wristband around their wrist. This wristband allows guests to come and go from their seating section throughout the day. Each ticket may only be scanned once at the wristband locations and must scan as valid to receive a wristband.
New this year, special quick entry lanes have been added to the security screening areas of all admission gates for those guests who are not bringing a bag of any type into the venue.

Additionally, guests with mobile tickets purchased through the official Ticketmaster Resale Marketplace will follow the same entry process as guests with printed tickets and will receive their wristband at the access control point.

Churchill Downs released a short video letting guests know what to expect before entering the track: https://youtu.be/jNOrSBjuZAU

In keeping with tradition, guests on Oaks and Derby Days are permitted to bring in food and box lunches in clear plastic bags smaller than 18 inches by 18 inches. However, these items are prohibited Opening Night (Saturday, April 28) through Thurby (Thursday, May 3).

Prohibited items and items deemed inappropriate for entry into the grounds are the responsibility of the ticketholder and cannot be accepted or checked by Churchill Downs. We urge patrons to plan ahead and leave these items at home. Churchill Downs and its security partners will not store prohibited items for patrons. The full list of prohibited and permitted items can be found at KentuckyDerbyParking.com.

PROHIBITED ITEMS FOR DERBY WEEK (Opening Night through Kentucky Derby Day)
• COOLERS AT ANY GATE – including the Stable Gate (styrofoam coolers and ice are available for purchase in the Infield)
• CANS (any size or type)
• GLASS BOTTLES OR CONTAINERS

• BACKPACKS and DUFFEL BAGS
• TENTS – NO POLES OR STAKES OF ANY KIND
• LAPTOP COMPUTERS and CAMCORDERS
• CAMERAS WITH DETACHABLE LENSES OR EQUIPPED WITH A LENS THAT IS 6” OR LARGER
• DRONES and REMOTE-CONTROLLED AIRCRAFT
• HOVERBOARDS
• PURSES LARGER THAN 12” IN ANY DIMENSION
• FIREWORKS, NOISEMAKERS, AIR HORNS, LASER LIGHTS/POINTERS, PEPPER SPRAYS
• ANIMALS (with the exception of service animals for guests with special needs)
• TRIPODS
• SELFIE STICKS                                                      
• ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
• ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES
• WEAPONS (including knives)                                                     
• THERMOSES                                                   
• LUGGAGE (including briefcases)
• GRILLS
• WAGONS                                                                                    
• UMBRELLAS
• ANY ITEMS DEEMED DANGEROUS AND/OR INAPPROPRIATE

PERMITTED ITEMS FOR KENTUCKY DERBY AND OAKS DAYS
• FOOD ITEMS IN CLEAR PLASTIC BAGS (maximum size 18”x 18” – no trash bags) *
• BOX LUNCHES in clear plastic bags or containers (maximum size 18” x 18” – no trash bags)
• WATER & SOFT DRINKS – plastic bottles only (sealed, clear and unopened)
• PURSES, BUT NONE LARGER THAN 12” IN ANY DIMENSION (subject to search)
• BABY/DIAPER BAGS – only if accompanied by a child (subject to search)
• SMALL CAMERAS – none equipped with detachable lenses or lenses of 6” or more **
• SMALL PERSONAL MUSIC SYSTEMS, RADIOS & TELEVISIONS ** (no boomboxes) ***
• CELLULAR PHONES, SMARTPHONES & TABLETS **
• SEAT CUSHIONS SMALLER THAN 15”x 15” – no metal arms and/or backs, zippers, pockets or flaps                         
• STROLLERS (ONLY if carrying a child)
• SUNSCREEN (non-glass containers only)
• CHAIRS (permitted through the Infield Gate ONLY and cannot be carried to the frontside)
• BINOCULARS
• BLANKETS & TARPAULINS (Paddock and Infield Gates ONLY)

* Limit of two bags per person
** Patrons could be required to turn on electronic items
*** Not permitted in hospitality spaces and dining rooms

For more information on arrival, parking and entry, please visit KentuckyDerbyParking.com and download the Churchill Downs and Waze mobile apps.

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Brian Hernandez Jr. Hits Churchill Downs Milestone

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Brian Hernandez Jr. registered his 500th Churchill Downs win on Thanksgiving Day

 

Louisiana native, Brian Hernandez Jr. became the 14th jockey in Churchill Downs history to ride 500 winners at the home of the Kentucky Derby when the 32-year-old won the seventh race on Thanksgiving Day aboard Rock Shandy for trainer Jordan Blair.

“It’s great to have my family here with me for this,” Hernandez said. “I’m thankful for all of the trainers and owners who have supported me throughout my career so far.”

Hernandez, who began riding professionally in 2003, won his first race at Churchill Downs aboard Machine to Tower on May 27, 2004. Overall, the native of Lafayette, La., has won 1,729 races and his mounts have amassed more than $63.8 million from 12,629 starts during a 15-year riding career.

He won the Eclipse Award in 2004 as the nation’s champion apprentice jockey. In 2012, Hernandez won the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita aboard Fort Larned for his biggest career win.
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Former United Tote Employee Charged With Extortion; Allegedly Stole Social Security Numbers

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A Kentucky man who formerly worked for Churchill Downs Inc.’s bet processing company, United Tote, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on extortion charges.

Ethan C. Fey has been charged in United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in Louisville with one count of Hobbs Act extortion and one count of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices.

According to an indictment unsealed when he was taken into custody on Aug. 30, Fey allegedly had “previously stolen personally-identifying information” of a company’s clients and “on or about June 5, 2017, he threatened to release that information unless the company paid Ethan C. Fey 50 bitcoins.”

Count two of the indictment alleges Fey, between June 8, 2016, and June 5, 2017, “knowingly and with intent to defraud, possessed more than 15 Social Security numbers of different customers of a company, operating in interstate commerce, said possession affecting interstate commerce, in that Ethan C. Fey threatened to release the Social Security numbers to the public unless the company agreed to pay Ethan C. Fey 50 bitcoins.”

The name of the company was not disclosed in the indictment. The alleged crimes took place in Louisville, Ky.

Bitcoins are a digital currency described by Bloomberg as the “currency of choice for hacker blackmailers who steal huge amounts of sensitive data.” Fifty bitcoins is currently estimated to be worth approximately $230,000.

According to his profile on the Linkedin social network, Fey was a senior operator for United Tote from July 2014 until sometime in 2016. Prior to that, the profile says, he was a United Tote operator at Churchill Downs-owned Fair Grounds in Louisiana from October 2012-July 2014; a United Tote hub operator from September 2010-October 2012; and a member of the Churchill Downs simulcast department from 2004-2010. Churchill Downs Inc. acquired United Tote in 2010 as part of a deal to purchase the advance deposit wagering company Youbet.com.

An alumni page for Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs, Colo., also lists Fey as having worked for United Tote. His Linkedin profile says he earned a bachelor’s degree at Colorado Technical University in cyber/computer forensics and counterterrorism.

In addition to United Tote, Fair Grounds and Churchill Downs racetrack, Churchill Downs Inc. owns the TwinSpires advance deposit wagering company – which is a customer of United Tote – and the online gaming company Big Fish Games. TwinSpires previously suffered a security breach in 2012. Big Fish Games reported in 2015 that some customer payment information may have been intercepted after malware was installed on certain pages.

Fey was released on his own recognizance after an Aug. 30 court appearance in which he pleaded not guilty. A trial has been scheduled for Nov. 6, 2017, with Judge David J. Hale presiding. Fey faces up to 20 years in prison on count one and 10 years on count two with fines up to $250,000 on each count.

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CHURCHILL DOWNS AND KEENELAND ANNOUNCE HISTORIC PARTNERSHIP TO PROPOSE CONSTRUCTION OF TWO NEW RACING FACILITIES IN CORBIN AND OAK GROVE, KENTUCKY

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) (“CDI”) and Keeneland Association, Inc. (“Keeneland”) announced today an historic partnership to propose the construction of two new state-of-the-art racing facilities. One will be in southeastern Kentucky in Corbin (Knox County), and the second will be in southwestern Kentucky in Oak Grove (Christian County). The proposed facilities will feature live horse racing and historical racing machines for guests from Kentucky and beyond.

To share the news, the two companies released a video featuring CDI Chief Executive Officer Bill Carstanjen, Keeneland President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Thomason, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association Executive Director Chauncey Morris and Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Marty Maline.

“Horse racing is a $4 billion industry in the Commonwealth that creates thousands of jobs, strengthens our statewide economy and attracts millions of visitors from around the globe,” Carstanjen said. “Churchill Downs and Keeneland share a deep commitment to making Kentucky’s horse racing industry the very best version of itself, and the new racing facilities in Corbin and Oak Grove will help us achieve this by generating much needed funds to increase purses and breeders’ incentives.”

“Keeneland is excited to partner with Churchill Downs on this initiative which builds upon our mission to strengthen the sport and create new opportunities for horsemen and fans,” Thomason said. “Not only will these racing facilities strengthen Kentucky’s vital horse industry, but just as importantly, they will positively impact the Commonwealth and the local communities by stimulating significant economic growth, generating hundreds of new jobs and enhancing tourism and hospitality.”

Churchill Downs and Keeneland are working closely with the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and other state and local officials on a number of incentives and necessary infrastructure improvements to bring the Corbin and Oak Grove facilities to fruition.

“Corbin is thrilled to be a part of this historic venture between two of the horse racing industry’s most iconic names,” Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney said. “The new racing facility will be a welcome addition to our city’s already long list of sites and attractions for local residents and visitors.”

“We are proud of the significant investment Churchill Downs and Keeneland are committed to making in our community, and are excited to see the infusion of tourism, economic development and new jobs it will bring to Oak Grove and Christian County,” Oak Grove Mayor Bea Burt said.

Each facility is contingent on receipt of an initial pari-mutuel racing license by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and Churchill Downs and Keeneland are filing their applications with the commission today.

“Churchill Downs and Keeneland have the support of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association as they move forward with their plans to bring two new racing facilities to our state,” Morris said. “The proposed facilities will benefit our industry and the Commonwealth as a whole through new jobs, greater revenues and more tourism.”

“The Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association is excited for what this announcement means for our sport,” Maline said. “We represent more than 6,000 owners and trainers who depend on a strong racing industry, and we know this historic partnership will help draw the eyes of millions to Kentucky’s signature industry.”

For more information, please watch this short video and visit www.historicpartnership.com.


Initial rendering of the proposed Corbin facility

Initial rendering of the proposed Oak Grove facility
About Churchill Downs Incorporated
Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) (“CDI”), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is an industry-leading racing, gaming and online entertainment company anchored by our iconic flagship event—The Kentucky Derby. We are a leader in brick-and-mortar casino gaming with gaming positions in eight states, and we are the largest legal mobile betting platform for horseracing in the U.S., through our ownership of TwinSpires.com. We are also one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of mobile games through Big Fish Games, Inc. Additional information about CDI can be found online at www.churchilldownsincorporated.com.

About Keeneland Association, Inc.
For more than 80 years, the Keeneland Association has devoted itself to the health and vibrancy of the Thoroughbred industry. As the world’s largest Thoroughbred auction company, Keeneland conducts sales every January, September and November. Its sales graduates dominate racing across the globe at every level. In April and October, Keeneland offers some of the highest caliber and richest Thoroughbred racing in the world. In 2015, Keeneland hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Uniquely structured, Keeneland is a private, for-profit corporation that returns its earnings to the industry and the community in the form of higher purses, and it has donated millions of dollars in charitable contributions for education, research and health and human services throughout Central Kentucky. To learn more about Keeneland, visit Keeneland.com.

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Hernandez Rides Four Winners At Churchill

by | 05.14.2017

Brian Hernandez Jr. won four races for four different trainers on Saturday’s card (5-13-17) at Churchill Downs, starting with the early double aboard Tarpy’s Surprise ($8) for Dale Romans in Race 1 and Miss Cobblestone ($15.60) for Bernie Flint in Race 2. He entered the winner’s enclosure once again for Ian Wilkes with Fifth Title ($12.60) in Race 5, then gave trainer Tim Glyshaw his 400th career victory in Race 7 with Louies Flower ($12.40).

Hernandez has now brought his victory total to 11 through the first nine days of the 38-day Spring Meet.

“It was a great day,” Hernandez said. “It’s always fun to get on a roll like that. Hopefully we can keep the streak going.”

 

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