Churchill Downs Incorporated

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Churchill Downs Inc.
S&P 400 Component
Industry Online gaming, gaming, entertainment and racing
Headquarters Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Key people
CEO, William C. Carstanjen
Number of employees
Subsidiaries Big Fish Games

Churchill Downs Incorporated is the parent company of Churchill Downs. The company has evolved from one racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky to a multi US-state, publicly traded company with racetracks, casinos and the United States' leading online wagering company among its growing portfolio of successful businesses.


Churchill Downs Incorporated began with the opening of one legendary racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1875. While traveling in England and France in 1872–1873, 26-year-old Col. M. Lewis Clark, devised the idea of a Louisville Jockey Club for conducting race meets. Clark toured and visited with a number of prominent racing leaders, including England's Admiral Rous and France's Vicompte Darn, vice president of the French Jockey Club.

Upon his return from Europe, Clark began development of his racetrack which would serve to showcase the Kentucky breeding industry. The track would eventually become known as Churchill Downs.

The track formally opened May 17, 1875 with four races scheduled including the day's featured race, the Kentucky Derby. Throughout the early 1900s, Churchill Downs joined with other tracks to create the Kentucky Jockey Club. With five tracks the Club decided to dissolve in December 1927 with the purpose of re-organizing. In January 1928 the American Turf Association served as the new holding company for Churchill Downs and 6 other tracks.

From 1929 through 1942 the holding company started to reduce the number of tracks. By 1937 there were only three tracks left. In January 1937, Churchill Downs joined with Latonia in Northern Kentucky to create Churchill Downs-Latonia Incorporated. In 1942, Churchill Downs separated from Latonia and officially changed its name to Churchill Downs Incorporated.

After simulcasting became commonplace in the early 1990s the racetrack decided to expand its holdings and move into the simulcasting industry.

In 1991, Churchill Downs bought the struggling Louisville Downs harness track, which was closed and converted to a satellite wagering and training facility.

In 1994, Churchill Downs began to expand its holdings with the plans to partner with a new racetrack in Indiana. The plan resulted in the purchase of Hoosier Park from businessman Louis Carlo.

In 1998, CDI purchased Ellis Park Racecourse in Henderson, Kentucky. In 1999, the company acquired Calder Race Course and Hollywood Park Racetrack from Pinnacle Entertainment In 2000, CDI merged with Arlington Park and the eight OTB's owned by Arlington. In 2004 the Churchill Downs Incorporated finalized the purchase of Fair Grounds Race Course.

In April 2002, Churchill Downs Incorporated established the Green Pastures Program in partnership with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, a leading American racehorse rescue and adoption organization.

In 2005, Hollywood Park was sold to Bay Meadows Land Company for $257.5 million, and Ellis Park was sold to businessman Ron Geary in September 2006. In December 2006, Churchill Downs Inc. sold its remaining interest in Hoosier Park to Centaur Inc. In the fall of 2007, Fair Grounds reopened to include a gaming facility adjacent to the track grandstand. In January 2010, Churchill Downs added the casino venue to Calder Race Course.

On May 2, 2007, CDI launched its advance deposit wagering service, TwinSpires ( is the official advance-deposit wagering service for Churchill Downs Incorporated and its family of racetracks, as well for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. offers wagering on races from the country's most popular racetracks. includes the assets of, which Churchill Downs Incorporated acquired in June 2010.

The company acquired Harlow's Casino Resort in Greenville, Mississippi in December 2010 for $138 million.[1] In October 2012, the company acquired the Riverwalk Casino and Hotel in Vicksburg, Mississippi for $141 million.[2]

In December 2012, a joint venture of Churchill Downs and Delaware North Companies bought Lebanon Raceway in Lebanon, Ohio for $60 million.[3] Ohio had recently authorized slot machines at racetracks, which the companies planned to take advantage of by transferring the racing license to a new $215-million facility to be built between Cincinnati and Dayton.[4]

In March 2013, Churchill Downs agreed to buy the Oxford Casino in Oxford, Maine for $160 million.[5]

In May 2014, Churchill Downs Incorporated and Saratoga Casino and Raceway announced they will partner in bidding for the Capital Region's commercial casino license to build a $300 million world class destination resort casino in the Town of East Greenbush, New York.[6]

In October 2014, Churchill announced it had signed a definitive purchase agreement wherein CDI will purchase a 25 percent membership interest in Saratoga Casino Holdings, LLC (SCH) for approximately $30.6 million. The companies also signed a definitive five-year management contract wherein CDI will manage Saratoga Casino and Raceway and Saratoga Casino Black Hawk. Should they build Capital View Casino & Resort, CDI would also manage that facility.[7]

In November 2014, CDI announced it would acquire Seattle-based and privately held tech company Big Fish Games for $885 million.[8]

Economics and stock[edit]

Churchill Downs Incorporated is listed on the NASDAQ as CHDN. The company is the most profitable track owner in the horse racing industry. The company is not plagued by the losses of other similar companies such as Magna Entertainment Corporation.


Churchill Downs Incorporated owns the following properties or entities:


  1. ^ "Churchill Downs completes Harlow's purchase". Business First. Louisville, KY. December 16, 2010. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  2. ^ "Churchill Downs closes on $141 million acquisition of Mississippi casino and hotel". Washington Post. AP. October 23, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-24. 
  3. ^ Matt Hegarty (December 21, 2012). "Churchill Downs Inc., Delaware North Cos. complete purchase of Lebanon Raceway". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved 2012-12-30. 
  4. ^ "Churchill Downs, partner complete purchase of licenses and assets for planned Ohio racino". Business First. Louisville, KY. December 21, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-30. 
  5. ^ Jessica Hall (March 30, 2013). "Oxford Casino to be sold for $160 million". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  6. ^ staff (May 13, 2014). "Saratoga Casino and Raceway to team up with Churchill Downs on $300 million casino bid". Albany Business Review. Retrieved 2014-05-13. 
  7. ^ Janet Patton (October 29, 2014). "Churchill buying into Saratoga Harness for $30.6m". Lexington Herald Leader. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  8. ^ Taylor Soper and John Cook (November 12, 2014). "Big Fish Games to be acquired for $885 million by racetrack operator Churchill Downs". GeekWire. Retrieved 2014-11-12. 

Coordinates: 38°15′18″N 85°34′51″W / 38.254977°N 85.580740°W / 38.254977; -85.580740