Churchill Downs Incorporated

Churchill Downs Incorporated is the parent company of Churchill Downs. The company has evolved from one racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, to a multi American-state-wide, publicly traded company with racetracks, casinos and America‘s premier leading online wagering company among its portfolio of businesses.

Churchill Downs Incorporated
S&P 400 Component
IndustryOnline gaming, gaming, entertainment and racing
Key people
William C. Carstanjen (CEO)
Revenue$1.054 billion (2020)[1]
Number of employees


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 Meriwether Lewis Clark devised the idea of a Louisville Jockey Club for conducting race meets. Clark toured and visited with a number of notable racing leaders, including England's Admiral Rous and France's Vicomte Darn, vice president of the French Jockey Club.[2]

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 on 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 six 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 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 Race Course near 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, 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.[3] 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.[4] In October 2012, the company acquired the Riverwalk Casino and Hotel in Vicksburg, Mississippi for $141 million.[5]

In December 2012, Churchill Downs partnered with Delaware North to buy Lebanon Raceway in Lebanon, Ohio for $60 million.[6] Ohio had recently authorized slot machines at racetracks, which the companies took advantage of by transferring the racing license to a new $215-million facility built between Cincinnati and Dayton.[7] The new racino, Miami Valley Gaming, opened in December 2013.[8][9]

In July 2013, Churchill Downs bought the Oxford Casino in Oxford, Maine for $160 million.[10][11]

In May 2014, CDI and Saratoga Casino Holdings announced a partnership to bid for the Capital Region's casino license, proposing a $300-million destination resort casino in East Greenbush, New York.[12] In October 2014, Churchill agreed to purchase a 25 percent interest in Saratoga, and signed on to manage Saratoga Casino and Raceway, Saratoga Casino Black Hawk, and the proposed Capital View Casino & Resort.[13] The casino proposal was rejected, however, in favor of Rivers Casino.[14]

In December 2014, the company acquired Big Fish Games, a developer of casual games, in a deal valued at up to $885 million.[15][16] It then sold Big Fish Games in 2018 to Aristocrat Leisure for $990 million.[17][18]

The company partnered with Saratoga to purchase Ocean Downs, a harness racing track and casino in Maryland, in January 2017.[19][20] Churchill Downs took full ownership of Ocean Downs in September 2018, swapping its 25 percent stake in Saratoga for Saratoga's 50 percent stake in the track.[21]

In April 2017, the company purchased advance-deposit wagering website BetAmerica.[22]

In February 2018, Churchill Downs agreed to purchase two casinos (Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania and Lady Luck Casino Vicksburg in Mississippi) from Eldorado Resorts for a total of $230 million.[23] The purchase of the Lady Luck was later canceled because of antitrust concerns, and Churchill Downs instead agreed to buy the operations of Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin in Pennsylvania for $100,000.[24] The purchases were completed in early 2019.[25][26]

In September 2018, the company opened Derby City Gaming, a $65-million historical racing parlor, at the site of Louisville Downs.[27][28]

In March 2019, Churchill Downs bought a 62 percent share in Rivers Casino Des Plaines, a few miles away from Arlington Park, from Neil Bluhm and his partners for $401 million.[29][30] Later that year, Churchill purchased Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky for $46 million, and announced the construction of a $100-million historical racing parlor at the property.[31]

Economics and stockEdit

Churchill Downs Incorporated is listed on the NASDAQ as CHDN. The company is the most profitable track owner in the horse racing industry.[citation needed]


Churchill Downs Incorporated owns the following racetrack and casino properties:

The company's other business holdings include:


  1. ^
  2. ^ John Nauright (6 April 2012). Sports around the World: History, Culture, and Practice. ABC-CLIO. p. 2. ISBN 978-1-59884-301-9. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  3. ^ "History". Ellis Park Racing & Gaming. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  4. ^ "Churchill Downs completes Harlow's purchase". Business First. Louisville, KY. December 16, 2010. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  5. ^ "Churchill Downs closes on $141 million acquisition of Mississippi casino and hotel". Washington Post. AP. October 23, 2012. Archived from the original on October 12, 2019. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
  6. ^ Matt Hegarty (December 21, 2012). "Churchill Downs Inc., Delaware North Cos. complete purchase of Lebanon Raceway". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
  7. ^ "Churchill Downs, partner complete purchase of licenses and assets for planned Ohio racino". Business First. Louisville, KY. December 21, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
  8. ^ John R. Karman III (December 4, 2013). "Churchill, partner to open Ohio racino next week". Louisville Business First. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  9. ^ "Miami Valley Gaming welcomes thousands of Southwest Ohio patrons on opening day of $175 million entertainment venue" (Press release). Miami Valley Gaming. December 12, 2013. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  10. ^ Jessica Hall (March 30, 2013). "Oxford Casino to be sold for $160 million". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
  11. ^ "Churchill completes Maine casino purchase". The Blood-Horse. AP. July 18, 2013. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Janet Patton (October 29, 2014). "Churchill buying into Saratoga Harness for $30.6m". Lexington Herald Leader. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
  14. ^ Lauren Mineau; Danielle Sanzone (December 17, 2014). "All bets are off: Rensselaer County loses bids for casino". The Record. Troy, NY. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  15. ^ Wingfield, Nick (November 12, 2014). "Churchill Downs to buy Big Fish Games for up to $885 million". New York Times. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  16. ^ "Churchill finishes purchase of Big Fish Games". The Blood-Horse. December 16, 2014. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  17. ^ "Seattle-based Big Fish Games being sold for $990M to Australian firm". Seattle Times. November 29, 2017. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  18. ^ "Churchill Downs Incorporated announces closing of the sale of Big Fish Games, Inc. to Aristocrat Technologies, Inc. for US$990 million" (Press release). Churchill Downs Inc. January 9, 2018. Retrieved 2018-01-25 – via GlobeNewswire.
  19. ^ "Churchill, Saratoga announce joint venture to purchase Maryland racetrack, casino" (Press release). Churchill Downs, Inc. August 2, 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-02 – via Paulick Report.
  20. ^ "Churchill Downs, Saratoga Casino complete acquisition of Ocean Downs" (Press release). Churchill Downs, Inc. January 4, 2017. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
  21. ^ "Churchill Downs Incorporated announces closing of acquisition of remaining 50% ownership of Ocean Downs in exchange for its 25% interest in Saratoga Casino Hotel and Saratoga Casino Black Hawk" (Press release). Churchill Downs Inc. September 4, 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-01 – via GlobeNewswire.
  22. ^ Churchill Downs Inc. Purchases ADW BetAmerica - Jeremy Balan, Bloodhorse, 19 April 2017
  23. ^ Jason Hidalgo (March 1, 2018). "Eldorado Resorts agrees to sell two casinos in Pennsylvania and Mississippi". Reno Gazette-Journal. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  24. ^ Marty Finley (July 9, 2018). "Churchill Downs Inc. terminates plan to purchase casino". Louisville Business First. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  25. ^ "Churchill Downs completes purchase of Presque Isle Downs & Casino". Erie Times-News. January 12, 2019. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  26. ^ Billy Kobin (March 9, 2019). "Churchill Downs buys Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin in Pennsylvania". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, KY. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  27. ^ Alfred Miller (September 18, 2018). "Is Churchill Downs betting on expanded gaming with new facility?". Courier Journal. Louisville, KY. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  28. ^ Marty Finley (September 4, 2018). "Churchill Downs wants to bring harness racing back to Louisville". Louisville Business First. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  29. ^ Form 10-K: Annual Report (Report). Churchill Downs Inc. February 27, 2019. p. 5 – via EDGAR.
  30. ^ "Churchill Downs Incorporated completes purchase of stake in Rivers Casino Des Plaines in Illinois" (Press release). Churchill Downs Inc. March 5, 2019 – via EDGAR.
  31. ^ Steve Watkins (October 17, 2019). "Turfway Park renovation plans revealed". Cincinnati Business Journal. Retrieved 2019-11-02.

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