HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – Few things represent Kentucky better than horse racing, and few things better represent horse racing in Kentucky than Churchill Downs.

Yes, horse racing is the so-called “sport of kings” but the Louisville-based track paid a princely sum- $79 million- to buy Ellis Park Thursday.

“This is an exciting announcement for the horse racing industry, the cities of Henderson and Owensboro,
and the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. “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.”

For some, the timing is a bit curious. After all, Ellis Park only just celebrated its 100th season and the purchase comes as expansion plans are underway in Owensboro. Skip Sayre, speaking on behalf of Ellis Park’s soon to be former owners, Laguna Development Corporation, says there were a few reasons why they decided to sell- including the promise of a 305 percent return on investment from their purchase in 2019.

Horse racing enthusiast Gary McIntyre says he’s excited by the purchase, saying Churchill Downs can use its expertise to give horse racing in western Kentucky a jolt, including continuing or even accelerating existing plans to build a track expansion facility in Owensboro.

The closing of the transaction is contingent upon approval by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.