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JACK fires back, calls Churchill Downs’ plan to build race track in NKY an attack on Turfway Park

KyForward staff

JACK Entertainment has responded to the announcement by Churchill Downs Thursday that it plans to build a $200 million race track in Northern Kentucky.

Churchill Downs also announced that it has requested the dates traditionally allotted to Turfway Park on the 2020 Thoroughbred racing schedule from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC), beginning in January of next year.

The new facility would be called the New Latonia Racing and Gaming thoroughbred facility. A location for the proposed venue has not been disclosed, but if the dates are approved, Churchill would conduct races at Churchill Downs in Louisville until the new facility is completed.

A statment attributred to Mark Dunkeson, Chief Executive Officer of JACK Entertainment, calls the plan an attack on Turfway Park.

The statement also indicates Jack Entertainment and Hard Rock International will contest “the inappropriate actions of Churchill Downs and their attempt to disrupt the Northern Kentucky racing community.”

Hard Rock International announced plans to purchase Turfway Park, as part of a $780 million transaction that also included JACK Cincinnati Casino.

Approval of the racing dates traditionally reserved for Turfway Park for Churchill Downs would almost certainly be a death knell for Northern Kentucky’s racetrack (file photo).

The statement indicates Turfway submitted its annual application for the dates it is traditionally allotted on the Kentucky Thoroughbred Racing calendar. That includes January-March and December, 2020.

According to the statement, Hard Rock has committed to regulators its intent to invest more than $100 million in enhancements at Turfway Park, which would include the addition of historic racing machines and increased purses.

Here is the complete statement attributed to Dunkeson:

“Following a lengthy competitive bidding process with a number of local and national companies, JACK Entertainment has been in the process of selling Turfway Park to Hard Rock International, a renowned brand and leader in the gaming and entertainment industry across the globe, since early April.

The track submitted its annual application for the dates that have historically been granted to Turfway Park, in July of this year.

Hard Rock has committed to regulators and Kentucky leaders to investing over $100 million into improving Turfway Park including the addition of historic racing machines, building race purses and significant enhancements to the racing business.

Once these improvements are completed, Turfway will be an exceptional facility that is well positioned to carry on its rich history of thoroughbred racing while becoming an entertainment attraction for all of Northern Kentucky.  

The historic twin spires of Churchill Downs. Churchill Downs has announced plans to build a $200 million thoroughbred facility in Northern Kentucky and has requested the dates occupied by Turfway Park on the Kentucky Thoroughbred Racing calendar.  (file photo).

We are shocked and thoroughly disappointed by Churchill Downs’ recent attack on Turfway Park, which has been a significant part of the Northern Kentucky community for over 60 years.

JACK Entertainment and Hard Rock International will jointly defend the long-standing race dates that have regularly been awarded to Turfway Park and contest the inappropriate actions of Churchill Downs and their attempt to disrupt the Northern Kentucky racing community. 

Churchill Downs’ purported plan to relocate the 2020 winter racing dates to Louisville serves only the best interests of Churchill Downs as part of their desire to restrict competition within the Kentucky racing market for their own financial gain by interfering with the Turfway sale and blocking the Turfway enhancements without regard for the economic opportunity for Florence and Boone County or the traditional racing circuit. 

In addition to being a mainstay of the Kentucky racing circuit, Turfway Park’s racing surface is specifically designed to run during the winter months and provides one of the safest environments for our human and equine athletes.”

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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