Damon Thayer, vice president of Breeders' Cup and event marketing for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, has been selected as the Republican Party's nominee for a special election to fill a state Senate seat in a newly drawn district in central Kentucky. Democrats plan to choose their nominee for the Jan. 28 special ballot this Saturday. Thayer, 35, said he represents the ''rural conservative values of the 17th District. I'm honored to carry the banner for the Republican party,'' according to the Associated Press... Churchill Downs Incorporated announced Thursday it had completed the financing transaction with the City of Louisville that was approved by the city's Board of Aldermen in July 2002. The transaction is related to the capital program currently undertaken by CDI to renovate its flagship racetrack, Churchill Downs. The deal gives Churchill a $7.5 million tax break. Under the tax break, the city will take title to Churchill Downs for 30 years and remove it from property-tax rolls, saving the track $500,000 a year. Half of the annual savings will be paid to Jefferson County Public Schools, while the rest will help fund the upgrade to the race track... Magna Entertainment Corp. and Youbet.com announced Thursday that all MEC racetracks will be offered on Youbet.com's Total Access and MEC's Pennsylvania Wagering Services, in addition to being offered by MEC on XpressBet, Magna's online account wagering service. Among the tracks operated by Magna are Santa Anita Park, Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields in California, Gulfstream Park in Florida, Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie in Texas, Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park in Maryland. "We are pleased with the extended agreement with Youbet.com," said Jim McAlpine, president and CEO of MEC. "Home wagering continues to be the fastest-growing channel of distribution and revenue for our business. We continue to support both new and proven methods of distribution for our premium content, including our own account wagering service, XpressBet."

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