(Edited press release)
Closing is now finalized on the sale of the Kentucky Downs racetrack in Franklin, Ky., and the new majority owners have hit the ground running in preparation for hosting the fall race meeting, Sept. 15-25.
Earlier this spring, Kentucky Downs Partners reached an agreement to purchase an 85% controlling interest in the Southern Kentucky track, which is located near the Tennessee border. Kentucky Downs is the only European-style race course in the United States. It offers turf racing exclusively on a 1 5/16-mile oval. The former owners, Churchill Downs, Turfway Park, and Kelley Farms retained a 5% ownership in Kentucky Downs.
The partnership is managed by racing executive Corey Johnsen and Ray Reid, an investment banker. Johnsen, a 30-year Thoroughbred industry veteran, is the former president of Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie.
Johnsen and Reid are also Thoroughbred owners and breeders with horses in training in various states, including Kentucky, New York, and Florida. They also breed and campaign horses in Argentina and Uruguay.
Johnsen has been named president of Kentucky Downs. Ryan Driscoll will continue in his role as general manager, and the rest of the Kentucky Downs staff will remain in place. Johnsen and Reid are overseeing the ownership transition.
"Right now, our crew is working diligently, and we are sparing no expense to ensure our turf course is in top condition," said Johnsen. "The foundation of any race meeting is the track surface."
Before the live meeting, Johnsen said fans will notice a number of updates in the colonial style clubhouse. Most notable will be an expanded video system and more modern televisions. Fresh paint and new decorative touches are also being added.
The upcoming live meeting at Kentucky Downs includes six race dates. The centerpiece of the season is the $500,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Festival Sept. 22, which spotlights four stakes races, including the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Turf (gr. IIIT).