Kentucky Downs Sold; Johnsen Majority Owner

A partnership led by a former Magna Entertainment Corp. executive and a Texas investment banker have purchased the majority interest in Kentucky Downs near Franklin, Ky.

Corey Johnsen, who stepped down as MEC's president for southwestern operations in February, and Ray Reid, an investment banker, agreed to purchase 85% of the racetrack, which features a European-style turf course and simulcasting facility.

Included with managing partners Johnsen and Reid, the group consists of about a half-dozen other individual partners. Churchill Downs, Turfway Park, and the previous majority owner, Kelley Farms, will each retain a 5% interest in the track.

The sale of the track is expected to close in June.

Johnsen said the track's current management team would remain in place.

"We plan to remain status quo in the terms of the management personnel and racing schedule," Johnsen said. "Ray and I are making a significant personal investment, and this will be our sole focus. Our goal is to close this deal and get our feet on the ground and figure out what we can do to grow the business, not only for Kentucky Downs, but also for the state's signature industry."

Racing dates for the 2007 meet have already been established, and Johnsen said he does not expect the fall racing calendar to change too dramatically in upcoming years.

"We are going to be very conscious and respectful of the current Kentucky racing schedule," he said. "We want to add to the growth of the industry and in no way harm another track's racing schedule."

Johnsen said both he and Reid, a long-time friend and resident of South Lake, Texas, plan to relocate to Kentucky.