Churchill Downs Has Deal to Sell Ellis Park

Churchill Downs Inc. has reached a definite agreement to sell Ellis Park in western Kentucky to a company owned by Ron Geary, a horse owner who recently retired as president and chief executive officer of ResCare, a Louisville, Ky., based, publicly-held provider of training services and services to persons with developmental and other disabilities.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority endorsed a management agreement July 17 whereby Geary will manage Ellis Park under the Churchill name during its 2006 meeting. The sale is expected to be completed by September with Geary taking over as the 100% owner of the facility.

Financial details of the sale were not disclosed, and officials involved declined to comment on specifics of the transaction.

Ellis Park begins its 36-day live meet July 19. A press conference was scheduled for July 18 at the Henderson track to provide more details about the sale.

After the racing authority meeting, Geary said he tried to purchase the track in 2003 and 2004, and began negotiations again in May of this year. Geary said he has a "passion for the business" and a vision that will keep him involved in the track long-term.

"It will take a year, two years, three years to get the track and the meet where we want it to be," said Geary, who plans to be a hands-on owner. "I want it to be trainer-, owner-, and fan-friendly. We have plans to rebuild the meet into something horsemen and local people will be proud of."

CDI purchased Ellis Park in 1998 for about $22 million, and in recent years has made no secret of its intentions to sell the property. Financial terms of the new deal weren't disclosed.

Geary will manage operations at the track until the sale is complete. Ellis Park will remain part of the Churchill Downs Simulcast Network for an undisclosed period of time, and will have the option to continue its affiliation with CDSN.

Churchill Downs also said it wouldn't apply for racing dates beyond the first week in July, and that Churchill and Ellis Park would seek KHRA approval for overlapping dates around the July 4 holiday.