Churchill Loses $13.9M in First Quarter of 2005

Churchill Downs Inc. posted revenue gains for the opening quarter of 2005 thanks to the addition of 61 racing dates at the newly acquired Fair Grounds, but higher corporate expenses resulted in a net loss of $13.9 million, the company reported May 10.

The loss was the equivalent of $1.08 per share.

Revenue was up by more than 49% for the first quarter due in large part to the addition of the New Orleans track, CDI reported. Net revenue rose to $56.3 million from $37.7 million for the first quarter of 2004.

But according to a company press release, that was offset by higher corporate expenses, fewer simulcast days at Arlington Park and $2.8 million in legislative spending related to a slots machine gambling measure in Florida, where the company owns Calder Race Course.

Churchill also completed a $121 million renovation at its Louisville track.

By comparison, the company lost $11.7 during the first three months of 2004. Churchill historically operates at a loss during the start of the year because its flagship track as well as Arlington and Hollywood Park are dark for live racing until later in the year.

Churchill Downs Inc. President Thomas Meeker cited strategic investments for the future.

"We advanced or completed a number of brand-extending initiatives that require capital in the first quarter and we believe will impact our top line going forward," Meeker said. "Patrons responded very favorably to the first Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Oaks (gr. I) held in our newly renovated Churchill Downs facility ..."

The second largest ever Derby day crowd of 156,435 wagered a record on-track total of $22.1 million May 8, a day after a Kentucky Oaks attendance mark of 111,243 was established. A North American record $156 million was wagered on the Derby card.