Report: Offer Could Be Made For Ellis Park

The owners of Balmoral Park and Maywood Park in Illinois are interested in purchasing Ellis Park, the western Kentucky racetrack owned by Churchill Downs Inc., according to published reports.

The Courier-Journal of Louisville reported the Johnston family is prepared to make a bid for the track within the next few weeks. Churchill Downs Inc. bought Ellis Park and a Lexington training center in 1998 for about $22 million. The training center was later sold to Keeneland and is now called The Thoroughbred Center.

A Churchill Downs spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment, though the company has a policy of not commenting on such matters. Churchill Downs Inc. was expected to release its 2002 financial results Feb. 11.

Balmoral and Maywood, currently dark for live racing because of a horsemen's boycott, make up a year-round harness circuit in the Chicago area. Balmoral, founded as Lincoln Fields, offered Thoroughbred racing in the past but hasn't since the early 1990s.

The Johnston family told the Courier-Journal Ellis Park would remain a Thoroughbred track should they buy it.