Operators Of Saratoga Casino And Raceway Announce Management Agreement With Churchill Downs Inc.

Aug 1, 2014

An image of the proposed East Greenbush casino project
Credit Saratoga Casino and Raceway

The operators of Saratoga Casino and Raceway have announced a new management deal in the works with Louisville, Kentucky-based Churchill Downs Inc.

This week, Saratoga Harness Racing, Inc. and Churchill Downs Incorporated announced they are working to finalize a new agreement where the Louisville company known for the Kentucky Derby will manage Saratoga Casino and Raceway in Saratoga Springs and Saratoga Casino Black Hawk in Black Hawk, Colorado.

CDI would also purchase a 25 percent stake in Saratoga Harness Racing, Inc. Both companies are currently pursuing a New York State casino license for the Capital View Casino & Resort in East Greenbush, across the Hudson from Albany. If the agreement is finalized, CDI would also manage that facility. The Capital Region is slated to see one Vegas-style casino built under the state’s casino gambling law.

Courtney Norris, a spokesperson for CDI, said Churchill Downs is excited to strengthen its relationship with Saratoga Harness Racing, which has video lottery terminals — effectively computerized slots and table games.   

“We’re excited to expand our operations in New York and Colorado, and have an ownership in Saratoga,” said Norris.

CDI, in addition to hosting thoroughbred racing at Churchill Downs,   operates several casinos throughout the U.S.

Norris said as both companies are expanding their gaming interests, they also share an interest in preserving racing.

“They have a long history up there in New York for horse racing, and we have a long history in Kentucky for horse racing, so I think we’re coming from the same place as far as wanting to make sure those brands and those histories stay in tact for future generations,” said Norris. “And so I think that is a natural fit as well as our gaming experience that we bring, having six individual regional casinos right now. We also have a harness track in Ohio, so we have a little bit of experience when it comes to gaming. It just seems to work out.”

In addition to Saratoga Casino and Raceway, and its controlling interest in Saratoga Black Hawk, Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. is in a joint venture with Delaware North Companies to manage the Gideon Putnam Hotel and Resort. It has a minor interest in Ellis Park, a racing and gambling facility in Henderson, Kentucky.

In May, a press conference was held to announce the partnership between Saratoga Casino and Raceway and Churchill Downs on the East Greenbush casino project. Saratoga Casino and Raceway spokeswoman Rita Cox said the project would create 1,700 construction jobs, and an additional 1,700 permanent jobs.  

"It will also provide millions of dollars to the town of East Greenbush and Rensselaer County each year and millions in additional support payments for the seven other counties in the region,” said Cox.

In a statement, James D. Featheerstonhaugh, Secretary & Chief Legal Officers of Saratoga Harness Racing, said, “We look forward to a long and successful partnership between two iconic names in the racing and gaming world.” 

In addition to pursuing the East Greenbush Casino, SHRI and partner Rush Street Gaming have applied for a license for a casino in Newburgh, in the Hudson Valley.