Saratoga finalizing Ellis Park, Ocean deals
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At a regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission unanimously approved transferring Ellis Park's license to the Saratoga Casino & Hospitality Group. According to reports, Saratoga Casino is seeking to buy 100 percent of the Henderson, Ky. track, and a deal is expected to be completed in the next few days.
Ron Geary has owned Ellis since 2006, when he purchased it from Churchill Downs. Geary teamed with Saratoga Casino in 2012, which purchased a 30 percent stake in the track for $4 million. Gerry used the investment money to launch Historical Horse Racing at Ellis Park.
Geary issued the following statement regarding the sale and his relationship with Saratoga Casino: "."Back in 2011, I was trying to figure out what it took to get Ellis into the black and make it profitable. I decided I had to invest in Instant Racing, called Historical Horse Racing now. I took a whole year and visited 44 different racetracks, casinos, racinos and met a bunch of people and talked to them that I would like to bring in a 20 to 30-percent partner to help me launch Instant Racing. Seven groups or people were interested. One of the last groups I met with was Saratoga, and there was kind of a bond immediately. We always got along great. We always dealt with each other with openness and candor. They are a very dependable group of people, ones you can trust. I went with them. They put up $4 million to get the original Instant Racing open in the clubhouse, and we've been working together ever since. They are good people."
In other Kentucky racetrack news, on July 16 Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) announced that it has agreed to acquire the remaining 50 percent ownership of the Casino at Ocean Downs and Ocean Downs Racetrack in exchange for CDI's 25 percent equity interest in Saratoga Casino Holdings. CDI will own 100 percent of Ocean Downs and have no further ownership or management interest in the Saratoga New York or Saratoga Colorado properties.
According to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, Ellis Park's Historical Horse Racing operation was up 10 percent for the recently concluded fiscal year over the prior year. HHR is up 40 percent the past three months over the corresponding three months in 2017, the commission said.