10/15/2004 12:00AM

Churchill closes on Fair Grounds


Churchill Downs Inc. formally closed a deal Friday to acquire Fair Grounds Race Course for $47 million, and has already begun shaping the storied New Orleans racetrack in its own image.

The purchase brings to an end the ownership era of the Krantz family of New Orleans. Marie Krantz, her son Bryan, and Bryan's wife, Vickie, were the prime forces running the racetrack for the last 14 seasons.

The closing also sews up a lawsuit filed in 1994 by the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. The suit claimed Louisiana racetracks were taking improper deductions from video poker machines, and eventually the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled unanimously for the horsemen, who later were awarded a settlement of almost $90 million from Fair Grounds. This past August, Fair Grounds, which had declared bankruptcy a year earlier, settled with the horsemen for $25 million. The horsemen are to be paid in full now that the track's sale has closed.