05/06/2003 11:00PM

Churchill cuts first-quarter loss


Churchill Downs Inc. posted a net loss of $11.5 million in the first quarter of 2003, or 87 cents per share, a slight improvement over the company's first-quarter loss of $12.0 million, or 92 cents per share, in 2002.

Revenue in the quarter was $33.8 million, compared with $31.0 million in the first quarter of 2002. Operating expenses also increased from last year, from $39.7 million to $43.5 million in the quarter.

Churchill typically loses money during the first quarter, but makes the loss up during the remainder of the year. The company's six racetracks held only two live racing days during the first three months of the year.

Revenue at Churchill-owned Arlington Park this winter nearly doubled, from $6.1 million to $12.0 million, because of a favorable ruling from Illinois regulators. Arlington Park was appointed the host track for simulcasting in the state, so it derived most of the revenue from simulcast wagers in the state.

The revenue growth had little effect on net income at Arlington, however: The track had a net loss of $2.3 million in the quarter, compared with a net loss of $2.9 million in the same quarter last year.