12/13/2006 12:00AM

Churchill divests interest by selling out to Centaur


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Churchill Downs Inc. and Centaur Inc. jointly announced Wednesday that Centaur is buying out Churchill's majority share to become the sole owner of Hoosier Park in Anderson, Ind.

Centaur, a privately held company that also owns three offtrack betting parlors in Indiana and a Colorado casino and hotel, has been a minority partner in Hoosier since the track's inception and has owned a 38 percent share since 2001. No financial terms were disclosed on the sale, which is expected to close early next year, pending approval from the Indiana Horse Racing Commission and the City of Anderson Department of Parks and Recreation.

Hoosier becomes the third track that CDI has sold within the last 18 months. Last summer, the company sold Hollywood Park in Southern California to the Bay Meadows Land Co. for a reported $260 million, and Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., in September to Louisville businessman Ron Geary for an undisclosed sum. The company is now down to four tracks: Churchill Downs, Calder, Fair Grounds, and Arlington Park.

CDI and Centaur have been partners since Hoosier opened in 1994 with Standardbred racing and added Thoroughbred racing the following year. Centaur is an Indiana-based company, with about 90 percent of its investors being Indiana residents, according to a company statement.

Jeff Smith, a former CDI employee who joined Centaur in the late 1990's and now serves the company as the CEO for horse racing, said in a release that Centaur "has been part of this project since day one, and we're proud to say that Hoosier Park will soon be Hoosier-owned."

Robert Evans, president and chief executive officer of CDI, said in a release that when CDI first secured a license for Hoosier Park in 1994, "the company was focused on acquiring racetracks and content for our simulcast network. Our company has grown significantly since that time, and Hoosier Park is no longer a strategic asset for us."