07/30/2014 9:19AM

Churchill Downs Inc. to buy stake in Saratoga Harness Racing Inc.


Churchill Downs Inc. has reached an agreement allowing the company to buy a 25 percent stake in the parent company of Saratoga Casino and Raceway, the companies announced Wednesday.

The agreement, which is subject to regulatory approval, further strengthens a partnership between the two companies, which have already joined together on a bid for one of four casino licenses that New York plans to issue later this year. The bid is seeking a casino in East Greenbush near Albany, and it is one of 17 proposals for the four available licenses.

Under the agreement, Churchill Downs will manage the casino at Saratoga Casino and Raceway and another property owned by the company, Saratoga Casino Black Hawk in Black Hawk, Colo., the companies said. Churchill also will manage the casino near Albany if the bid is successful.

The parent company of Saratoga Casino, Saratoga Harness Racing Inc., also owns a minority share in Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., and is a partner in a joint venture with Delaware North Cos. to manage the Gideon Putnam Hotel and Resort in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. is also a partner in a second bid for a casino license in New York, in Newburgh.

Churchill Downs has rapidly expanded into the casino-gambling business over the past five years, buying three standalone properties in Mississippi and Maine and partnering on a new casino in Ohio. The company also owns casinos at Calder Race Course in Florida and Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans.