So is Keeneland Now a Mini-Death Star?

It's been an interesting summer in Kentucky horse racing.

The big news, of course, was Keeneland completely doing a 180 from their strong historical branding to hike takeout rates. It was speculated at the time that this probably wasn't their idea, they were simply following a lead from Churchill Downs Inc, who did the same thing a few years earlier.  If there's one thing we know in this world -- accountants talk to each other.

In previous years it was speculated that these two tracks were in cahoots to stop Kentucky Downs from getting more days. As most know, Churchill wrestled the September dates from Turfway, and is very happy with those extra days and the smaller live handle. If Kentucky Downs wants more dates, good luck.

Now, boom.

Keeneland and Churchill announced this morning that they, "plan to partner on the construction of

two new facilities in Kentucky with live racing and slot machine-like devices near the border with Tennessee."

The key phrasing is, "on the border with Tennessee", meaning near the Nashville market. Meaning near Kentucky Downs.

I'm not one for conspiracy theories, (even though I must say it's fun to satirize the Churchill suits as Death Star denizens), but these two working so closely on things so anti-Kentucky Downs seems to fit more of a pattern of late.

Whatever the case, the new Keeneland looks a lot more like a death star corporate track than the track they worked so hard for years to be.

And it looks like there's no turning back. There's no Nick Nicholson in the wings; no white knight to change the way things have gone.

Let's just hope - for the sport in Kentucky and for customers everywhere - the damage is minimal.

1 comment:

Steve_S said...

Strange how on PR Barry Irwin seems to feel like Kentucky Downs just runs the minimum number of days to have slots. Seems kind of a reach to tar KD with that brush. On its current trajectory, Pimlico will soon be running as many days as KD in a year or two. Maybe KD needs to add a few floppy hat days next season to satisfy the incumbents?


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