LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Two of the largest racetrack owners in
North America - Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp.
- have joined forces in an attempt to reach more fans.
As part of the deal announced Monday, races at CDI-owned tracks
will be shown on Horse Racing TV after CDI bought a 50 percent
stake in the Magna-owned network, which reaches 13 million homes.
Churchill owns five tracks in the United States, including
Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. Magna is North
America's largest owner and operator of horse tracks, and operates
Pimlico, home of the Preakness Stakes.
The deal is the latest between the companies. Churchill and
Magna are part of the Empire Racing group trying to acquire New
York state's racing franchise. The New York Racing Association
operates Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga until its contract expires
at the end of the year.
Races at CDI tracks have been shown on Television Games Network
(TVG), but contract talks broke down recently, forcing CDI to seek
another avenue to have its races showcased on live television.
"We're making these changes because we've listened to our
customers," CDI president Bob Evans said. "They want better
wagering products, better racing television and a better online
Racing at Churchill Downs will be seen on HRTV when the spring
meet begins next month. Racing at the other CDI-owned tracks will
switch to HRTV when their respective contracts with TVG ends. Magna
president Michael Neuman said the group will approach other tracks
about having their races shown on HRTV.
"We're giving HRTV a forklift upgrade in the value of its
content," Neuman said. "It's going to increase demand for
carriers who want to carry our channel."
The two companies will also form TrackNet Media, which will make
racing content available through each company's distribution
platforms. Evans said the group will monitor the companies that
have access to the companies racing content to prevent piracy while
also protecting the integrity of the wagering pools.
Churchill Downs is working on creating its own advance wagering
system, www.twinspires.com. instead of relying on a third party to
handle the advance wagering process at CDI-owned tracks. Magna's
advance wagering system, www.xpressbet.com, is already operational.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)