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Churchill Downs: Kentucky Derby Heritage

March 2, 2015

Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) was founded in 1925 but its history goes back a little further. Churchill Downs, its namesake racetrack, in Louisville, Kentucky opened in 1875. During its inaugural race meeting it featured two races, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, which till this day still highlight Churchill Downs’ live racing calendar.

Since its start from one world-famous venue in Central Kentucky, the publicly traded company has evolved to become one of the country’s leading racing, gaming and entertainment company with numerous holdings which include: Five racetracks; Six casinos; Big Fish Games, the world’s largest distributor of casual games; The country’s leading online wagering business, TwinSpires.com; A video poker business; A poker media and brand company; A multi-state network of off-track betting (OTB) facilities; and A collection of racing-related data, totalisator and telecommunications companies that supports CDI’s sports and gaming operations.

Over the decades CDI has grown through continued diversification. It has added slot-machine gaming and video poker operations at racetracks where alternative gaming is authorized. CDI acquired two casino resorts in the Mississippi Delta region and one also in Maine. The company has also built and acquired online gaming platforms and deploying mobile wagering technologies that provide convenient and cost-efficient ways to distribute and process wagers on racing content. CDI has used its increased cash flow to pay down debt and invest in new or ancillary businesses that fit with the company’s core skill sets and customer value proposition.

The firm continues to find novel avenues to expand the economic significance of marque events, such as the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks.

Kentucky Derby Week now features a succession of festivities initiating with “Opening Night,” a special night racing event that kicks off Churchill Down’s Spring Meet with red-carpet arrivals and a “gala” atmosphere. Kentucky Derby Week has also added ancillary events that connect back to Derby brand attributes such as fashion, celebrities and great food and hospitality.

CDI is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky.

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