In a story that has been developing for quite some time, “The Pressbox” has learned that a new owner could be purchasing a significant interest in Kentucky Downs — either in whole, or in part.
According to sources close to the situation, Ron Winchell — a prominent Thoroughbred owner and breeder — may be buying into the rural racetrack that operates five racing days a year in Franklin, Ky. The track conducts live Thoroughbred racing over a European-style turf course and also has a venue for Historical Racing Machines.
Kentucky Downs is currently owned by a group led by Nashville, Tenn., businessman Ray Reid and former Lone Star Park President Corey Johnsen, who purchased the facility in 2007.
Winchell — who followed his famous father, Verne, into the Thoroughbred racing and breeding world — has maintained his family’s significant presence in the industry for several years. In addition to racing Tapit, whom Verne Winchell purchased as a yearling, Ron Winchell and his mother, Joan, have also raced several outstanding horses throughout the years, namely the reigning Horse of the Year Gun Runner and 2014 Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable.
In addition to his vast holdings in the Thoroughbred industry, Winchell also owns and operates a chain of slot parlors in Las Vegas, where he currently resides most of the year with his family. A majority of his “gaming taverns” are known as “Jackpot Joanie’s,” named for Ron Winchell’s mother.
Reached Sunday, David Fiske, racing manager for Winchell, said that "at this time I can neither confirm or deny."
“The Pressbox” reached out to several others close to both Winchell and Kentucky Downs but did not receive any further comment.