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FanDuel In Sponsorship Deal With Kentucky Downs

Ross Everett
by in Horses on
  • FanDuel has announced a three year sponsorship agreement with the Kentucky Downs race track in Franklin, Kentucky.
  • FanDuel is the parent company of the TVG horse racing network and betting platform.
  • In addition to FanDuel becoming the naming sponsor of the Kentucky Downs fall race meet TVG will become the official advanced deposit wagering (ADW) platform of the track.

Sportsbook sponsorship deals continue to come fast and furious in advance of the NFL football season which gets underway this week. One of the most active sportsbooks on the sponsorship front is FanDuel–their most recent addition to the portfolio is a three year deal with the Kentucky Downs race track in Franklin, TN.

Kentucky Downs might not be the marquee horse track in the Bluegrass State but it is a very unique and interesting track. It doesn’t have the extensive pedigree of tracks like Churchill Downs and Keenland as it was built in 1990. It is unlike any other horse track in the country as it is a European style track. The surface is all grass and the track is not configured in an oval. The configuration is easier to visualize than it is to explain:

The European style track configuration at Kentucky Downs

The turf course is 1 mile 550 yards in length and is one of only two tracks in North America with a right hand turn–the other being the downhill turf course at Santa Anita. Stylistically, it has more in common with tracks like England’s Exeter Race Course than anything in North America. Currently, Kentucky Downs runs a six day live meet in September highlighted by a couple of stakes races that are part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series. The track offers simulcast wagering 7 days a week and there is a gaming facility on the premises (The Mint Gaming Hall). The gaming facility offers more than a thousand historical racing based slot machines. The track is located in Franklin, Kentucky putting it less than an hour from the Nashville, Tennessee metro area. Since Tennessee offers limited gaming options–lottery games and their horrific 10% mandatory hold perversion of sports betting–Kentucky Downs would be in a great position if and when the Bluegrass State gets its act together on casino gambling and sports betting. It would also be nice to see more live racing at a unique track that is highly regarded by serious horse players.

FanDuel’s name will become very prominent under the new promotional agreement. The sportsbook/DFS powerhouse will become the naming sponsor of the live racing meet now known as the ‘FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs’. This year’s meet will begin on September 5 and run through September 12. They’ll also become the naming sponsor of one of the meet’s major stakes events–this race will take place on September 11 and is now known as the $1 million Grade 3 FanDuel Turf Sprint.

Additional branding will come from FanDuel subsidiary TVG. The horse racing TV network and advanced deposit wagering (ADW) platform will also provide wider visibility for the track and their live race meet. TVG will become the official ADW platform of Kentucky Downs and the race meet will air exclusively on TVG with the exception of the two Breeders’ Cup Challenge races that will air on NBC. In addition to the aforementioned FanDuel branded stakes race the race formerly known as the Tapit Stakes will become the $400,000 TVG Stakes. The September 8 live race card will also be sponsored by TVG (‘TVG Day’).

FanDuel signage will be displayed on the starting gate, finish line, paddock, and winner’s circle, with branding on all staff uniforms. The VIP Chalet — a glass-enclosed, air-conditioned facility with an outdoor terrace providing a spectacular view of the racecourse — has been rebranded as the ‘FanDuel VIP Chalet’. You can also expect plenty of TVG branding on site throughout the race meet.

Andrew Moore, Vice President of Racing for FanDuel Group, had this to say about the new relationship with Kentucky Downs:

“We are thrilled to add this unique meet to our stable of horse racing and sports sponsorships. Kentucky Downs is a special track and the exceptional purses demonstrate the commitment of Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone to staging top-class turf racing. The meet will be covered on the TVG Network, and we are looking forward to bringing some of the finest turf horses in the world into millions of homes across America.”

“It is very exciting to sponsor the FanDuel Turf Sprint. Any owner of a classy turf sprinter is going to be attracted to a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race with a purse of $1 million, and the race is sure to be a top-class event. The FanDuel brand will be exposing the Kentucky Downs product to millions of sports fans nationally and we are excited to be able to bring this unique content to them through the FanDuel Racing ADW product.”

Kentucky Downs’ principals also weighed in starting with Ron Winchell, co-owner and co-managing partner, who praised both TVG and glossed his own track:

“TVG is America’s undisputed leader in television horse racing, and Kentucky Downs has developed arguably the best betting product in the industry. That includes the largest purses and field sizes in the country combined with takeout rates that are very horseplayer friendly.”

Marc Falcone, Kentucky Downs’ co-owner and co-managing partner, talked about the growing influence of FanDuel and TVG:

“FanDuel and TVG recognize our value, and we’re immensely proud that Kentucky Downs has been added to their sponsorship portfolio that includes the Breeders’ Cup, Keeneland, and Del Mar in horse racing, as well as FanDuel’s association with the NFL, NBA, MLB, and PGA Tour. That’s impressive company to be keeping.”

The Kentucky Downs race meet will start with at least one hitch–due to a simulcasting contract impasse with the New York Racing Association (NYRA) bettors at the three NYRA tracks and through the NYRA Bets ADW platform will not be able to wager on races from the track. In retaliation, fans betting at Kentucky’s live simulcasting facilities will be ‘blacked out’ of the last two days of the Saratoga meet (Sunday and Monday). ADW platforms other than NYRA are not impacted by any of this nonsense.

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