After more than 10 years of inaction, the former Yavapai Downs reopened July 13 as Arizona Downs.
A representative for the new owners said, “Friday the 13th was our lucky day. We brought simulcasting and year-round horseracing entertainment to horseracing and sports fans.”
Ann McGovern, general manager for Arizona Downs, explained that more than $2 million was spent in renovating facilities in anticipation of the grand opening.
She explained, “We totally replaced the entire 90,000 square foot grandstand roof with a state-of-the-art heat-reflecting cover. Our customers, in total comfort, are able to watch and wager on races from throughout the U.S. We remodeled completely the north end of the first floor, enclosing and converting it to a simulcast room which has more than 40 TVs that receive racing information from as many as 24 tracks around the country. We’ve new tote machines and granite program booths and new flooring. The new seating and tables, accessible through a hand-carved main entrance door with a life-size bas-relief of a racehorse — really attractive.”
Simulcasting will be offered seven days a week, with doors opening at 9 a.m. Customers will be able to view professional and college sports, and at the same time, enjoy food and beverages on site, she said.
McGovern was speaking for the new owners. They are J & J Equine Enterprises LLC, formed by Phoenix-based JACOR Partners Tom, Dave and Mike Auther and their partner Joe Jackson; along with longtime racetrack owner Corey Johnsen, who owns Kentucky Downs, a racetrack in Franklin, Kentucky.
The new owners bought the bankrupt property in mid-January from owner Gary Miller for $3.2 million. The 120-acre property is on the eastern edge of Prescott Valley along Highway 89A.
McGovern said the next step in renovating is bringing back live racing, probably Memorial Day 2019. “Hooves likely will be pounding down the new track by the end of May 2019, ” she said.
McGovern said the new owners expressed public appreciation to the Herbeveaux family, who were the owners and operators of the original Arizona Downs. “We believe this new name will tell the people of Central and Northern Arizona—and all the rest of Arizona—that we have a racetrack that benefits horsemen throughout the state. We’ll have year-round racing and wagering. With the resumption of summer racing, we’ll be creating local jobs and opportunities.”
She continued, “A stronger, year-round circuit helps everyone in the industry — breeders, horse owners, trainers, jockeys and all the related workers it takes to stage a race in a quality facility.”
The new owners noted that with an Arizona population of more than 7 million and the Quad City and greater surrounding area population soon to reach 300,000, Arizona Downs should serve as a great attraction within Yavapai County.