Originally Published: June 21, 2018 4:52 p.m.
Updated as of Friday, June 22, 2018 6 AM
Simulcasting starting in July
PRESCOTT VALLEY — After nearly a decade of silence, Yavapai Downs is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar facelift.
And with a new look comes a new name.
The Prescott Valley horse track will reopen as Arizona Downs, J&J Equine Enterprises LLC officially announced Wednesday afternoon.
Longtime racing executive Corey Johnson thanked the Herbeveaux family for allowing J&J Equine to use the name Arizona Downs, which was the name of the former racetrack in Phoenix that opened in 1951 at one site and later ran its annual race meetings by leasing Turf Paradise before closing operations in 1985.
“We want to be known as Arizona’s racetrack that benefits horsemen throughout the state,” Johnsen said. “We want a year-round circuit returning to Arizona with the resumption of summer racing, so horses and all the jobs they create stay in the state.”
Yavapai Downs, a 120-acre property on the northeast edge of Prescott Valley, last ran in 2010. The facility was purchased for $3.22 million out of bankruptcy court in January by J&J Equine, an entity formed by Phoenix-based JACOR Partners principals Tom, Dave and Mike Auther, along with partner Joe Jackson and Johnsen.
The new Arizona downs is scheduled to re-open to the public in July for simulcasting and live racing is scheduled to begin in 2019. The new ownership group hopes to have racing from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend next year.
“A stronger circuit helps everyone in the industry: the breeders, horse owners, trainers, jockeys and all the related professions it takes to get a horse to the races,” Johnsen said.
J&J Equine was granted a temporary permit to conduct live racing for fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021. A permanent permit is pending the Arizona Racing Commission staff completing the application.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is sports editor for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.