Yavapai Downs to Reopen with New Name

The Prescott, Arizona, track will reopen as Arizona Downs.

Edited press release

The former Yavapai Downs near Prescott, Arizona, will reopen for simulcasting in July as Arizona Downs. New ownership is overseeing some $2 million in improvements prior to the reopening. PHOTO: Arizona Downs

The former Yavapai Downs horse track will reopen with a new name: Arizona Downs.

Arizona Downs was the name of a former racetrack in Phoenix that opened in 1951 at one site and later ran its annual race meetings by leasing Turf Paradise before ceasing operations in 1985. Yavapai Downs last ran in 2010. The facility was bought for $3.22 million out of bankruptcy court in January by J&J Equine Enterprises LLC, an entity formed by brothers and Phoenix-based JACOR Partners principals Tom, Dave and Mike Auther and their partner Joe Jackson, along with longtime racing executive Corey Johnsen.

“First of all, we would like to thank the Herbeveaux family for allowing us to use the name,” said Johnsen, referencing the owners and operators of the original Arizona Downs. “We want to be known as Arizona's racetrack that benefits horsemen throughout the state. 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.

"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 added.

The new Arizona Downs will re-open to the public for simulcasting in July. Live racing is scheduled to begin in May 2019, with a meet running from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Plans call for off-track wagering facilities in sports bars and restaurants throughout the state.

Ann McGovern, Arizona Downs' general manager, has been overseeing more than $2 million in improvements to the facility. A gradduate of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, McGovern has served in many industry posts, including as president and general manager of Ruidoso Downs, vice president of operations at Sam Houston Race Park, and director of operattions at Remington Park.

The general contractor is Midwest Construction, which has handled major renovation projects at Kentucky Downs, Remington Park and Lone Star Park.

Arizona Downs sits on 120 acres on the northeast edge of Prescott Valley, located eight miles from downtown Prescott in a rapidly growing market.

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