A Cinderella-Seabiscuit story: former publicist buys Kentucky Downs

September 12, 2007

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Former publicist Corey Johnsen has shown that PR is a good place to start your career, and sticking with industry for a very long time can lead to big opportunities. With a group of investors, Johnsen bought the storied and sometimes troubled turf track Kentucky Downs.

The finalized sale was announced on August 6th, and according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, fans will feel Johnsen’s touch this season when the annual six-day race fest kicks of this Saturday with the addition of a bar (there was a track with out booze?), and further down the road, casino gambling. Johnsen has experience lobbying for gambling at tracks in Texas.

PRNewser interviewed Johnsen today to find out more about his transition from PR, to management, to ownership:

“After I graduated from Arizona State, I took a job running the press box at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, then moved to Chicago to work at the Arlington track. I worked on the Arlington Million, the first million-dollar prize in horse racing. People forget what a huge thing that was at the time.”

“These jobs introduced me to every facet of racing and gave me access to the CEOs. I learned the business side along the way. My big break happened while working at Louisiana Downs. I was promoted from Director of Marketing and PR to Assistant General Manager.”

Johnsen added about Kentucky Downs, schooling this yankee: “We’re unique in that we only have a turf track, not both (dirt). Our season is short and exciting”.

See ThoroughbredBlog for details, and snipits from Johnsen’s live chat with something called BloodHorse (why doesn’t Gawker Inc. have a horse blog?).

Learn as much as you can from your clients young publicists. Perhaps there are other ways to get rich in PR besides betting on stock options from web2.0 pony.

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