COREY JOHNSEN (PRESIDENT)
Corey Johnsen has an extensive and varied background in horse racing. Johnsen has enjoyed a 40+ year career in the sport, having been a bettor, groom, horse owner and breeder, publicity and marketing director, track president and owner who has overseen the launch or re-opening of numerous facilities in the United States and the Americas. Corey Johnsen was the President and part-owner of Kentucky Downs from 2007 to 2019, when the track was sold to a partnership led by Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone. During his time there, Kentucky Downs went from a novelty with its European-style turf course to an industry leader, offering some of the most lucrative purses in America during its boutique all-grass meets. Johnsen and his partners in Kentucky Downs began operating Historical Horse Racing terminals on Sept. 1, 2011 and have used that innovative pari-mutuel technology as a game-changing force for the good of the Kentucky horse industry. Since the Kentucky Downs purchase in 2007, Johnsen has been an active owner and breeder of Thoroughbreds and very involved in industry efforts to improve the economics for the horse business. He was the Chairman of the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), a multi-breed coalition, from 2011 to 2018. Johnsen succeeded KEEP co-founder Brereton Jones, former Governor of Kentucky, as the Chairman of the organization. Johnsen was a key player in getting slot machines at Oklahoma horse tracks, bringing the Breeders’ Cup to Lone Star Park in 2004 and Historical Horse Racing to Kentucky. In 1986, he was awarded an Eclipse Award for Local Television at Louisiana Downs. At every track stop, he has been immersed in the local market’s civic and charitable works and tourism. His record shows his desire to work with horsemen, other tracks and industry stakeholders to benefit not only his operation but its region, circuit and the entire sport. A native of Tacoma, Washington, Johnsen has owned horses since 1979, when he began putting together partnerships among his college friends to buy claiming horses. His Lone Star Thoroughbreds campaigned Honey Rose, a Grade 1 stakes winner in her native Argentina and an American stakes winner. Most recently, Johnsen and partner Bill Casner owned the homebred Colonel Samsen who won the 2016 Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. Johnsen’s five-decade career in the industry started as a teenage $2 bettor at Longacres Racetrack and groom at Centennial Park, the summer before his graduation from Arizona State University. He shot up the management ranks through the publicity and marketing departments at Turf Paradise, Arlington Park and Louisiana Downs, and as part of senior management at Remington Park and Lone Star Park was instrumental in the development, construction and launch of those tracks. Johnsen, who rose to become president and part-owner of Lone Star Park before its sale, also has been involved in the opening or re-opening of four tracks in the Americas, including in Mexico City and Uruguay. Currently, Johnsen is President of CJ Thoroughbreds working with his son, C.J. Johnsen, and Mike Renfro. While residing in Southlake, Texas, he is an active board member of the Texas Thoroughbred Association, Old Friends, and the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation.
Kentucky Downs Director of Broadcasting & Wagering from 2012 to 2019, editor/publisher of JockeyTalk360 and part owner of CJ Thoroughbreds. Directed efforts at Kentucky Downs that saw wagering increase from over $3.5 million in 2011 to over $36 million in 2018, which was also was named the #1 ranked track for the 4th straight year by the Horseplayers Association of North America. Has qualified to the National Handicapping Championship and Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.
(V.P. OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT)
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Mike Renfro has enjoyed a successful career in sports, both on the football field and in the horseracing industry. Renfro is widely considered one the greatest wide receivers ever to play football in the Southwest Conference. Renfro spent his entire football career in Texas, playing there from his early school days, going to college at TCU, and ultimately enjoying an 11-year career in the NFL with the Houston Oilers and Dallas Cowboys. After 11 seasons in the NFL, Renfro retired in 1988. He is a member of the TCU Athletic Hall of Fame, the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Shortly after his retirement from the NFL, Renfro pursued one of his other passions, buying his first racehorse, Dr. Death. The colt enjoyed immediate success on the track, winning several races, and was named Louisiana-bred Horse of the Year in 1988. After experiencing triumphs on the track, Renfro was officially committed to a new career in another sport: horse racing. In 1997, he joined a new team, going to work for Lone Star Park. Renfro enjoyed a 12-year career in development for the new track, which recorded one of the most successful openings in horse racing. He was instrumental in the successful Breeders’ Cup, which came to Lone Star Park in 2004. In the early 2000s, Renfro broadened his career to become a lobbyist, assisting the growth of horseracing in Texas and Oklahoma. Today, Renfro is a Vice President for CJ Thoroughbreds, where his passion is spent with the company developing and racing thoroughbred racehorses throughout North America. He is also a board member for Be An Angel, which helps improve the quality of life for children with disabilities. Mike is married with three adult kids and seven young grandkids