Churchill, Keeneland Propose Two New Racetracks In Kentucky

Sep 15, 2017

Renowned Kentucky racetracks Churchill Downs and Keeneland are forming a business partnership aimed at building two new tracks and betting parlors near the Tennessee border.

The new racing ventures proposed for Corbin and Oak Grove are contingent on state approval for gambling on live races and gaming using historical racing machines, Churchill and Keeneland announced Friday. The tracks did not reveal a projected cost for the new developments.

The tracks are hoping to tap into the popularity of the slot-style machines, which offer an electronic version of gambling on past horse races. Also called instant racing, the machines have proliferated in recent years, and Kentucky Downs — another track near the Tennessee border — has prospered from them, drawing flocks of Tennesseans.

Churchill and Keeneland see the new venture as a way to generate new revenue to strengthen racing at their tracks.

"Churchill Downs and Keeneland share a deep commitment to making Kentucky's horse racing industry the very best version of itself, and the new racing facilities in Corbin and Oak Grove will help us achieve this by generating much needed funds to increase purses and breeders' incentives," Churchill Downs Inc. Chief Executive Officer Bill Carstanjen said in a release.

Construction of the new tracks and betting parlors depends on licensing approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Churchill Downs and Keeneland said they were filing applications with state regulators on Friday.

The tracks said they are working with the state's Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and other state and local officials on incentives and infrastructure improvements related to the developments, which won praise from the mayors of Corbin and Oak Grove.

"Corbin is thrilled to be a part of this historic venture between two of the horse racing industry's most iconic names," Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney said.

Corbin is in southeastern Kentucky just off Interstate 75, north of Tennessee. Oak Grove is near Fort Campbell in southwestern Kentucky.

Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, announced plans this year for its first historical waging facility — a $60 million Trackside Gambling Parlor at the track's former Sports Spectrum facility in Louisville. Keeneland has jointly operated a gambling parlor at The Red Mile since 2015.