Churchill Downs and Keeneland apply to build $125 million racing facility

Churchill Downs and Keeneland apply to build $125 million racing facility
Victor Espinoza rides American Pharoah to victory in the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 2, 2015, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - WKY Development, LLC, a joint venture between Churchill Downs Incorporated and Keeneland Association Inc., has filed an application with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission requesting live standardbred racing dates at Churchill Downs' old Louisville Downs racing venue located at Derby City Gaming, in Louisville for 2019 and in 2020, at its proposed venue in Oak Grove, in Christian County.

The application is for a 10-day standardbred race meet in 2019 at the old Louisville Downs racing venue located at Derby City Gaming in Louisville.

The 2019 meet is a critical, short-term measure to support the standardbred racing circuit and bridge the gap to future races in 2020 at the new Oak Grove racing venue.

If approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, beginning in 2020, live standardbred racing would permanently move to the proposed Oak Grove venue in Christian County raising the profile of the Kentucky circuit and building larger purses in the process.

“Reissuing the Thunder Ridge racetrack license to Churchill Downs and Keeneland for immediate use is the right and responsible thing to do for Kentucky’s horse racing industry,” President of Churchill Downs Racetrack, Kevin Flanery said in a press release. “The closure of Thunder Ridge racetrack was a significant hit to horse racing in the Commonwealth, but Churchill Downs and Keeneland are stepping up to address it and ensure the continuation of a strong racing circuit.”

“Bringing standardbred racing to Louisville in 2019 and then to Christian County in 2020 and beyond is critical to maintain Kentucky’s preeminent status as the horse racing capital of the world,” Vince Gabbert, Vice President and COO of Keeneland said in a press release. “We are optimistic the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will approve our application to ensure the standardbred horse racing circuit continues to thrive in the Commonwealth.”

The proposed facility in Oak Grove represents a $125MM economic development project for Christian County, creating nearly 400 direct full and part time equivalent positions and an estimated 800 direct construction jobs.

Aspects of the project include a historical racing machine facility featuring up to 1,500 machines, a 125-room hotel with event center and food and beverage venues, a 1,200-person capacity grandstand and event space for indoor events, a 3,000-person capacity outdoor amphitheater and stage, and a state-of-the-art equestrian center including indoor and outdoor arenas.

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