Churchill Downs is looking to close part of 4th Street for expansion

Horse deaths at tracks across the country are forcing those in the horse racing industry to take a closer look at safety.
Updated: Aug. 1, 2019 at 12:24 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Churchill Downs is asking the city to permanently close a portion of 4th Street from the intersection of Oakdale Avenue to the backside entrance.

Horse deaths at tracks across the country are forcing those in the horse racing industry to take a closer look at safety.

That’s why Churchill Downs announced a big expansion project in April that will include a state-of-the-art equine medical center and a quarantine barn that will allow horses from other countries to fly directly to the track.

The portion of 4th Street they want to close separates some of the new facilities from the backside.

Churchill provided WAVE 3 News with the following statement:

“This proposed closure is part of the expansion of Churchill Downs backside which will enhance Thoroughbred safety and health with a state-of-the-art Equine Medical Center as well as bolster Kentucky’s international Thoroughbred presence by allowing horses from other countries to fly directly to Louisville. This will eliminate long van rides from other facilities around the U.S., which elevate Kentucky’s sales, breeding and racing operations. The integration of the backside will further protect Kentucky’s signature event as we look to grow its economic impact for our community.”

The project, however, is concerning for longtime residents like Kevin Jones, who’s lived next to the track for decades on Longfield Avenue.

“I don’t think they should be allowed to do whatever they want,” Jones said. “The community’s tax dollars pay for that piece of real estate, and that thoroughfare, and I think they should be able to use that at their discretion.”

Jones and other neighbors fear their properties could be next on the list.

“It’s time people address those issues and stand up for property rights and the rights of the individuals that have been here for many generations,” Jones said. “Churchill Downs has been here, too, but the situation has kind of changed. They never used to try and acquire property. It’s becoming more and more and it seems like people can’t resist that in any way, shape or form.”

Although construction on facilities has already started, Churchill Downs has to still get the road closure approved by Metro Council. Before the public hearings, there will be an informational meeting for nearby residents to ask any questions.

The meeting will take place on Aug. 7 at 6 p.m. at Churchill Downs in the Jockey Club Suites.

Those who attend are asked to enter the parking lot from Central Avenue to park and enter the track via the paddock gate and follow the signs to the Jockey Club Suites.

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