LEXINGTON, Ky. – Keeneland and Churchill Downs Inc. plan to partner on the construction of two new facilities in Kentucky with live racing and slot machine-like devices near the border with Tennessee, the two companies announced on Friday morning.
The two racetrack-casinos would be located in Corbin, in southeastern Kentucky, and in Oak Grove, in the southwest of the state just miles from Fort Campbell, the large military base. Both tracks would be located within a short drive from Tennessee, where all gambling but the lottery is illegal.
The announcement joins two heavyweights in the Thoroughbred industry that have rarely worked together but which have both recently embraced the state’s authorization seven years ago of so-called historical racing machines, devices that closely resemble slot machines. While Keeneland partnered with a Lexington harness track, the Red Mile, on a historical-horse racing facility that opened late in 2015, Churchill announced just this year that it would open its own gambling parlor in Louisville next year.
The announcement was made with officials of the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which represents horsemen in the state, and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, which represents owners and breeders.
The announcement did not state the number of live racing dates that are planned for each facility, nor did the announcement state what breed of horses would race at the facilities. It said both facilities would be “state-of-the-art,” designed to strengthen the Kentucky racing industry.
“Both of our companies want to ensure the long-term growth and sustainability of this industry,” said William Carstanjen, in a video to announce the partnerships.
The two facilities are likely to be modeled after Kentucky Downs, a small track in Franklin, also near the border with Tennessee. Kentucky Downs has used year-round revenues from its historical horseracing machines to fatten purses for a brief, all-turf meet that has been embraced by horseplayers. The track, which closed its five-day meet yesterday, shattered its own handle records this year.
More to come on DRF.com.