Two New Kentucky Tracks Planned

Horse Racing Radar
Valerie Mellema
Valerie Mellema is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Horseracing is going south in Kentucky—not because there is anything wrong with the port of Kings in the Bluegrass State but because two new Thoroughbred racetracks are planned in the southern tier of the state.


Late in September, Keeneland and Kentucky Downs announced plans to expand their operations by creating racing venues in Williamsburg and Corbin. No timetable has been established for the beginning of construction for either track since the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission must first grant approval for the two new pari-mutuel installations.


Corbin is a community of about 7500 in southeastern Kentucky, about 20 miles north of the Tennessee border in the beautiful Appalachian hill country. Adjacent to Interstate 75, tentative plans call for the track to be built along the Corbin Bypass near Allison Boulevard on an as-yet undeveloped 150-acre tract.


Just south of Corbin on I-75 is Williamsburg. Only a few miles from the Tennessee border, a track in this location would bring patrons from the Knoxville area, which is less than an hour's drive. Williamsburg currently has 5200 residents.


In addition, to live racing of Standardbred horses, about 100 historical horse racing machines (HHRs) will be included in the Corbin facility. Local officials in both areas are excited about the possibilities of new commerce, new construction, and a number of new well-paid job openings.


Keeneland Park, an iconic Kentucky racing hub since 1936, styles itself as being part of the Horse Capital of the World. For some time, the owners of the track have sought to expand horseracing in the Blue Grass State. Located in Lexington, the heart of the state, Keeneland has a history of achieving significant arrangements with other Kentucky tracks to boost interest and drive the expansion of horseracing in Kentucky.


Keeneland is partnering with the majority owners of Kentucky Downs to open the two new southeastern Kentucky tracks. Kentucky Downs is a Thoroughbred racetrack in Franklin, right on the Kentucky-Tennessee border.


Kentucky Downs is strictly a turf track. Modeled after European racetracks, the course is not an oval but rather a track with a left, right, left turn format. The site is famous for certain historical events that took place at the location. Originally the track was named the "Dueling Grounds." The current owners, who assumed leadership of operations in 2007, have sought to diminish the track's connection to previous historical events and track ownership.


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