Churchill Downs and Keeneland are jointly asking the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to allow them to bring harness racing to Louisville in 2019 and Christian County in 2020.
WKY Development, a joint venture between Churchill Downs and Keeneland, on Tuesday filed an application for a 10-day standardbred racing meet in 2019 at Louisville Downs, the track where Churchill’s new historical racing parlor is being built, the companies announced in a news release.
Tracks must apply for racing dates for the coming year in the fall, and the state racing commission sets the calendar.
If the dates are approved, Churchill Downs and Keeneland would fund the purses.
But the end goal is getting approval for a new track and gaming parlor in Western Kentucky.
“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,” the news release stated.
Last September, Keeneland and Churchill Downs jointly announced that they wanted to build tracks with gambling parlors at Corbin and Oak Grove in Christian County, but the racing commission did not consider the proposal.
If the racing commission approves the plan, harness racing would permanently move to the Christian County track in 2020, the companies said.
The tracks say it’s important to replace what was lost when Thunder Ridge in Prestonsburg closed.
“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,” Keeneland vice president and chief operating officer Vince Gabbert said in the release.
The proposed Christian County track would be a $125 million project that would include a gambling parlor with up to 1,500 historical racing machines similar to slot machines, a 125-room hotel, a grandstand and event space, an outdoor amphitheater and an equestrian center with indoor and outdoor arenas, according to the news release.
The track would host 15 days of standardbred racing a year and would generate an estimated $20 million in new purse dollars, according to Churchill Downs and Keeneland.