Horse track plans go batty

Indiana Bat image source: www.prairiestateoutdoors.com
Indiana Bat image source: www.prairiestateoutdoors.com

By Bobbie Poynter and
Trent Knuckles

A planned Corbin quarter horse track has undergone a name change in recent days, and officials say a start to construction of facility has been delayed by a species of bat that apparently has its home in the wooded area off the Corbin Bypass where the track will be located.

Corbin Economic Development Director Bruce Carpenter said plans for what is now going to be called “Cumberland Run” were slowed a bit by the Indiana Bat, a small, mouse-eared bat that lives in the southern and Midwestern U.S. Population of the bat has declined significantly over the last decade and it is listed as an “endangered species.”

“It’s just one of those you run into on projects like this. There are always environmental considerations,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said Oct. 14 is the day officials had targeted when it would be safe to proceed, based on the bat’s normal migratory behavior.

“They were kind of looking at the middle of this month as the time when they figured the bat would be out of the area,” Carpenter said.

Originally called “Thunder Gap,” officials confirmed Tuesday that the facility will now be known as “Cumberland Run.”

“They changed it due to some licensing concerns,” said Corbin City Manager Marlon Sams. “The new name is in effect now.”

Sams speculated that construction on the facility could begin by the end of the week, but cautioned that it could take a little longer.

Vince Gabbert, Vice President and CEO of Keeneland Association, Inc. said plans for Cumberland Run are still moving forward, but have also been delayed somewhat by massive renovations to The Red Mile race track in Lexington, and the fact that Keeneland itself is deep in preparation for the Breeder’s Cup series of races at the end of this month.

Keeneland is currently in the middle of its fall meet.

“We remain firmly committed to the project and to the region, and look forward to starting soon,” Gabbert said of Cumberland Run.

Keeneland has submitted documents to the Kentucky Racing Commission and the U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers regarding plans for development in Corbin. The plans specifically address how water runoff on the property will be addressed, and accommodation to ensure no undue displacement of the Indiana Bat.

Cumberland Run will include a 1,723-foot straight racing track, along with barn facilities an entertainment center and grandstand. In addition, the property has six out parcels for commercial development and property allocated for a hotel/motel facility.

The first phase of the project is expected to cost about $30 million. It will create an estimated 150 permanent jobs and 2,000 indirect jobs, and generate approximately $10 million in local and state tax revenue.

The track is expected to have 10 to 15 live racing dates a year, but will offer year-round simulcasting and access to instant racing machines which allow betters to wager on simulated races based on real historical race data.