By DEAN MANNING
FOR THE MOUNTAIN ADVOCATE
With the paperwork completed, the site work has now begun on the 145 acres of property off the Corbin bypass that will be the home of Keeneland’s $50 million quarter horse racing track and “historical wagering” gambling parlor in Corbin.
Heavy equipment was on the site Monday between Allison and Buchanan Blvd. clearing trees and moving dirt.
Corbin Economic Development Director Bruce Carpenter said he has no information on a timetable for construction.
When asked about a timetable in November following the close of the sale of the property, Vince Gabbert, vice president and chief operating officer of Keeneland, said it was a matter of waiting for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to take action on the application for a racing license for the facility.
Officials with the racing commission released a statement in September stating that the members had no plans to consider any new applications for a racing license.
Seven facilities are currently licensed across the state. There are two outstanding licenses. Churchill Downs has partnered with Kenneland in an endeavor that calls for the construction of the Corbin facility to be named Cumberland Run, and a second facility in Christian County in southwestern Kentucky.
The racing commission met in regular session on Dec. 13. Minutes from the meeting indicate the licenses were not discussed.
The commission is next scheduled to meet on Feb. 20.
Gabbert said previously that once construction begins, the plan is to have the facility ready and open for business within 14 months.
Gabbert said while the layout of the facility may change somewhat, the plans remain essentially the same.
The project includes 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.
Gabbert said the goal remains to host 10-12 days of racing throughout the summer.
The facility would include 250 “historical racing machines.”
The slot style gaming machines have been the subject of much scrutiny, and an ongoing court case. Opponents claim they are little more than run-of-the-mill casino-style slot machines that are illegal in Kentucky. Supporters say the results the machines produce are based on past races and that wagering on them is considered “pari-mutuel,” just like normal horse racing. Essentially, bettors are betting against other bettors, not against the facility housing the machines.
The machines are currently allowed at tracks in the state with active horse racing and track operators say they serve a vital role in allowing race purses to be higher.
The facility is expected to created 150 permanent jobs and 2,000 indirect jobs and generate approximately $10 million in local and state tax revenue.
By DEAN MANNING