Partnership bolsters new Knox County horse racing track project

A new development may quicken the process for bringing a new horse racing facility to western Knox County.

A joint statement released Friday, September 15, 2017 from Keeneland and Churchhill Downs Inc. announced a partnership between the two entities to help construct a new state-of-the-art racing facility in Corbin, Ky. The partnership will also seek to bring a new facility to Christian County in western Kentucky. The tracks will feature live racing as well as historical racing machines.

The idea of bringing a track to Corbin isn’t a new one. For over two years, Keeneland has faced several obstacles in constructing their facility, to be named “Cumberland Run.” From endangered bats to licensing issues from a defunct track in Floyd County, the project has seemingly been at a standstill, until the announcement Friday.

“I think partnering with Churchhill brings a lot more clout to the project,” said J.M. Hall, Knox County Judge-Executive. “Churchhill is the biggest in the nation when it comes to name recognition. I think the partnership will make it stronger and more stable.”

The Corbin facility, along with the proposed Christian County facility, are both contingent on receiving an initial pari-mutuel racing license by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. The application was filed Friday, September 15.

“Churchhill Downs and Keeneland have the support of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association as they move forward with their plans to bring two new racing facilities to our state,” said Chauncey Morris, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association Executive Director.

The economic advantage to having the new facility in Corbin can be a potential lifesaver for Knox County. “With the pensions going up, we need the extra revenue,” said Hall. “Over 100 full-time employees, seasonal employees, and the potential for spinoff businesses in the area around the track will be a huge benefit to Knox County’s economy.”

Corbin Economic Development Director Bruce Carpenter echoes Hall’s comments. ““I just think the fact that you have Churchill involved with Keeneland is a major step forward,” Carpenter said. “Locally, we are here to support the effort in anyway we can.”

“Corbin is thrilled to be a part of this historic venture between two of the horse racing industry’s most iconic names,” Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney said. “The new racing facility will be a welcome addition to our city’s already long list of sites and attractions for local residents and visitors.”

The racing commission is scheduled to meet on October 17, at which time the applications submitted today will be reviewed.

The original opening date for the Corbin facility was slated to be September 2016.

“I’m glad this is coming to Knox County. I’m more hopeful than ever,” said Hall.

For a video of the announcement, click here.