CORBIN — It has been an ongoing story since 2014 — a horse racing facility is coming to Corbin — but Corbin Mayor Suzie Razmus says this is it this time.
Keeneland and its new partnership with the majority owners of Kentucky Downs announced on Monday a new plan for a Standardbred racing facility in Corbin as well as a sister facility in Williamsburg. The partners announced they have filed an application for a racing license and proposed construction for the state-of-the-art racing facility in Corbin and related track extension in Williamsburg.
“We are proud of the significant investment this partnership is committed to making in our community, and are excited to see the infusion of tourism, economic development and new jobs it will bring to Williamsburg and Whitley County,” Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison stated.
Keeneland has been in talks with the City of Corbin since 2015 with different visions for the racetrack from Thunder Gap for quarter horse racing to Cumberland Run that was a partnership between Keeneland and Churchill Downs announced in 2017.
Now the proposed facility will be a harness racing facility and historical racing machines will also be a feature.
“Corbin is thrilled to be a part of this endeavor,” Razmus 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.”
Kentucky Downs, located in Franklin, Kentucky, is majority owned, controlled and managed by a partnership led by Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone.
“Horse racing is an extremely vital part of the Commonwealth’s economy,” said Winchell. “With the addition of a new race track and related amenities in southeastern Kentucky, it will help to continue the momentum we have created for the state and our industry in recent years.”
“Keeneland has dedicated resources to this region and project for many years and we look forward to working alongside our partners at Kentucky Downs to bring this project to life,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “This project will strengthen Kentucky’s vital horse industry and positively impact the Commonwealth and the local communities by stimulating significant economic growth, generating hundreds of new jobs and enhancing tourism and hospitality.”
Officials from each racing association are working with state and local officials on a number of incentives and necessary infrastructure improvements to bring the facilities to fruition. Additionally, the venture is working with local investors to enhance the magnitude of the impact to the region.
Each facility is contingent upon approval of an initial pari-mutuel racing license by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. The next meeting date for the commission is October 20.
Razmus said that race dates for 2021 have to be set by Nov. 1, 2020. While the Corbin facility would not be ready to hold races in 2021, race day would be held at the Red Mile in Lexington until the Corbin track was ready.
"We welcome Keeneland and we're looking forward to many years of partnership," Razmus said.