Keeneland announces new partner, new plans for facilities in Corbin, Williamsburg

Keeneland has a new partner and a new plan to try to bring a horse racing facility to Corbin. | Photo via Kentucky Today

Corbin is the closest is has ever been to the finish line of getting a horse racing facility that has been in the works since 2014. On Tuesday the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission met and approved the license application for race dates for the Corbin facility.

Keeneland and its new partnership with the majority owners of Kentucky Downs announced last month a new plan for a Standardbred racing facility in Corbin as well as a sister facility in Williamsburg. A decision on the Williamsburg facility was not made as it would feature historical racing machines which at the end of September, the Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously voted were illegal under Kentucky state law.

Keeneland has been in talks with the City of Corbin for several years with different visions for the racetrack from Thunder Gap for quarter horse racing in 2015 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. The track will be located at the land purchased by Keeneland off the Corbin bypass and the related track extension in Williamsburg will be off Exit 11.

“Corbin is thrilled to be a part of this endeavor,” Razmus said when the announcement was made in September. “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.

Until the Corbin facility is built the race dates will be hosted at Red Mile in Lexington.

Construction is expected to begin in 2021.

Bruce Carpenter, executive director of the Corbin Economic Development Agency, said  at a Corbin City Commission meeting after the September announcement that he always had faith that the horse racing facility would come to fruition.

The harness racing has a circuit which is about six months worth of racing, Razmus and Carpenter explained.

Carpenter said the total project is estimated to be about $50 million with the two facilities, a restaurant and a hotel.

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