Churchill Downs Inc. proposes new track for 'neglected' northern Kentucky

Janet Patton, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Horse Racing

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The corporate parent of the Kentucky Derby announced Thursday that it wants to build a $200 million racetrack and gambling parlor in northern Kentucky.

The track, which would be called New Latonia, would usurp the winter Thoroughbred racing dates of Turfway Park in Florence.

Churchill Downs Inc. said it plans to request those dates for the 2020 racing season in its application to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

For next year, Churchill will ask that the winter racing take place at its home track in Louisville, where the Kentucky Derby is raced in May, while the new racetrack is built.

The new track would have stabling, a 1-mile synthetic main track and a dirt track for year-round training, Churchill said. Eventually a hotel may be added.

Churchill said the new track and moving the meet are "a critical, short-term measure."


Turfway Park, which is now owned by the Hard Rock casino group, which also owns a casino across the Ohio River in Cincinnati, has not installed historical racing gambling machines despite being awarded permission.

Churchill said that adding the machines would "lead to significantly increased purses and pari-mutuel handle, resulting in increased tax revenues to the Kentucky General Fund, Thoroughbred Development Fund, the Equine Industry Program, Equine Drug Research and the Higher Education Fund," in its announcement.

The Daily Racing Form reported that Churchill informed the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association about the plan on Thursday.

"Churchill Downs is stepping up to protect and grow Kentucky's Thoroughbred racing circuit," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs racetrack. "Our willingness to make a sizeable investment in the neglected northern Kentucky market is our latest effort to improve Kentucky's valuable horse racing and agriculture industries."


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