WKY Development, LLC –- a joint venture between Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) and Keeneland Association Inc. -– was awarded a racing license Friday (November 16) by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for twelve live Standardbred racing dates beginning in October 2019 at its racing venue proposed to be constructed in Oak Grove, Kentucky in Christian County.
The proposed racing facility in Oak Grove "represents a $150 million economic development project for Christian County, creating nearly 400 direct full and part time equivalent positions and an estimated 800 direct construction jobs."
Aspects of the project include a historical racing machine facility featuring up to 1,500 machines, a 125-room hotel with event centre and food/beverage venues, a 1,200-person seated capacity grandstand and event space for indoor events, a 3,000-person capacity outdoor amphitheater and stage, and a state-of-the-art equestrian center including indoor and outdoor arenas.
WKY Development, LLC is 95 percent owned by CDI with the other five percent owned by Keeneland. This "historic partnership is designed to strengthen and grow Kentucky’s signature horse racing industry and, in particular, its Standardbred racing circuit following last year’s closure of Thunder Ridge racetrack in Prestonsburg" according to the release.
Three groups -- WKY, Caesars Entertainment and Kentucky Downs -- applied for the license. Those three parties made presentations and pitches to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in late October. However, prominent thoroughbred owner Ron Winchell and businessman Marc Falcone reached an agreement on Tuesday to purchase Kentucky Downs from its previous owners. Winchell asked the KHRC to delay the decision given the recent sale but that request was denied.
(with files from CDI)