The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) today (Tuesday, July 26) awarded its ninth and final license to a new facility with plans to re-introduce quarter horse racing to the Bluegrass state. Revolutionary Racing will build in Ashland, Kentucky and feature an American quarter horse “sprint racing” track and a historical horse racing (HHR) facility.
“We are excited to have quarter horse racing back in Kentucky. This project invests $55 million and creates 200 jobs in the northeast corner of our commonwealth,” said Governor Andy Beshear. “Bringing quarter horse racing back to Kentucky is an exciting opportunity to honour a lost Kentucky tradition and contribute to the state’s economy.”
Quarter horse racing has deep roots in Kentucky with a history dating back to the earliest days of Daniel Boone’s “Kentucky Territory.” A historical marker near Lexington indicates that in 1780, pioneers established the starting point of the first race path and extends southward one-quarter mile. In 1988, there were two racetracks with quarter horse racing. It has been three decades since quarter horse racing took place in Kentucky.
Revolutionary Racing obtained the last available racing license in Kentucky. The application included a request to build a quarter horse racetrack in Boyd County. Phase one includes construction of the sprint racetrack, HHR facility, paddock with offices and walking ring, two racing barns with 88 stalls each, a test barn and parking. The construction project is expected to be completed in 2024.
“This is an exciting time for quarter horse racing owners and fans and for Ashland and the surrounding communities, an underserved market in the equine industry,” said Beshear.
“We have all rallied behind this project because we understand what it will mean for our community – from jobs to tax revenues to quality of life,” said Boyd County Judge Executive Eric Chaney. “Revolutionary Racing has been a true partner with us throughout this process and we look forward to them being part of our community for many years to come.”
In support of the license, Joe Costa, president and CEO of Lexington Trots Breeders Association LLC and the Red Mile, wrote in a letter to the commission, “While the growth of Standardbred racing is paramount to Red Mile, it wholeheartedly supports the re-introduction of quarter horse racing to the commonwealth and looks forward to working together with Revolutionary Racing in the future to the benefit of both breeds of horses.”
Senator Robin Webb of Grayson voiced appreciation for the new project: “The regional legislative delegation appreciates the opportunity to expand our equine industry here and provide the associated jobs in our area,” she said. “I appreciate Revolutionary Racing’s engagement and communications with us from the beginning, and the racing commission’s vote of confidence in Boyd County and the surrounding communities. This action is a statement of acknowledgement and commitment to our region of the state.”
The American Quarter Horse excels at sprinting short distances, namely the quarter mile or less. According to the Kentucky Quarter Horse Association, there are 30,000 registered quarter horses in Kentucky in 2021 owned by more than 10,000 residents.
In 2021, The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a resolution in support of the quarter horse industry in the commonwealth, recommending that at least one racetrack license be awarded or held explicitly for quarter horse sprint racing.
(Kentucky Horse Racing Commission)