Louisville headquartered gaming, racing and entertainment group Churchill Downs Incorporated has been issued a racing licence for its $125m venue to be constructed in Oak Grove, Kentucky.

The joint venture, being undertaken alongside Keeneland Association, has seen the establishment of WKY Development, with the “historic partnership” 95 per cent owned by CDI and five per cent by Keeneland.

In a media release further details of the link-up was released, outlined that the joint aim is 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.”    

Submitting its request in September, an application was made for a 10-day standardbred race meet in 2019 at CDI’s old Louisville Downs racing venue, located at Derby City Gaming in Louisville, for both 2019 and 2020.

The development which, in-full, will represent a $150m economic project for Christian County, is to host twelve live standardbred racing dates beginning in October 2019, after being awarded the racing license by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Further details of the proposed expansion, which is set to create in the region of 400 direct full and part time equivalent positions and an estimated 800 direct construction jobs, will see the inclusion of a historical racing machine facility featuring up to 1,500 machines.

In addition, WKY Development also states it is to house 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 amphitheatre and stage, and a state-of-the-art equestrian centre, including indoor and outdoor arenas.

When it was originally touted that the project would seek a racing to gain a license, Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack, explained: “Reissuing the Thunder Ridge racetrack license to Churchill Downs and Keeneland for immediate use is the right and responsible thing to do for Kentucky’s horse racing industry.

“The closure of Thunder Ridge racetrack was a significant hit to horse racing in the Commonwealth, but Churchill Downs and Keeneland are stepping up to address it and ensure the continuation of a strong racing circuit.”

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