Churchill Downs Plans New Racetrack in Kentucky

Written By Cheryle Kaus on September 12, 2019

Churchill Downs Incorporated has recently proposed to build a brand-new track in Northern Kentucky which will allow the company to move all the winter racing dates away from Turfway Park.

In a press release, CDI stated that it will file an application to request winter Thoroughbred racing dates with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Over the long term, Churchill Downs will hunt down the winter dates for a racetrack and historical gaming facility worth $200 million to be constructed in Northern Kentucky. The racetrack will be called New Latonia Racing & Gaming and will also serve as a trainer center all year-round.

While the new racetrack is being constructed, Churchill Downs Incorporated proposed that all winter dates in the 2020 racing calendar should occur at Churchill Downs situated in Louisville, Kentucky.

The application will request that NKYRG, a subsidiary of Churchill Downs Incorporated, be issued with a racing license that will allow it to provide live racing from January 2020 to March 2020 as well as December 2020.

Winter racing on the Kentucky circuit currently takes place at Turfway Park. However, the previous owner of the racetrack never added historical racing, even though he received loads of encouragement from the KHRC to improve purses. The Turfway Park racecourse is the online Thoroughbred track within Kentucky that doesn’t feature such gaming.

The December 2019 dates were awarded in 2018 to Turfway Park by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. In recent years, Turfway Park has raced from December through to March. Churchill Downs is proposing to take all the winter dates starting in January 2020. Once it’s completed, racing would take place from December through to March.

Hard Rock International decided to acquire Turfway Park for a whopping $780 million which also included the acquisition of JACK Cincinnati Casino from JACK Entertainment owned by Dan Gilbert. Since the purchase of Turfway Park, Hard Rock hasn’t made any announcements to add historical racing at the famous Turfway Park.

Churchill Downs Incorporated has stated that the allocation of the race dates in 2020 to NKYRG is a vital short-term goal to support Kentucky’s Thoroughbred racing circuit. Churchill Downs Incorporated anticipates that once the race dates in 2020 is awarded to NKYRG that it will lead to a sizable increase in pari-mutuel handle and purses which will also result in an increase in tax revenues for higher education, equine drug research, equine industry programs, Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund, and the Kentucky General Fund.

Should this be approved, the race dates that will occur at Churchill Downs will make a permanent move to the New Latonia facility after construction is completed.

Phase 1 of the New Latonia facility could provide Northern Kentucky with a $150 million economic development project that can lead to over 400 part-time and full-time positions along with up to 800 construction jobs in the process.

Phase 1 aspects also includes a historical racing machine facility that will come equipped with up to 1,500 machines, food/beverage venues, a state-of-the-art clubhouse, a synthetic one-mile main race track, stabling facilities, and an inner dirt track.

Churchill Downs Incorporated also expects that the New Latonia racetrack will remain open as a training facility year-round to support the Kentucky Thoroughbred racing circuit. Phase 2 of the project should include the addition of a prestigious hotel along with an incremental investment of around $50 million.

Derby City Gaming, a historical gaming facility owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated, has performed extremely well in Louisville, and the corporation believes that the same level of success will be enjoyed in Northern Kentucky as well.

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