Churchill Downs Incorporated has applied to construct a new $200m thoroughbred racing facility in Northern Kentucky, which would take winter race dates away from Turfway Park.
Proposing to conduct racing in January through March and in December 2020, phase one of the project include a historical racing machine facility featuring up to 1,500 machines, a clubhouse, food and beverage venues, one-mile synthetic main race track, inner dirt track and stabling facilities.
The application requests that NKYRG, a wholly owned subsidiary of CDI, be issued a racing license to conduct live racing, with the New Latonia Racing and Gaming entity to remain open year-round as a training facility.
CDI states that allocation of the dates to NKYRG “is a critical, short-term measure to support the thoroughbred racing circuit in Kentucky.”
If approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, upon completion of the new racing facility, the race dates would permanently move to the proposed New Latonia facility.
Phase Two of the proposed project would see the addition of a hotel, representing an incremental investment of up to $50m.
Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack, explained: “Churchill Downs is stepping up to protect and grow Kentucky’s Thoroughbred racing circuit. 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.
“Just as Derby City Gaming’s historical racing machines have supercharged purses at Churchill Downs Racetrack, we plan to do the same for northern Kentucky’s racing fans at New Latonia.
“Our goal is to deliver an ultra-competitive racing product with more entries and high-quality horses that appeal to bettors and horseplayers nationwide.”
Turfway Park, which is in the middle of changing hands from Jack Entertainment to Hard Rock international, has expressed shock at the news to apply for winter dates that it traditionally holds.
“We are shocked and thoroughly disappointed by Churchill Downs’ recent attack on Turfway Park, which has been a significant part of the northern Kentucky community for over 60 years,” said Mark Dunkeson, CEO of Jack Entertainment.
Issuing its own statement on the news, HRI said: “Hard Rock’s Turfway Park project, that was recently presented to members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, is a rewarding project, not only for Florence, but for all thoroughbred racing in Kentucky.
“We’ve heard of another company trying to take over the existing race dates, however, we are focused on bringing our world-class entertainment to Northern Kentucky, as well as working hard to keep those dates at our venue, which were submitted by the Jack team on July 30, 2019 to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
“With venues in 74 countries, Hard Rock is a world-renowned entertainment company with proven success in restaurants, horse racing, hotels and casinos. In phase one, we will invest significant dollars to provide a first-class facility for horse racing and we’re excited to add historical horse racing machines, which will significantly increase purses and provide an improved horse racing experience in Northern Kentucky.”