The long-awaited quarter horse track in Corbin will be a partnership between Keeneland and Churchill Downs officials have announced.
Cumberland Run, which is to be built on 149 acres of property off of the Corbin bypass, will be one of two facilities constructed under the agreement.
The second facility, Oak Grove, will be built in Christian County in southwestern Kentucky.
“Horse racing is a $4 billion industry in the Commonwealth that creates thousands of jobs, strengthens our statewide economy and attracts millions of visitors from around the globe,” said Churchill Downs Inc. Chief Executive Officer Bill Carstanjen. “Churchill Downs and Keeneland share a deep commitment to making Kentucky’s horse racing industry the very best version of itself, and the new racing facilities in Corbin and Oak Grove will help us achieve this by generating much needed funds to increase purses and breeders’ incentives.”
According to a joint press release from Keeneland and Churchill Downs, the facilities will feature live horse racing and historical racing machines.
Officials stated that one holdup on the facilities is a license from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission authorizing the historical racing machines.
Applications for those licenses are to be filed with the racing commission today.
The racing commission is next scheduled to meet on Oct. 17.
“Corbin is thrilled to be a part of this historic venture between two of the horse racing industry’s most iconic names,” Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney said. “The new racing facility will be a welcome addition to our city’s already long list of sites and attractions for local residents and visitors.”
Keeneland officials announced in 2014 they would build the new facility in Corbin.
Corbin Economic Development Director Bruce Carpenter said plans for the facility remain essentially unchanged.
“I just think the fact that you have Churchill involved with Keeneland is a major step forward,” Carpenter said. “Locally, we are here to support the effort anyway we can.”
The original target date for opening was September 2016.
However, numerous snags, including an infestation by a species of endangered bat and a legal battle over the required racing license, has delayed construction.
Initial plans were to purchase the required racing license from Appalachian Racing, Inc., the owner of the defunct Thunder Ridge harness racing track in Floyd County.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has issued eight racing licenses to facilities across the state.
However, upon discovering the existence of an unissued ninth license, Keeneland officials applied to the commission for that license, changing the name of the proposed Corbin facility to, “Cumberland Run.”
With Floyd County potentially liable for the bond debt, a lawsuit was filed to force Keeneland to purchase the Floyd County license.
Floyd County officials noted that if the county were held liable for the debt, it would be bankrupt.
The case moved to the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 2016 and is currently in the hands of the Kentucky Supreme Court.
In July, the $2.2 million outstanding bonds were paid off.
“From my understanding, if all the things come together, we could see some activity out there this year,” Carpenter said when asked when construction may begin.