KY Racing Commission To Meet This Friday To Decide Fate of Oak Grove Race Track

The Kentucky Racing Commission — which has contemplated and deliberated over a possible new race track to be built and operated in Oak Grove, KY. since getting a dates request in late September — will finally make a decision on the fate of the new proposal this Friday.


The Commission is set to convene at 1:30 p.m. ET at the Kentucky Horse Park to take up three applications that have been submitted to the official governing body for consideration in the rural, Southwest Kentucky city in southern Christian County.

On Tuesday, Oct. 30, the Commission listened to nearly 5 hours worth of testimony from three separate groups that have submitted applications to build, own, and operate a Standardbred racing facility in or around the area.

The first group to submit an application and the first group to testify at the Oct. 30 meeting was a new entity created by historic and iconic racetracks Keeneland and Churchill Downs. They collaborated on a proposal that was first submitted to the Commission well over a year ago now.

To help kickstart the debate to where it is today, Keeneland and Churchill Downs submitted race dates for the newly proposed facility in September. Their plan is to spend up to $150,000,000 on a new complex that will include a Standardbred racetrack, clubhouse, grandstand and a parlor for Historic Racing Machines. The second phase would include a hotel and other commercial properties.

The second group to submit an application and testify on Oct. 30 was Caesar’s Racing & Entertainment, which currently holds a license to conduct Standardbred racing at Bluegrass Downs in Paducah. In short, their proposal is to build a Standardbred track down I-24 towards Nashville and Clarksville, in a more populous zone, and to also spend upwards of $150,000,000 on a new complex.

The third group to submit an application and testify on Oct. 30 was Kentucky Downs, which owns and operates a Thoroughbred racing venue near Franklin, KY. and south of Bowling Green. Currently, Kentucky Downs races 5 days a year over its European-styled turf course.

Despite the fact that Kentucky Downs officially acknowledged that the race track is in the process of being sold to a group that includes Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone on Tuesday of this week, the track has also announced plans that it plans to proceed with pitching its’ application to construct, own and operate a Standardbred operation in Oak Grove, as well.

The Kentucky Downs application calls for an expenditure of approximately $50,000,000 for a new race track, Historical Racing Machine venue, and other amenities.

While the Kentucky Racing Commission, led by Chairman Franklin S. Kling, did not make a ruling on which of the applications may be accepted at the Oct. 30 meeting, the Commission did grant live dates to each of the three applicants — contingent upon the track winning the racing license and legal right to operate.

Now, decision day is forthcoming. The Commission is scheduled to begin deliberations at 1:30 p.m., and will decide on which of the applications will be awarded a license.


The Commission may elect to either postpone the decision yet again, or vote to issue no license at all.

The drama continues.




I was absolutely dancing into the Winner’s Circle. It was so exciting and Joel has been like one of my kids ever since he came from Bay Meadows. We tease each other a lot. We greet each other by grunting and everybody looks at us like, ‘what’s that all about’ but we’ve been doing it for years. So it’s wonderful to win with him. The owners are great people that really deserve something like this.

“This horse seems like he’s more adept at seven furlongs to a mile so I’m not sure he wants a mile and a quarter …

“I could tell my horse had won, but I was so excited in the stretch I thought I was gonna pass out.

“We are very happy with the way our horse had trained for this race, but it’s always scary when you get a look at those Baffert ‘Maseratis’, it pretty much unfolded the way we had hoped.

“The people that own this horse, they’ve got this colt a seven furlong-miler type maybe time will tell differently, but the other colt they are focusing on him going the two turns.”

  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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