Quarter Horse racing to return to Kentucky after three-decade absence

A rendering of the proposed new quarter horse racetrack in Ashland, Kentucky. © Revolutionary Racing

Quarter Horse racing is to be re-introduced to Kentucky in a move that is expected to create 200 jobs in the northeast corner of the Bluegrass state.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has awarded its ninth and final license to a new facility, with Revolutionary Racing planning to invest $US55 million into building a track and equestrian center in Ashland, Kentucky.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the project was an “exciting opportunity to honor a lost Kentucky tradition and contribute to the state’s economy”.

In 1988, there were two race tracks with quarter horse racing. It has been three decades since quarter horse racing took place in Kentucky.

Quarter Horse racing has deep roots in Kentucky with a history dating back to the earliest days of Daniel Boone’s “Kentucky Territory.” A historical marker near Lexington indicates that in 1780, pioneers established the starting point of the first race path and extends southward one quarter mile.

The Quarter Horse excels at sprinting short distances, namely the quarter mile or less. According to the Kentucky Quarter Horse Association, there are 30,000 registered quarter horses in Kentucky in 2021 owned by more than 10,000 residents.

Revolutionary Racing, with principals Lawrence Lucas and Prentice Salter, obtained the last available racing license in Kentucky. The application included a request to build a quarter horse race track in Boyd County. Phase one includes the construction of the sprint race track, Historical Horse Racing (HHR) machines, paddock with offices and walking ring, two racing barns with 88 stalls each, a test barn and parking. The construction project is expected to be completed in 2024.

“This is an exciting time for quarter horse racing owners and fans and for Ashland and the surrounding communities, an underserved market in the equine industry,” said Beshear.

The license is supported by several entities and officials, including the Lexington Trots Breeders Association and the Red Mile track. President and CEO Joe Costa said that while the growth of standardbred racing was paramount to Red Mile, “it wholeheartedly supports the re-introduction of quarter horse racing to the commonwealth and looks forward to working together with Revolutionary Racing in the future to the benefit of both breeds of horses”.

In 2021, The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a resolution in support of the quarter horse industry in the commonwealth, recommending that at least one race track license be awarded or held explicitly for quarter horse sprint racing.

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