KY horse racing commission OKs planned Ashland track


The race 3 field breaks from the gate as Quarter Horse racing returned to The Red Mile in Lexington, KY on July 3, 2004. Kentucky, which doesn't have any quarter racing at the moment, approved a license for a new quarter horse racetrack in Boyd County.

The race 3 field breaks from the gate as Quarter Horse racing returned to The Red Mile in Lexington, KY on July 3, 2004. Kentucky, which doesn’t have any quarter racing at the moment, approved a license for a new quarter horse racetrack in Boyd County.

LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

A Massachusetts company plans to invest $55 million to build a quarter horse racing track and historical horse racing gambling venue in the eastern part of the state after receiving a license from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Tuesday.

The commission awarded the state’s ninth horse racing license – only nine are allowed – to Revolutionary Racing Kentucky LLC for the planned development near Ashland.

“We are excited to have quarter horse racing back in Kentucky. This project invests $55 million and creates 200 jobs in the northeast corner of our commonwealth,” Gov. Andy Beshear stated in a release about the project. “Bringing quarter horse racing back to Kentucky is an exciting opportunity to honor a lost Kentucky tradition and contribute to the state’s economy.”

Boston-based CEO of Revolutionary Racing Kentucky Prentice Salter told the commission last month he projects the facility would bring in a deal of $500 million a year, with a net revenue of $40 million.

According to the press release from the governor’s office, phase one of the project includes construction of a sprint race track, gambling facility, paddock, racing barns with 176 stalls in total, a test barn and parking.

Quarter horse races are higher speed sprints, shorter races than Thoroughbred races.

The construction project is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

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Fans watched as quarter horse racing returned to The Red Mile in Lexington, KY on July 3, 2004. A new quarter horse track has been approved for the Ashland area. Matt Goins LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

The company’s plans were first reported by the Ashland Daily Independent, which reported in May that Beshear’s office recommended the company’s application. The outlet reported the project plans to include 400 gambling machines.

Last month, the Boyd County Fiscal Court voted to help pave the way for the project by leasing a former Sears building off of US 60 to Revolutionary Racing Kentucky for the gambling parlor. Historical horse racing is aa slots-like game that bases winnings on the results of previously run races.

Ashland is a city of nearly 22,000 people on the Ohio River and included in the tri-state Huntington, W.Va., metro area.

State Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, represents Ashland in Frankfort and is also involved in the horse industry. She said the planned investment is “a statement of acknowledgment and commitment to our region of the state.”

Letters of support from lawmakers also included area Republican House members Scott Sharp, John Blanton and Patrick Flannery, according to the Ashland Daily Independent.

The Red Mile, a harness track in Lexington that has hosted quarter horse races, also wrote a letter of support to the racing commission.

The commission’s vote to approve the project was unanimous, although two commissioners abstained.

Ed Worley, a Richmond businessman who once served as a Democratic state senator, and Frankfort attorney William May recused themselves from the commission’s vote for approval due to “potential perceived conflict” of interest with the applicant.

Worley’s son, Preston, an attorney for McBrayer PLLC who also serves the 7th District on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council, is representing Revolutionary Racing Kentucky.

According to Daily Racing Form, Revolutionary Racing bought a racetrack in Virginia in 2018 and flipped it along with its license to Churchill Downs.

While Beshear praised the development, Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, questioned what he called a “rushed” process for license approval on the project. Thayer is a longtime lawmaker with profession and legislative ties to the horse racing industry.

“This ninth licence, especially with HRR, is very valuable and it has gone unassigned for 30 years now. I agree that Eastern Kentucky is the one part of the state that doesn’t have a track or facility since the closing of Thunder Ridge in Prestonsburg … but I don’t like how this process was rushed,” Thayer told the Herald-Leader.

Boyd County Judge Executive Eric Chaney said in the governor’s office release the project will be a boon to the region.

“We have all rallied behind this project because we understand what it will mean for our community – from jobs to tax revenues to quality of life,” Chaney said.

This story was originally published July 26, 2022 6:03 PM.

Austin Horn is a politics reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. He previously worked for the Frankfort State Journal and National Public Radio. Horn has roots in both Woodford and Martin Counties.

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