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Churchill Downs-Keeneland JV proposes to build $125M horse-racing track

WKY Development LLC, Churchill Downs Inc.'s joint venture with Kentucky-based thoroughbred race track company Keeneland Association Inc., has lodged an application with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to build a $125 million racing facility in Oak Grove, Ky.

The company is also requesting live standardbred racing dates at Churchill Downs' former Louisville Downs racing venue at Derby City Gaming in Louisville for 2019 and at the proposed Oak Grove venue in 2020, according to a Sept. 4 announcement.

If approved, live standardbred racing would permanently move to the proposed Oak Grove site starting 2020, according to the release. Construction of the site is expected to create almost 800 jobs. If operational, the track is expected to hire 400 direct full and part-time jobs.

The racetrack will feature up to 1,500 racing machines, a 125-room hotel with an event center and food and beverage venues. It will also have a 1,200-person capacity grandstand and event space for indoor events, as well as a 3,000-person capacity outdoor amphitheater and stage, and a state-of-the-art equestrian center that has indoor and outdoor arenas.

The proposal follows the closure of Thunder Ridge racetrack in Prestonsburg, Ky., last year, which according to Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery, was "a significant hit to horse racing in the Commonwealth."