State Approves New Partners for Eastern Kentucky Track

Revolutionary Racing Kentucky’s first race dates also approved at The Red Mile

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted unanimously Monday to approve new partners in the race track and equestrian center set to be built in eastern Kentucky.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will serve as a financial partner to Revolutionary Racing Kentucky, while Keeneland Association will also be a partner. Both bring deep experience in racing and project development to the existing leadership team.

Commissioners also gave the green light to the group’s first week of quarter horse races, set for April 1-6, 2023. The races will take place at The Red Mile in Lexington, while the new Boyd County track is under construction.

“We appreciate the support the KHRC has shown for this project throughout this process,” said Larry Lucas, Chairman of Revolutionary Racing Kentucky. “We are excited to welcome our new partners and even more excited about the positive impact we can make in eastern Kentucky.”

Revolutionary Racing Kentucky will invest $55 million to build a world-class quarter horse track, equestrian center and entertainment complex in Ashland, Kentucky.

In addition to hundreds of union construction jobs, it is expected to create more than 200 good-paying, full-time positions. Operating year-round with shows and competitions, it is projected to generate nearly $1 million in new annual tax revenues.

Serving as Kentucky’s only track dedicated to quarter horses, it will feature a 660-yard sprint track and daily purses of up to $500,000, placing it among the nation’s leading quarter horse tracks. Plans call for the track to host its first race in 2024.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will make their investment through EBCI Holdings, a commercial gaming entity created in December 2020 to diversify the North Carolina-based tribe’s economic interests. Among the group’s holdings are casinos, as well as a gaming technology incubator.

“We couldn’t have found a better group to partner with or a better project to support,” said Richard Sneed, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “We have a long-term commitment to community reinvestment and providing best-in-class entertainment offerings to underserved markets. This world-class project aligns perfectly with that commitment.”

Keeneland brings a storied racing tradition to the team, as its Lexington-based track is considered one of North America’s premier operations. The company’s founder, Jack Keene, even opened and operated Raceland, a track in nearby Greenup County, in the 1920s. Since 2014, Keeneland has also partnered with The Red Mile on their historical horse racing facility in Lexington.

“Keeneland is excited to partner with Revolutionary Racing Kentucky on this initiative, which continues our mission to strengthen the state’s vital horse industry,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “Additionally, this project will positively impact the local community and stimulate economic growth in the region.” 

Revolutionary Racing Kentucky was awarded the commonwealth’s ninth and final horse racing license in July. Monday’s approval marks the first time in history that all nine license holders were awarded race dates. The group’s initial races at The Red Mile – which are supported by the American Quarter Horse Association - marks the return of quarter horse racing there for the first time in more than a decade.

Last week, Gov. Andy Beshear joined dozens of state and local leaders in a groundbreaking ceremony for the track, which he said “will help build the future of horse racing in Kentucky, and it will create great jobs for our people in Ashland, adding even more economic momentum to what the commonwealth is seeing as a whole.”