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Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Kentucky's two top racetracks, Churchill Downs and Keeneland, Friday announced plans to build two new tracks in southeastern and southwestern Kentucky, fueled with income from slot machine-like "historical racing" casinos.
The proposal calls for new construction in Corbin, in Knox County near the Daniel Boone National Forest and in Oak Grove, in Christian County near the Kentucky-Tennessee border near Nashville, Tenn.
The Oak Grove track would serve the same market as Kentucky Downs, which Thursday concluded the best racing season in its history. Kentucky Downs officials said it makes "no sense" to build a new track to compete in its established market.
Kentucky Downs races only a few days per year on its European-style turf track. It has no dirt or artificial surface and also helps fund its purse structure through wagering into "historical racing" machines on its grounds.
The proposed Knox County track would host Quarter Horse racing and the Oak Grove facility would be for harness racing. Both tracks would run limited meetings to meet the requirement that "historical racing" casinos operate only in tracks hosting live racing.
The Keeneland-Churchill Downs plan requires licensing by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. A request has been filed, track officials said.
"This coming together of our companies sends a clear message," said Bill Thompson, CEO of Keeneland. "We're joining together to bolster innovation for an industry vital to Kentucky's future."
Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen added, "Churchill Downs and Keeneland share a deep commitment to making Kentucky's horse racing industry the very best version of itself, and the new racing facilities in Corbin and Oak Grove will help us achieve this by generating much needed funds to increase purses and breeders' incentives."
Horsemen's groups joined the track executives in a video announcing the plans and expressed their support.