LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- It's another opening day at Churchill Downs, the historic horseracing icon drawing in fans from all over the country.
"I needed a refresher on exactly what trifecta and exacta was, but I managed to win off my first bet, which is great," Charlie Lucas, visiting from Minneapolis, said.
While the horses may have taken center stage Friday, Churchill Downs Incorporated made a major announcement earlier in the morning about a historic partnership with Keeneland about its intentions to build and operate two new racing facilities in the Bluegrass State, one in Corbin in Knox County and the other in Oak Grove in Christian County.
"This coming together of our companies sends a clear message. We're joining together to bolster innovation for an industry vital to Kentucky's future," Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said.
"We think it will be an economic development opportunity, frankly," Churchill Downs VP of Racing Communications John Asher said. "These facilities will be an opportunity for those towns, the towns that host these facilities, we think it'll be an economic driver."
According to Asher, the facilities will primarily feature historical racing machines and will also hold live racing, bringing in hundreds of jobs and lots of added revenue. He also said the facilities will help increase the purse, which will help benefit the horsemen and the breeders.
"The state will be getting more tax revenue from these facilities as well," he said. "So, we hope it's an example of a win-win that's good for the industry and for the state as well."
"I think the different types of betting options that they have just makes it that much more engaging as well," Lucas said. "So, the more things that they offer, different ways to bet or engage with what's going on around I think just adds to the overall excitement."
Asher said right now, Churchill Downs is not focusing on possibilities if the legislature were to allow more types of gaming. Historical racing machines are allowed in Kentucky by the state's Horse Racing Commission.
"It's really not an issue we're focusing on right now. This is what's available," he said. "Historical racing is available. It's a pari-mutuel wager. It is legal in the state of Kentucky."
Asher said the proposal is only the first step of a long process. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will need to approve the application before any further progress is made.
According to Asher, Churchill Downs is building a historical racing facility in Louisville on Poplar Level Road, which is expected to open early next fall. As of now, there are three historical racing facilities in operation in Kentucky.
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