Keeneland will ask the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission May 6 for permission to offer Thoroughbred simulcasts at The Red Mile, the Lexington harness track that is constructing a facility for historical race wagering machines in partnership with Keeneland.
There have been no Thoroughbred full-card simulcasts at The Red Mile since the late 1990s, when it sold its simulcast rights to Keeneland. The Red Mile has regularly offered Standardbred and Quarter Horse simulcasts.
Keeneland in a letter to the KHRC said it doesn't intend to offer pari-mutuel wagering on its property "except on days when there are horse sales, live racing, and significant racing events such as the Kentucky Derby. Keeneland and The Red Mile believe offering pari-mutuel wagering in this manner will provide a modern and high-quality experience for its patrons and the community at large."
A date for the move wasn't included in the letter.
The letter said the two tracks are spending about $2 million to upgrade The Red Mile grandstand for simulcasts. The historical race wagering machines will be housed in a new facility connected to the front of the grandstand at a cost of at least ten times that amount.
Keeneland, in seeking approval, cited statutes that note it can conduct pari-mutuel wagering on its "licensed premises," and wishes to modify the description to include the second floor of The Red Mile grandstand.
"Keeneland believes that offering pari-mutuel wagering on Thoroughbred races at The Red Mile will create a destination for both Thoroughbred and Standardbred patrons and will increase fans' interest in all breeds, which will positively impact the horse racing industry as a whole as well as boost the local economy," Keeneland vice president and chief operating officer Vince Gabbert said in the letter.
Shannon Cobb, chief financial and operating officer at The Red Mile, in a letter to the KHRC said the harness track supports Keeneland's request.
Keeneland employs unionized pari-mutuel clerks, while The Red Mile does not. It's not yet known how the new arrangement for full-card simulcasts will impact employees' status.
Keeneland plans to build a Quarter Horse track with historical race wagering machines in Corbin in southeastern Kentucky not far from the Tennessee border. It has purchased the license of the Thunder Ridge Raceway harness track in Eastern Kentucky.