Group Seeking License to Build Track in Kentucky

Former Walmac International Farm owner John T.L. Jones Jr. is heading a seven-member partnership seeking Kentucky’s last available racetrack license from the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority to construct a Quarter Horse track in the southeastern portion of the state.

The KHRA formed a committee during its April 16 meeting to review the application. KHRA chairman Bill Street said a vote on the license application would come at a later date.

Under the name Sprint Racing Partners, the group plans to build a five-eighths-mile track near London on land on which it has a lease option. The track would cost between $15 million and $20 million to build, and could be constructed within 18 months. If approved, the track would request about 13 racing dates per year, officials said.

“The money is in place,” Jones said. “We could start turning dirt tomorrow if we had your approval.”

Other members of the development group include Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse owner and racetrack operator R.D. Hubbard and Bruce Rimbo. Chris Sullivan, chairman of the board of the Outback Steakhouse Corp., is a member of the Sprint Racing board.

Brent Caldwell, a Lexington attorney representing the group, said the motivation for new facility would be racing, simulcasting, and creating a tourism destination.

Former KHRA member Tom Handy, the former commonwealth’s attorney in London who is working with the group as a consultant , said he believes it would be beneficial for the region. He didn’t begin his consulting position until after his term on the authority had expired; while on the KHRA, Handy and others last year voted against a different application for a Quarter Horse and Standardbred track in the same region of the state.

Standardbred horsemen attended the April 16 meeting and said they oppose the new application.

In other business, Dr. Nancy Davis, who served for more than 30 years as veterinarian for the racing regulatory body, announced she will retire April 27. For the past year, she has served as the state’s acting chief veterinarian.

Davis will be replaced by Dr. Lafe Nichols, who founded the Veterinary Medical Center of Henderson, Ky., in 1985, and has worked with the KHRA during special events, such as the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup World Championships.