Keeneland has reached an agreement to purchase Thunder Ridge Raceway, a harness track near Prestonburg, Ky., with plans to replace the raceway with a Quarter Horse track offering Instant Racing machines in Corbin, Ky.
Regulatory approval is still required before the plan can be made official, but Keeneland chief operating officer Vince Gaffert has said that a short meeting could be held 18 months after final approval. This could mean that Quarter Horse racing will be held in the state as soon as 2016.
Quarter Horse racing has not been held in Kentucky since 2010, when the Red Mile held a two-day summer meet. The Red Mile had been hosting the meet since 2004. The meet was planned in 2011, but was cancelled due to a lack of horses. Quarter Horse racing had previously been popular in the state, peaking in 1988 with 140 dates split between Bluegrass Downs and Riverside Downs.
With the continued growth of the Hialeah Park winter meet in Florida, a spring Quarter Horse meet in Kentucky could prove to be successful. With it's location near the Tennessee border, the Instant Racing machines should surely be able to create a strong purse structure.
Keeneland plans on hosting harness racing at Thunder Ridge in 2015 before shuttering the raceway. Hopefully Keeneland will be sure to keep integrity standards high as they revive Kentucky Quarter Horse racing.