Inauguration of the Cumberland Run harness track - petsitterbank

Inauguration of the Cumberland Run harness track

Bringing horse racing back to Eastern Kentucky took another step forward on Jan. 31 with the grand opening of the Cumberland Run harness track.

Cumberland Run and Cumberland Mint, a satellite historic horse racing venue near Williamsburg, is a joint venture between Ron Winchell and ECL Racing Management of Marc Falcone and Keeneland Association. Winchell and Falcone are the majority owners and managing partners of Kentucky Highs and The Mint Gaming Hall in Franklin in south-central Kentucky between Bowling Green and Nashville.

Projections call for construction to be completed in time for Cumberland Run to operate from October 16 to November 16. 8 meet at the Corbin property at 75 Buchanan Blvd. off the Corbin bypass. The combined investment in the two companies will be approximately $80 million and more than 200 full-year jobs are expected to be created.

“Cumberland Run and Cumberland Mint represent an $80 million investment in Kentucky’s tourism and horse racing industries and are another example of how the economic boost we are experiencing is reaching communities across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Andy Beshear. “These exciting new attractions will create well-paying jobs for Kentucky residents and attract new tourist markets to Southeast Kentucky.”

Governor Beshear was joined by Senate Speaker Robert Stivers, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer and Rep. Tom O’Dell Smith for the ceremony signifying the start of construction that will provide the Commonwealth with a third Standardbred track.

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“Harness racing has a long and storied history in Kentucky: think Dan Patch, Greyhound and Niatross in Red Mile,” said Stivers (R-Manchester), whose district includes Corbin. “After being on the ropes, there has been a substantial rebound in the Standardbred industry. We have added historic horse racing, a natural addition and attractive tourist attraction to the Commonwealth, and Cumberland Run will be an important cog to reestablish a harness circuit. Kentucky to revitalize the area.”

Photo: Clai Juba Wald

A rendering of the HHR machines at Cumberland Run

Cumberland Run will be the first equestrian trail in eastern Kentucky since the closure of Thunder Ridge, also a harness trail, in Prestonsburg in 2017.

“Cumberland Run would not have become a reality without the leadership of our state and local officials,” Falcone said. “Our heartfelt thanks to Governor Beshear, President Stivers, Chief Thayer and Rep. Tom Smith for their unwavering support of this project and the race across the Commonwealth. We are also grateful for the guidance of Corbin Mayor Suzy Razmus, Knox County Judge-Executive Mike Mitchell and Economics Director Bruce Carpenter, without whom this project would not be possible.”

Last year, Corbin’s dates took place at the Red Mile harness track in Lexington with the meet funded by the owners of the new track. Winchell said then that they wanted to show their commitment to harness racing and did not want to take a year off while the facility was being built. Now it is important that the 2022 meeting takes place in Corbin, he said.

“We want to bring those jobs and those out-of-state tourism dollars to Corbin, Williamsburg and southeastern Kentucky as soon as possible,” Winchell said. “We want Cumberland Run and Cumberland Mint to be economic engines for the tourism industry in Whitley, Knox and Laurel counties. serviced for an additional year – entertainment options throughout the day and late into the night.”

Keeneland has worked to bring horse racing to Corbin for a decade, teaming up with Winchell and Falcone on the project in September 2020.

“Keeneland is proud to work with Corbin and our friends at Kentucky Downs on the continued growth of racing in Kentucky,” said Shannon Arvin, president and CEO of Keeneland. “We particularly appreciate the support provided by the local community. Cumberland Run, which has been in the works for several years, will strengthen the equestrian industry, generate millions of dollars in tourism for the region and create a destination that makes us all proud.”

Construction has already begun on the Williamsburg project, which is expected to open in July.

“This is an exciting time for the 86th District and Southern Kentucky,” said Smith, who represents Knox County. “I want to thank the Governor for his leadership in the Thoroughbred industry and look forward to Keeneland and Kentucky Downs investing millions of dollars in our region. I also want to thank Chairman David Osborne for the sponsorship of the legislation and the Senator Stivers leadership that made this possible.”

Cumberland Run will feature a five-eighths-mile limestone track, similar to Oak Grove Racing’s near Hopkinsville but with a longer stretch. There will be 150 historic horse racing terminals at Cumberland Run when this facility is complete, including a restaurant, planned for January 2023. The Cumberland Mint is expected to have 450 historic horse racing machines.

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