Kentucky Downs expects change

By: Ryan Dearbone Email
By: Ryan Dearbone Email

It’s been about a decade since Kentucky Downs race track was re-opened after shutting down because of bankruptcy. Now the track faces new changes after two new owners agree to buy 85 percent of the business from its current management. One of those changes could allow patrons to drink alcohol as they bet.

John Wade has been a faithful patron of Kentucky Downs for the last 11 years, coming whenever he can.

“My wife and I come about three times-a-week. It’s our only hobby. We don’t play golf or anything like that,” Wade said.

He said he’s looking forward to possible changes at his favorite place.

“Well I’m sure that it’ll improve the operation here because as I understand it, the people that are buying it are hands on and they’ll take a great interest in it,” Wade said.

A change the live racing and simulcast track hopes to make is adding alcohol to its menu. General Manager, Ryan Driscoll said Kentucky Downs is the only dry racetrack in the United States.

“Just by getting a liquor license will give us the marketing tool to try to do different things here other than simulcast racing and live racing,” Driscoll said.

Driscoll said the staff at Kentucky Downs has been working for nearly a decade to offer alcohol to customers.

The racetrack is now being annexed into the city of Franklin, which has been a wet city since 2004.

He said it has taken a long time to convince the community to adopt the horse track after it was controversially closed a few years back.

“We finally have grown this business into a place that’s accepted by this community. When you buy a place out of bankruptcy, there’s a lot of ill will coming your way,” Driscoll said.

Driscoll said the annexation will increase the tracks chances of receiving their liquor license since the track’s restaurant has to be inside a partially wet county. He said it will also add more business to Downs’ home near I-65, Exit 2.

“The more businesses we get into Exit 2, the better the community does. The more the city moves out into the rural area, the more progressive it’ll be,” Driscoll explained.

Wade said he will continue to make his pilgrimage up from Gallatin, Tenn. and hopes the upcoming changes will bring more people to the track as well.

Driscoll said he doesn’t anticipate additional live racing this year, but he said it’s something that could happen in the future if a deal can be worked out with the other racetracks in Kentucky Down’s network.

The track currently holds 44 races in six days in September.

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