Kentucky’s Horse Racing Industry Is In The Money

Written By Frank Weber on April 20, 2022 - Last Updated on May 22, 2023
Purses increase and track improvements Kentucky horse racing

It’s proving to be a great year for Kentucky horse racing.

The Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) expected to see a $5.2 million surplus in funds through the end of the February Meet, and a $7.2 million surplus by the end of the Spring Meet.

“Things are going so well. Racing in Kentucky is going great,” added Rick Hiles, president of the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association. “I compliment everybody who is pitching in to help make this right. Kentucky is becoming the premier place in America for racing.”

Due to the success, many purses have been bolstered across the board. Most of that success can be attributed to the blossoming Derb City Gaming Center at Churchill Downs. Kentucky Downs’ Bowling Green facility for gaming has also seen success, generating nearly $40 million since it opened in March.

In addition to increased purses, a lot of the extra funds are being used to improve the racetracks. Kentucky Downs, for example, added 40 additional stalls to the backstretch, as well as a new pavilion for horsemen.

Given how much horse racing is bringing in, it’s fair to speculate the same is happening for Kentucky horse betting. And that highlights what sports betting in Kentucky could look like.

Ellis Park celebrates 100 years and sees influx of funds

Ellis Park is celebrating its 100th year in horseracing in 2022, and what better way to do it than with increased funds and track improvements. Corporate general manager at Ellis Park, Jeff Inman, said:

“This year marks 100 years of racing at Ellis Park, and we are committed to making improvements to the facility and the Commonwealth of Kentucky and its fans that have been loyal to us for 100 years now. We now have the resources to fix this place up, and we are excited and committed to making Ellis Park a successful part of the Kentucky circuit.”

Ellis Park is set to pay out $2.8 million for the upcoming Summer Meet, as well as an additional $1 million in funds that will be transferred from Kentucky Downs.

While this is a slight decrease in purse from last year, six fewer races are being run at the 2022 Ellis Park meet. A total of $3.9 million was paid out in 2021, with $3.8 million set to pay out in 2022.

Ellis Park is also seeing some track improvements this year, which include:

  • Widening the track’s turf
  • Building a retention pond
  • Improved track lighting
  • A new barn

And other stabling improvements are coming, including stall repairs, new limestone in the stalls, and wash racks.

Turfway Park almost doubles purse

Turfway Park in Florence, KY, is also reaping the benefits of horse racing’s renaissance in Kentucky. Betting at the track increased by 24% last year, and stakes jumped at the raceway from $5 million to almost $10 million.

The Turfway also built five new barns which include:

  • About 150 stalls
  • A new test barn
  • And a two-story residential dormitory on-site for the horsemen/women.

These renovations should be complete by November.

The new Turfway Park Racing and Gaming facility is set to open in September and will house over 1,500 historical horse racing machines.

Photo by Garry Jones/Associated Press
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Frank Weber

Frank Weber is a US-based gambling writer with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He loves baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and the UFC, and even collects sports cards and memorabilia in his spare time. In his free time, you could find Frank either out at a concert with friends, or at home sweating out all his bets.

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