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Things to come

Already unique, Kentucky Downs is moving up in the world. By: David McKee

If you want the sweetest racing purses in the U.S., take your thoroughbred to Kentucky Downs, in the southern tier of the Bluegrass State, near Nashville, Tennessee. During its select, six-day racing meet in September, the course awards $2 million in purses a day. It’s not money easily earned, as the course is a unique, kidney-shaped track, one of the longest in America at 1.15 miles. Much of that largesse is fuelled by ‘historical horse racing’ machines, gaming terminals that—despite a resemblance to slots—are legitimate in casino-allergic Kentucky. 

They’ve not only underwritten a renaissance at Kentucky Downs, they’ll be the centerpiece of its new expansion, The Mint, which debuts next month. In addition to 600 more HHR devices (for a grand total of 1,100), The Mint will bring a branded loyalty program to Kentucky Downs. Some of the players behind the racino will be familiar, such as former Station Casinos CFO Marc Falcone. Casino Life scored some face time with Director of Marketing John Wholihan, who gave us a verbal tour of one of North America’s most distinctive race courses.

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