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Churchill Downs, home of Kentucky Derby, to undergo $300m redevelopment

Churchill Downs Racetrack, the home of the Kentucky Derby, has announced plans to invest $300m (€269m) upgrading its facilities.

The project, which is subject to approval from the Kentucky Tourism Development Incentive Act, includes the construction of a hotel with gaming machine facilities and permanent stadium seating at the first turn of the racetrack.

Racecourse operator Churchill Downs Incorporated indicates the new 156-room, seven-storey hotel will feature a 900-machine ‘historical racing machine’ (HRM) gaming floor. Historical race wagering, which allows players to bet on horse races or dog races that have already been run, is permitted under Kentucky’s gambling laws.

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The hotel will also feature a sports bar, VIP lounge and year-round dining venues, plus new hospitality facilities for 3,400 guests. 96 trackside suites with private balconies will offer premium entertainment facilities for thoroughbred races such as the Derby and the Kentucky Oaks.

A new permanent outdoor seating stand and all inclusive-hospitality facilities will accommodate approximately 4,700 guests and will replace 3,300 temporary grandstand seats.

Churchill Downs Incorporated has developed a reputation for being one of the more forward-looking racecourses in the US, updating its facilities regularly in the past 20 years. Churchill Downs racetrack underwent a massive $171m renovation from 2001-05 and followed that up with the installation of a 171-foot video board and 750 sound speakers in 2013. Another $12m video board and a new 2,500-seat Grandstand Terrace debuted this year.

Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack said in a statement: “Derby Week guests can wake up to the sun rising as horses breeze around the track and then have their Kentucky Derby party in their suite.

“Our goal is to create a one-of-a-kind experience that will honor the history of the Derby and provide a venue for our guests, the community and visitors of Louisville to enjoy throughout the year.”