The City of Corbin is just months away from watching horses race to the finish line on its new harness racing track, Cumberland Run.
Keeneland and ECL Entertainment LLC are investors in the Cumberland Run project, taking on the challenge of expanding the Commonwealth's horse racing industry to Southeastern Kentucky.
“One of our owners, he believes in the horse racing community and HHR [Historical Horse Racing Machines] was created to keep horse racing in Kentucky and increase bigger drives....like tourism and economic development,” said Cumberland Run/Cumberland Mint Vice President and General Manager Henry Graffeo.
Since the Mint’s opening in August 2022, Graffeo says 164 jobs have been created through the Mint Gaming Hall, with approximately 30 jobs expected to be added when Cumberland Run opens. Graffeo assured more jobs will be added when the race meets are in-season.
“When Mayor Roddy Harrison comes to visit the property, which he does often, he takes a ride around the parking lot and sees license plates from Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama,” said Graffeo. “From an economic standpoint, you see the hotels are getting more business and if I had to guess, the restaurants are getting more business. Roddy mentioned that he’s even seen tourists downtown.”
Although Cumberland Run has yet to have an impact, Graffeo has high hopes for tourism and economic development in Corbin as well.
Cumberland Run will have a smaller facility compared to the Mint Gaming Hall but will feature a five-eighths of a-mile limestone track like Oak Grove Racing near Hopkinsville, but with a longer stretch.
The harness racing facility will open with about 50 HHR gaming machines, a kitchen, and a bar in the center and will be similar in décor and set up like the Mint Gaming Hall. There will also be six self-betting terminals so you can bet while you wait for the next race.
Seating will not be set up like a traditional grandstand, but instead, seating will be available at the bar, outside the building, and out by the finish line. Graffeo added, the seating can and will expand based on demand.
Although Cumberland Run was expected to open this month, January 2023, supply chain issues with building materials have delayed the process.
Graffeo explained the Cumberland Run building is now required to be finished by late first quarter (possibly March 2023.)
The first horse meet is set for October 16 to October 18 in Corbin.
An entry fee will not be required to watch the races. It's free for the whole family. To participate in betting, you must be 18 years old or older.
“I hope Mayor Razmus and Bruce Carpenter are exactly right - that the Cumberland Run is going to blow the walls off this place and we have to expand and that way, we can employ even more people and partner with the whole town.” He added, “I also want to do some events at the property when we’re not racing, like NIBROC that goes on every year – I would love to have something like that at the grounds – whether it’s a fair, a concert series, or other sporting events.”
Graffeo concluded by saying he hopes the community is proud of what they've built.
Samantha Walden, Staff Writer at The Kentucky Daily