07/29/2014 8:52AM

Keeneland shelves plans for Instant Racing parlor


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Keeneland has put its plans to build a parlor for slot-machine-like devices on hold “indefinitely” because of its recent selection as the host of the Breeders’ Cup two-day event in 2015, the track’s chief operating officer confirmed Tuesday.

Keeneland on Friday asked the Lexington Board of Adjustment for a 60-day postponement of its application for a permit to build the parlor, which will be located near the track’s Keene Barn on what is described by locals as “the hill,” east of the track’s main parking area and grandstand. The board approved the postponement, although it is unlikely that Keeneland will apply for the permit anytime soon, according to Vince Gabbert, the track’s COO.

“We are still in the development stage of Instant Racing, and we want to make sure we take the time to get it right,” Gabbert said in an e-mailed statement, referring to the slot-like devices, which use the results of horse races that have previously been run to determine payouts for players. “We also don’t want to be under construction on a new facility during the Breeders’ Cup, particularly when the site involves our tailgate area.”

Earlier this year, Keeneland received approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to operate 600 of the machines. At the time, the track said the facility to house the machines would open in the summer of 2015, well before the Breeders’ Cup in the fall. The 61,000-square-foot building also would feature a large simulcast area, the track said, and 441 new parking spaces.

The legality of the machines has been challenged by an anti-gambling group, the Family Foundation of Kentucky. That litigation is still unresolved.

Keeneland is expected to erect large areas of temporary seating for the Breeders’ Cup event. Though Keeneland officials have declined to comment on their specific plans, the event is likely to draw a record crowd to the facility, which is much smaller than many of the previous Breeders’ Cup host sites. Record attendance at Keeneland is 40,617, set at the spring meet in 2012.

Instant Racing machines have already been installed at Kentucky Downs near the border with Tennessee and at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. Churchill Downs has so far declined to pursue the machines, contending that they are not competitive with slot machines and other casino games offered in neighboring states.