When dueling was no longer legal in Kentucky, the 260-acre “dueling grounds” had more conventional agricultural uses until a group of investors acquired the property in the 1980s to develop a unique “turf only” race track to stage steeplechase races.
That vision came to life when a 1 5/16-mile race course and a colonial-style clubhouse opened for business on April 22, 1990. The race track was named "Dueling Grounds" in recognition of the colorful history associated with the property.
The race track operated as Dueling Grounds until 1998, when new owners renamed the track Kentucky Downs. In 2007 a group of investors, led by Nashville businessman Ray Reid and former Lone Star Park president Corey Johnsen, purchased a majority interest in Kentucky Downs with a vision for expanding the scope of its operations in the future. The game changer was track ownership betting that historical horse racing would be a big hit. That’s the innovative technology based on the results of previously run races that marries the excitement of electronic gaming with the parimutuel system that is the linchpin of American racing. HHR transformed Kentucky Downs into an industry leader, which not only pays out the highest average-daily purses in North America, Europe and Hong Kong, but has allowed the transfer millions of dollars in purse money to other Kentucky tracks in an arrangement with horsemen to boost the entire circuit.
Kentucky Downs was sold in March, 2019, to a new partnership headed by prominent horseman and entrepreneur Ron Winchell and well-known gaming and investment-banking executive Marc Falcone.
Today, Kentucky Downs conducts its live turf-racing meet in late summer on the only “European-style” race course in America. The meet is staged in an informal festival setting and features the annual running of the Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, worth $1 million for the first time in 2019, and four other graded stakes. Additionally, Kentucky Downs is home to more than 750 historical horse racing machines, live music and entertainment, year-round simulcasting and charity bingo events.