HomeHorse bettingHorse race tracks in Kentucky

Horse race tracks in Kentucky

Kentucky is the crown jewel of U.S. horse racing states. On this page, you’ll learn about the horse race tracks in Kentucky, as well as how to place wagers at the racing venues.

Table of contents

One of the most popular and accessible ways to bet in the United States is to wager on horse racing, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a state with a more impressive racing and betting history than Kentucky. As the home of the iconic Kentucky Derby to begin thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown each year, millions of dollars are wagered at the event every year while harness and quarter horse racing continues to drive gambling revenues throughout the racing season.

While on-track betting revenue has been in decline for years, off-track and online horse betting in Kentucky have kept pari-mutuel wager handles high. According to JockeyClub.com, pari-mutuel wagering saw a U.S. handle that exceeded $12 billion in 2022, the most recent year for which data is available.

In this piece, we’ve highlighted the horse race tracks in Kentucky, detailed how you can place a bet at those facilities, and offered some tips from our horse race betting experts to help you increase your gambling profitability when heading to the tracks.

Horse race tracks in Kentucky


In Kentucky there are 6 horse race tracks. Below is a map and table of all of them:

Kentucky race track

Address

Churchill Downs

700 Central Ave.
Louisville, KY 40208

Ellis Park

3300 US-41 N
Henderson, KY 42420

Keeneland

4201 Versailles Road

Kentucky Downs - The Mint Gaming Hall

5629 Nashville Rd
Franklin, KY 42134

The Red Mile

1200 Red Mile Rd
Lexington, KY 40504

Turfway Park

7500 Turfway Rd
Florence, KY 41042

Yes, it is legal to bet at horse race tracks in KY. Money that is wagered at Kentucky horse race tracks is used to help make up the purses awarded to winning racers as well as to help the tracks run their business operations.

In Kentucky, bettors are allowed to participate in pari-mutuel wagering or fixed odds wagering. Pari-mutuel wagering sees all wagers put into a pool with payouts disbursed to the winners after the track and taxes have been taken out while fixed odds wagering locks in your potential payout amount at the time you place your wager.

How to place a bet at a Kentucky race track

Regardless of which Kentucky race track you choose to go to, you’ll find the process of placing a bet to be relatively straightforward. Here’s how you can make your next bet at the tracks.

  1. Research the races: The more information you have about the horses, jockeys, trainers, and track conditions before you show up at the race course, the more likely you are to craft a winning ticket. Don’t make uninformed wagers and hamstring your gambling efforts.
  2. Set your budgets: Make plans for the amount of money you can responsibly risk when placing your bets and on the amount of time you plan to spend at the track, then stick to those plans. This will help reinforce responsible gambling habits and make it easier to walk away once the bets are settled.
  3. Choose where to play: As a reminder, there are six race tracks where you can place a bet in Kentucky: Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs (The Mint Gaming Hall), The Red Mile, and Turfway Park.
  4. Find the betting window or kiosk: You can use either a betting window or a kiosk to place your wagers. It may help to write down the bets you intend to make. You’ll also need to have proper payment available to set your stake.
  5. Watch the races and collect your winnings: Once the horses have crossed the finish line and the times are finalized, you’ll be able to return to the betting window and collect your winnings. Make sure you have a photo ID on hand or you won’t receive a payout!

Tips when betting at the race track in Kentucky

To help you enhance your gambling profitability, we polled our horse race experts to get their best advice. Here are their top tips when betting at the race track in Kentucky.

  • Find a few underdogs to mix in with favorites: In pari-mutuel wagering, the favorite horse wins roughly one-third of the time, while the horses with the two best odds win between 44-52% of the time (this range is to accommodate races that haven’t reported, but the exact figure falls somewhere between those numbers). This means between 48-56% of the time, a horse outside of the top two on the odds board will win the event. If you can begin to identify horses with a good chance of winning without having favorite or second-favorite odds, you have a shot at a nice payday when those horses finish first.
  • Understand track conditions: Knowledge of the track conditions (ground firmness, temperature, precipitation, etc.) is a crucial part of race preparation. Some horses thrive on firm ground while others perform better over a softer course. Grasping the tendencies and knowing when to adjust for the conditions are important skills to have in your horse betting set.
  • Pay attention to recent performances: While past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, it can certainly point you in the right direction. Study the results from not only the horses in the running but also the jockeys and trainers, who can be working with as many as 10 horses on race day. When the staff is in good form, horses tend to follow suit.
  • Supplement your own analysis with that from other experts: Social media is a great tool for finding horse racing bettors and experts in the field to provide high-level insights and analysis. As a reminder, you are responsible for your own wagers, even if you’re tailing racing sharps and pundits. Weigh out their advice for yourself before deciding whether or not to follow them.
  • Practice responsible gambling: It’s always prudent to walk away rather than chase your losses (making riskier bets to offset the stakes from losing wagers) or to get overconfident after a big win and end up leaving with nothing. As we discussed above, enforcing your time and financial budget plans is key to success in this area. If you or someone you know is at risk of problematic betting behaviors, many resources are available in Kentucky (such as 1-800-GAMBLER, the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling, and kygamblinghelp.org).

FAQ

Are there any horse race tracks near Louisville?

Yes, there are horse race tracks near Louisville. Churchill Downs, home of the legendary Kentucky Derby, is located within the city limits. However, all other tracks are more than an hour away from Louisville.

Which is the oldest horse race track in Kentucky?

The oldest horse race track in Kentucky is Churchill Downs in Louisville. Churchill Downs opened in 1875 and is the sixth-oldest track in the United States, trailing Monmouth Park (1870) in New Jersey, Pimlico (1870) in Maryland, Saratoga (1863) in New York, Fair Grounds (1838) in Louisiana, and Freehold Raceway (early 1830s, exact date unknown) in New Jersey.

Which KY race track is the biggest?

The biggest KY race track by audience capacity is Churchill Downs, which has a capacity of 170,000 (one of the largest capacities in the world). By track length, Kentucky Downs is the longest in Kentucky at a distance of one and five-sixteenth miles.

Can I bet on sports at Kentucky horse race tracks?

Yes, you can bet on sports at Kentucky horse race tracks, though you will have to do so in a different area than the horse betting area. Beyond online betting through a website or mobile app, each of Kentucky’s racetracks has a sportsbook at the facility.

How do I purchase tickets to a horse race at a Kentucky track?

You do not need to purchase tickets to most horse races at Kentucky tracks, as general admission is usually free. However, if you’re looking to purchase Kentucky Derby tickets, you will need to purchase tickets online or in person at Churchill Downs. General admission and standing-room-only tickets for the 2024 Derby start at $275 per person.

Are there any age restrictions for attending horse races in Kentucky?

No, there are no age restrictions for attending horse races in Kentucky. However, you must be at least 18 years old to place a wager with the racing bookies.

What is the history of horse racing in Kentucky?

Kentucky’s horse racing history dates back to the 1820s when the first official thoroughbred race was held at the Lexington Association Horse Racing Track. Though that facility has since shut down, others have risen to national and international esteem, such as Churchill Downs (opened in 1875) which hosts the Kentucky Derby as the first leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.

Are tours available at Kentucky horse race tracks?

Yes, tours are available at Kentucky horse race tracks. You will need to schedule the tours in advance and can do so through the track websites or by calling the venues.