Horses moved out of Kentucky due to Ashwood Training Center closure, highlights issue

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Posted at 9:34 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 21:34:08-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Come Friday, one of the closest horse training centers and tracks to downtown Lexington will sit empty. Trainers need to move their horses out of the Ashwood Training Center on Russell Cave Road by the end of Thursday.

A proposal that is making its way through the city’s planning process would allow the Lexington Sporting Club to place 12 soccer fields on what is currently the dirt track.

Tim Richardson, who trains three horses at the facility, said he is moving his horses to a spot in Louisville. He will still live in Lexington, he said, and plans to make the commute back and forth every day.

“It’s a big inconvenience."

Trainers LEX18 spoke with said hundreds of horses were housed at the track, which they said was more accessible and affordable than many other facilities. Larry O’Byrne said the facility was highly unique. An official clocker would come to the track and publish horse track times shared O'Byrne.

“The horsemen who do not have a substantial pocketbook will have nowhere to go,” said Sarah Macharg, who manages a nearby horse farm.

There just aren't enough stalls and tracks in Central Kentucky for everyone who wants to have their horse here, and the closure of Ashwood makes the problem worse, trainers said.

“There's a lot of little guys in the business and we help the world go round, and right now, the little guy is getting pushed out a little bit,” Richardson said.

For some trainers, the closure of the facility won’t just mean they leave Central Kentucky, they are being forced to leave the state entirely, O’Byrne said. He has clients that had horses at Ashwood are now scattered at Churchill downs, at Turfway near Cincinnati, as well as locations out of the state. It’s a problem that is increasing, he said.

“When you’re shrugging your shoulders, you have to really ask yourself, 'Are we really the horse capitol?'” O’Byrne said. If we can’t come up with answers, who can come up with answers?”

Will Glasscock, director of policy and legislative affairs said any reduction in farmland will increase the cost of farms everywhere, not just for the actual price of the property. He spoke against the plan to allow soccer fields to be built on the training facility, which is zoned agricultural rural but sits adjacent to the boundary where a project like this would be easier to build in terms of zoning. Many people who spoke at the hearing Tuesday were concerned the project opens the door for more construction in the agricultural zone.

Dennis Anderson, who owns the property, said a year of on-and-off litigation led to Ashwood’s lease being terminated.