Race Track, 1924-1928 (Raceland)
Historical Marker #2143 in Greenup County notes the location of Raceland, a horse racing track that was known as the "Million Dollar Oval."
In 1922, plans were made to establish a horse racing track near Ashland, Kentucky. Property was purchased near Chinnville by Jack Keene, noted horse breeder, trainer, and owner of Keeneland Stud in Lexington. Later that year, the Tri-State Fair and Racing Association was formed and purchased Keene's land along with additional acreage. Keene was made general manager of the venture. He oversaw the construction of the track and its operation.
No costs were spared in the design and construction of the track. The course featured easy access for attendees traveling by automobile or bus, and a railroad spur line of the Chesapeake and Ohio was built that brought spectators. The race track had a lake in the infield, and white painted fences with rose bushes ringed the oval. The grounds included an impressive grandstand, which allowed a full view of the one-mile track, a jockey club house, horse stables, and a dining hall. All of these fabulous amenities help the race course earn the nickname the "Million Dollar Oval."
Raceland’s first season was 1924. It featured summer races in July and August. The Raceland Derby, on July 19, drew a large crowd of 27,000, and featured Black Gold, who had won the Kentucky Derby. Bob Tail won the inaugural race and Black Gold came in third. Summer meets and the Raceland Derby were held consecutively from 1924 through 1928. Raceland, however, like many other horse racing tracks of this era, proved to be a financial failure.
In October 1928, Raceland faced a court-ordered foreclosure. In November, the track was sold to a company from New York. Attempts to breathe new life into the race course failed. In the late 1930s, the track's buildings were dismantled and portions of the land sold. A lasting legacy of the race course was the renaming of nearby town of Chinnville to Raceland, which it is still known as today.