Growing up in Raceland, Kentucky, I knew some of the significance behind the town’s name. It was named for the “Million Dollar Oval,” a horse racing track.
Raceland, a 1½-mile track adorned with elaborate pink and maroon roses with a grandstand that could hold 4,000 spectators, only operated for a scant four years between 1924 and 1928. Financial difficulties forced Raceland to close in 1929.
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I used to work for an online horse wagering company, so I know a little more about Raceland. It was requested and financed by the county, who hired Keene to design it. The county, however, made changes to the design of the track, clubhouse and grandstand which greatly pissed Keene off, and after Raceland was completed, he designed and built Keeneland, his dream track. Raceland went under during the Depression (which some say wouldn’t have happened had the county followed Keene’s plans to the letter), but Keeneland survives and is still one of the premiere thoroughbred tracks in the country.