This week the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission amended its regulations to authorize pari-mutuel wagering on historic races.
I applaud them for taking this important step toward helping our state’s endangered horse industry.
Specifically, regulations were adopted formalizing the approval process for exotic wagering on both live and historic horse races.
Now, let me be clear about what these regulations will and will not do.
The regulations will provide an additional tool that Kentucky horse racing tracks can use to draw people to their venue, to supplement purses and to assist horsemen who are struggling but want to race in Kentucky.
However, no one should see today’s actions as THE answer to the challenges faced by Kentucky’s horse industry.
Nor will it generate any significant new revenue for the state.
But it is an important step forward to help a struggling industry that is vital to the Commonwealth’s overall economic health, supplying 100,000 jobs and making a $4 billion impact every year.
And for those who say that Kentucky’s horse industry isn’t hurting, they need only to see the distressing stories of the last few months.
• Turfway Park requested that the KHRC allow them to cut four Wednesday race cards and all but one stakes race from its fall meet schedule, a request that was granted, just to keep its purses at last year’s diminished levels.
• This year Churchill Downs cut its spring meet from five days a week to four days, and Ellis Park is only racing three days a week. Yet the horses racing at these tracks continue to migrate to other tracks, including venues just across the river.
• And finally, Keeneland recently announced that it would reduce its fall meet purses by $1 million. This follows two consecutive meets with six-figure
And that’s just at the tracks!
Not mentioned are the breeders who are being lured away by more robust incentives elsewhere; the shortage of equine veterinarians; and the closure of small, horse-related businesses.
Kentucky’s connection to the horse is quite special.
The fact that we’re known as the “Horse Capital of the World” is a great source of pride for every Kentuckian; and as Governor, I will continue to do everything in my power to see that we retain that title.