By Kathleen Adams
Nearly a dozen members of the Kentucky Quarter Horse Racing Association gathered at the Kentucky state capitol rotunda in Frankfort March 27 and watched as Gov. Paul Patton signed ceremonial legislation that effectively paves the way for the sport to return to the Bluegrass.
Patton originally signed the bill into law March 18. It amends Kentucky's horse racing statute to include Quarter Horse racing in sections relating to intertrack wagering and simulcasting. Essentially, the legislation allows a racetrack licensed to hold Quarter Horse racing to send and receive a signal, and thereby allows a track licensed to conduct racing to send and receive a signal.
Another provision addresses the issue of how commission monies from interstate wagering are to be split. Under the bill, 25% will go to the receiving track, with 25% earmarked for the host track and 50% for a Quarter Horse purse program.
"We've been working on getting live Quarter Horse racing back into Kentucky since last year," Kentucky Quarter Horse Racing Association president Dwaine Cissell said. "Now, we basically just need to find a home to run some races."
At a Kentucky Racing Commission meeting held last October, Turfway Park president Bob Elliston said his racetrack was willing to host Quarter Horse racing. However, at the same meeting, Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent Protective Association, voiced his opposition to the plan. He said there simply wasn't enough public interest to warrant a return of Quarter Horse racing.
Neither Elliston nor Maline could be reached for comment on the latest developments.
Cissell disagrees with the contention there is a lack of interest in Quarter Horse racing. He said he hopes the various racing organizations will unite to make "Kentucky a horse racing state."
And while it's too late to get racing dates for this year, Cissell said he plans to start meeting with representatives from racetracks like Turfway Park and Thunder Ridge, a Standardbred track in Prestonsburg, about possible dates for 2004.