Jim Gallagher, the new executive director of the Kentucky Racing Authority, said that tailoring state laws to "seamlessly fit with other jurisdictions" should be a goal of state regulators nationwide.
"You must think nationally," Gallagher, a New York native, told a breakfast meeting of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Media at Keeneland Oct. 5. "With participants in racing flowing into different jurisdictions, state regulators have to think of the greater good." Gallagher cited his experience as head of the NTRA's Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force. He noted 28 of 32 states ultimately participated in super testing as part of that program.
"I've only been on the job one week," said Gallagher, "and no single issue has jumped up at me. But I'd like to look at unenforceable regulations and get them off the books, and look at some common sense regulations that should be implemented, such as veterinarians who treat horses not being allowed to own horses that race against the ones they're treating."
Gallagher said implementation of an awards program for owners and breeders in Kentucky would depend on "budget realities and economic formulas. In the political arena right now, (teachers protesting a lack of health insurance) are in the limelight, and racing, though it is important to us, gets pushed down the totem pole."
Though he noted there is more testing for illegal medication done now in Kentucky than in previous years, "there are variations from lab to lab used by racing states nationwide. Major racing states need to try to do the same level of testing, maybe through national testing centers strategically located. We should have a battery of tests for drugs that we know are being used."
As far as his new position, which entails not only regulating but promoting the sport, Gallagher said racing should operate under the "Dracula theory--We need to recruit new blood." Citing his past experience on the drug task force as well as his appointment to clean up the New York Racing Authority's mutuel department, Gallagher joked that he's "gotten used to going into burning buildings."