SPECIAL REPORT: Horsemen who call Kentucky home year-round are taking a beating, and they predict even more owners and horses will leave the state. Whether there will be legislative relief any time soon, however, remains to be seen.
A month after Turfway Park experienced eight catastrophic breakdowns during its 21-day holiday meet, state veterinarian Dr. Bryce Peckham and Turfway president Bob Elliston were on hand at a Feb. 10 Kentucky Horse Racing Commission meeting in Lexington to present commissioners a much more positive report.
Officials indicated Dec. 11 the push for equine safety and racing industry integrity is serious business, and they called on stakeholders to support the plan.
Churchill Downs Inc. is reviewing its membership in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, racing industry officials said Dec. 9.
Following the Oct. 15 unveiling of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Safety and Integrity Alliance, four of the organization's principle figures were on hand to further explain their roles and the details of the equine health and safety reform plan, which will be implemented gradually over the next two years.
The strong winds that forced Turfway Park to cancel its program after two races Sept. 14 because of unsafe conditions did some damage to the facility, but operations are back to normal.
Turfway Park said Aug. 20 it has received horsemen's consent to distribute its racing signal for the upcoming fall under the auspices of the present exclusive agreement with TVG, thus ending any speculation of a standoff similar to those plaguing other tracks.
A cross-section of the racing industry addressed the New York Task Force on Retired Race Horses on the subject of synthetic surfaces at a one-day forum held July 29 at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Co. pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Officials at Keeneland and Turfway Park announced July 17 a new shoe policy banning the use of toe grabs. The policy is effective at both racetracks beginning Sept. 1.
Ellis Park's owner said the western Kentucky racetrack won't hold its meet this summer, though horsemen want the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority to intervene. Could another track get the dates?
Details on legislation to authorize casino gambling in Kentucky will have to wait for another day.
The year 2008 probably will bring some experimentation to Turfway Park, which has asked the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority for permission to switch from evening to daytime racing on Wednesdays and Thursdays during its three-month winter/spring meet.
Having the top two finishers in this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) entered in the Sept. 29 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) has led to an increase in local and national coverage of the event.
Opening night, Sept. 5, will mark the two-year anniversary of the debut of Polytrack at Turfway Park, officials of which continue to collect data on a daily basis to learn more about the surface.
The advent of a potentially strong competitor in western Pennsylvania might have minimal impact on the upcoming meet at Turfway Park, but track president Bob Elliston said it won't go unnoticed as far as Kentucky Thoroughbred racing is concerned.
The May 22 Kentucky gubernatorial primary is expected to have implications for expanded gambling, an issue the state's horse industry fully expects to be addressed during the 2008 General Assembly session. But regardless of who is elected in November, the legislature may hold the cards.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, using funds from the state equine drug council, hopes to hire an equine medical director.
Though the evidence may be largely anecdotal, it appears swings in temperature can impact Polytrack and its consistency.
Alex Waldrop, former president of Churchill Downs, has been appointed president and chief executive officer of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. In addition, Turfway Park president Bob Elliston was appointed the first executive chairman of the organization.
Expanded gambling in Kentucky isn't a front-burner topic right now, but it will be next year when the state holds elections for governor and other top posts, a racetrack official said Nov. 3 during the "Thoroughbred Industry Forum" at Churchill Downs on the eve of the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
Racing surface projects continued Aug. 24 at two Kentucky tracks, with a new mix of materials being placed on top of the Polytrack at Turfway Park, and construction crews laying the asphalt layer for the new Polytrack that will debut at Keeneland in October.
The Polytrack surface at Turfway Park has held up well in the heat of the summer, but it will be modified before the next live meet begins Sept. 6 at the Northern Kentucky racetrack.
Turfway Park, currently closed for live racing but home to about 700 horses in training, sustained storm damaged the evening of May 25 but no humans or horses were injured.
Business is way up, and catastrophic injuries are way down. But Turfway Park officials aren't surprised their new Polytrack surface is a work in progress.
A second barn at Turfway Park has been quarantined because of equine herpesvirus, which was first discovered at the Northern Kentucky racetrack the week before Christmas.
Large fields and an artificial racing surface are credited for a 17% increase in all-sources handle for the first three weeks of the Turfway Park meet.
Turfway Park will get a more accurate indication of how its synthetic Polytrack will play during four months of fall and winter racing that begins Nov. 27, opening day of the holiday meet.
Turfway Park president and CEO Bob Elliston spoke to members of the national turf media about Saturday's Kentucky Cup Day Festival.
More than 3 1/2 inches of rain had absolutely no impact on the new Polytrack at Turfway Park, which opens the evening of Sept. 7, but the impending change in race-day medication regulations for Thoroughbred racing in Kentucky is said to have put a dent in the opening-night entry box.
An Aug. 26 presentation on the status of the Kentucky lottery and a scholarship fund that derives money from it led to a call for more funding, even if it means legislators would have to approve expanded gambling to generate the revenue.
The first pari-mutuel race on the new Polytrack at Turfway Park isn't scheduled until the evening of Sept. 7, but trainers have showed they're anxious to try it out by entering enough horses for three exhibition events the morning of Aug. 24.
The Polytrack racing surface at Turfway Park was installed two weeks ahead of schedule, but the sighs of relief by track officials may be short-lived as the Sept. 7 meet opener approaches. This is new territory, and questions abound, not the least of which is how horsemen and the betting public will respond.
Turfway Park president Bob Elliston said he expects the Kentucky racetrack's new Polytrack surface to be ready for horses to train on by mid-August, when trainers are expected to begin arriving for the fall meet that begins Sept. 7.
Turfway Park will be the first racetrack in North America to install a Polytrack surface on its main track, Turfway president Bob Elliston announced April 27 at a press conference at Keeneland.
Keeneland and Turfway Park plan a joint press conference April 27 at Keeneland to discuss installation of the Polytrack surface, now used on Keeneland's five-eighths-mile training track, at Turfway.
Churchill Downs is taking precautionary measures at its Trackside training facility in Louisville, Ky., after a Thoroughbred racehorse was diagnosed with strangles, a contagious bacterial disease.
Fifth Third Bank, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based financial institution, will become the signature sponsor of two major stakes races on the Kentucky horse racing circuit.
The Kentucky Equine Education Project officially approved plans for a marketing and education blitz for the Bluegrass state this year, and also hired a high-powered lobbying firm to help it achieve its legislative goals.
As two more winter Thoroughbred meets prepare to open, management is lining up commitments from jockeys in the wake of walkouts at Churchill Downs and Hoosier Park. Meanwhile, members of an insurance task force that will meet for the first time Nov. 22 hope to maintain focus and expedite recommendations.
Turfway Park president Bob Elliston has been elected to represent the independent Midwestern racetracks on the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors.
Kentucky legislators have left open the possibility expanded gambling could be revisited in the future, but they claim greed and resistance by the horse racing and breeding industry put a casino bill on the shelf for the 2004 session. Industry officials disagree with that perspective.
Despite numerous cancellations because of weather or track conditions, Turfway Park has registered business gains during the winter/spring meet that extends through April 1. And with live racing set to resume March 10, it appears the racing surface finally has dried out after a washed-out weekend.
Officials representing the horse industry said Wednesday following a Kentucky House of Representatives Licensing and Occupations committee meeting that full industry support for casino gaming at five racetracks and four off-site locations comes down to cleaning up language in the proposed bill. The bill, which was filed by Democrat Rep. Larry Clark, is expected to be heard in full committee during its March 10 meeting.
Officials representing the Kentucky horse industry agreed Wednesday to proposed alternative gaming legislation that would put casinos at four racetracks and four other non-racetrack facilities in the state.
Turfway Park has hiked purses for Kentucky-breds in some high-level races, and also reported that numbers for the first nine live racing days of 2004 show business is on the rebound.
Though the prospects for expanding gambling in Kentucky remain clouded, the racing and breeding industry has settled on a plan for a constitutional amendment to authorize full-scale casino gambling at the state's eight racetracks.
The signs point to progress in Kentucky in terms of a bid for racetrack gaming in 2004, while in Pennsylvania, the horse industry is slowing the prospects for passage of legislation, officials said Nov. 11 during a panel discussion at Racino 2003 at Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort.
Racing industry officials in Kentucky are taking a wait-and-see approach in the wake of the election of Republican Congressman Ernie Fletcher as governor, but a few said Fletcher's representation of the horse industry in Washington, D.C. bodes well for Kentucky.
With a push for a constitutional amendment on expanded gambling looming in 2004, former Kentucky governor Brereton Jones said he would help fashion legislation to authorize full-scale casino gambling at racetracks.
Alternative gaming at Kentucky racetracks must be tied to a constitutional amendment, and the public must have a say in how the state's share of the revenue is spent, the former governor of Kentucky said June 22 during a panel discussion at the Thoroughbred International Exposition & Conference in Lexington.
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