Kentucky Downs

Kentucky Downs

Ron Mitchell

KY Commission Set to OK First Instant Racing

Also on the agenda is a request from The Red Mile to drop its 2011 Quarter Horse meet

The staff of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is recommending that the regulatory body on July 14 grant approval to Kentucky Downs to become the first track in the state to implement Instant Racing.

Also on the agenda for the monthly meeting is a request from The Red Mile harness track in Lexington to drop its Quarter Horse meet for 2011. The Red Mile was scheduled to conduct the only Quarter Horse racing in the state this year on July July 22-23.

Lisa Underwood, the KHRC executive director, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the commission staff believes the wagering concept is legal and is recommending approval of the application from Kentucky Downs to begin offering the electronic form of gaming when the Franklin, Ky., track begins its meet Sept. 10.

Regulations governing Instant Racing machines, which resemble video lottery terminals but are considered pari-mutuel in nature because the outcome of video games rely on previously run horse races, took effect July 1 in Kentucky after a second legislative subcommittee opted not to address the rules. The rules fall under the KHRC.

Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen told The Blood-Horse June 29 that the track would proceed with its plans to offer Instant Racing, which is technically called "Historical Racing" in Kentucky. (See story)

 “The next step is to file an application with the racing commission,” Johnsen said.

Johnsen noted that despite an appeal by The Family Foundation, the state Attorney General’s office last year issued an opinion that Instant Racing is pari-mutuel, and the circuit court followed with its ruling. The state Supreme Court earlier this year was asked by the KHRC, eight racetracks, and the state Department of Revenue to rule on Instant Racing, but it opted to send the appeal to the Court of Appeals.

“We believe Instant Racing is legal in Kentucky, and we’re willing to take some risk,” Johnsen said. “Our goal is to offer it sometime before the end of 2011, but a number of events could impact that schedule.”

A spokesman for the Family Foundation of Kentucky told the Courier-Journal he believes the action by Kentucky Downs is too hasty.

“This does seem a little reckless on their (Kentucky Downs’) part, given that this is in the courts,” Martin Cothran told the newspaper “and we think that the lower court ruling approving this is going to be overturned.”