Bill Calls for Handle, Injury Reports

Legislation pre-filed in Kentucky would mandate more transparency in racing.

Legislation that would require racetracks to submit detailed daily reports on pari-mutuel handle and attendance, and various parties to submit racehorse injury reports, has been pre-filed for the 2009 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

The bill, offered by Democratic Rep. Tom Burch, who represents part of Jefferson County, where Louisville is located, calls for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to promulgate the regulations. The information would have to be submitted within 24 hours of the last race each day.

The legislation requires a breakdown of handle bet on track, through off-track betting facilities, advance deposit wagering services, and any other sources. It calls for an explanation of how much revenue goes to the state, purses, the racing association, and breeding funds.

Horsemen’s groups would receive the same information reported to the KHRC under the legislation.

The Burch bill, which would change current Kentucky racing law, also mandates that the KHRC be told anytime a racehorse, while racing or training in Kentucky, suffers a “catastrophic race-ending career injury or an injury requiring surgery.” Such reports must be filed separately by racetracks, farms, or training centers; attending veterinarians; and trainers.

The reports must note if a horse had ever received growth hormones or anabolic steroids; been injected with corticosteroids within 10 days of an injury; been given any other medication “that may have caused physical or mental changes in the horse” within 30 days of an injury; and ever received “any corrective surgery or other physical-changing methods or techniques that could have been used to alter the horse from its natural birth configuration.”

The information would be available to the public upon request. Those who fail to submit injury reports would be fined $500 for a first offense, and get a six-month license suspension for subsequent offenses.

A national effort is under way via the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance, in which racing associations, horsemen's groups, and other stakeholders must pledge to undertake reforms, one of which is an injury reporting system.

Burch, as expected, also pre-filed legislation for 2009 that would authorize video lottery terminals at racetracks and other locations in Kentucky through the Kentucky Lottery. The bill contains provisions calling for up to $3 million a year in VLT revenue to be used to develop testing methods for growth hormones and performance-enhancing drugs in racehorses, and up to $3 million to conduct post-race drug testing for racehorses.

Under the bill, the Lottery Corp. could implement VLT gaming in counties that vote to approve it. No constitutional amendment would be required.