Kentucky Horse Racing Authority Considers Rule Changes

The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority is considering changes to the rules regarding claiming races in an effort increase field sizes at the state's racetracks.

According to Jim Gallagher, KHRA executive director, the proposed rule changes were suggested by the management of Churchill Downs in an effort to increase field sizes.

The proposed changes include eliminating the "jail regulation" requiring a claimed horse not run for 30 days after being claimed in a race in which the determining eligibility price is less than 25% more than the price for which the horse was claimed; increase the number of days a horse is prevented from racing from six to 10 for a horse that was scratched or excused from starting by the stewards because of a physical disability or sickness; and repeal the rule allowing horses in races with more than eight betting interests-- after horses that are physically disabled or sick have been scratched from the race by the stewards on the recommendation of a veterinarian-- to scratch from the race without physical excuse.

Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association, said his group was interested in further discussing the possible rule changes, noting the possibility some of the changes could hinder horsemen.

"I think these three rules are meant to benefit horsemen and to increase the bottom line of the racetrack," Gallagher said after presenting the proposed rule changes during the July 17 KHRA meeting.

Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs, noted there were 200 at-will (non-veterinarian) scratches during the recently concluded Spring meeting. "Anything we can do to help increase field sizes is going to be a benefit to the horsemen as well as the betting public," he said.

Sexton said in addition to Churchill Downs, the proposed changes have the support of Keeneland, Ellis Park, and Turfway Park.

The proposed changes will next be forwarded to the state legislative research commission for review.