Compromise on 2006 Ellis Park Dates

The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority granted Ellis Park 36 live racing dates in 2006 during a special meeting Oct. 31, but denied dates to a proposed Quarter Horse and Standardbred track in the southeast region of the state.

The Ellis Park season will begin July 19 and continue through Sept. 4, with live racing five days per week. Track owner Churchill Downs Inc. had sought fewer dates and proposed a four-day racing week, which led the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association to balk.

The KHRA had tabled a vote on the Ellis Park dates Oct. 17. Horsemen said the plan to reduce dates from 41 this year to 29 next year would impact their livelihood.

Statute calls for the KHRA, along with the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders and the Kentucky HBPA, to jointly approve race dates by Nov. 1.

In other business, the KHRA denied a request for 2006 racing dates for Cumberland Downs, a Quarter Horse and Standardbred racing facility proposed for Williamsburg, not far from the Tennessee border. Cumberland Downs had requested to offer harness racing July 13-16 and 20-23, and Quarter Horse racing Aug. 25-27 and Sept. 3-5.

KHRA general counsel Lisa Underwood said an applicant for race dates must be a licensee, which Cumberland Downs is not. Keeneland and Turfway Park opposed the request on those grounds, and also contended the track would cut into business at two off-track betting parlors they jointly operate in nearby Corbin and Pineville.

Cumberland Downs had requested live racing dates contingent upon approval of its license to operate the racetrack. If its license request is approved, it can't request live racing dates until next year for 2007.