Secretary of Environmental and Public Protection La Juana Wilcher said she had personally interviewed about five candidates for the position of state steward and expects a decision to be made quickly."We are searching daily and diligently and hope to make a decision very quickly," Wilcher said following Monday's Kentucky Racing Authority meeting at the Kentucky Horse Park. "We have a lot of qualified candidates from Kentucky and from around the world."Bill Street, chairman of the Kentucky Racing Authority, said appointing an interim state steward before the Keeneland meet opens on April 2 or the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) at Churchill Downs is not out of the question if the full time position had not been filled.The executive search firm of Eastman & Beaudine of Dallas has 45 days to review resumes and narrow the list of potential executive director candidates to between five and seven who will then be selected for interviews. "Hopefully within the next three months we will have filled the position of executive director," Wilcher said. Bernie Hettel resigned as both executive director of the Kentucky Racing Commission and state steward in January. Jesse Skees, who serves as executive director of the Office of Inspector General for the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Public Protection Authority, is the acting executive director of the authority.
The authority also fined and suspended trainer Steven Handshaw for three horses testing positive for pyrilamine on March 24, 25, and 26 of 2003 at Turfway Park. Handshaw was suspended by track stewards for 180 days for the drug positive and the authority added an additional 90 days to the suspension. Harness trainer Jim Campbell, whose horse Great Challenger, tested positive for flunixin at the Red Mile, was fined $250.