Status of Kentucky Equine Drug Council Up in the Air

Though the Kentucky Racing Commission has been abolished and replaced by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council apparently remains in place--but not necessarily intact.

Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher by order Jan. 6 created the racing authority, complete with 13 voting members and three ex-officio members. The 11-person racing commission is gone, though some members, including chairman Frank Shoop, had resigned before Fletcher officially announced the restructuring.

Kentucky Revised Statute 230.225 authorized the racing commission, and KRS 230.265 the drug council. There has been some confusion in the horse industry over which statute or statutes were abolished--all of KRS 230, or just one section of it--but apparently, the drug council remains in existence.

On the other hand, the drug council was created to advise the racing commission, which no longer exists. Therefore, industry participants are wondering about its status.

Wes Irvin, a spokesman for Fletcher, said Jan. 7 the drug council wasn't eliminated. "The governor will ask the new authority to look into the relationship (between the horse racing authority and the drug council)," he said.

The governor appoints the nine members of the drug council. The chairman of the drug council is by statute a racing commissioner. Robert Stallings, who has served as chairman of the drug council, was not appointed to the new racing authority and therefore no longer is chairman.

"I believe there is a vacancy on the equine drug council because of that," said Ned Bonnie, a drug council member who serves as a racing association representative. "I think it behooves the new authority to submit three names to the governor to serve as chairman of the equine drug council."

Bonnie, an equine attorney based in Louisville, said he hasn't heard much about the status of the drug council as it relates to the racing authority. He did say he has "a number of pieces of work in progress" and would "keep working on them until I hear otherwise."

"It'll shake out in a few days," Bonnie said.

Alice Chandler, another member of the abolished racing commission, said she didn't know her status as a member of the drug council. Chandler represents the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders on the council.

The drug council has been responsible for making recommendations for research projects to the racing commission. It recently has worked with the University of Kentucky in regard to streamlining the research process.