Quarter Horses May Have to Wait Year for Kentucky Racing

by Kathleen Adams
Even though the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation earlier this spring designed to return Quarter Horse racing to the state, supporters of the sport are having a difficult time finding a host racetrack.

On May 13, representatives of the Kentucky Quarter Horse Racing Association met with Turfway Park president Bob Elliston and Kentucky Downs general manager Ryan Driscoll to discuss the possibility of running Quarter Horses at either racetrack this fall.

While Kentucky Downs is located in southwestern Kentucky, which is home to a significant number of Quarter Horses, KYQHRA president Dwaine Cissell said the track isn't well-suited to Quarter Horse racing.

"Because the races would be on the turf, they wouldn't be considered official Quarter Horse races. "Really, we'll run on anything, but dirt is preferred."

On several occasions, Turfway has expressed an interest in adding Quarter Horses to its race card. But Elliston acknowledged there are several obstacles to overcome before Quarter Horses can come to the Northern Kentucky track.

"We're looking for possible ways to help them," Elliston said. "Quarter Horses are important to Kentucky. But in September and October, we're at full occupancy and our receiving barn fills up with horses shipping in for races."

The track has stall space for just under 1,000 horses, and Cissell said at this point in time, it's hard to predict how many stalls Quarter Horses would require.

"If we run two races, we'd probably want 24 stalls," he said.

Then there's the issue of money. Right now, there is no purse money for Quarter Horses. Elliston said before Quarter Horse racing can begin anywhere in the state, it must be decided where the purse money will come from, and how much revenue can be generated from simulcasting.

Despite the roadblocks, Cissell remains upbeat about the future of Quarter Horse racing in Kentucky. "If we bring it back, we want to make sure it works," he said. "I knew getting race dates for this year was a longshot. But Bob has been supportive, and I left the meeting hopeful about next year."