Quarter Horse Track License Denied in Kentucky

by Kathleen Adams
Supporters of live Quarter Horse racing in Kentucky suffered a defeat when the Kentucky Racing Commission declined to issue a license to Southern Bluegrass Racing for a racetrack in Williamsburg.

At a meeting Oct. 28, commission member Nate Sholar argued that opening a Quarter Horse track isn't economically feasible and could harm existing racetracks. "Considering the state of the industry and the potential impact on facilities already in place, it is imprudent and impossible to recommend the opening of a new track," Sholar said.

Sholar acknowledged the willingness of some Thoroughbred tracks, such as Turfway Park, to host Quarter Horse races, but said the downturn in the economy has had a detrimental effect on racing. He urged other members of the commission to deny the license request.

Keith Kleine, senior manager of race marketing for the American Quarter Horse Association, said he was under the impression Turfway had applied for 14 races in 2003. He noted the dates weren't part of the racing commission's agenda, and he questioned the status of the dates.

Turfway president Robert Elliston said his track welcomes the opportunity to bring Quarter Horse racing back to the state, but exact race have not been determined.

"We would like to include Quarter Horses with our Thoroughbred cards," Elliston said, "but not at the expense of the Thoroughbreds. We thought we could do it as part of the fall and Holiday meets."

Since Quarter Horse dates weren't part of Turfway's original request, the commission voted to table the issue. Chairman Frank Shoop insisted the debate over bringing Quarter Horse racing back to the Bluegrass state isn't over.

"We'll entertain that topic at our next meeting in December," Shoop said.

The commission approved 2003 race dates for all Kentucky tracks. Here's the Thoroughbred schedule:

Turfway Park Jan. 1-April 3
Keeneland April 4-25
Churchill Downs April 26-July 6
Ellis Park July 9-Sept. 1
Turfway Sept. 3-Oct. 2
Kentucky Downs Sept. 13-23
Keeneland Oct. 3-25
Churchill Oct. 26-Nov. 29
Turfway Nov. 30-Dec. 31

Churchill requested to shorten its fall meet by three days. Instead of being open for 30 days of live racing, the track will race 27 days. To make up for the lost dates, Churchill will add a race to each program during the 2003 fall meet.