Quarter Horse Simulcasting Request Piques Interest

Kentucky's racing industry is at the very least intrigued that two Standardbred racetracks plan to ask the Kentucky Racing Commission for permission to simulcast Quarter Horse races. But there is some question as to whether the plan will fly.

The Red Mile in Lexington and Bluegrass Downs in Paducah have made the request, to be discussed at a racing commission meeting Thursday. Any plan to simulcast Quarter Horse or mixed racing -- Appaloosa, Arabian, and Paint -- raises questions because there is no live racing of that type in the state, and therefore no purse accounts to collect any simulcasting revenue.

That doesn't mean there can't be Quarter Horse racing in Kentucky. There is talk of getting the American Quarter Horse Association involved and having limited racing at Thoroughbred tracks such as Ellis Park and Turfway Park. Robert Forbeck, director of communications and marketing at Turfway, said the AQHA has broached the subject.

Bluegrass Downs opened as a Quarter Horse track in the mid-1980s, but in the early 1990s switched to Thoroughbred racing, and finally harness racing. Riverside Downs, a defunct harness track in western Kentucky, also offered Quarter Horse racing.

Quarter Horse racing is offered on a limited basis in neighboring Indiana and Ohio, where simulcasting of such races is legal.

The Kentucky Revised Statutes contain chapters on simulcasting, but only Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing are mentioned. There is a chapter on "development funds" for Standardbreds, Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Arabians, but of those only harness racing currently has a breed-and-race program in the state. Kentucky does have a long history of Quarter Horse breeding.

Industry officials said there could be some question as to where purse money would come from to fund Quarter Horse races should an application be made to the racing commission.

David Switzer, executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, said his board of directors hadn't discussed the issue, but that he supports the Quarter Horse industry. Switzer said the AQHA is a strong supporter of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and also plays a key role in pari-mutuel lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.

The import of full cards from out-of-state tracks became legal in Kentucky in 1994, apparently only for Thoroughbred and harness racing. At Keeneland, for example, when full-cards are imported from Tampa Bay Downs, the Arabian races are blacked out.

But John Hindman, communications director for the TV Games Network, said Kentucky account-holders can wager on all races offered through the system, including Quarter Horse races. Money wagered through TVG goes through the NTRA Services hub in Oregon, where law permits wagering on "horse" -- Quarter Horse and other breeds included -- and dog races. Source-market fees are then returned to the tracks and horsemen in the state.