Kentucky to Address Simulcasting Issues

A flap over a suggested addition to contracts between host tracks and receiving facilities has led the Kentucky Racing Commission to consider forming a committee to study the issue.

In short, the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association advocates a clause that calls for a 15% penalty on handle per day for facilities that receive simulcasts without authorization, perhaps through redissemination.

The idea was brought up by Kentucky HBPA counsel Don Sturgill at the commission’s Thursday meeting, though he has broached the subject on other occasions. It was opposed by Churchill Downs president Alex Waldrop, who said security measures already are in place, and that changes in contract language could spell trouble for racetracks.
“This language could cost us half of our simulcast handle,” Waldrop said. “People will not put themselves under a penalty that has no basis in fact.”

Waldrop, who said tote companies track every wager and its origin, disagreed with Sturgill, who said signals are being redisseminated without the knowledge of horsemen or racetracks. In the end, commission chairman Frank Shoop said the issue needs to at least be studied.
“I look at it as the protection of the integrity of racing, not the bottom line of racetracks,” Shoop said.

In other business:
• The commission will start the process for an administrative regulation change pertaining to a $5 hike in the amount jockeys are paid for when they finish fourth or worse in races. The last time the fee was raised was 1987. Any change first requires a public hearing.

• Commission executive director Bernie Hettel reported that from Jan. 1 through June 30 of this year, there were 82 stewards’ rulings, four of which were positive tests. Three were for pyrilamine, and the fourth for mephenterine, rated a Class I drug by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. Fines for the six months totaled almost $10,000.

• The commission approved the addition of two steeplechase races Sept. 23 at Kentucky Downs, the all-turf facility on the Tennessee border. The races will be part of the Kentucky Cup Turf Festival.

• Pursuant to state law, the commission approved Keeneland’s request that the Kentucky Horse Center, which it purchased from Churchill Downs earlier this year, be part of the Keeneland “track.” State law permits racetracks to operate off-track betting facilities in close proximity to the parent track, but a Keeneland official indicated there are no immediate plans to open an OTB parlor at the training center.