Kentucky’s Thoroughbred racetracks have received approval for 2011 live racing dates that are slightly higher in number than those being raced this year.
During a relatively routine business meeting Oct. 26, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved requests for 209 live dates in 2011, up slightly from the 2010 total. The regulatory body also approved 68 Standardbred dates and two days of live Quarter Horse racing.
Turfway Park was awarded 82 dates, up from the 77 dates approved for 2010, and Ellis Park’s 31 dates represent an increase of four days over 2010. Churchill Downs’ 60 dates are two fewer than 2010, but is only a result of how the calendar fell and not related to economic issues. Keeneland will race 32 days in 2011, unchanged from this year, and Kentucky Downs was approved for four dates.
Although the dates were unanimously approved with little discussion, two commissioners did voice concerns about some aspects of the process. The commission introduced a motion from commissioner Ned Bonnie stipulating that if tracks want to reduce the number of live racing dates, they must submit a request to the commission for approval. The motion to make the written requests mandatory was adopted, contingent upon confirmation by the KHRC legal staff that the commission has the authority to make such a requirement.
"I think they (racing dates) ought to be mandatory, as against ‘this is what we want to do,’ " Bonnie said.
In recent years, as Kentucky tracks have reduced racing dates in response to declining fields due to purse levels not competitive with other states, they have obtained approval from the commission. Also, tracks are required to have permission from horsemen’s groups to reduce live racing.
"I think it needs to be understood in writing that if they don’t want to run they have to come before the commission," Bonnie said.
Turfway Park president Bob Elliston said his track would submit dates’ reduction requests, as they have done in the past, but questioned the commission's authority to require them.
Dr. Foster Northrop, a commissioner and veterinarian whose practice primarily consists of racetrack work, said, "I am a little disappointed with the dates," adding that he would like to see the tracks and dates committee "come up with some innovative way to keep horses in the state."
KHRC chair Bob Beck said he was aware of discussions underway among representatives of the states’ tracks to tweak the traditional racing schedule to make it more attractive to horsemen.
The commission also gave final approval to a recommendation from its licensing integrity committee requiring tracks and off-track betting outlets to report any pari-mutuel wagering irregularities to the regulatory body.
Racing associations and OTBs would have 24 hours in which to report to the commission any investigation launched by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, or any state or federal regulatory agency "that relates to the safety, integrity, or security of the racing association or OTB, and its participants, or that would reasonably be deemed to affect public confidence in the racing association or OTB."
The regulation further states that "each racing association and OTB is required to notify the commission "if it becomes aware of a wagering anomaly related to racing conducted at that association or related to a race imported for simulcast wagering at the association or OTB, even if a report has not been filed with the TRA or TRPB."
The regulation noted that wagering anomalies include "past posting, cancel delay, and other instances when wagering occurs after the horses have left the gate; off-shore and account wagering fraud, suspected manipulation through computerized robotic wagering; and odds manipulation," among other incidents.
It also states that each association "shall have protocols in place that mandate exclusion of any receiving track’s wagering pool when the association cannot verify that all wagers in the receiving track’s pool were received prior to the official start of the race."
Under the regulation, the KHRC has the authority to impose fines and/or penalties for any association or OTB that violates the rule.
In other action, the commission approved its electronic foal paper initiative that would permit horses to be entered in races without having their actual foal papers on file at the track where they are competing. The initiative stemmed from previous comments from state senior steward John Veitch about the number of scratches that occur when horses’ physical papers are not on hand when the horse is ready to race.
In response to a question from commissioner Burr Travis, KHRC legal counsel Susan Speckert reported that two appeals filed by trainer Joe Woodard for positive drug tests were still not resolved. The first positive, in December 2009, was consolidated with the second positive test that came in 2010. Speckert said a hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 12 in the case, but that it may be postponed.