Gov. Steve Beshear created a task force Thursday to study the future of horse racing, charging its members with making recommendations to give Kentucky horse racing a ”more sound financial future.“
A news release announcing the Governor's Task Force on the Future of Horse Racing does not mention casino gambling, but many of its members have advocated for casinos at race tracks.
”I gave them a broad charge of looking at the health and the future of horse racing in Kentucky,“ Beshear said in an interview. ”If they choose to look at expanded gaming, they can.“
In an executive order, Beshear told the task force to study the economic soundness of the industry, the effectiveness and quality of drug testing, the proper role of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the adequacy of state laws and regulations.
Bob Beck, a member of the new task force and chair of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said the task force's mission is multi-pronged and financial stability was the final item the task force was charged with examining.
”It was almost an after-thought,“ Beck said of the funding issue. Beck said the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission needs to identify some type of long-term funding source because the commission is currently understaffed and underfunded.
Tracy Farmer, a long-time proponent of expanded gambling and chairman of the task force, said the group will likely not duplicate work already being done by various subcommittees of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which is also looking at issues facing the industry including drug use and licensing fees.
”The committees of the racing commission are doing an excellent job,“ Farmer said. ”We will likely talk to them and talk to everyone in the horse industry and then we'll try to come to some conclusions and make recommendations.
Senate President David L. Williams, R-Burkesville, who opposes the expansion of gambling, said he is looking forward to seeing the task force's findings ”although I am concerned that some of the members have taken public positions in support of the expansion of gambling in Kentucky.“
The Governor'sTask Force on the Futureof Horse Racing
Tracy Farmer, a thoroughbred breeder in Midway. He will chair the task force.
Robert M. Beck, chair of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and an attorney in Lexington
Bob Vance, secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet
Nick Nicholson, president and CEO of Keeneland Association
Brian Lavin, a real estate developer in Louisville
Ron Geary, owner of Ellis Park
Steven P. Sexton, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack
Dr. Robert Lawrence, former director of the Equine Industry Program at the University of Louisville
Joe Costa, president and CEO of Red Mile/Tattersalls
Edward S. Bonnie, an equine attorney in Prospect
Duncan Pitchford, an attorney in Paducah
Ellen Hesen, general counsel for Beshear.