Call to Order and Roll Call
The2nd meeting of the Subcommittee on Horse Farming of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Susan Westrom, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Damon Thayer, Co-Chair; Representative Susan Westrom, Co-Chair; Senators David Givens, Dennis Parrett, and Robin L. Webb; Representatives Royce W. Adams, Sara Beth Gregory, Tom McKee, Michael Meredith, Brad Montell, Fred Nesler, David Osborne, Sannie Overly, Ryan Quarles, Tom Riner, Rita Smart, and Wilson Stone.
Guests: Dr. Rick Sams, HFL Sports Science-Kentucky Laboratory; Ms. Ginny Grulke, Kentucky Horseracing Commission; Mr. Roy Cornett, Backcountry Horsement of America; Mr. Fred Sarver, American Saddlebred Horse Association.
The October 12, 2011, minutes were approved, without objection, by voice vote, upon motion made by Representative Nesler and second by Senator Parrett.
Pari-mutuel Drug Testing Services and HFL Sport Science-Kentucky Laboratory
Dr. Rick Sams, Director of the HFL Sport Science Laboratory in Lexington, said HFL conducts drug and medication testing for the pari-mutuel horse race tracks in the state. HFL was established in 1963 and is a division of LGC, a British company. He said that reasons to conducting include compliance with the racing rules, integrity in the sport, and protection of the health and safety of horses and riders.
All screening tests are performed using instrumental techniques, immunoassay tests, and other screening tests. Screening tests include post-race urine and blood sample extracts, as well as some pre-race samples. Dr. Sams described some of the high-tech equipment used and the science involved. He said HFL was conducting testing of horses that competed in the Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill Downs. In addition to testing for the racing industry, the company undertakes other types of testing, such as supplement testing, consulting, and veterinary training.
Responding to Senator Webb’s comments about delays experienced in the state in testing needed for court cases, Dr. Sams said his company is continually looking for business opportunities. He indicated there is room for expansion in the building that the company occupies in Lexington.
Responding to Representative Osborne, Dr. Sams described some of the history and thinking in the use of Lasix on race horses. He said that Lasix is a particular brand of diuretic used as a blood pressure medication and to prevent Thoroughbred and Standardbred race horses from bleeding through their noses during races. Some experts believe such drugs serve as a masking agent for other drugs. Dr. Sams indicated that he has studied the effects of the drug, and he has found that, if administered early enough, they would have no effect on post-race tests.
Dr. Sams responded to other questions about the history of pari-mutuel drug testing in the state and testing generally. He indicated testing is done internationally in each country where horse racing occurs.
Co-chair Thayer pointed out that Kentucky tracks pay for the testing through an assessment. According to Dr. Sams, most other state racing commissions fund the testing.
Senator Thayer said he has dealt with the drug testing payment issue for years and noted that budget language has been used to appropriate funds to the commission for testing. The issue is one the General Assembly needs to review.
Significant Activities of the Kentucky Horse Council
Co-chair Westrom called on Ms. Ginny Grulke, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Council (KHC), to report on some of the KHC’s current activities. Ms. Grulke updated the subcommittee on the KHC’s board of directors, its membership, and the amount of revenue received from the special license plate.
Ms. Grulke mainly updated the subcommittee on the priorities established during a recent strategic planning session involving people associated with the horse industry. The top five priorities include developing a legislative strategy, undertaking a full equine survey, putting an equine directory on the Internet, and reaching out to elementary-age children, and adding horse farms to the Department of Agriculture’s Kentucky Proud marketing program.
In response to questions from Senator Webb and Representative Nesler about trail-riding opportunities in the state, Ms. Grulke indicated the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet posts a list of horse riding trails on its Web site.
Mr. Roy Cornett, President of the Central Kentucky Backcountry Horsemen, discussed trail riding opportunities in the state. He said there are not enough horse riding trails, but there are some that may become available in the future.
Ms. Grulke cited two issues. One is the need to develop better state interagency cooperation and cooperation with the federal government to see that more horse trails are made available. A second issue is the dilemma of riders gaining greater access to private property as trail riding sites.
She responded to Representative Nesler that the interagency cooperation regarding trails is getting better. Mr. Cornett pointed out there had been some hesitancy on the part of some agencies to deal with trail riding groups.
Senator Webb indicated she has been working on the issue of legal liability involved in trail riding on private property, attempting to work on the constitutional constraints related to the issue.
Co-chair Westrom asked Ms. Grulke to provide information regarding how other states deal with the issue of riding horses on private property.
Presentation on the American Saddlebred Horse Association
The subcommittee heard a report by Mr. Fred Sarver on the American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA), particularly its activities in Kentucky. Mr. Sarver, who operates Corner Stone Farm in Carlisle, is a past president of the ASHA.
Mr. Sarver discussed the history of the Saddlebred breed, which dates from the 1600s and was developed in Kentucky. The breed registry is the oldest in the United States. There are approximately 75,000 American Saddlebreds registered in the nation. The ASHA currently maintains its national headquarters and operates an American Saddlebred Museum at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Mr. Sarver said that the World’s Championship Horse Show, held each year during the Kentucky State Fair, is the premier event for the breed. The competition draws entries from throughout the U.S. and is Webcast worldwide.
Mr. Sarver indicated Kentucky is the top Saddlebred breeding state, standing 118 of 581 stallions in 2010. He also discussed the importance of the breeder incentive awards administered by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Mr. Sarver responded to Representative Montell that the drawback to moving the World’s Championship Horse Show from the fairgrounds to the Kentucky Horse Park is twofold: the show is the property of the fairgrounds, and there are not enough stable facilities at the Horse Park to accommodate the number of horses that compete in the show.
Representative Osborne thanked the speaker for ASHA’s decision to center the American Saddlebred Sweepstakes Program in Kentucky.
Mr. Sarver responded to Co-chair Thayer’s questions regarding the ongoing litigation between the American Saddlebred Horse Association and a group of its members who had requested copies of certain ASHA tax returns, financial reports, and audit reports.
Mr. Sarver said that, as a member of the association, he was upset and alarmed that the lawsuit was ongoing. Discussion revealed that differing interpretations of language in KRS 273.233, which deals with the inspection of books and records by members of nonstock, nonprofit corporations, is a central focus in the litigation.
Senator Thayer mentioned the wide-ranging impact that may result from the litigation and the need for the legislature to review the issue.
Documents distributed during the committee meeting are available with meeting materials in the LRC Library.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 12:15 p.m.