Call to Order and Roll Call
The1st meeting of the Subcommittee on Horse Farming of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Wednesday, October 9, 2013, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Sara Beth Gregory, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Sara Beth Gregory, Co-Chair; Representative Susan Westrom, Co-Chair; Senators Carroll Gibson, Paul Hornback, Dennis Parrett, Damon Thayer, and Robin L. Webb; Representatives Richard Heath, Tom McKee, Michael Meredith, David Osborne, Tom Riner, Jonathan Shell, Rita Smart, and Wilson Stone.
Legislative Guests: Representatives Dennis Horlander and James Kay.
Guests: Mr. Marc Guilfoil, Ms. Jamie Eads, Dr. Mary Scollay, and Mr. Greg Lamb, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission; Mr. Gabe Prewitt, Kentucky Harness Horseman’s Association; and Mr. Norm Luba and Mr. Rich Wilcke, Kentucky Quarter Horse Association.
Kentucky Horse Racing Commission
Mr. Marc Guilfoil, Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Jamie Eads, Director of Incentives and Development, Mr. Greg Lamb, Supervisor of Pari-mutuel Wagering, and Dr. Mary Scollay, Equine Medical Director, testified about the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Ms. Eads provided the Thoroughbred foal numbers for 2012 and the 2012 Breeders’ Incentive Program fund payouts.
Co-Chair Gregory commented that it was good to know Kentucky still leads the nation in Thoroughbred breeding.
Responding to Senator Gregory about some standardbred regulatory changes, Ms. Eads explained how the rules were amended to register standardbred mares, stallions, and progeny, whereas before the rules applied to registered stallions standing in Kentucky and their progeny. Also, a new residency requirement allows broodmares to meet residency requirements if the horses are stabled in Kentucky for 120 consecutive days within a 12-month period. Foals can now be nominated under the new administrative regulations.
Senator Webb mentioned changing requirements for non-race walking horses as well because most walking horse stallions stand in Tennessee. Ms. Eads said that idea had not been discussed. She indicated that each non-race breed organization decides how it wants to spend its portion of the breeders’ incentive funds.
Responding to Co-Chair Westrom, Ms. Eads explained the nomination process for mares. She noted that the number of mares bred in Kentucky allowed the state to capture over 60 percent of the market. Ms. Eads also explained how breed groups receiving the breeders’ incentive funds allocate their moneys, for example Thoroughbreds through racing, standardbreds through the Sire Stakes, and non-race breeds, through shows and other events.
Responding further to Co-Chair Westrom, Ms. Eads indicated the largest Thoroughbred sales still occur in the state, and Kentucky horses still dominate national and international races. Ms. Eads discussed the marketing of Thoroughbreds nationally and internationally.
Representative Osborne pointed out that, while Kentucky is the best market for yearlings, a buyer who purchases and takes the horse out of state does not pay a sales tax.
Mr. Lamb summarized the pari-mutuel handle and the historical race betting numbers.
Dr. Scollay testified on the KHRC Veterinary Division, with most of her discussion dealing with the agency’s administration of furosemide, which is given to race horses to prevent internal bleeding.
Responding to Co-Chair Westrom, Dr. Scollay explained the penalty process that is used in the case of someone found to have violated the race horse medication rules. Penalties can range from purse reductions in the case of winners, to fines and notations in offenders’ records.
Senator Thayer elaborated on his proposal to redirect some of the funds that have accumulated within the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council (EDRC) to the Thoroughbred Development Fund to increase purses for Kentucky bred and raced horses. He indicated that $3 million in equine drug research funds has accumulated and EDRC would be hard pressed to spend the funds on research.
Responding to Senator Webb, Dr. Scollay explained how the agency develops the protocols used in the drug administration program. She said all the protocols are science-based. Laboratories must have the ability to perform the proper analyses of blood samples.
Senator Webb pointed out there is zero-tolerance for drug use in walking horses.
Responding further to Senator Webb, Dr. Scollay described some scientific studies that have been done related to non-race breeds. Senator Webb said that, considering the challenges to animal agriculture, it is important to buffer those challenges with science-based evidence. She said it would be a good idea to keep the EDRC well-funded.
Dr. Scollay explained to Representative Smart the role that the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium plays in the industry.
As that portion the meeting ended, Senator Thayer complimented the commission and its staff.
Kentucky Harness and Horsemen’s Association
Mr. Gabe Prewitt, Executive Secretary, Kentucky Harness and Horsemen’s Association described the makeup of the association, the tracks, races, the impact of the standardbred regulatory changes, and the recently completed standardbred sales.
Senator Thayer pointed out there is a need to expand the market. He wondered if harness racing is viable at the smaller tracks and whether it would be better to give those race days to the The Red Mile, which is the largest track, located in Lexington.
Mr. Prewitt said there has been some discussion of that issue. The short seasons at the smaller tracks make it difficult for horsemen because of having to move quickly from one track to another. The money generated by those tracks is important for those smaller cities in which the tracks are located. He discussed some other changes that may occur, such as Keeneland’s proposal to buy Thunder Ridge to obtain and relocate the track’s instant racing license.
Representative Osborne said he supported the mare residency changes, but added that the standardbred fund generally is bolstered by the stud fees. He asked about the potential of stallions being brought back to the state. Mr. Prewitt said that would be encouraging. He indicated that breeding has increased in the bordering states Ohio and Indiana, thus movement would be easier from those states.
Kentucky’s Quarter Horse Industry
Mr. Norm Luba and Rich Wilcke, both past presidents of the Kentucky Quarter Horse Association, testified about the quarter horse industry.
Mr. Luba discussed the quarter horse numbers as revealed in a recent UK equine survey, described the many uses of quarter horses, and noted the proliferation of quarter horse farms.
Following Mr. Luba’s report, Mr. Wilcke testified about quarter horse sprint racing – which, historically, was the first type of horse racing that took place in Kentucky – and pleasure and show activities. He believes sprint racing can again become popular in Kentucky.
Senator Thayer mentioned that he is a quarter horse fan and hopes the Keeneland sprint track project at Corbin proves successful. He noted some legislative changes may need to be made should the sport expand.
Mr. Wilcke responded that he felt spring racing.
Responding to Representative Riner, Mr. Wilcke and Mr. Luba clarified that there are about 42,000 quarter horses in Kentucky, and almost 37,000 of those are registered.
Representative Smart expanded on some of the history of sprint racing.
Documents distributed during the subcommittee meeting are available with meeting materials in the LRC Library. The meeting adjourned at noon.