Breeders’ Cup Incentive Bill Passes Ky. House

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American Pharoah winning the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland | Coady

By T. D. Thornton

A bill to incentivize the hosting of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Kentucky tracks by waiving the state’s excise tax on live pari-mutuel wagering for the event passed the Kentucky House of Representatives by an 83-4 vote Feb. 12.

The Blood-Horse first reported the passage, quoting the bill’s sponsor, David Osborne (R), the acting Speaker of the House, as hinting that the legislation could have a role in getting Churchill Downs named to a permanent rotation of Breeders’ Cup host tracks.

“Passage of this measure will place Kentucky on competitive ground with other states and venues… A permanent incentive from Kentucky will send the right message,” Osborne told the Blood-Horse.

HB 259 would make permanent the tax break measure that was put in place prior to Keeneland Race Course’s hosting of the 2015 championships. That incentive expired at the end of 2017.

A fiscal explanation that accompanied the bill noted that “Churchill Downs will host the event in November 2018. It has been reported that a four or five-year site rotational plan will be announced soon. Both Keeneland and Churchill Downs have each hosted the event in the past and both Kentucky tracks are most likely to be considered in the rotation beginning in 2019.”

If the bill is approved by the Senate and gets signed into law, the explanation sheet cited $375,000 in negative fiscal impacts for 2018-19: Thoroughbred Development Fund ($187,500), General Fund ($87,500), University of Louisville Equine Industry Program ($50,000), Kentucky Racing Commission equine drug testing ($25,000) and Higher Education Equine Fund for horse programs at state universities ($25,000).

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