KHRC Rules Committee Recommends Tweaks to Partnership Requirements

Churchill Downs | Coady

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The rules committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) on Tuesday advanced a recommendation to amend the state's horse ownership regulations to do away with a requirement that no more than five individuals can be licensed as owners of a single horse.

In addition, a separate tweak would codify that up to 10 individual owners or entities may be listed in the track program as owners of a single horse. That limit was previously five, and it was based on the above-referenced regulation that also stated if more than five individual persons owned interests in a horse, one person was to be named as the licensed representative.

But now, in any horse ownership involving two or more owners, one of the members would have to be designated as the licensed principal owner.

And yet another change would do away with the requirement that partnership groups “shall” register with the commission. The recommended amendment would require partnership registration only “if requested by the stewards or the commission.”

Another subtle shift has to do with any kind of joint venture, such as stable names, partnerships or corporations. The new language would state that they “may be listed in the program with the principal owner's name shown parenthetically.”

The KHRC rules committee approved all of those proposed changes by unanimous voice vote at the Apr. 11 meeting. The measures still must be acted upon by the full KHRC board before they go into effect.

“What we're suggesting is that we change [the existing rule] to state that there's no specific limit on the number of people who can be licensed,” said Jennifer Wolsing, the general counsel for the KHRC. “But if we have more than two people who own interests in a single horse, then they have to designate a member of that partnership to be the licensed principal owner.”

And in terms of partnerships and their registration, Wolsing added, “We are basically saying these partnerships do not have to register unless requested by stewards of the commission itself.”

Furthermore, if you are a syndicate or partnership member who owns a very minor or micro-share of a horse, but would like to still be licensed individually, there is nothing stopping you from doing so.

“Anybody [other than the principal owner] who is in that partnership can obtain a license by going to the license office [and] writing the horse's name on an application,” said KHRC chief state steward Barbara Borden. “But I don't think [the stewards] would require anybody who hasn't divulged ownership [via syndicate] in the horse to obtain a license.”

The KHRC rules committee first took up this subject back in January, when KHRC commissioner Charlie O'Connor said he had “been approached by several ownership groups that we make room for more names” in the program.

“As syndicate groups in this country are becoming a big deal, [people] who invest their money in the horse business want to see their name on a program,” O'Connor said at that time.

The KHRC rules committee couldn't come up with an immediate solution at the January meeting. But now, three months later, O'Connor said he was pleased with the proposed rule amendments.

“I think that covers what we're trying to achieve here, because we've all been blown up about this,” O'Connor said. “It's a very important thing for these owners.”

Anna Seitz, a rules committee member who works with Fasig-Tipton and with international syndicates, said “I think it will help get new owners, honestly.”

Prior to the meeting's adjournment, Seitz floated another idea: Would there be any chance that Kentucky might swap out its annual license renewal requirement and go to three-year licensure, like in New York?

Frank Jones, Jr., a KHRC commissioner who chairs the rules committee, said he wasn't sure why the requirement exists as a one-year renewal. But he agreed that the committee should look into it.

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