Letter to the Editor: Save HHR and the Health of Ky Racing & Breeding


Red Mile

by Elisabeth Jensen and Doug Cauthen

We believe and assume that most people reading this letter know that Historical Horse Racing (HHR) has been in the news a lot lately. But to quickly summarize, just last week, the Kentucky Supreme Court officially ruled that it would not rehear the case where it ruled, in principle, that at least certain HHR machines could not continue UNLESS the Kentucky Legislature provides legislation to allow HHR to qualify as pari-mutuel racing per the definition they alone can provide.  This is an urgent issue, as HHR has helped make Kentucky a premier year-round racing circuit and has helped add further to the significant economic impact racing and breeding have for the state of Kentucky. This urgency became even more apparent when Keeneland and the Red Mile halted operations at their HHR facilities yesterday due to the recent ruling.

Again as a quick summary of the facts:  HHR's impact on the Kentucky industry has allowed Kentucky to compete with neighboring state tracks that were padding their purses with casino money, and eventually set Kentucky apart from competing states by creating a magnet that is drawing horse operations from around the country to the Commonwealth, and allows those already established here to remain economically feasible. HHR alone contributed $36 million to racing purses in 2019 alone, and it is growing annually. Direct taxes to the Kentucky general fund total over $52 million to date, and are growing annually, if HHR is permitted to continue.  HHR facilities directly employ 1,400 people and pay $45 million in annualized direct payroll and benefits alone. Additionally, the racetracks pay $100 million in state and local taxes each year. HHR has contributed millions of dollars annually to Thoroughbred and Standardbred breeders and non-race breeds, as well as other state programs like the University of Louisville Equine program, the Higher Education Fund and the Drug Research Fund. With incentive structures in Kentucky that benefit breeders, trainers and owners who keep their horses in Kentucky, HHR is responsible for the positive growth in the health of the industry and in part the industry's relatively healthy $5.2 billion economic impact on the Commonwealth, and employment of nearly 60,000 people, ALL of whom also pay taxes. Furthermore, Kentucky racing associations have made investments of nearly $1 billion, which again employs more people.

Call to Action: Please Use the Link Below To E-mail Your Legislator In Support Of HHR

A successful racing circuit in Kentucky has a trickle-down effect far beyond the racetrack, and benefits breeders, feed and bedding suppliers, tack and equipment dealers, van companies, veterinarians, farm staff, blacksmiths, owners, trainers and so many others in communities throughout Kentucky, particularly those in the hospitality industry which relies heavily on visitors to the state.

We will lose the economic support and all the investment that has occurred to date if the Kentucky State legislature does not address this issue to clearly permit HHR, as the KY Supreme Court has advised. So please spend three minutes and use the following link to find your legislator in Kentucky and tell them to support HHR and support the economy of Kentucky.

It is extremely easy–just hit the link horseswork.com and it will take you to the KEEP website, and you will see the red highlighted box that says “send a message to your legislator.” Click on that, and then the subsequent dark shaded box to get to the message page for your legislators. Write your personal message, insert your zip code and Kentucky home address, and the program will auto-fill your specific legislators. The last thing you do is push the “Send Message” button at the bottom right, and in less than three minutes you have helped and done your part in support of this important cause. If you also care to call your legislator, especially if you know them personally, please do that as well. If you don't have their personal number you can call 1-800-372-7181 to leave them a voicemail. But the email alone will be evidence of your support of HHR. The last thing we would ask you to do is to send the horseswork.com  link to anyone that you know supports the horse industry and who would send the same message to their legislator. We need thousands of messages to be sent to all legislators across the state, and need particular support in rural areas outside of Central Kentucky, so please recruit support of your family and friends. It is critical that our legislators hear directly from all of you this week, as they prepare to come back in session next week. Please help!

(If you have any problem sending the email, please email [email protected] and specific directions will be forwarded to you to be sure your email is successfully sent and your voice is heard.)

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