Damon Thayer

Lawmakers Discuss Adding KTDF Money to Claiming Races

In a meeting in Frankfort Friday, the Pari Mutuel Wagering Taxation Task Force, led by State Senator and majority floor leader Damon Thayer, outlined the advantages of allowing Kentucky-breds in claiming races to receive purse supplements. Claiming races currently are not eligible to have Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) supplements added to their purses. "You need claiming horses in order to provide the opportunities for allowance and stakes horses," said Rick Hiles, president of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association (KHBPA). "It's time to acknowledge their important role and...

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KY Committee Unlikely To Recommend Tax Increase for HHR Machines

A special legislative committee charged with studying the taxes and rates paid by Kentucky racetracks, including the tax rates on profits from Historical Horse Racing (HHR) machines, seems set on recommending the status quo rather than a tax increase. That's good news for the state's racing and breeding industries, which have flourished since HHR machines were introduced in the state some ten years ago. The Pari-Mutuel Wagering Taxation Task Force met Monday and the meeting turned into something of a cheerleading session for the sport, its economic impact and the...

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Taxation Task Force to Look at HHR Rates

A Pari-Mutuel Wagering Taxation Task Force has been established in the Kentucky General Assembly to "study the taxes and rates related to horse racing, the impact that changing the rates would have, and the funds relating to the horse industry which receive historical horse racing tax receipts [and] determine if any changes should be made." The task force will be co-chaired by Kentucky State Senator Damon Thayer and House of Representatives member Adam Koenig. The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) issued a statement in support of the action Tuesday: "The...

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HHR Passes Kentucky Senate 22-15

    The "emergency" bill to legalize historical horse race (HHR) gaming by defining "pari-mutuel wagering" to include previously run races passed the Kentucky State Senate late Tuesday afternoon 22-15, with one senator not casting a vote. Proponents of the bill are aiming to align HHR in a way that they believe will make the slots-like form of gaming constitutionally legal so the machines can keep generating $2.2. billion in annual handle. The Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund's purse-money cut from HHR is three-quarters of 1% of that handle. Senators speaking...

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HHR Bill Reported Favorably Out of Kentucky Senate Committee

The bill that attempts to legalize historical horse race (HHR) gaming in Kentucky by inserting a one-paragraph definition of "pari-mutuel wagering" into an existing state statute advanced with a favorable recommendation out of the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee Feb. 4. SB120 will now be scheduled for a hearing before the full Kentucky Senate. Proponents testified that Kentucky's racing industry is in danger of economic devastation without the support of HHR to bolster purses, and that defining "pari-mutuel" for the first time within state laws is the appropriate way to...

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After HHR Decision from Court, Racing Considers Next Steps

Still reeling from a decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court that ruled that Historical Horse Racing (HHR) machines are illegal, the racing and breeding industries in the state have continued to work behind the scenes to find a way to keep the gaming machines operating. The machines have proved so popular that they handled $2.2 billion during the most recent fiscal year and contribute tens of millions annually to purses. The court ruled that the machines, which resemble slot machines, did not fall under the legal definition of pari-mutuel gambling...

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Kentucky Legislative Committee Approves Partial Lasix Ban

The Kentucky Legislature's Interim Joint Committee on Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations met Tuesday and took measures that allowed regulations that ban the use of Lasix in 2-year-old races this year and also in graded stakes next year to go into effect. The committee did not hold a vote, a procedure that produced the same results as if had voted to approve the regulations. Tuesday's hearing was the latest in what has been a contentious battle between pro and anti-Lasix forces in Kentucky, a fight that may now be over...

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Thayer Calls Ongoing Shutdown of Racing in Kentucky 'Potentially Cataclysmic'

Damon Thayer, a former Breeders' Cup executive who is now the majority leader of the Kentucky Senate, continued to beat the drum Thursday for a return of racing in his state. In an interview with the TDN, he said he sees no practical reason why racing, without spectators in the stands, cannot resume within the next few weeks and warned that keeping the tracks closed indefinitely would create serious economic problems for the sport. "Staggering and potentially cataclysmic," he said when asked to predict the impact of racing in Kentucky...

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Kentucky Budget Bill Includes $1.5M for Drug Testing Lab

Kentucky's executive branch budget bill that is awaiting either passage or line-item vetoes from Gov. Andy Beshear contains a $1.5-million restricted funds transfer from the Equine Drug Research Council (EDRC) to the University of Kentucky (UK) to open a national equine drug testing laboratory. The budget bill also includes a $500,000 allotment from the state's general fund into the budget of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) to hire a safety steward and additional investigators who would be assigned to the state's tracks. A third general fund appropriation would give...

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