07/29/2003 11:00PM

Indiana Downs petition denied

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The Indiana Racing Commission on Tuesday denied a formal petition by Indiana Downs, the new racing entity located in the Indianapolis suburb of Shelbyville, to ban all Kentucky simulcasts in the state. The ruling upheld the status quo at Indiana tracks and wagering outlets in regard to imported simulcasts of Kentucky racing.

The commission denied the request by a 3-2 vote. Indiana Downs had filed its petition because simulcasts of Kentucky races are currently being withheld from its new Evansville, Ind., wagering parlor, which is located only about six miles from the Churchill Downs-owned Ellis Park, while being offered at other outlets in Indiana. Kentucky horsemen say the banning of signals to sites within close proximity of state boundaries is necessary to protect their live racing product.

The latest action by the commission seems to be a precursor to future battles between Indiana Downs and the only other in-state racing entity, Hoosier Park, which is partly owned by Churchill Downs Inc. Indiana Downs has made considerable progress in recent months on getting an offtrack parlor in Clark County, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Ky., where a major customer base of horseplayers currently has just one simulcast facility - Trackside, which is located in Louisville and owned by Churchill.

Kentucky simulcasts are among the most popular signals at Indiana outlets. According to Hoosier Park, about $14 million was wagered last year in Indiana on Kentucky racing, netting about $700,000 for purses at Indiana tracks and over $400,000 for Kentucky purses.