12/01/2015 4:33PM

Kentucky commission chairman announces resignation


Robert Beck, the highly involved chairman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission since 2008, announced his resignation on Tuesday at the close of the commission’s regular monthly meeting. The resignation takes effect Dec. 7, the last day in the second and final term of Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who appointed Beck to the post.

His voice faltering, Beck announced the resignation after reading a long list of what he called the commission’s accomplishments over the past seven years. He called the commission a “beacon” to other racing states, and he praised the commission’s members and staff.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve with all of you,” Beck said. The commission and its staff then gave Beck a standing ovation.

An equine attorney in the Kentucky office of Stites and Harbison, Beck ran committee meetings with efficiency and professionalism, and on major issues he typically lined up votes well in advance of their formal consideration. While some racing constituents did not always see eye-to-eye with him, he was widely respected.

“Bob has led the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission through a difficult period, initially, when the fate of the horse industry in Kentucky was perilous,” said Beshear, in a statement. “His leadership and determination are big reasons why Kentucky’s signature industry is once again flourishing.”

Beck’s resignation will open the spot for an appointment of the incoming governor, Matt Bevin, a conservative who has Tea Party leanings. Following the Tuesday meeting, many commission members hugged and shook hands, under the belief that many will be replaced as the result of the change in the governor’s office.

The current commission includes as a member Thomas Conway, the father of Jack Conway, whom Bevin defeated in the gubernatorial race. Conway, like Beshear, is a Democrat.