07/17/2014 9:51AM

Kentucky commission distributes $1 million to tracks


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Wednesday approved the disbursement of $1 million to the state’s racetracks from a legislative appropriation, with part of the money being used to cover a shortfall in the purse fund at Churchill Downs.

The money was a special appropriation by the legislature this year to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund, which is used to provide bonuses to Kentucky-bred horses who finish in the money in open races at Kentucky tracks. The money was transferred from a fund providing for equine drug research that had been unused and would have gone to the state’s general fund without the legislation.

Keeneland, Ellis Park, and Churchill each received $300,000 of the appropriation, while Turfway Park received $100,000. Kentucky Downs, which distributed approximately $1 million a day during its six-day meet last year due to subsidies from slot machine-like devices at the track, declined a share due to its already-heady purse levels.

Churchill will use $125,000 of the appropriation to make up for a drop in its purse fund due to a sharp drop in wagering at its spring meet. Betting declined 11.5 percent during the meet, according to records from the commission, after the track raised the takeout rates on all of its bets, resulting in a call from horseplayer groups to boycott its races. Field size also dropped by roughly half a horse during the meet.

Ellis Park plans to defer $100,000 of its allocation to next year to provide purses for two 2-year-old stakes races, according to track officials. Ellis had considered adding the races to its stakes schedule this year, but it shelved the plan because the races would not have qualified for black type this year, the officials said.