10/01/2012 3:51PM

Kentucky commission tables dates requests due to conflicting submissions

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A committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission tabled votes on the 2013 dates requests for three tracks on Monday after the tracks submitted schedules that included several overlaps, including a request by Churchill Downs to run on four weekends in September in conflict with Turfway Park.

The requests underscore the rapid changes occurring on the Kentucky circuit because of the ongoing struggles of Turfway Park and the desire by Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park to begin adding dates due to the revenues the tracks are accruing from slot-machine-like devices called Instant Racing machines.

The committee voted to table the requests after nearly two hours of discussion over the competing proposals. In some cases, the tracks had not communicated their requests to other tracks prior to filing amended dates requests just prior to the meeting.

The committee is likely to vote on the requests later this month, prior to an Oct. 17 meeting of the full KHRC. The commission must approve dates requests by Nov. 1.

The most dramatic change to the circuit is being posed by Churchill’s request to race 12 days in September, running Friday through Saturday on each weekend after Labor Day. Those dates have traditionally been held exclusively by Turfway Park.

Kevin Flanery, Churchill’s president, said that the track estimated that average purse distribution for the 12 days would be $200,000 to $240,000 “conservatively,” compared to $100,000 at Turfway’s September meet. He said that Churchill thought there was “a lot of upside potential” for the dates.

Flanery said, however, that Churchill would be opposed to running in competition with Turfway Park, and he asked the committee to approve the dates for either Turfway or Churchill, but not both.

Turfway officials said that they still intended to run in September, but that they would need to submit an alternate proposal for dates if the September dates were awarded to Churchill.

The other conflicts concerned three days of racing by Kentucky Downs in March, with one of those dates overlapping Turfway’s spring meet. And in another conflict, Ellis Park asked for dates over the last weekend in June, in conflict with Churchill.

As Ron Geary, the president of Ellis, walked back to his seat after making a presentation to the committee, Flanery said to him, sarcastically, “Thanks for calling.”

“Thank you for calling,” Geary shot back.

W.G. More than 1 year ago
The request for September dates by Churchill is not a surprise. There were many hoping Churchill would ask for September dates because of Turfway's purse structure being so low, to where Turfway doesn't have any stakes this meet. While Turfway is doing what they can, they have had one card this meet with just six races on it. One solution to this could be where Churchill races Saturdays and Sundays ONLY in September while Turfway runs Monday and Tuesday afternoons and Friday nights. It may be best, however, if in September Churchill runs an all Friday-Saturday only meet (with a night program if Kentucky Downs is racing in the afternoon and KD racing mainly Wednesday and either Sundays or Mondays in September and KD also withdrawing their request for spring dates) while Turfway only races in the winter and early spring, when they can redirect purse monies from the fall meet to in order to better strengthen the purses for their main period of racing. That might be a good compromise.
W.G. More than 1 year ago
Obviously, I meant Fridays and Saturdays only for CD and forgot to change the very top. As I would do it, Churchill and Kentucky Downs would split a four-day week in September, with CD racing Fridays and Saturdays and KD running either Sundays or Mondays along with Wednesdays during September. That probably would work best.
illhaveanother9 More than 1 year ago
"Friday through Saturday" on each weekend in September would not be 12 racing days, unless the month suddenly became two weeks longer. I'm guessing that was supposed to be Friday through Sunday. So if Churchill gets their request, there would be no Monday - Thursday racing in KY in September, save a couple Mondays and Wednesdays at KY Downs. Ellis wants an extra weekend in June, but there is no mention of them returning to a four or five day race week. If the majority of days are dark, racing jobs and revenues will keep flowing into KY's neighboring states- even with increased KY purses. KY needed racinos ten years ago!
BrandonLayer More than 1 year ago
I say let them all have the dates they want and let the owners and trainers decide where they want to run.