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.