02/20/2007 1:00AM

Kentucky panel moves to enlarge fields

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The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority on Tuesday approved several rule changes designed to increase field sizes at state racetracks by allowing racing secretaries to uncouple entries and make it more difficult to scratch horses on race day.

The rules, which are still subject to public hearings and adoption by the state’s legislative research committee, would allow two or more horses who have common ownership in one race to be uncoupled at the racing secretary’s discretion. In addition, the rules would prohibit a horse scratched on race day from being entered within 10 days of the scratch, as opposed to the current rule of six days, and would drop a restriction that prohibits a horse from starting in a race within 30 days of being claimed unless the subsequent claiming price is at least 25 percent greater than the price at which the horse was claimed.

State racetracks asked the authority to consider the rule changes last year, citing concerns about an increased number of raceday scratches and a decline in average field size. The process to formally approve rules typically takes four to six months.

Also at the meeting, the authority’s vice chair, Connie Whitfield, said that the Equine Drug Research Council, an offshoot of the authority, would likely present a proposal to the authority at its March meeting about plans to fund a 20-horse racing stable that would be used to conduct research on withdrawal times for drugs. The stable would be administered by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, a national horse racing group that recommends model rules for racing and funds equine research projects.