07/03/2008 11:00PM

Ky. governor replaces six on commission


Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear replaced six members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority on Thursday and renamed the regulatory agency the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, according to his office.

The changes by Beshear, a Democrat, could dramatically impact the racing commission's ongoing effort to regulate the administration of anabolic steroids in racing. Several of the replaced members had begun to play an active role in the drafting of the rules, including Connie Whitfield-Harriman, the vice chair of the former authority, the chair of the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council, and the wife of U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Republican.

The other authority members who were replaced were Kerry Cauthen, the co-owner of Four Star Sales; Dell Hancock, the co-owner of Claiborne Farm; Franklin S. Kling Jr., a local businessman; Doug Hendrickson, a former vice president of a Maysville bank; and Richard Knock, a real-estate developer. Cauthen, Hancock, and Hendrickson were several of the more active members of the former authority.

Governors in Kentucky have wide authority in making appointments to state agencies, and many use their elections to appoint members to agencies in line with their political policies. Beshear was elected last year. The former governor, Ernie Fletcher, a Republican, had also made wholesale changes to the authority, and had changed its name from the Kentucky Racing Commission to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority.

The commission has 15 members. The new appointees will have to be approved by the legislature next year, though the appointments are effective immediately.

The new appointments include Tracy Farmer, the horse owner and breeder who is also a major fundraiser for the Democratic Party. Farmer was appointed vice chair, replacing Whitfield.

The other new appointees are Francis Thomas Conway, a Louisville trial attorney, Thoroughbred owner, and the father of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway; Frank L. Jones, the owner of a Louisville business and a former commission member; Burr James Travis III, a Fort Mitchell attorney and horse owner; Michael Anthony Pitino, the son of University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino and a horse owner; and Wade Houston, former University of Louisville assistant coach and the father of NBA star Allan Houston.

In a statement, Beshear said that the horse racing industry was facing difficult times and needed an active commission. It was unclear why Beshear considered the industry to be in “crisis” from the statement. Beshear's offices were closed on Friday, July 4.

“Kentucky’s signature industry is in crisis and immediate, aggressive action is necessary to preserve its integrity,” the statement said. “The actions I have taken reflect my continued commitment to strengthening horseracing in the commonwealth.”

Beshear campaigned last year on a platform that included support for the legalization of slot machines at racetracks, and he was heavily supported during his campaign by the racing and gambling industries. Legislation providing for a constitutional referendum on the issue did not pass both houses.

In addition, the racing industry has recently been criticized by a number of groups because of the death of the filly Eight Belles after she finished second in this year’s Kentucky Derby and because of the issue of anabolic steroids, which are legal to administer in 27 of the 38 U.S. racing jurisdictions. Many of those states are in the process of adopting rules regulating anabolic steroid use.

An offshoot of the commission, the Kentucky Equine Drug Council, recently appointed a committee to develop recommendations about regulations regarding the administration of anabolic steroids. Whitfield-Harriman had indicated that she supported federal regulations, while the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has asked the state to proceed with caution. In the past, Democratic legislators have supported the position of the KHBPA.