05/15/2006 12:00AM

Ky. racing officials make plea for funds


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky horse racing officials are expected to meet with representatives of Gov. Ernie Fletcher's cabinet over the next several months in order to iron out uncertainties in the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority's future budget, the chairman of the authority, Bill Street, said at a meeting on Monday.

Officials plan to meet for the first time on Wednesday, Street said. Expected to attend the meeting are the authority's executive director, Jim Gallagher; the secretary of the Environment and Public Protection Cabinet, LaJuana Wilcher; and Street. Wilcher's cabinet oversees the authority.

Concerns have been raised about the authority's budget after the Kentucky legislature passed a two-year budget that did not include a $1.2 million grant from the general fund to the authority in the 2007 fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2007. The authority's typical budget is $3 million a year.

Street said at a regular meeting on Monday that the authority would be hard-pressed to meet its obligations during the 2007 fiscal year if the funding was not replaced in some way. The Kentucky legislature is expected to meet for a 30-day session early in 2007, but, under Kentucky's legislative rules, budget issues are typically off the table during sessions in odd-numbered years.

Street said that discussions would begin with Wilcher's cabinet and then possibly move up the chain of command in state government. "I cannot begin to tell you where it's going to lead," Street said. "The next session is not supposed to deal with budget items. But we need to figure something out."

Authority officials also said at the meeting that the commission may revisit a rule passed two years ago to allow advertising on jockeys' clothes. The move is being prompted by a advertisement for "jockeymedia.com" that several jockeys wore on the May 6 program at Churchill Downs.

The current rule allows riders to wear any advertising for the "recognized logo" of a trade association without seeking approval from the commission. Jim Gallagher, the executive director of the commission, said that the website that was being advertised was connected to the Jockeys' Guild, a non-profit trade association, but did not fall neatly under the rule.

Linda Underwood, the counsel to the authority, said that the rule should be rewritten so that any gray areas are eliminated.