10/02/2006 11:00PM

Underwood named to head Kentucky authority

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Lisa Underwood, the general counsel of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, has been promoted to the position of the authority's executive director by Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, Fletcher's office announced Monday.

Underwood, a former partner in the law firm of Wyatt, Tarrant, and Comb, has acted as the general counsel for the authority since 2005. Since then, she has played a significant role in the authority's attempt to rewrite the state's medication rules and penalties.

Underwood will replace Jim Gallagher, who resigned as of Oct. 1 after leading the authority for two years.

"The racing authority has made tremendous strides the past two years under Jim Gallagher's leadership," Fletcher said in a statement. "Lisa Underwood's experience with the racing authority will ensure a smooth transition and continued effort to grow our signature industry."

Over the past two years, Kentucky's racing authority has repeatedly clashed with the state's horsemen's group, the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, over the changes to the state's medication rules. Despite opposition from the horsemen's group, the rule changes were approved.

On Tuesday, Marty Maline, the executive director of the horsemen's group, said that the association looked forward to working with Underwood.

"We've had our contentious times in the past with the authority on some issues," Maline said. "But we've always found Ms. Underwood to be fair and willing to talk about all our problems. She's been reasonable in her thinking, and I know she'll work hard at it."