Instant Racing hearing held at Red Mile
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The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission held a public hearing Wednesday morning at The Red Mile to give members of the public the opportunity to voice their opinions on recently-passed regulations to allow Instant Racing machines at the state’s racetracks. The machines give players the chance to wager on randomly-determined previously run horse races and receive a payoff based on a pari-mutuel system.
More than 150 were in attendance, with the vast majority in support of the Instant Racing machines; when a supporter of Instant Racing spoke a hefty round of applause was given while when an opponent spoke—including a lawyer for the Family Coalition who spoke for 50 minutes of the 90-minute session—there was virtual silence afterward.
Included among the Standardbred interests in attendance were Kentuckians Bob Stewart, Carter Duer, Dr. Andy Roberts, Terry Cullipher. John Housh, Aaron Young, Hal Hewitt and James and Katherine Sautter. Other harness horsemen in attendance included Jan Johnson and Ron Gurfein, and there were several Thoroughbred horsemen at the gathering who spoke in support of Instant Racing. Kentucky Equine Education Project director Patrick Neely also was in attendance and spoke briefly.
Veterinarian and owner-breeder Roberts was the first to speak and with a voice filled with emotion he spoke of the importance of racing to him and his family and how disappointed he is in having to take his stallion to the neighboring state of Indiana in order to remain viable. Roberts added he hopes the legalities of the Instant Racing machines can be quickly solved.
“We’ve got political surgeons standing over a patient who is bleeding to death and we have to stop the bleeding. We need to make wise and fair regulations for the racetracks, the breeders, the owners and trainers,” said Roberts.
Also in attendance was Gabe Prewitt, executive secretary of the Kentucky Harness Horseman’s Association and Red Mile announcer. Prewitt reiterated the steep decline in the number of Standardbred stallions standing in the state over the past decade and that unless help is given,
“We have to have a new source of revenue generated so we have the tools to compete,” said Prewitt. “And time is running out at an alarming rate.”