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Jockey Club Encourages Individual Tracks to List Fatality Statistics

Individual racetracks are being asked to post information on a new Web page that tracks equine fatality statistics.

Since 2008, the Jockey Club has kept injury data in its Equine Injury Database. It represents some 93 percent of racing days for the past three years. But until recently there’s been no database for individual tracks.

Now, the Jockey Club has introduced a Web page that allows individual tracks to post fatality information and include specifics, like the age and gender of the horses, as well as the surface on which they raced. More than a dozen tracks in the U.S. are currently participating, including Kentucky’s Keeneland and Turfway tracks.

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Kentucky Racetracks Struggle to Grow Business

A member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is challenging racetracks to be more innovative in order to compete with surrounding states for business. As race tracks have proposed 2012 schedules, some tracks are cutting the number of racing days.

“We’ve got to do something to lure people back to the tracks,” said Commissioner Tom Ludt.

Thunder Ridge in Prestonsburg has requested cutting race days off the schedule because it can’t afford to stay open. Tracks should try more innovative options like nighttime racing, said Ludt. Track officials should stir waves and challenge operations, he said.

Some tracks like Churchill Downs have adjusted the way business is done. Churchill Downs’ Darren Rogers said night racing is one of many changes that have increased attendance.

“The challenge for Churchill Downs is to put together a product that is attractive to the horse player, also the casual fan and then the entertainment seeker,” he said.

Rogers said since the track invested $4 million in lights, night racing has tripled attendance and doubled wagering when compared to day racing. Churchill Downs is changing its night racing from Friday to Saturday nights beginning next year. Rogers hopes this will bring traffic to the track earlier, he said.

The track is no longer just about racing, said Rogers. Churchill Downs now includes music and other entertainment, and Rogers said now it’ll sell the experience.

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Horse Racing Commission Approves Instant Racing at Kentucky Downs

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has approved the first expanded gambling games at a state horse track.

Kentucky Downs in western Kentucky wants to implement the game in which gamblers bet on old horse races without names of the horses, jockeys and trainers using slot-like devices. The game is known as Instant Racing at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, where it has been a strong moneymaker since it began a decade ago.

Kentucky Downs President Corey Johnsen said the track plans to invest $3 million and hire 85 workers to implement the game. The commission approved the request by a voice vote with no opposition.

The devices could possibly be in operation when the Franklin track near the Tennessee border begins its meet Sept. 10.

From the Associated Press

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Today on State of the News

With a government shut-down looming and questions about how such a step would affect the average citizen, Phillip M. Bailey joins us to talk about what lawmakers from Kentucky and Indiana have been saying about the budget impasse and what next week could bring. Rick Howlett reports on a snag in plans to re-open Kentucky Kingdom, and Indiana’s defeated smoking bill.

They’ll also fill us in on a controversial proposal that would allow food stamps to be used to purchase fast food from Yum! Brands restaurants. Then we’ll join our colleagues at The Easter Standard, live from Keeneland with a conversation about the future of Kentucky’s racing industry, with the presidents of Keeneland, Turfway, and Churchill Downs.

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Churchill Downs Rolls Out New Safety Rules

In advance of this year’s Kentucky Derby, the new safety standards will be rolled out for the opening day of the Spring Meet in April.  Winning horses will be routinely tested for the presence of more than performance-enhancing 100 drugs.  Horses will no longer be shod with certain kinds of  horseshoes.  And owners will be required to keep older samples of horse blood and urine on hand for retrospective drug testing.  In addition, the new rules require all jockeys to wear safety helmets and vests.  Churchill Downs developed the new standards in consultation with veterinarians from the American Association of Equine Practitioners, among other groups.