Members of the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee granted approval to a bill Thursday that would allow historical horse racing operations to continue in the Commonwealth.
Sponsored by the committee’s chair, Sen. John Schickel, Senate Bill 120 passed the committee by a unanimous, 8-0 vote after equine industry professionals and local business representatives testified in favor of the measure to protect Kentucky jobs and investment.
Thoroughbred trainer Tom Drury, a Kentucky native who has made a lifelong career out of the horse industry, spoke to how the state needs to keep historical horse racing to keep Kentucky competitive with other states.
“Historical horse racing has made Kentucky’s racing circuit much more competitive, attracting more horses and their owners to our state,” Drury said. “We’re not asking for a bailout or a handout. We’re simply asking for a level playing field so we can compete with the rest of the country and have our horses stay in Kentucky. A lot of us rely on year-round racing to feed our families, and we have employees that rely on it too.”
Kelli Pendleton, President of the Hopkinsville-Christian County Chamber of Commerce, spoke to how a new racetrack and historical horse racing facility, Oak Grove Racing and Gaming, had been a major success in attracting jobs and investment and lifting up existing businesses in the community.
“Christian County businesses have benefited greatly from having historic horse racing in our community,” Pendleton said. “They’re seeing increased foot traffic and sales in addition to the 400 new jobs it has created at the facility. We support Senate Bill 120 to ensure tourism and economic dollars stay in Kentucky.”
Senate Bill 120 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.