Keeneland pulling out of KEEP but will continue to support expanded gambling

jpatton1@herald-leader.comOctober 3, 2012 

Dullahan, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, won the 88th running of the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 14 with a powerful late rally to beat 2-year-old champion Hansen.

HERALD-LEADER

Keeneland confirmed Wednesday that the track is pulling out of the Kentucky Equine Education Project.

Keeneland spokeswoman Julie Balog attributed the move to "a cost and resource allocation consideration" but the cost of membership in the statewide lobbying group was not immediately available.

Just-retired Keeneland president Nick Nicholson previously was on KEEP's board.

Balog said that Keeneland's withdrawal does not mean the Lexington track is abandoning efforts to bring slots or casino gambling to the state. She said in an email that Keeneland will continue to support expanded gambling, something KEEP has lobbied for unsuccessfully in Frankfort for many years.

In response to a question from The Courier-Journal, Keeneland issued this statement: "Over the last decade, KEEP has done a tremendous job of uniting the various breeds and educating a grassroots network about various equine issues. There remains a multitude of issues that still face our state and our industry, and Keeneland remains committed to working with all constituencies to enhancing Kentucky's signature industry and maintaining its international prominence."

KEEP chairman Corey Johnsen said Wednesday that the group will continue efforts to pursue gambling as well as a sales tax exemption for farm purchases.

"We appreciate Keeneland's support of KEEP. They made a business decision based on costs and it's as simple as that," Johnsen said. "KEEP will continue to do its thing on improving the economics of the horse industry. ... The legislative agenda for KEEP is to improve the economy of the horse industry."

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: janetpattonhl

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