FRANKFORT — Kentucky lawmakers' decision to give Keeneland a tax break for hosting the Breeders' Cup World Championship this fall should help the state get the event again, said Craig Favel, Breeders' Cup president and chief executive officer.
Favel's comments came during a news conference Gov. Steve Beshear held Tuesday in the Capitol to sign into law a bill that redirects the state's excise tax on live pari-mutuel wagering during the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 30 and 31.
Instead of going to the state, the money will be used for boosting prizes awarded to horse owners.
Betting during those two days also won't be counted when calculating Keeneland's daily average live handle, which is how the state determines a racetrack's tax rate. Tracks with a daily average handle of less than $1.2 million are taxed at 1.5 percent; those with an average of $1.2 million or more are taxed at 3.5 percent.
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Beshear said he hopes the tax break, which remains in effect through Dec. 31, 2017, would be an incentive for the Breeders' Cup to return to Kentucky.
Locations in California have been selected for the Breeder's Cup until 2018, Favel said.
"While this is the first time the event will be held in Lexington, in eight previous editions of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, the commonwealth has demonstrated its welcoming support for world-class thoroughbred participants from around the world ... something that doesn't go unnoticed by the Breeders' Cup leadership when we look toward the future," Favel said
The potential value of Kentucky's tax break is not known. When the championships were last held in Kentucky at Churchill Downs in Louisville in 2011, the amount was estimated to be about $750,000, Flavel said.
Ticket sales for the event have been brisk, Flavel said, noting that the event's estimated economic impact on Central Kentucky is more than $80 million.
"The Breeders' Cup will have a tremendous impact on Kentucky as tens of thousands of horse racing fans from around the world will visit Keeneland the last week of October," Beshear said. "Providing this tax incentive further indicates Kentucky's desire to make the commonwealth a desirable location for the Breeders' Cup for years to come."