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Racing leaders to meet to try to solve problems

Racing industry leaders will gather at Churchill Downs on Wednesday to discuss in detail the threats to and solutions for Kentucky's Thoroughbred industry as a call to arms before a possible special legislative session next month that could consider expanded gambling.

The chief executives of six Kentucky tracks will speak at 1:30 p.m. in the paddock at Churchill. The news conference is organized by the Kentucky Equine Education Project as part of a campaign to convince citizens and politicians that the industry is being hurt because purses and breeders' incentives in other states have grown, thanks to proceeds from slot machines and other gaming at racetracks.

"The sad reality of Thoroughbred racing in the U.S. is that the definition of competition is no longer decided at the racetrack," said Keene land CEO Nick Nicholson, who will speak at the news conference. "It is the millions of dollars that other states are putting into their state industries that have put us at competitive disadvantage, not the quality of our horses or the quality of our product."

Last week, Churchill Downs canceled seven days of racing because of a drop in entries, which officials blamed on better purses in other states.

Gov. Steve Beshear has said the industry is in a "financial crisis," but not whether he will add expanded gambling to a special session to deal with a budget shortfall.

Senate President David Williams remains opposed to expanded gambling, although he has said that he would not block a vote in that chamber.