Racing panel's first meeting is next week

Gov. Steve Beshear's task force on horse racing will hold its first meeting next week in Lexington.

Beshear appointed the task force, headed by Thoroughbred horseman and political ally Tracy Farmer, in July to recommend how to put Kentucky racing on a more financially sound footing.

Farmer, like Beshear, is a proponent of expanded gambling, but casinos are not explicitly on the agenda.

The task force will meet 10 a.m. Sept. 3 at Fasig-Tipton in Lexington, on Newtown Pike.

The panel will hear a report on current staffing and funding levels of the cash-strapped Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. The commission faces increasing drug-testing costs, probably beginning next month, when Beshear signs a new steroid ban into law. Testing costs are passed along to the racetracks, but increased sampling will increase workload in many areas.

KHRC chairman Bob Beck Jr. will discuss laboratory facilities. When the racing commission met Monday, Beck said the KHRC will issue a new request for proposal for Kentucky's drug testing contract. The current testing contract is with Iowa State University.

Also on the agenda:

■ Industry financial matters: Keeneland president Nick Nicholson.

■ Integrity of racing and parimutuel activities: commissioner and Louisville attorney Edward S. Bonnie.

A subcommittee of the task force, chaired by Beshear general counsel Ellen Hesen, is to meet in Frankfort on Thursday to discuss KHRC funding and staffing. That meeting will be at 10 a.m. in Room 110 of the State Capitol.