It's a fitting coincidence: As leaders of this state's two largest cities call for increasing exports, Kentucky is moving to preserve the international market for the American Thoroughbred industry which is clustered in the Bluegrass.
Both sides in the flap over the widespread use of an anti-bleeding drug in race horses have valid points. Stripped down to essentials, though, the conflict is between short-term concerns and a long-term vision for the sport of kings.
The long-term view won out, though not in any radical or precipitous way: A phaseout of the race-day use of furosemide, better known as Lasix or Salix, in upper-level stakes races beginning in 2014 won't put Kentucky tracks at an immediate competitive disadvantage.
(Or, we should say, another disadvantage; they're already hugely challenged trying to compete with casino-swollen purses in New York.)
By becoming the first to approve a partial ban on the drug, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will help push the rest of U.S. racing into the international mainstream.
The U.S. and Canada are the only countries that allow furosemide on race days.
More than 90 percent of horses in U.S. races are on the drug. Its prevalence is raising concerns that a tendency to bleed is spreading in the American gene pool. Because of this, international buyers are more sceptical of U.S. bloodlines. If the perception devalues U.S. Thoroughbreds in the international market, Kentucky's economy will suffer.
A more fundamental concern about the future of racing is at play, as well. To survive, much less prosper, racing will have to assure the public that its equine competitors are healthy and well treated.
The science on pulmonary hemorrhage in horses is complicated and confusing; it's unclear why there appears to have been an increase in "bleeders" over time.
Lots of humans use Lasix; it's not a scary drug, like, say, the cobra venom that's sometimes given in hopes of improving a racehorse's performance.
But let's imagine a young person who likes animals and/or sports and has or will have disposable income — in other words, a potential racing fan. This person hears that if racehorses aren't medicated they bleed from their lungs. To the uninitiated, it sounds like something Uday Hussein would have done to spur on Iraqi Olympians: dope 'em so they can run 'til they bleed.
That's a sensationalized description, but the point is fair: Racing's image will take a beating as long as it depends so heavily on medicating horses.
The arguments over therapeutic drugs vs. doping are likely lost on the average person, especially when there is a concerted effort in some quarters to portray racing as cruel, while some trainers and owners, hungry for casino-engorged purses, seem determined to prove it.
Finally, here is the most important lesson from Kentucky's commission narrowly making the right decision about Lasix. Individual states will always be reluctant to risk getting out front on any change, no matter how good it might be for the industry long-term.
U.S. racing needs a central governing authority.