Kentucky horse racing authorities have approved a plan for Ellis Park to increase the purses for many of its thoroughbred races starting in August, helping make it more competitive with other tracks.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted Wednesday to authorize the Henderson racetrack to use $300,000 from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.
Ellis Park initially hoped to use half of that money to help fund a pair of new stakes races for two year olds this summer. The track's Director of Operations, Bob Jackson, said that wouldn't be possible this year.
The Commission authorized the track to use $200,000 to bolster purse money for Kentucky-bred horses competing in maiden and allowance races this summer. The Commission also agreed to allow Ellis Park to hold the remaining $100,000 until next year.
The Kentucky Supreme Court says the state can’t collect pari-mutuel taxes on instant racing games.
However, the Courier-Journal reports the high court also ruled Thursday that instant racing was legally implemented in the commonwealth.
Kentucky Downs in Franklin and Ellis Park in Henderson currently offer instant racing, which involves bettors wagering money on videos of previously run races.
Despite the ruling, justices said the conservative Family Foundation of Kentucky can continue its efforts to oppose Instant Racing. The group is gathering evidence for its legal challenge against the games, which it believes were implemented illegally.
State regulators have allowed pari-mutuel taxes to be collected on the games, but Thursday’s ruling by the Kentucky Supreme says those taxes only apply to live racing events.
The Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal concerning Instant Racing games being used at two racetracks in the listening area of WKU Public Radio.
Instant Racing uses videos of old horse races, with the identities of the horses, jockeys, and trainers concealed. Participants place wagers after seeing a brief video clip of the race in the corner of the screen. The games are currently being used at Kentucky Downs in Franklin and Ellis Park in Henderson.
The Courier-Journal reports it remains to be seen whether the Kentucky high court will decide, once and for all, whether Instant Racing games can operate in the Bluegrass State. The ruling being appealed was technical in nature, did not address the legality of the game and returned the case to the first court to hear the matter.
The owner of Ellis Park in Henderson says he hopes to expand the horse track’s gambling options by Labor Day. Ron Geary wants to move ahead with plans to install instant racing machines, despite an ongoing lawsuit over the legality of those games in Kentucky.