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Kentucky harness racing dates announced
Monday, October 26, 2015 - by Tom LaMarra, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Lexington, KY---Three Kentucky harness tracks were approved for a total of 68 racing dates in 2016, though one track’s schedule was approved with a caveat. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved the dates at its Oct. 26 meeting.


Red Mile in Lexington was awarded 32 racing programs for next year from July 24-Oct. 9. The “Kentucky meet” will run through Sept. 17 and be followed by eight Grand Circuit dates from Sept. 29 through the end of the meet.


According to KHRC documents, the July and August dates will have a post time of either 7 p.m. or 1 p.m., an indication the track is considering afternoon programs. For September first post time is listed at 6:30 p.m.


The first three Grand Circuit programs will begin at 7 p.m., with racing at 1 p.m. thereafter.


Bluegrass Downs in Paducah was granted 15 racing days from June 10-July 10 with first post time at 4 p.m., while 21 programs were penciled in for Thunder Ridge Raceway in Prestonsburg from April 13-May 27 with first post at 6 p.m.


It was revealed at the meeting, however, that Thunder Ridge owes three thoroughbred tracks in Kentucky more than $600,000 in simulcast settlement fees: Churchill Downs is owed more than $300,000, Turfway Park $235,000, and Ellis Park more than $100,000, officials said.


The track had indicated the debts would be paid with the proceeds from the sale of the facility, but that hasn’t occurred. So the KHRC approved 2016 racing dates for Thunder Ridge contingent upon track officials telling the commission at its next meeting whether it plans to pay the settlement debts.


KHRC member Ned Bonnie, who made the motion, said the commission may have to “take action in racing’s best interest. We want to facilitate settlement of these issues now.”


The dates were approved only because all tracks must have approval by Nov. 1. The KHRC also said Thunder Ridge had reached an agreement with the Kentucky Harness Horsemen’s Association for the 2016 meet.


Keeneland has attempted to buy Thunder Ridge, convert its harness license to quarter horse and build a new track and historical race wagering facility in Corbin, which is located just north of the Tennessee border.

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