There has been some controversy and debate over the fact that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission recently approved a 2012 racing calendar almost identical to the current year. While the full racing commission meeting on 18 October still needs to approve the calendar, there seems to be little doubt that it will be accepted. The five Thoroughbred tracks under the jurisdiction of the KHRC have requested 210 race days, while the three Standardbred tracks have asked for 65 days.
The proposed 2012 calendar allocates 38 days between 28 April and 30 June, and 21 days between 28 October and 25 November for Churchill Downs; 34 days between 1 July and 3 September for Ellis Park; 15 days between 6 and 28 April, and 17 days between 5 and 17 October for Keeneland; 6 days in September for Kentucky Downs; 16 days between 15 June and 15 July for Players Bluegrass Downs; 29 days between 5 August and 7 October for The Red Mile; 21 days between 12 April and 16 May for Thunder Ridge; and 45 days between 1 January and 1 April, 16 days in September, and 22 days between 29 November and 13 December for Turfway Park. One of the most notable changes in the calendar was Churchill Downs dropping the Fourth of July weekend from its events, which has always overlapped with Ellis Park.
Due to financial concerns Thunder Ridge in Prestonsburg has cut its racing days to 21, being 3 days less than this year, with general manager Anita Ratliff noting that the track had lost money on the days in question this year. Breeders Cup board chairman, president of Thoroughbred stud farm Vinery, and KHRC committee member Tom Ludt reportedly expressed his frustration at the lack of change to the calendar, stating that the horseracing industry in Kentucky can’t keep repeating the same things they had been doing and that there should be more innovation.
Some of the changes that have been, or will be made at various tracks, include the investment of $4 million in lights to facilitate night racing at Churchill Downs; the opening of Kentucky’s first instant racing parlor at Kentucky Downs; the application by Ellis Park for instant racing; and the roll out of mobile betting at Keeneland which drew in $40,000 on the first day of operation.