Beshear, lawmakers hope wagering incentives bring Breeders' Cup back to Kentucky past 2015

03/17/2015 04:29 PM

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear signed a bill granting tax incentives for this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championship at Keeneland on Tuesday, and officials hope similar deals will coax the event back to Kentucky in the near future.

Keeneland is set to host Lexington’s first ever Breeders’ Cup and the ninth overall in Kentucky Oct. 30-31, and under House Bill 134, all wagering on live races during Thoroughbred event will be exempt from the state’s parimutuel taxes. Beshear said Keeneland will share the incentive with the Breeders’ Cup under its agreement to host the event.

The governor and Craig Fravel, president and chief executive officer of the Breeders’ Cup, said a similar tax incentive yielded about $750,000 when Churchill Downs hosted the event in 2011.

The parimutuel exemption will remain through Dec. 31, 2017, “just to give the Breeders’ Cup a little encouragement to come on back again,” Beshear said at a Capitol news conference.

The incentive, which Kentucky has previously extended, is “a normal course of business in other racing jurisdictions across the United States where the Breeders’ Cup is held,” Beshear said.

“It’s an investment in an event that will have a tremendous economic impact on Kentucky as tens of thousands of horse racing fans from around the world visit Keeneland in late October,” he said.

“Providing this tax incentive further indicates Kentucky’s desire to make the commonwealth a desirable location for the Breeders’ Cup for years to come.”

The Breeders’ Cup has been scheduled through 2017, meaning the championship could return to Kentucky in 2018 at the earliest, Fravel said.

Other sites, such as California tracks, offer similar incentives to host the two-day event, he said.

“I think there’s been a lot of encouragement, a lot of conversation about the interest of both the governor’s office and the legislature in the Breeders’ Cup coming back to Kentucky, so I think our job is to show how great an event it can be and then that should be an easy decision,” Fravel said.

The Breeders’ Cup had already booked its championship in Lexington this year, but Beshear said passing HB 134, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, reinforced the state’s commitment to hosting the event in the future.

“If we had not passed this it obviously sends a negative signal, I think, to the Breeders’ Cup about future years because what they desire is what we desire: a level playing field where we can compete with any other state in the country trying to have the Breeders’ Cup,” Beshear said.

“And by doing this kind of incentive, that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.