For the longest time, Kentucky has been begging for help. They are now on life support and nobody really believes this. When I was out there on Saturday for the Lane’s End Stakes, it was hard to believe that the track was facing dire consequences. But, that is one day.
The sun was shining, and people were decked out in their finest in the VIP Tent. A lavish buffet, and music playing all day. There were giveaways of prizes, and the who’s who were in attendance. It felt like life was breathing into this Northern Kentucky track. But, reality set in on Sunday as they close their meet. There was a scant crowd, and only the regular Joe’s were there to watch and wager.
The day prior saw Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s runner Dean’s Kitten roll into the winner’s circle for a $500,000 prize. He is on his way to the Derby if he wishes. The purse is one that many trainers seek to build their earnings. It has always been a rite of spring, and it could possibly be facing even tougher times.
This winter, the track dropped from a five day-a-week schedule to three. This was to bolster field sizes, and cut back on operating costs. It paid off for a short run, but the underlying story is that they need help. They have lobbied for VLT’s and Instant Racing as of late. All plans have fallen on deaf ears. The people won’t believe it until the worst happens. Does anyone remember Arlington Park? They closed their doors at the home of the Arlington Million, because they did not receive any assistance to allow them to compete. Don’t think they are looking for a handout, a government bolster, or the lottery winner. They just want the approval to compete with facilities that are within a half an hour away. They are dying on the vine, and the people refuse to see it.
I guess it would have been hard to imagine a Kentucky track falling by the wayside on Saturday. The fans were there, the sun was shining, and all looked well. But that was just one day… I think it will take the closing of Ellis Park or Turfway Park to wake up the legislators. For the many who hold the moral compass high and refuse to acknowledge the loss of jobs and loss of tax revenue, well, as my great-grandmother once said: “If you won’t listen, you must feel.” I think they will feel the doors closing. It may be one or the other, but it is coming. That you can bet on….