KEEP Statement on Historical Horse Racing Ruling

KEEP Statement on Historical Horse Racing Ruling

Lexington, Ky. (Wednesday, October 31, 2018) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, issued the following statement on last week’s ruling on Historical Horse Racing (HHR):

After 8 years of litigation, on October 24th, Judge Thomas D. Wingate ruled that wagering on HHR machines developed by Exacta Systems should be considered pari-mutuel wagering, under Kentucky law.

KEEP worked closely with technology and machine developers in research of the initial games and with the Kentucky Racing Commission in introducing the machines. The case dates back to July 2010 when the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, Kentucky Department of Revenue and various racetracks sought confirmation from Franklin Circuit Court that the devices operated within state wagering laws.

Initially the court ruled in favor of the state agencies and race tracks, but the Family Foundation appealed the decision. Litigation continued in various Kentucky Courts until last week.

“The arguments raised by the respondent, the Family Foundation, are noble, moral and altruistic,” Judge Wingate wrote, “however, the arguments advanced by the Family Foundation fail as the Exacta machines are structured to operate in accordance with the pari-mutuel system of wagering. Furthermore, the Legislature has determined that historical racing machines are not gambling devices as long as they comport with pari-mutuel wagering.”

Exacta Systems machines are currently in use at Kentucky Downs, Ellis Park and Red Mile in partnership with Keeneland. Parimax and Ainsworth Game Technology machines have been approved by Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, but are not included in this ruling.

This is a big win for KEEP and for our entire industry. Since 2011 HHR has contributed over $31 million dollars the Kentucky Thoroughbred and Standardbred Development Fund. This has increased purses significantly at Kentucky Downs and in 2018 has provided for an additional $1.5 million dollars in purses at Ellis Park, Keeneland and Churchill Downs. The increase in purses at Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park have created a summer racing circuit in Kentucky with quality races that attract trainers and owners from all of the country.

The result of this successful wagering alternative has put Kentucky’s horse racing industry on a positive trajectory in nearly every measurable category, where many other competing states have plateaued or are shrinking. What this means for Kentucky is that the horse industry – which is responsible for $4 billion in economic impact and 80,000 direct and indirect jobs – remains robust and healthy.

“Obviously we are very pleased with the Court’s well-reasoned and detailed ruling,” said Kentucky Downs president and KEEP Legislative Committee Chairman Corey Johnsen. “Judge Wingate carefully considered the facts and found that Exacta Systems and our historical horse racing is pari-mutuel and complies with Kentucky law.

The Kentucky Equine Education Project, Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature multi-breed horse industry. KEEP is committed to ensuring Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world, including educating Kentuckians and elected officials of the importance of the horse industry to the state. KEEP was the driving force in the establishment of the Kentucky Breeders Incentive Fund, which has paid out more than $141 million to Kentucky breeders since its inception in 2006, and pari-mutuel wagering on historical horse racing, which has been responsible for more than $32 million to purses and more than $24 million to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

KEEP works to strengthen the horse economy in Kentucky through our statewide network of citizen advocates. To learn more about how you can become a member or support our work, please visit