Lexington, Ky. (Friday, February 15, 2019) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, held its third annual KEEP Day in Frankfort on February 12, 2019. The event brought together diverse representatives of the horse industry to meet with legislators to discuss the importance of the $3.4 billion industry to the Commonwealth and its economy.
Attending KEEP Day were executives from thoroughbred racetracks and sport horse organizations, leaders of industry organizations, administrators and students from the equine academic field, owners of small horse operations and more. These industry representatives met with legislators ranging from the newly elected to House and Senate leadership.
Topics of discussion during KEEP Day included sports wagering and the industry’s support for House Bill 175, introduced by Representative Adam Koenig, which would make it legal in Kentucky. Representatives of university equine programs from across the state discussed Senate Bill 81, introduced by Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, which would provide funding to equine programs at public institutions. Recently introduced bills on equine cruelty were also a subject of conversation between industry stakeholders and lawmakers.
Speaker of the House David Osborne commented on KEEP Day, “Bringing together all of these different groups from the horse industry is critical to our work because it shows lawmakers that the horse industry is speaking with a unified voice on the issues that impact them most. We certainly understand the importance that horses have in this state and appreciate KEEP bringing a full representation of the industry to Frankfort.”
Senator Ralph Alvarado, who represents Clark, Montgomery and part of Fayette Counties, echoed those comments, “I enjoyed the opportunity to interact with members of KEEP and hear their priorities and concerns. The horse industry is the pride of the Commonwealth and I will work to advance legislation in Frankfort that ensures that it continues to thrive.”
Case Clay, KEEP Board Member and Chief Commercial Officer at Three Chimneys Farm, noted the importance of the annual gathering, “KEEP Day was a great opportunity to meet with our legislators and discuss the issues currently being debated that could impact the horse industry. Legislators understand the outsized impact that the industry has on Kentucky’s economy and it is critical that we work together to grow that economic impact and the nearly 80,000 jobs it supports. We also had a chance to introduce KEEP and the industry to new legislators and it is so important that we build those relationships.”
Regarding the horse industry’s impact on the state, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer stated, “The horse industry’s impact on the state reaches far and wide. What makes the industry special are the big events like the Kentucky Derby, Breeders’ Cup and the Land Rover Three-Day-Event. However, it doesn’t end there. Every small horse show, the sales events that take place throughout the year and the excellent year-round racing schedule that gets stronger every year contribute to the $3.4 billion economic impact on Kentucky.”
Representative Diane St. Onge, who represents parts of Boone and Kenton Counties, agreed, “I am fortunate to represent the district that includes Turfway Park and I have seen firsthand the unparalleled impact that the horse industry has in this state. In support of one of Kentucky’s signature industries, Frankfort must continue working to grow and expand this important economic engine.”
Elisabeth Jensen, KEEP’s executive vice president who oversees the daily operations of the organization noted, “This year we had a wide-range of individuals that represented different aspects of the horse industry, which made for a very successful event. Being able to showcase the horse industry from thoroughbreds to sport horses to tourism to academics helps inform lawmakers on what is happening in this state every day, beyond the big, widely-known events.” Jensen continued, “We have wonderful support in Frankfort and we are so grateful to all of the lawmakers that take a serious interest in the work of our industry and the tremendous effect it has on the Kentucky’s economy.”
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 $177 million to Kentucky breeders since its inception in 2006, and pari-mutuel wagering on historical horse racing, which has been responsible for more than $40 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 www.horseswork.com.