Statement from KEEP Regarding Legislation to Maintain Historical Horse Racing in Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Tuesday, January 12, 2021) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, released the following statement on the importance of legislation to maintain historical horse racing in Kentucky:

Kentucky’s signature equine industry has a simple request for state legislators in 2021: maintain the status quo and protect local jobs and investment by allowing historical horse racing to continue in Kentucky. Inaction would cost us thousands of jobs, millions in tax revenue and significant economic development opportunities at a time when they are needed most. The longer-term impact to Kentucky’s world-renowned horse racing industry, including the breeding, farming, training, tourism and other sectors it supports, is of even greater concern.

Historical horse racing is a popular form of entertainment that has been taking place in the commonwealth for a decade, while providing important jobs to Kentuckians, driving local investment and breathing new life into our signature equine industry. Much of this activity has been taking place in smaller communities throughout the commonwealth, where job creation and investment opportunities aren’t always abundant.

Historical horse racing has allowed Kentucky’s racing circuit to remain competitive with neighboring states by increasing purses and promoting higher quality racing. These benefits extend far beyond the racetrack, as a healthy racing circuit also benefits the vast network of businesses and individuals who work tirelessly in support of the horse industry, including breeders, feed and bedding suppliers, tack and equipment dealers, veterinarians, farm hands, blacksmiths, owners and trainers, among others.

A strong equine industry means a strong Kentucky and that’s something we should all support.

Unfortunately, a recent ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court has put historical horse racing—and our entire industry—in jeopardy. Now, we need the General Assembly to act quickly and address the simple fixes outlined by the court. Legislation will soon be introduced to do just that.

During the last ten years, historical racing has helped our equine industry grow and become the very best version of itself. By taking action to protect the future of historical horse racing, our legislators are protecting critical jobs, state revenue and economic development—all of which greatly benefit their constituents and their communities. Now is not the time to dismantle the vital industries that have continued to generate revenue and sustain jobs in Kentucky during the pandemic. Without historical horse racing, our industry will suffer, as will the people who call Kentucky home.

Our efforts to keep historical horse racing in Kentucky are just that. This is not about expanding gaming or allowing any new form of gaming in the state. It’s about maintaining the status quo, protecting businesses that are already and have been operating for years and ensuring that one of our most impactful industries—one synonymous with Kentucky—can continue investing in our communities and moving Kentucky’s economy forward.

ABOUT KEEP
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 $50 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.

KEEP Applauds Congress for the Inclusion of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act in the FY 2021 Omnibus Spending Bill

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Monday, December 21, 2020) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) applauds the United State Congress for its inclusion of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act in the FY 2021 omnibus spending bill that was passed by Congress tonight.

KEEP is thankful for Senator Mitch McConnell and Representative Andy Barr’s longtime leadership on this issue. Additionally, KEEP is grateful for Representatives James Comer, Brett Guthrie, Hal Rogers, and John Yarmuth’s cosponsorship of the House of Representatives’ version of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.

Elisabeth Jensen, KEEP’s Executive Vice President who oversees the daily operations of the organization, commented, “KEEP has been at the forefront of the industry in calling for uniform safety standards. This legislation is critical for Kentucky’s signature industry and we are thankful to the Commonwealth’s members of Congress who championed this issue. We look forward to working with our industry partners in the implementation of these new safety standards.”

ABOUT KEEP
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 $50 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.

New Position Aimed at Unifying Equine Educational Opportunities Coming to Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. (December 21, 2020) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, announced the hire of an equine education coordinator.

Annise Montplaisir will be the first person to hold this position and will be responsible for building awareness of the equine industry and the industry’s educational and employment opportunities. This will be accomplished through creating relationships with 4-H, FFA, and breed youth councils, among other organizations. Additionally, Montplaisir will be responsible for marketing industry programs through social media, special events, and the KEEP Equine Summit Luncheon Series. Montplaisir will also serve as an ambassador of the horse industry across the Commonwealth, creating a framework for other states in the U.S. and developing international relationships.

Montplaisir will work specifically with multiple programs and entities, including:

  • Amplify Horse Racing: a national education and recruitment resource used to leverage current educational and occupational opportunities
  • Equine Apprenticeships: a program aimed at providing “earn and learn” training in horsemanship for individuals interested in working in the horse industry
  • K-12 School Districts: facilitating emerging relationships with schools and districts across Kentucky to implement work-based learning opportunities and participate in community and industry engagement
  • Emerging Populations: working with various entities to engage with, and encourage, industry involvement from various underserved populations

This new position is the result of collaboration among the KEEP Foundation, Fasig-Tipton, Glen Hill Farm, Godolphin, The Jockey Club, and Mt. Brilliant Farm.

Montplaisir grew up near Fargo, North Dakota. She received a Bachelor of Science in management communication and international studies and a minor in Spanish from North Dakota State University. She developed a passion for horse racing and gained experience with the industry through multiple internships. She is a recent graduate of the Godolphin Flying Start program and has worked as the project manager for Together for Racing International, as well as co-hosting a bilingual horse racing show called La Trifecta.

Commenting on the new position, Montplaisir said, “Horses have always been a guiding light through my own educational journey. They’ve inspired me to dream bigger and explore adventures that once would have been unimaginable. I am thrilled to begin my role as the equine education coordinator, and to teach people that educational programs and careers in the equine industry are accessible to anyone. Through this position, I hope to promote existing programs, encourage collaboration between initiatives, and facilitate connections that will help newcomers get involved. Ultimately, I believe that education can positively impact the sustainability of the Thoroughbred industry – and the equine industry as a whole.”

Katie LaMonica, director of charitable initiatives for Godolphin USA, added, “Following a global forum on education hosted by Godolphin in Newmarket last November, a team of invested U.S. industry professionals came together to explore ways to address the current workforce problem the equine business faces. This position is the result of that collaboration and is an exciting opportunity for Kentucky’s signature industry to engage with the youth of the state. For the first time, there will be a dedicated representative marketing the industry to young people and educators across the state, connecting them to the many opportunities our industry offers and streamlining existing equine educational programs in Kentucky. Godolphin is proud to be a partner in this collective effort vested in the future of our industry.”

This hire speaks to KEEP’s investment in education and workforce development that began with the creation of the KEEP Foundation in 2014. The KEEP Foundation is supported by donors and the sale of the KEEP Foundation’s Seattle Slew specialty license plate.

In 2018, KEEP and the KEEP Foundation partnered with the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center to launch the Equine Workforce Initiative. The equine education coordinator is an outgrowth of that program and will work closely with the KEEP Foundation and the Equine Workforce Initiative to help modernize the recruitment, training, and placement of qualified employees into the pipelines of the ever-growing equine industry.

The mission of the KEEP Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), is to support the economic success of Kentucky’s signature industry by ensuring its continued economic viability, making the industry accessible for all who want to participate, introducing more young people to the industry and its opportunities, and educating the people of the Commonwealth about the importance of horses to the state, its economy, its heritage, and its people.

The KEEP Foundation seeks to fulfill this mission through:

  • Generating wider interest from the general public and creating new fans and participants for Kentucky’s horse industry.
  • Raising public awareness on the importance of all horse breeds and disciplines in all 120 counties of the “Horse Capitol of the World” through educational events and community engagement that explores the breadth and depth of Kentucky’s horse industry.
  • Attracting new people and populations to careers in the industry and reducing the barriers of entry to career paths in the industry.

ABOUT KEEP
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 $50 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.

Changing of the Guard at KEEP

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Thursday, November 19, 2020) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, announced additions to the KEEP Board of Directors.

Nine new individuals were added to the KEEP Board of Directors: Shannon Cobb, Michelle Fischer, Vince Gabbert, Jeff Hall, Katie LaMonica, Jamie MacLeod, James Miller, Bret Shultz and Donnie Snellings.

Cobb is the COO/CFO of The Red Mile. Fischer is the President of Darting Star, LLC. Gabbert is Vice President and COO of Keeneland. Hall is the General Manger of Ellis Park. LaMonica is the Manager of Marketing at Darley Stud Management. MacLeod is a professor at the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center. Miller is co-owner of Saddlebred farm Hillcroft. Shultz is Director of Racing at Standardbred racing facility Oak Grove. Snellings is the Sales and Yearling Manager at Denali Stud and is the current President of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club.

New officers for the KEEP Board of Directors will be elected at the Board’s January meeting.

Elisabeth Jensen, KEEP’s Executive Vice President who oversees the daily operations of the organization, commented, “Given the hurdles the horse industry faces in the coming year, KEEP may be more necessary now than at any other point in its history. The Kentucky Supreme Court’s ruling that jeopardizes historical horse racing and its contribution to the success of Kentucky’s horse industry presents an immense challenge as we will work to convince the legislature to address the issue. The addition of these board members and the work they have already engaged in on behalf of KEEP and the horse industry is a critical part of the battle ahead.”

The Chairman of KEEP’s Board of Directors, Doug Cauthen, added, “KEEP has always maintained a Board of Directors that truly represents a cross-section of Kentucky’s all breed horse industry and provides all stakeholders with a seat at the table. These new board members further that diverse industry representation and will strengthen KEEP as it faces new challenges and fights to preserve historical horse racing.”

In December, the KEEP Board of Directors will host an industry-wide webinar to discuss the year ahead for KEEP, the advocacy issues the organization will take on, and the strategies and approaches the organization will undertake to emerge successful. More details will be included in a future announcement.

ABOUT KEEP
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 $50 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.

KEEP Statement in Support of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s Proposed Regulations

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Friday, August 21, 2020) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project released the following statement in support of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s proposed regulations currently under review:

“As the Kentucky Legislature’s Interim Joint Committee on Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations makes their final review of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s (KHRC) proposed regulations for the gradual phasing out of the use of Lasix, restrictions on the off-label use of bisphosphonates, and aligning withdrawal schedule to RMTC standard, the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) and its board of directors strongly urge legislators to support these regulations.

KEEP has been at the forefront in advocating for new regulations that ensure the health and safety of horses and jockeys, as well as protecting the future of the sport. In April of 2019, KEEP’s board issued a statement in support of banning Lasix, in addition to other suggested industry reforms. In December of 2019, KEEP’s board voted to support the regulations that legislators are now reviewing.

Kentucky’s horse industry finds itself at a crossroads. Thanks to the success of historical horse racing and a strengthened racing circuit in the state, the industry has seen growth across the Commonwealth and now leads all other states in nearly every metric. During the pandemic, horse racing nationally has seen an increase in interest and viewership with the resumption of racing. However, the industry has also seen strong, organized opposition in association with an increase in public awareness and attention to health and safety issues over the last few years.

It is important to implement these regulations now, while committing the KHRC, legislators and the industry to ongoing and data-driven re-assessments once they are in practice and their impact can be evaluated. The KHRC can propose updates to the regulations in order to achieve their overarching goals, if needed.

In order to secure the future of the industry and its more than $3.4 billion economic impact on the state, it is vital that the KHRC’s carefully considered proposed regulations be supported by the Kentucky Legislature.”

ABOUT KEEP
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 $50 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.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Webinar Announced

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Thursday, August 20, 2020) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) is excited to announce a webinar focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in the horse industry.

Building Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Equine Industry With Talent Pipeline Management will be held on August 25, 2020, at 1pm ET. KEEP is providing this webinar in partnership with the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center, the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

If you are interested in participating in the webinar, please register here. Participation in the webinar is free.

This webinar is part of KEEP’s Equine Workforce Initiative that began in August of 2018. The initiative has led the industry in assessing labor needs and creating solutions within the state to meet those needs. This has included showcasing career pathways within the industry, the creation of a nationally recognized horseman apprenticeship program, and the engagement of new populations in the industry.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion has also been an important focus of the initiative. This webinar follows an industry survey on these issues and was shaped by the responses to that survey. This webinar is the first in a series of industry-wide discussions about these issues and how industry stakeholders can take a leading role in ensuring that careers in the horse industry are available and accessible to anyone.

ABOUT KEEP
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 $50 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.

KEEP and The Race For Education Announce  2020 Scholarship Recipients

Lexington, Ky. (Monday, July 13, 2020) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project Foundation (KEEP), and The Race For Education (RFE) are proud to announce their 2020 Scholarship recipients.

The KEEP Foundation board of directors approved over $21,000 in scholarships to 18 students, attending 10 universities across the Commonwealth. All of the 2020 scholarship recipients are students currently enrolled with a university or college in Kentucky in an equine and/or, agriculture related major or a horse-related program.

In addition to the 18 Kentucky students; the Race For Education awarded it’s annual Robert J. Frankel Scholarship to New York state student, Elsa Loriel. Now, in it’s 10th year, the Robert J. Frankel Scholarship, in honor of the late Robert (Bobby) J. Frankel, is awarded to a student attending a college or university in California or New York state, pursuing any field of study, whose family is employed in the Thoroughbred industry. Ms. Loriel’s father is a long time assistant trainer to Shug McGaughey and her mother is an exercise rider for Christophe Clement. Ms. Loriel, herself an equine enthusiast and photographer, will be majoring in Equine Business and Management at the University of Louisville.

The KEEP Foundation and the Race For Education also awarded it’s first annual RFE/KEEP Veterinary Scholarship. The 2020 RFE/KEEP Veterinary Scholarship is awarded to a student from the state of Kentucky who is intending to enter equine veterinary medicine. This year’s recipient is Lacey Willis. Ms. Willis, a Warren County native, and Western Kentucky University graduate will be attending her first year of Veterinary School this Fall at Auburn University.

“Having a group of quality students interested in equine careers from around the country, attending universities in Kentucky, truly represents the statewide nature of our industry”, said Elisabeth Jensen, KEEP’s Executive Vice President.

2020 Race For Education KEEP Foundation Scholarship
Dylan Abrams – Grant County – Midway University
Celene Correa – Jefferson County – Jefferson Community & Technical College
Savannah House – Kansas – Morehead State University
Emily Monroe – Jessamine County – University of Kentucky
Zoey Norris – Adair County – Campbellsville University
Maria Oachs – Wisconsin – University of Kentucky
Rashea Smith – Whitley County – Auburn University
Madeline Sparks – Harrison County – Midway University
Landon Thompson – Taylor County – Asbury University
Maggie Welch – Hardin County – University of Kentucky

2020 4H ‘Leg Up’ Scholarship
Mackenzie Coil – Marshall County – Murray State University
Anya Deaton – Campbell County – University of Kentucky
Lydia Deaton – Campbell County – University of Kentucky
Alina Knore – Bourbon County – Murray State University
Madeline Queen – Campbell County – Murray State University
Sydney Simpson – Henderson County – Murray State University
Ashley Terrill – Shelby County – University of Kentucky

ABOUT KEEP FOUNDATION
Created by the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), the KEEP Foundation is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, which supports and promotes the role of horses in Kentucky’s economy through grassroots efforts, educational programs and other equine-related charitable activities.

Perhaps the most important achievement is the partnership between the KEEP Foundation and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce to adapt a data-driven program to address the horse industry’s labor shortages and create a talent pipeline for Kentuckians to begin careers in the horse industry. Now in its third year, the project has the potential to be a game-changer as the industry faces increasing workforce challenges.

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 http://www.horseswork.com.

ABOUT THE RACE FOR EDUCATION
Through academic development programs, tutoring, internships, financial literacy training and scholarships; The Race For Education provides opportunities for educational success for young people with significant financial need and academic challenges.

The ultimate goal of The Race For Education is to ensure our young people become successful in life and assets to their community.

Second Round of COVID-19 Kentucky Equine Business Impact Survey is Underway

The survey is a collaboration between KEEP and the University of Louisville Equine Industry Program

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Tuesday, June 30, 2020) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) and the University of Louisville (UofL) Equine Industry Program jointly announced the release of the second round of their COVID-19 Kentucky Equine Business Impact Survey. The survey will be shared with employers throughout Kentucky’s horse industry and community to further capture the impacts of the pandemic on the Commonwealth’s signature industry.

The second round of the COVID-19 Kentucky Equine Business Impact Survey is now open for responses and will close on July 13, 2020. The survey can be found here.

The previous survey, which was conducted in May, showed that the pandemic had greatly impacted Kentucky’s equine businesses resulting in employers cutting costs and postponing capital improvement projects. However, the survey indicated that the vast majority of respondents did not have to lay off employees.

Since the last survey, horse racing has resumed in Kentucky, although without spectators, and historical horse racing facilities have reopened with limited capacity. The second round of the COVID-19 Kentucky Equine Business Impact Survey will capture how this is impacting the equine businesses across the state.

Survey participants will not be identified in the published results.

Elisabeth Jensen, KEEP’s Executive Vice President who oversees the daily operations of the organization, commented, “Since we completed our first survey in May, the state has lifted some of the restrictions on the horse industry, which should provide a boost to equine business across the state. However, we have yet to see the impact of how the pandemic is affecting horse sales and what that means for Kentucky’s equine economy.” Jensen continued, “We hope that this second round of our survey can, when combined with the data from our May survey, paint a clearer picture of the challenges the industry will face.”

“The UofL Equine Industry Program’s goal is to educate and train the next generation of leaders for Kentucky’s signature industry,” said Sean Beirne, Director of the Equine Industry Program. “The COVID-19 Kentucky Equine Business Impact Survey provides us with an incredible up-to-the-moment view of the challenges that the industry will face in the coming years. In addition to helping inform policy-makers on the status of the industry, we can also use this data to prepare our students for the challenges of the industry they will be entering.”

ABOUT KEEP
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.

ABOUT THE EQUINE INDUSTRY PROGRAM, UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE
The Equine Industry Program is on the move and a leader in horse commerce, enterprise and academics. It was established in 1986 and is supported by KRS (Kentucky Revised Statute) 230.550. As one of only two AACSB-accredited equine programs in the world, the Equine Industry Program provides training and educational opportunities in the horse racing industry relating to, but not limited to, finance, management, marketing, regulation, and administrative aspects of the horse racing industry.

Nationally Recognized Apprenticeships for Horse Industry Ready to Run

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Friday, June 26, 2020) – Through collaboration with employers and educational entities, a new horse care apprenticeship program has recently been registered with the Kentucky and United States Departments of Labor. This opportunity, aimed at providing “earn and learn” training in horsemanship, is an Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program for individuals interested in working in the horse industry. Given the recent suspension of H-2B visas in the United States, an avenue which has historically been critical to Kentucky’s equine industry workforce, the creation of this apprenticeship program cannot come at a more opportune time to continue to train a domestic workforce.

The Horse Trainer (Horseman) Apprenticeship (O*Net-Soc Code: 39-2011.00  Rapids Code: 1001) encompasses 2,000 hours of carefully employer structured competencies during which an apprentice can attain industry-recognized skills needed to successfully begin or continue a career in any horse related industry sub-sector, such as: racing, breeding, showing, and other similar disciplines.

While on the job, apprentices will learn or improve their skills in areas such as: horse handling, feeding and nutrition, proper grooming and exercise, identification of disease or illness, basic health care and medical treatments and facility care and maintenance. This program was created to produce a well-rounded, competent horseman capable of excelling in any facet of the equine industry.

Advantages for apprentices include:

  • Earn while you learn at your own pace
  • Learn the skills horse industry employers have shown they are seeking
  • Advancement within the industry promoting an increased future earning potential
  • Faster access to state mandated occupational licensing

Advantages for employers include:

  • Customized training
  • A skilled workforce educated by industry experts
  • Improved productivity and lower turnover

This new apprenticeship is the result of collaboration between the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce/Kentucky Equine Education Project’s Equine Talent Pipeline Workforce Initiative, the Bluegrass Community and Technical College Workforce Solutions / North American Racing Academy and equine employers across the industry.

Additionally, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) will be able to provide valuable assistance through its newly launched apprenticeship support program developed specifically to help employers manage their apprenticeships. The services BCTC and KCTCS will assist employers with include:

  • Recruitment
  • Mentorship/Coaching
  • Administrative Services: Federal registration, Employer Acceptance Agreements
  • Compliance / Record-Keeping: Ensuring that apprentices are completing on-the-job training and classroom instruction.
  • Evaluating ROI and employer’s satisfaction with their workforce pipeline.

Apprenticeships have been utilized in various industries across the United States for decades, providing education and training within the setting that knows best, the workplace. The introduction of the Horseman apprenticeship elevates the Kentucky equine industry to a higher tier, allowing any individual the opportunity for world-class hands-on learning.

“Adding a nationally recognized apprenticeship for aspiring horsemen and horsewomen to our industry’s workforce recruitment and training toolbox will help immeasurably. This program helps us make working with horses more accessible to more potential workers and breaks down many of the barriers to entry which often exist” notes Remi Bellocq, Executive Director, North American Racing Academy at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

“The horse industry has been hungry for a way to bring all the players together to reach, and train, a broader audience of new horseman. The creation of the Horseman apprenticeship in Kentucky, the Horse Capitol of the World, is the perfect solution” states Laurie Mays, Equine Talent Pipeline Project Manager with KEEP and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “Both apprentices and employers can expect great things from this program.”

For employers or potential apprentices seeking more information, please contact either Laurie Mays (lmays@kychamber.com) or Gary Robinson (gary.robinson@kctcs.edu).

ABOUT KEEP
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.

ABOUT THE KENTUCKY CHAMBER WORKFORCE CENTER
Launched in January 2017, and the first in the nation, the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center is the centerpiece of the efforts that grew out of the Chamber’s initial report on the state’s workforce challenges to meet the needs of business.

ABOUT BLUEGRASS COMMUNITY AND TECHNICAL COLLEGE
Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) has seven campuses that are within a 30-minute drive of 95% of Central Kentuckians. The college enrolls over 14,000 students annually and provides training for business partners through Workforce Solutions to more than 2,000 employees. BCTC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

ABOUT THE NORTH AMERICAN RACING ACADEMY
Originally launched by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, NARA is now part of BCTC and remains a highly successful career and training program offering one-year certificates and two-year associates degrees in support of the horse racing and breeding industries.

KEEP Response to the Suspension of H-2B Visas

The suspension of work visas could cause irreparable harm to the horse industry

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Wednesday, June 24, 2020) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) released the following response to President Trump’s announcement that no new H-2B visas would be issued in 2020:

“On Monday, June 22, 2020, President Trump issued an order that extends the federal government’s suspension of new H-2B visas, as well as other work visas, through the end of the year. This order, as with the previous order issued in March, claims to open up new jobs to Americans during a time of record unemployment. However, when it comes to the Kentucky horse industry, this order will put our industry at severe risk.

H-2B visas are critical to Kentucky’s horse industry. During a typical year, the demand for H-2B visas vastly outpaces the supply. To fully suspend the issuance of these visas is a massive blow to the Commonwealth’s signature industry.

KEEP represents and advocates on behalf of the entire horse industry in Kentucky – all horse breeds and disciplines. KEEP’s goal is to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature $4 billion industry. Without a workforce that can meet the demands of the growing industry, it will be difficult for that economic impact to continue at the same level, especially as we are working to recover from the global pandemic.

KEEP is contacting Kentucky’s Senators and Representatives in Washington to make them aware of this issue. Additionally, KEEP has joined with other businesses and trade associations across the country who are impacted by this decision to provide a response to the President and to the Congress.

Because the horse industry deals with animals that must be cared for, regardless of the pandemic, it is imperative that the industry can hire the labor force it needs. Additionally, equine operations across the state are working to ensure that their employees have necessary PPE and can work in a safe environment. Fortunately, due to the outdoor nature of the industry, it makes this much easier.

KEEP, through a partnership with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Workforce Center, has spent the last two years building the framework for a talent pipeline that will bring more Kentuckians into the horse industry. While we are confident that this will result in an increase in the homegrown workforce for our industry, this will not happen overnight. With unemployment in Kentucky reaching alarming levels, we are hopeful that Kentuckians will look to the horse industry for employment. However, historically, there has not been an affinity for these types of jobs.

Kentucky is leading the country when it comes to the horse industry and its economic impact. With nearly 80,000 jobs, more than 238,000 equines and 35,000 horse operations in Kentucky today, KEEP feels strongly that the industry will recover from the pandemic. However, without a full workforce, that future is in danger. KEEP will continue advocating to ensure that Kentucky’s horse industry has an adequate labor pool to meet our workforce needs and will continue developing career pathways for Kentuckians to join this industry.”

ABOUT KEEP
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 $50 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.

KEEP Applauds Reopening of Historical Horse Racing Facilities

KEEP commends the Governor and the horse industry for working together on this solution

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Friday, June 5, 2020) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) released the following comment on Governor Beshear’s announcement that historical horse racing facilities can reopen on June 8, 2020:

“KEEP applauds Governor Beshear’s announcement that historical horse racing (HHR) facilities can reopen on June 8, 2020. KEEP commends the Governor and the horse industry for working together on this solution, which will allow the facilities to operate at one-third capacity and provide a safe environment for the fans of this unique entertainment experience.

HHR has single-handedly transformed the horse racing industry in Kentucky. HHR’s impact on the industry has set it apart from competing states by creating a magnet that is drawing horse operations from around the country to the Commonwealth. HHR alone has contributed more than $52 million to racing purses, more than $50 million to breeders and has contributed tens of millions of dollars to the Kentucky General Fund, as well as other state programs.

With incentive structures in Kentucky that benefit breeders, trainers and owners who keep their horses in Kentucky, HHR is responsible for the positive growth in the health of the industry and its more than $3.4 billion economic impact on the Commonwealth.”

ABOUT KEEP
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.

COVID-19 Kentucky Equine Business Impact Survey is Currently Underway

The survey is a collaboration between KEEP and the University of Louisville Equine Industry Program

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Monday, May 4, 2020) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) and the University of Louisville (UofL) Equine Industry Program jointly announced the release of the COVID-19 Kentucky Equine Business Impact Survey. The survey will be shared with employers throughout Kentucky’s horse industry and community to capture the effects of the pandemic on the Commonwealth’s signature industry.

This initiative will leverage KEEP’s relationships and trust throughout all levels and disciplines of Kentucky’s horse industry and the UofL Equine Industry Program’s expertise in the economics of the industry. The results of the survey will be shared with lawmakers at both the state and federal level to assist them in making policies that meet the needs of the industry.

Survey participants will not be identified in the published results.

Elisabeth Jensen, KEEP’s Executive Vice President who oversees the daily operations of the organization, commented, “Kentucky’s horse industry has 35,000 individual operations. These businesses provide nearly 80,000 jobs in Kentucky and have a $3.4 billion economic impact on the state – and that does not include tourism generated by the industry. It is critically important that employers across the industry participate in the COVID-19 Kentucky Equine Business Impact Survey to provide an accurate depiction of the effects of the pandemic on the industry and how the governmental responses so far have helped or have failed to help these businesses.”

“We are proud to be partnering with KEEP in developing this important survey,” said Sean Beirne, Director of the Equine Industry Program. “COVID-19 is impacting every facet of the equine industry in the Commonwealth and our hope is to dissect this data to provide a thorough economic overview to governmental decision makers.”

The COVID-19 Kentucky Equine Business Impact Survey can be found here.

ABOUT KEEP
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.

ABOUT THE EQUINE INDUSTRY PROGRAM, UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE
The Equine Industry Program is on the move and a leader in horse commerce, enterprise and academics. It was established in 1986 and is supported by KRS (Kentucky Revised Statute) 230.550. As one of only two AACSB-accredited equine programs in the world, the Equine Industry Program provides training and educational opportunities in the horse racing industry relating to, but not limited to, finance, management, marketing, regulation, and administrative aspects of the horse racing industry.