Post-Derby Blues in Kentucky

Man, that didn't take long.

The Churchill Downs meet will be into its ninth day May 7, and already the horse population is a question mark. The May 7 program consists of eight races, instead of an expected nine, and the May 8 program has 10 races instead of 11.

Field size is light--there are five six-horse fields May 8--even though the Kentucky racetrack offers some of the highest purses in the country. Maybe quality can be a curse; even a open $5,000 claimer at Churchill can be tough to win, so horsemen understandably opt for other spots at tracks with healthy purses fueled by gaming revenue.

Kentucky's newest scourge, Presque Isle Downs & Casino in western Pennsylvania, opens May 8 with an eight-race card. No race drew fewer than 10 horses, and the overnight has some familiar names: Corrigan, Cowans, Drury, Miller, Mogge, Reed, Scherer, and Wismer, all trainers with Kentucky ties.

The horse shortage that began this winter at Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky seems to be lingering. And it could get worse with many more tracks open in the spring and summer.

Still no word on whether there will be a special legislative session in Kentucky in the next few months, and whether racetrack gaming will be on the agenda. 

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