Party Time - By Dan Liebman

Carl Rollins is not a horse owner, breeder, trainer, nor jockey. He doesn’t work for a racetrack, sale company, racing organization, or bloodstock agent. He has never mucked a stall, hotwalked a horse, bred a mare, or broken a yearling. But Carl Rollins gets it—he understands the importance of the horse industry to Kentucky.

For nearly 15 years Rollins worked in Lexington as a represent-ative for Ashland Oil, and those he sold fuel and oil to included some of the largest horse farms in Central Kentucky. The drivers, he noted, also delivered petroleum products to small farms, medium-sized farms, cattle farms, and many that grew crops but had no livestock to speak of.

“If you were counting the number of jobs directly impacted by the horse industry, most people would not have counted me back then,” Rollins said. “But I can tell you my job depended on the horse industry.”

Rollins was raised in Lexington and today resides in Midway, Ky., an area surrounded by farmland, much of it home to horses of various breeds. He is the marketing manager for the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, a not-for-profit quasi-governmental corporation that assists college students.

Oh, and Rollins is a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, representing all of Woodford County (Midway, Versailles), part of Fayette County (Lexington), and a sliver of Franklin County (Frankfort, the state capital). The Democrat is one of 52 House members who June 19 voted in favor of a bill to allow slots at Kentucky racetracks, only to see the legislation die a few days later in a Republican-controlled Senate committee.

At an industry rally at Keeneland June 24, when the Speaker of the House, Greg Stumbo, was unable to attend, it was Rollins who spoke in his place. And, like many others, Rollins placed the blame for the death of the bill squarely at the feet of Senate President David Williams, a Republican from Burkesville in southern Kentucky.

“We had great leadership in the House, but a void of leadership in the Senate,” Rollins said. “It is time we do something about it.”

Gov. Steve Beshear, who spoke last to the more than 1,000 in attendance at Keeneland, was succinct when he said, “You can either change the minds of some of the senators, or you can change some of the senators.”

Many singled out Republican Senator Damon Thayer, who makes his living in the Thoroughbred industry. Though not a member of the committee that quashed the bill, Thayer did not stand up and voice support for the some 100,000 Kentuckians who depend on horses to put food on their tables.

Quite eloquent at the rally, and earlier in the day on the floor of the Senate before the special session adjourned, was Senator Ed Worley, a Democrat from Richmond who is the Senate Minority Floor Leader.

To drive home the point about how many jobs in Kentucky are dependent on the horse industry, Worley told the crowd that, “If you look at the horse industry in Kentucky, and you take Lexmark, Toyota, UPS, Ford, and Delta, and combine the employment of every one of those industries that we jump through our skin for every day to help—and we should—it is half the employment of the horse business of Kentucky.

“What you all deserve is to have your cause be advocated for in Frankfort and in Washington, and what you do not deserve is people who represent districts with horse tracks in them or horse farms in them, whether they be Thoroughbred, Appaloosas, walking horse, Standardbred, or old mules, if they vote against the horse industry. You need to remember them on election day.”

Members of the horse industry do not need to defeat David Williams, but merely enough members to change Ed Worley’s title to Senate President and David Williams’ title to Minority Floor Leader.

Getting the Kentucky Senate back in the hands of Democrats is what it will take to secure slots for the horse capital of the world.


Leave a Comment:


Isn't it funny you blame Republicans in Kentucky & want to oust them...up here in the New England area it's mainly, not totally, but mainly, the Animal Right Democrats that are trying to eliminate racing of all kind...Massachusetts has already outlawed greyhound racing and have their sights set on Thoroughbreds New Hampshire the Dems could have cared less about Rockingham, and are targeting Greyhounds, and Maine is struggling to survive even its Fair circuit.

How convenient to blame a party...

30 Jun 2009 4:47 PM

The Republicans aren't going to win a majority in the House, but what happens if some of the House Democrats that supported the slots bill are voted out next November because they backed it? Remember, it was only 52-45 in favor of the legislation. Even if your party of choice wins the Senate, it's plausible you could still lose the crucial number of House members that put the bill over the top in that chamber.

30 Jun 2009 6:08 PM
Bill Yates

The problem is not whether an individual is a Republican or a Democrat, the problem is that each party would rather engage in adverse and destructive actions in order to undermine the other, instead of working together in the best interest of the state / country. The state of racing as well as the state of America will not turn towards the positive until these individuals are forced (via threat of being ousted from office) that real change will occur.

Good article about State Senator David Williams at:

01 Jul 2009 8:44 AM

Bill Yates has it exactly right - in Maryland the Democrats killed all Republican efforts to pass slots over a period of many years - their justification was closer to the KY Republicans than the New England Democrats but the outcome was the same.  Oddly enough, MD Democrat objections dissolved last year when a Democrat governor realized the state might actually lose Pimlico and the Preakness and decided he wanted slots in MD.  Unfortunately the MD slots bill is way too little, way too late but that's another story.

01 Jul 2009 10:16 AM

step one toward slots might be to quit vilifying everyone that opposes you.

01 Jul 2009 1:48 PM

The Bloodhorse finally takes a stance on the slots issue. How bold!

01 Jul 2009 10:11 PM
Soldier Course

Ain't politics grand?

We South Carolinians are sitting here waiting for our Luv Guv to bossa nova on back to Buenos Aires so that the state government can boot-up again.

01 Jul 2009 11:31 PM

"fb0252-" The politicians who oppose the slots bill deserve to be villified, most especially David Williams, who killed the bill without allowing full debate.  Horse owners are at a bigger financial disadvantage in KY than they are almost anywhere else, and they are rightfully so shipping their horses out of state to run and show.  The horse industry is what makes this state unique, and it is dying a slow and painful death.  I could have stayed in Iowa if I had thought that was the place to be for horses, but I chose to come to KY for everything this area has.  It is all leaving town on the fast train to PA, IND, and soon OH.  The industry employs more than all the other major industries in this state combined! We are losing our signature industry, and regardless of your feelings on the "morality" of slots, everyone needs to wake up and smell the bull that David Williams is spewing.  He and all the senators representing horse areas who voted against this bill are going to be ousted in the upcoming elections, mark my words.

03 Jul 2009 5:39 PM

Horse racing in Kentucky needs to market it's product better and quit worrying about slots. Kentucky has the best horse racing in the country.They should find ways (like the night racing at Churchill) to make racing more entertaining, and come up with some easy lottery type $1 bets for the bettor that doesn't want to handicap.

04 Jul 2009 10:30 AM
Doug Markowitz

It is ever so amusing to me to watch the jealous and over zealous fight in the state of Ky. The Democrats are as worthless as the Republicans, becuase they all have an agenda. People with some power,ie legislators, are jealous of the wealthy that come to play here in the horse business, and therefore are unwilling to do anything that looks as if they are helping these so-called "carpetbaggers." Congratulations, you are helping many thousands out of their jobs. The owners are not getting off scott free here. You are to blame for creating a mockery of a once great and beautiful business. You have driven the secondary businesses,and general rank and file to the poor house. And last but not least, if I ever again hear the ramblings of no gambling in a bible belt state, I will throw up. What do you think the lottery, and your "dang blasted BINGO" are? Fools every last one of you!

04 Jul 2009 4:36 PM

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