Gov. Matt Bevin today joined state legislators and Thoroughbred horse racing officials at Louisville’s iconic Churchill Downs to ceremonially sign House Bill 259.
HB 259, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne and championed by Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, strengthens the Commonwealth’s bid to become a regular stop for Breeders’ Cup World Championships, a two-day, $30 million industry showcase. The bill makes permanent a tax exemption that was temporarily put in place ahead of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup event at Lexington’s Keeneland Race Course and had expired late last year.
Churchill Downs will host the 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships on November 2-3 — marking the ninth time the historic track has hosted this event. Breeders’ Cup is expected to draw tens of thousands to Kentucky to see the world’s top Thoroughbred horses compete in the racing season’s grand finale.
Gov. Bevin officially signed HB 259 into law in mid-March, but noted that today’s ceremonial signing, coming only days before the Kentucky Derby, is an appropriate time to celebrate Kentucky’s commitment to remaining home to the best Thoroughbred horse racing in the world.
“The eyes of the world are on the Commonwealth this week as we prepare for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby,” said Gov. Bevin. “I can think of no better location than Churchill Downs to ceremonially sign HB 259, which ensures that our state will continue to receive strong consideration as a host for one of the world’s premier Thoroughbred-racing events, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.”
“I am thrilled to be here today to make this tax credit permanent,” said House Speaker Pro Tempore Osborne. “Hopefully this will put us on the path to making Kentucky part of the permanent Breeders’ Cup rotation. The horse industry is so vital to Kentucky’s economy, providing over 56,000 direct jobs and over $6.5 billion in economic activity. Events like Breeders’ Cup help contribute to more than $2.5 billion in indirect activity, like tourism.”
“I’m pleased that Gov. Bevin chose Kentucky Derby week to ceremonially sign HB 259,” said Senate Majority Leader Thayer. “This bill sends a strong message to Breeders’ Cup Limited that its event is always welcome here in the Horse Capitol of the World at either Keeneland or Churchill Downs, both of which have proven exemplary hosts of the Championships.”
“The Churchill Downs family is excited about the return of Breeders’ Cup to the most recognizable racetrack in the country,” said Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “The long partnership between Churchill Downs and Breeders’ Cup has created many memorable championships, and we look forward to adding to that storied history.”
“Keeneland is unique in the significant role we play in both the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industries,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “Ninety-nine Breeders’ Cup winners have been sold at Keeneland sales, while Fall Meet stakes have produced the winners of 48 Breeders’ Cup races. For many participants, both human and equine, the 2015 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland was a homecoming, and we would be honored to welcome the racing world to Central Kentucky again soon and we appreciate the leadership of the Commonwealth recognizing the significance of this event to our industry.”
For more information on the 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, visit http://www.breederscup.com/.