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When I think of what I am most proud of, it is driving along U.S. Hwy. 42, taking me through each county in the 26th District and enjoying the beauty of horse farms along the way. Their important roles in Kentucky’s signature industry have always been taken for granted by me, until the last few years.
The thoroughbred business and horse racing in Kentucky are in deep trouble. Recently, Hermitage Farm, located in the 26th District and known around the world, was sold. We can’t wait until something even more dramatic takes place to drive home the bleak state of the horse industry.
Our state senator, Ernie Harris, lives only a few miles from Hermitage Farm. He has been here all of his life; he grew up in this neighborhood and has driven by Hermitage Farm as many or more times than I have. I can’t begin to understand why he has turned his back on his neighbors in the thoroughbred industry.
Harris has been in Frankfort for 15 years. Time and time again, he has gone along with the hard-nosed approach of Senate President David Williams, putting partisanship ahead of everything else. This time it is to block any Democratic effort in the legislature to save horse racing.
What are Williams and Harris thinking? They claim to be concerned with the pre-supposed gambling problems of unnamed people, while real people with real names who pay taxes go down the drain. To name a few: farm owners and workers, straw and hay producers, feed stores, fence suppliers and builders, attorneys, truck sales, trainers, veterinarians, blacksmiths and suppliers, jockeys, hot riders, track employees, and many others linked to the horse industry in some way.
How fortunate we are that genuine conservationists – Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson – have bought Hermitage Farm, with the intention to maintain it as an equine-related enterprise. This likely will mean the farm’s appearance will remain much the same to those of us passing by.
While Oldham County got lucky, others may not. Unless the Legislature finally steps up, horse farms in Kentucky will fade with the sunset.
Is this what Kentucky really wants? I do not think so, and that is one reason I am a candidate for state senator.
John Black La Grange, Ky.