The future of Killenaule, son of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, is in the hands of the Indiana General Assembly.
If state lawmakers authorize slot machines for Indiana's racetracks, the ambunctious stallion will stand for breeding at Larry Smallwood's small Scott County farm.
The legislation would make Killenaule's offspring eligible for purse bonuses meant to boost the state's horse industry, prizes that could increase substantially with the revenue that slots are expected to provide.
"If the bill doesn't pass, he'll stand in Kentucky," Smallwood said last week.
Similar decisions by horsemen across Indiana await the outcome of House Bill 1835, which would authorize 5,000 slot machines to be split between Hoosier Park in Anderson and Indiana Downs in Shelbyville.
Excuse me, but why the hell should I give a damn whether Killenaule breeds at a wealthy horse breeder's farm in Indiana or one in Kentucky? This proposal has been and still is about putting money--lots of money--into the hands of a few greedy individuals who've been wining and dining legislators for the past decade. They've sometimes resorted to some pretty sleazy activities as has been reported in the mainstream media. But it's all good as far as Weidenbener is concerned. "Supporters say the Indiana bill has perhaps its best chance ever of passage thanks to years of lobbying by racing interests, a need for revenue and the defeat of legislative leaders who in the past blocked its path," Weidenbener writes.
Those defeated legislators she's speaking of are former Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Garton and long-time Senate Finance Committee Chairman Larry Borst. I suspect one of the reasons they blocked slots at the tracks is because they knew some of the sleazy characters pushing it and feared a major legislative scandal was brewing. Borst, a veternarian by trade, is actually a horse racing enthusiast and would never do anything to harm the industry. These horse racing folks were way too close to more than just a handful of legislators.
The Hoosier Park race track at Anderson is currently being bought out by Centaur. Recall this item I found in the Indiana Law Blog's archives which the Star's Michelle McNeil wrote about on March 10, 2005:
A lawmaker's connection to a gambling company has led a top Republican to declare that legislation to put slot machines in Indiana horse-racing tracks is dead for this year.The proposal is being cast as a panacea for funding property tax relief, full-day kindergarten and health care for the uninsured, which is really pathetic when you stop to think about it. "The revenue could be important because the Senate has passed unfunded bills for full-day kindergarten and an expansion of health care for low-income families, said one of the bill's advocates, Rep. Scott Reske, D-Anderson." "This is the only source of revenue floating around," Reske said. "Even Kenley said the money would be useful to help him implement a property-tax-reduction plan."
Another lawmaker with ties to that same company announced Wednesday he would resign from a charity funded with that company's money.
The involvement of those lawmakers with Centaur, part-owner of the Hoosier Park horse track in Anderson, was revealed last week by The Indianapolis Star.
Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Garton, R-Columbus, said there is now no chance of passing a bill allowing slot machines at horse tracks.
Garton, an opponent of expanding gambling, said other senators asked him to take the slot machines off the table after learning of business ties between Centaur and Sen. Jeff Drozda, R-Westfield, hired to do marketing for a Centaur casino in Colorado. Killing the slot machine issue for the year is a blow to the state's horse-racing industry, but one Garton said is necessary to "protect the integrity of the Senate."
The other lawmaker with Centaur ties was Rep. David Frizzell, R-Indianapolis, who said Wednesday he had resigned as president and chief executive officer of the Third Millennium Foundation, which had hired him at an annual salary of $68,000.
In his resignation letter, Frizzell said he told the board that serving both as foundation president and as a state representative "may detract from the good work of the foundation." * * *
Because gambling companies are barred by law from donating to state and local political candidates, government watchdog groups questioned the influence of gambling in the legislature after the Star reports. "It was the perception," Garton said, reiterating that Drozda will disclose the business ties, as required by law, on his 2005 statement of economic interest that will be filed in January. Garton said the move to stop slot machine legislation protects Drozda's integrity, too.
Garton said horse racing lobbyists planned to meet with him to try to change his mind. He said he doubted he could be swayed.
Gov. Mitch Daniels weighed in on the mingling of legislators and gambling at a meeting with The Star's editorial board this week: "I think it's bad judgment."
Garton has been a stickler for the rules since 1980, when he became the Senate's president pro tempore after two previous Senate leaders went to prison for taking bribes from a railroad group.
Now, back to that poor horse breeder in Scott County, Weidenbrener has this additional tear jerker:
Smallwood, who leads the Indiana Horse Racing and Breeding Coalition, said he has put off decisions about expanding his small farm in Nabb, between Scottsburg and Madison, until the legislative session ends.Hopefully, you've had a chance to dry your eyes. Weidenbener's sympathy for the horse racing industry isn't shared by the riverboat gambling industry. The riverboats on the Ohio and the newly-opened one at French Lick will no doubt pay a big price if two land-based casinos spring to life in central Indiana.
He's currently breeding eight of his 10 mares to Kentucky stallions. If the bill passes he'll raise them in Indiana. If not, he'll take them to Kentucky. "I think the legislators understand that the horse-ag industry and the racetracks are kind of on death row," he said.