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In Reversal, Kentucky Will Disclose Details Of Horse Racing Fatalities

Andriy Solovyov
123rf Stock Photo

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has released names, places and dates of race horse fatalities for the first time, reversing its recent claim that the details are not public record.   

The decision came after a story by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that the state’s policy was unusually secretive.   

“We have been doing a lot of thinking about how to deal with this and how to be transparent as part of an ongoing process of ours… it does modify our procedures and our response to you,” said John Forgy, the horse racing commission’s general counsel. “It’s something we’ve really racked our brains about for the last few months.” 

In May, KyCIR requested necropsy reports and existing data on horse fatalities. The commission denied the request, citing a Kentucky state law that protects competitive information that is generally considered confidential from disclosure in refusing to turn over most details from the necropsies. 

Shawn Chapman, deputy general counsel for the commission, said then that releasing information on trainers and owners contained in the database would put the businesses at a competitive disadvantage. 

The newsroom appealed the denial to the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office; the horse racing commission’s response to KyCIR’s appeal was due tomorrow.  

However, Chapman and Forgy offered this week to release a list of fatalities to KyCIR if it dropped its appeal to the Attorney General’s office. The newsroom agreed on the condition the horse racing commission would voluntarily release the information in the future, or publish it online at regular intervals.

The list does not contain all the information KyCIR originally sought, such as the names of trainers and owners of the dead horses. 

Racing commission director Marc Guilfoil told the Courier-Journal in a story published Thursday that the decision had been in the works since February — months before KyCIR’s records request was denied. Guilfoil “attributed the delay to government bureaucracy rather than regulators’ resistance to open records,” according to the newspaper’s story.

Although the Courier-Journal story said the horse racing commission began quietly publishing the reports on its website on Thursday afternoon, KyCIR was unable to find links to the reports on the commission’s website

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