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Kentucky is probably the most recognizable state in the United States associated with horse racing, and with good reason. Kentucky is one of the main reasons that pari-mutual racing is conducted in this country today.

Dating back to pre 1900, Kentucky was one of the few states that held off the moral reform efforts of the early nineteen hundreds, but in 1908 it looked like that would change. In a last ditch effort to save the Kentucky Derby that year, Churchill Downs imported a new system from France which replaced bookmakers with machines that allowed people to bet against each other.

The Pari-Mutual system became the standard in Kentucky. It took away the stigma of race fixing and corruption that was rampant in much of the country before racing was banned. As states begin to see the benefits from racing revenues using this system, racing begin to return across the country.

Kentucky is also known as the horse breeding capital of the world. The most prestigious breeding farms in the world are based in Kentucky, but things might not be that rosy in the Bluegrass State.

In 2012, Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby continue to be the number one event in horse racing in America but without the benefit of racinos other tracks are struggling. Turfway Park is cutting purses and dates. Ellis Park races only three days a week, and the always privately owned track is up for sale.