Turfway Park will begin piloting a substance abuse program for licensed racetrack workers next year, which officials hope can extend to other tracks around the state.
“That’s our intent is to have a program in place that will be effective at all the racetracks in Kentucky,” said Richard Riedel, executive director of the Kentucky Racing Health and Welfare Fund, which is paying the $5,000 cost to pilot the program.
The program is partly a development of Northern Kentucky’s Awareness and Discovery Group, which offers substance abuse and behavioral health services.
Also involved was Kentucky’s Horse Racing Commission, which administers licenses to Kentucky racetrack workers. Those are the workers who may enter the three-and-a-half week program in one of two ways, said Riedel.
“You’ve got either a voluntary self referral or you are referred to the program with a hammer over your head–either you get in this program or you are going to lose your license,” he said.
Track security would likely make the referrals, which would then go through an evaluation process. If those evaluated are found to need further help they will be enrolled in the program, said Riedel.
“If he or she does not complete the program then they would not be allowed to work in the stable area of Turfway Park,” he said.
Riedel says the program is estimated to serve around 20 substance abuse workers at Turfway. The program will run through the end of March when Turfway’s race dates end. At that point, the program will be evaluated and if successful, will likely be continued at Kentucky’s other tracks.
The Kentucky Racing Health and Welfare Fund has set aside $45,000 for future substance abuse programs.
The program begins in January.