On my way to the racetrack at Churchill Downs, I stopped at the gap where the Clocker’s Stand resides to chat with a few friends and old acquaintances. It didn’t surprise me that my legislative pal, Adam Koenig, came rolling up to the same spot on the track.
“Just back here enjoying Derby Week, the weather, the horses and the best game in town,” said the affable horse lover.
It is so refreshing to talk with someone on the backside of any racetrack that is as knowledgable as you are and enjoys the sights, sounds and smells that make the racetrack one of the most enjoyable places on God’s green Earth.
What’s more fun is that Adam Koenig is Rep. Adam Koenig, who has served the fine people from Erlanger since 2006. What makes it special is that Adam Koenig is Chairman Adam Koenig, who oversees the Licensing and Occupations Committee in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
What makes it critically important is the L&O Committee says grace over every piece of legislation, regulation, and resolution that pertains to Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry in this country’s greatest Thoroughbred racing and breeding state.
In short, Adam Koenig is an important man.
“I just love the game; the sport,” said Koenig, one of the most kind gentlemen and astute professionals to ever serve in the General Assembly. “Now, I am fortunate enough to turn my interest in the game into a positive for the Commonwealth. That’s a fun thing.”
It is a great thing. For the state. And, for the racing and breeding industry.
For the first time in a long time, the Kentucky House of Representatives – led by Chairman Koenig and House Speaker Pro-Tem David Osborne – hosted a group of top legislators and other business leaders on the Churchill Downs backside on Wednesday morning.
What made it even better was that the invitation list included legislators from BOTH political parties.
Both Political Parities?
There was my great friend Susan Westrom, a Democrat from Lexington and her husband, Frankie, who love the industry as much as anybody.
There was Diane St. Onge, a Republican from Lakeside Park in Northern Kentucky. After graduating from Northern Kentucky University and Santa Clara University, St. Onge received her JD from Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law. St. Onge, on her own time, visits Lexington-area horse country to simply enjoy the industry and visit with some of her favorite animals.
There were others. And, it was a blast to watch them all huddle up to the outside fence, cameras and smiles in place, snapping memories and photos of the Derby and Oaks horses.
“This has been a lot of fun,” said Osborne, the Speaker Pro-Tem, who also doubles as the owner of Deerfield Farm in rural Oldham County – a drop dead gorgeous piece of property where he and his lovely wife Lori raise Thoroughbreds. “Lots of fun.”
It was only a year ago that Osborne’s Majestic Harbor won the Grade II Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on the Derby Day undercard.
In his stately country mansion, in the center room, sits the massive trophy that David and his wife Lori earned when Majestic Harbor won the California Gold Cup at Santa Anita.
All those are great memories for the Osbornes and Koenig, who often travels to the track with his seatmate, party colleague and best friends.
But on this day, the memories were how politicians, horsemen and horsewomen mingled as one. Watching. Laughing. And, learning about an industry that is as important to Kentucky’s fiber and financials; history and future; persona and image as any other in the state.
It was an important day, for sure. For the history of the Commonwealth and the history of the horse racing and breeding industry.
Welcome, Adam Koenig and David Osborne. Come back any time.