By Murray Evans
The Associated Press
LEXINGTON - After a seven-month search, the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority Monday named its first permanent executive director.
Gov. Ernie Fletcher appointed former New York Racing Authority executive James J. "Jim" Gallagher to the position, which had been vacant since January, when Fletcher abolished the Kentucky Racing Commission and replaced it with the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority. Gallagher will begin his duties Sept. 27.
Bernie Hettel, who had been the commission's executive director, resigned after the restructuring.
Gallagher is a 27-year racing industry veteran. He most recently worked as the NYRA's vice president of regulatory compliance and vice president of parimutuel operations but left that job last month in what he termed Monday as an amicable parting.
Gallagher also has worked as the executive director of the Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and spent 22 years with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
Gallagher met with Fletcher July 30 and was the only candidate Fletcher interviewed for the job, Street said. Gallagher's salary will be $115,000, said LaJuana Wilcher, the secretary of the state's Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, which has jurisdiction over the authority.
Earlier Monday, the authority had a public hearing to discuss possible changes in its rules and procedures.
Among the ideas offered were two from the Jockeys' Guild. The guild proposed that the authority mandate the use of safety reins, which would allow jockeys to control horses even if the reins broke. Also proposed was a new weight guideline system for jockeys. Such a system would include minimums for weight and body fat percentage.
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