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SMITH: All right. This is Kim Lady Smith, and what is the date? July 23rd?

SWITZER: Twenty-third.

SMITH: Twenty-third. And today, I'm interviewing David Switzer at the KTA headquarters in Lexington. I'm interviewing him for the, interviewing him for the Horse Industry in Kentucky Oral History Project at the University of Kentucky. Okay. Uh, Mr. Switzer, to begin if you could tell me your full name and when and where you were born.

SWITZER: My full name is David Lynn Switzer. I was born in Canton, Ohio, in 1945. My, uh, father was the superintendent of schools. My mother was a domestic engineer, otherwise a housewife. Raised--I have an older brother, and our family moved to Lexington in 1946, the year 1:00after I was born. Um, my father went into business with his brother-in- law who was a general contractor, and they had a contracting business.

SMITH: Was that for construction?

SWITZER: Construction business and, uh, actually since you are, have relationships in Frankfort working there, many of the warehouses, distillery warehouses around the Frankfort area were built by my father and my uncle as well as the annex, the capitol annex, and the floral clock that is in front of the annex was, a construction projects of the Switzer-Willing Construction Company.

SMITH: Is that company still in existence?

SWITZER: No. No. My, uh, uncle passed away, and my father sold the business in 1962, '63. I was graduated from high school in '63 and neither my brother or myself was interested in construction work, uh, 2:00so he sold the business and retired.

SMITH: Now tell me your, um, father's name.

SWITZER: Joseph Frederick Switzer.

SMITH: Now was he from Ohio?

SWITZER: He was from Ohio, from a small town called Forest, Ohio. (clears throat) I guess my interest in agriculture is because of my paternal grandfather who was a tenant farmer in an area near, a town called Forest, Ohio. Um, my father was a, started out as a school- teacher and a master's degree from, hmm--(laughs)--I'm going to draw a blank here, Kim--but anyway a master's degree, superintendent of schools, um, in Uniontown, Ohio, uh, before he moved to Kentucky.

SMITH: Um, well, let's back up a little bit to your, your grandfather and your father. So, uh, was your--(clears throat)--excuse me. Was your father raised on the farm?

SWITZER: He was raised, uh, on a farm that, uh--well, bordered the farm that my grandfather was the tenant farmer for. So my father had an 3:00agricultural background because of gran, but, uh--

SMITH: --what kind of background?--

SWITZER: --he was, he was the first--general crops--uh, and he was the first of three children that went to college.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: And neither his mother or father was educated, but of course that was many years ago. And, um, he started out teaching high school teaching business and accounting, and that is where he met my mother. She was a pupil.

SMITH: Oh.

SWITZER: Might not be something real popular these days, but there was a difference of eight years, uh, in their age and, uh, he did teach my mother in high school. That's where they met and then after she graduated from high school then they started the relationship, I guess, courting and things. She was from a little town called Minerva, Ohio, and, uh, her father worked in a pottery business making china.

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SMITH: Oh, really? That's different.

SWITZER: Yeah. It was.

SMITH: Um, was your mother an only child?

SWITZER: No. My mother was one of ten.

SMITH: Ten.

SWITZER: One boy, nine girls.

SMITH: (laughs) Where does your mother fit into that?

SWITZER: Uh, mother was, uh--let me think--next to the youngest. She had one other sister younger than her.

SMITH: Okay. Now did your mother go on with her education?

SWITZER: No. After high school she didn't, and, uh, then when we moved to, uh, Kentucky her primary responsibility was raising her two boys.

SMITH: Okay. Now where are you? Are you the oldest or the youngest?

SWITZER: I'm the youngest. My brother is, uh, six years older than I am. He's a retired school-teacher, uh, here in Fayette County.

SMITH: What's his name?

SWITZER: His name is Bradley Switzer. He taught at, uh, Tates Creek High School and Lafayette High School both, retired, moved to, uh, Florida, south Florida, uh, got back into teaching in south Florida 5:00in the Pompano Beach area and, uh, now is completely retired living in Melbourne, Florida, in a, uh, residential community that's 85 percent military. He was retired from the Army Reserves as well, so and, um, he's married, uh, Donna Jo Wilson who, uh--where did you go to school? Are you from here?

SMITH: No.

SWITZER: Okay. Uh, Donna's dad was a drum major for the University of Kentucky's marching band back in the forties, fifties, and Donna Jo was a baton twirler who used to march with the band and her dad twirling a baton, um, oftentimes standing on her dad's shoulders. (Smith laughs) And, uh, so anyway they have, um, my brother has, uh, two children, a boy and a girl, and, um, the boy has two grandsons and the daughter 6:00has just informed us that she's expecting for the first time. So, uh, that's our family.

SMITH: Well, let's back up to you a little bit, um--and wait a minute. I think I forgot to ask. What was your mother's name?

SWITZER: Mother's name was Wilma Switzer. They called her Billy.

SMITH: What was her maiden name?

SWITZER: Steffe.

SMITH: Steffe.

SWITZER: Wilma Steffe Switzer.

SMITH: Okay. Okay. Got to get all those facts down when we can. Um, so a year after you were born you all moved to Lexington?

SWITZER: Right.

SMITH: And that was so your father could work with his uncle, is that--

SWITZER: Right. He went to work as a partner in the construction business. He started out in residential construction, but that only lasted two years. They got tired of change orders that the women- -that's the story that they told me--uh, then decided to get out of residential construction and go into, uh, general contracting.

SMITH: It sounds like they were fairly successful.

SWITZER: It was a successful business. Uh, what used to be the Purcell 7:00Building which is now the Radisson Hotel was a remodeled project they had. They also did the Wolf Wile Building which is now Gray Construction, uh, a number of the housing projects--um, the one, um, Bluegrass-Aspendale which is no longer now.

SMITH: --in the early sixties probably--

SWITZER: Well, that would have been the late fifties probably because they sold the business in '62.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: Something like that.

SMITH: Now when you moved to Lexington, where did you all live?

SWITZER: We lived on Westgate Drive which is off of Versailles Road. It was two miles out in the country. Uh, it's, it's now well within the city limits. Cardinal Valley is a, the Cardinal Valley subdivision, that was a general ag farm owned by a family by the name of, uh, Burberry. They raised cattle and chickens, sheep, and we, our street 8:00backed right up to that farm. So we--a little country.

SMITH: A little bit country in what is now the city.

SWITZER: Yeah. It is, and, uh, my mother--my father passed away about twenty-five years ago, uh, thirty years ago--my mother passed away ten years ago, and she was still living in the, the house that we built, that they built in 1946--

SMITH: Oh, my.

SWITZER: --when she passed away.

SMITH: Huh. That's a long time.

SWITZER: It was a long time. So, uh, it was a great street, um, and par, part of it is why I am in the horse business today actually. It was a dead end street, and the kids, we all played in the street, kick the can and all those, this type of stuff. And, um, there was a graduate of Texas A&M University's veterinary school, Dr. E.W. Thomas, that moved here when he graduated from veterinary school 9:00to practice, um, had a family of--let me count here a little bit in my head--I believe it was seven kids; five boys, two girls. And, um, a couple of the boys were about my age, and he bought a farm on Old Frankfort Pike. It was a general ag farm, and he wanted to turn that into an equine nursery, equine commercial farm, went along with his veterinary practice. And so he offered, uh, he offered me the opportunity to work for twenty-five cents a day at the age of thirteen- -which thirteen year olds can't do a whole lot and twenty-five cents today isn't much money but it was, you know, it was pretty good pocket change then--uh, and work with his sons in starting to build this farm.

SMITH: Oh.

SWITZER: And, um, we started, you know, from ground zero in building 10:00fences, and we didn't have, uh, augers. For about three years we used hand post-hole diggers to dig these holes, and, uh, it was, it was tough work. We raised tobacco, raised hay, and, uh, that's how I got started and found an affinity toward agriculture and then toward the horse industry.

SMITH: So was this work you did in the summer?

SWITZER: Did it in the summer and during Christmas breaks. Did that until I went to college, and I did go to the University of Kentucky, graduated with a B.S. in animal science from the College of Agriculture. Had the thought of, um, maybe being a veterinarian but it just didn't work out from there, um, so we learned all about the breeding end of the industry. He stood a couple stallions during the time I was working there, and so I was involved in the mating, foaling. I'll never forget the first foal that we saw born. We had witnessed 11:00the, um, um, conception and then eleven months later--it was a cold February night--he called the house and said, "The mare's going to foal. Meet us out front," and drove out to the farm and, uh, saw that baby born. And I think that's probably what hooked me, and then we raised that baby and took it to the yearling sale and it's kind of like a 4-H program-type thing you might think about it and witnessed, and, and the thing that is so important to our industry even today, in less than three minutes that horse was sold. And Dr. Thomas' livelihood from the horseracing business was all predicated on that three minutes in that sales ring, but we had a great experience of prepping the horse and getting it ready for the sale. And--

SMITH: Now how old was it when you sold it?

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SWITZER: It was a yearling when we, when we sold it, and so I would have been fourteen, fifteen probably at the time. And we, uh, you know, as--I attended a private school, and I say that because it's a little bit different from the public schools in Kentucky. Public schools in Kentucky in the fall, you get excuses to go to the state fair. You get excuses to go work in the tobacco field, you know, this, that and the other. Well, I had to get special permission, my parents to write a letter to the, uh, principal at the, uh, school I was attending to be able to be out of school for three or four days to attend the yearling sales. It was part of, you know--and having worked for two years, uh, getting ready for this sale and the breeding, the foaling and the prepping and stuff, uh, you wanted to be there to experience it--so we were there to show the horses and--

SMITH: Now where was this? Was this Keeneland?

SWITZER: This was at Keeneland. Um-hm.

SMITH: Was that your first experience of the sales?

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SWITZER: Yes. Yes. It was my first experience there.

SMITH: So what did you think?

SWITZER: Well, it was quite an emotional thing, and Dr. Thomas was, uh, so supportive of, of us boys--uh, that doesn't sound right--but of the boys learning and giving 'em some responsibilities. We were the groomsmen. We were the showmen. Today, they have professional people that show these horses quite a lot, some of the bigger consignments stuff, but here's fourteen, fifteen, sixteen-year-olds showing these horses to prospective buyers. And, um, it actually was kind of an emotional thing when, uh, you end up selling it. You just think, Gee, all this work and all of a sudden it's gone.

SMITH: Just like that.

SWITZER: Just like that, but we knew that there were some others back at the farm that we'd get ready for the sale the next year.

SMITH: Yeah. So that was the first horse you were familiar with and having to see it go?

SWITZER: Um-hm.

SMITH: Um, but I assume, uh, it's the business end of it.

SWITZER: It is. It's the business end of it. Yeah.

SMITH: Now had you ever learned to, uh, ride a horse at this point?

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SWITZER: No. And I never did really get involved in riding of horses. Uh, I left that to some of our friends, a very good friend, John Ward, who was a very successful trainer. Um, he trained Monarchos who won the Kentucky Derby. Uh, John and I had been good friends since our teenage years. Um, I walked hots for his father actually. I was a hot walker for his father on some occasions, um, but John was a very top quality, amateur hunter jumper rider with numerous awards in that and he followed in his father's footsteps. I think John's a third generation horse trainer, and, um, we've been very close friends ever sin-, as I said ever since our teenage years. Um--

SMITH: How did you meet? At school or--

SWITZER: Met at sch-, no actually we met, uh, and I'm not sure how this actually occurred. I was asked to participate in a horse-show as, uh, 15:00a person who set the jumps and John was participating in the show as a rider, and somehow or another we just connected. And I did spend a couple summers on the horse show circuit, um, either tending horses or jump crew or something like that, so that's where John and I got to know each other.

SMITH: Well, it sounds like you did a variety of things with horses during your teenage years.

SWITZER: Did. Did. And, and in doing that got to meet an awful lot of people, and, um, you know, in high school--or actually in junior high school--there were a number of, of fellow students whose family were in the horse business. Uh, I think probably someone probably besides Dr. Thomas that gave me a big jump-start in this business was a gentleman name of Charlie Nuckols of Nuckols Farm. Uh, his daughter, Judy, and I 16:00were in the same class in school together, so we kind of had a connect there and, in fact, at one point--I think this was our senior year-- Judy was a Derby princess and she asked if I would be her escort. And that was 1963, the year that Chateaugay won the Kentucky Derby, and so I was her escort and got to go to my first Kentucky Derby and, uh, we, we had a good time. I, I was not really dating Judy at that time. I was dating another lady, young lady who was not quite happy that I did that and didn't go to the senior prom, but anyway--

SMITH: So what was the school you went to?

SWITZER: I went to University High School. University High School was a training school for future teachers. That's how it was started.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: Uh, it was located on the University of Kentucky campus. Uh, I tell people I, I never left. I started in kindergarten and did one 17:00semester of graduate school and was always on UK's campus the whole time.

SMITH: So it was elementary all the way through?

SWITZER: Kindergarten through twelfth grade, and we had, uh, twenty- eight kids in a class. They tried to do fourteen, fourteen boys and girls, and it closed, uh, two years after I graduated in 1965 because it was outdated. There were many more students than the training school could accommodate so, um, it, uh, closed. Some people say, some of my teachers told me that it closed 'cause they were afraid that some of my progeny were going to come back there one day and they'd, they'd had enough of me. (both laugh)

SMITH: So did you enjoy school?

SWITZER: I probably would say that I enjoyed being on the farm more than I, I did school. School was okay, I mean, and I was a decent student. Uh--

SMITH: Were there any particular subjects you liked?

SWITZER: Sciences.

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SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: Sciences were--French was terrible--uh, but, uh, most of the sciences. Um--

SMITH: Who else, uh, did you go to school with that might be related to the horse industry? Now Ward did not go to your same school?

SWITZER: No. No. John went to Lafayette High School. Um, I'm not sure which junior high John went to. Um, I think John and I, um, I was the best man in his wedding and, and his wife, Donna, to this day, um, I say that she's always been mad at me because I was his best man and I forgot the marriage license and the wedding was delayed an hour, but Donna is very forgiving. It was an interesting thing. They were married here at, uh, Mt. Horeb Church. The minister, Mr.-, 19:00uh, Reverend Hollingsworth--living right there--knew us all, but he was not about to do this marriage and trust me to go get the marriage certificate after the ceremony and bring it back to him to, to sign. We had to get the certificate, so off we go all the way across county. And, uh, so they were late. Because of that they didn't make their plane connection wherever they were going. They had to spend an extra night here in Lexington, um, so that's, uh--but she's been forgiving. She has forgiven me all that.

SMITH: I'll bet she didn't that day, though.

SWITZER: She was a little upset; a little upset.

SMITH: Um-hm. Hmm.

SWITZER: Yeah. Uh, gosh. I'm trying to think in my class besides the Nuckols--hmm.

SMITH: When you, um, you were working on the farm most summers, now is that where you would connect with some of these other people who would 20:00ask you to do what, the hot walking, those kinds of things? How did you get those other jobs?

SWITZER: Usually through the sales, and of course when I met with John Ward then that's how I got introduced with his dad and, and spent some time walking hots there. My wife actually walked, walked hots. She's, she's a retired school-teacher, and one summer she, um, she decided she wanted to learn a little bit more about the profession that I was dealing with and so she walked hots for, um, John Ward's dad. Um, and, uh, there was a horse by the name of Forego that Mr. Ward trained his, um--he had him during some rehabilitation times. That's one of the things that Mr. Ward was so good at. He stayed right here in Lexington and didn't travel to the other racetracks, uh, but anyway, Forego was about seventeen hands tall which is a pretty tall horse. My wife's five-foot-two, and, uh, we'd kid her about her, this little 21:00five-foot-two lady walking this seventeen hand horse all around the barn and stuff. So she got involved with that. Um, it's Johnny, just, uh, from that introduced me. They knew that they needed some help with some of the show horse, shows and stuff and I, I, just picked up something else to do.

SMITH: So were you helping with the horses that, uh, Mr. Ward had or were you working for other people as well?

SWITZER: No. I'd worked for the Rigan McKinney, for, um, the McKinney family and they had five children and they showed Welsh ponies and so I was introduced to, um, to the McKinney family and they asked if I would, uh--and I think I got introduced there through one of the van companies, um, who met me, one of the van drivers, and they heard that the McKinneys were looking for someone for a summer job of, uh, helping with their, their Welsh ponies and, and the show horses. A couple of 22:00the older girls rode larger horses and so it was just word of mouth type thing to keep getting introduced to these folks.

SMITH: So you worked, you didn't just work with Thoroughbreds? You were working with other--

SWITZER: Did do a little with other breeds but primarily it was Thoroughbreds, and that's, you know, been my career. I've been around the Thoroughbred industry. I think.

SMITH: Now when you went to UK, you said at first you were thinking about being a veterinarian. Um, how did that change in your, while you were in school?

SWITZER: My first semester I partied more than I should have. (Smith laughs) I--(laughs)--I will admit that I was not mature enough, wasn't ready for college, and I had a dismal first semester grades. I won't tell you how dismal, but it's very--no, it's very difficult to bring that first semester's grades up to level. My second semester I was on the dean's list, you know, and part of that was because my, uh, parents 23:00had the foresight of saying, if this kid's going to make it, he's going to make it on his own now. We offered, they offered to pay for my expenses my first semester and would have my second semester, I'm sure, had I made my grades, but they did a little shock probation on me, I believe, and said, "Hey, if you want this education, you're going to have to pay for it yourself," and so I buckled down.

SMITH: Now were you living at home?

SWITZER: I was living at home at the time. Yeah. Uh, I got a job my second semester. I, I worked at, um, a clothing store on campus, uh, a few hours, uh, probably twelve, fifteen hours a week, uh, made the dean's list my second semester at the university and kept my grade point standing, uh, decent, but when I graduated it just wasn't quite enough to get into vet school. I, uh, went to graduate school. At 24:00that time, we still had the draft, military draft, so I applied for graduate school with the hopes that I could apply one more time for vet school and maybe I could possibly get in. So I went to graduate school and was, was doing a, uh, major in reproductive physiology, and, um, my number got called up for the, for the draft and, uh, decided that, uh, I enlisted in the United States Navy.

SMITH: Hmm.

SWITZER: And, um--

SMITH: Now what year was this?

SWITZER: This would have been 1968.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: Um, during my time in college I worked, um, at Kennedy Bookstore as a way to help pay, offset my tuition, books, et cetera, and I did that four years which is a part of my life, uh, that comes a little bit later--my relationship with Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Butcher who owned and then the manager of the store, of the bookstore. But, uh, after I left 25:00the Navy, I sang my way with the Navy. I was in the Naval Air Choir.

SMITH: Really?

SWITZER: I was which was a wonderful experience, but, um, anyway I left the Navy and John Ward came around again. And, uh, well, first of all I went--Dr. Thomas sent me to Florida to work for a gentleman named Tommy Herd who had a training facility in Allendale, Florida, because I didn't know whether or not maybe racing was where I wanted to go, uh, rather than in the breeding industry. So I went to Allendale, Florida, and I was there for about six months, and Johnny Ward called and said, "MacKenzie Miller is looking for a foreman and I think you ought to consider going with, with Mack." Um, and so I did, and at the time Mack was, uh, training for Charles Engelhard. He was a private trainer 26:00for Charles Engelhard. Mr. Engelhard was the first of the six-figure yearling buyers. Of course, that's nothing today.

SMITH: Um-hm. But it was then.

SWITZER: It was then. Hundred thousand dollar yearling was a big deal, and Mr. Engelhard had some very nice horses. He was from South Africa. Um, some people say that they made the James Bond movie, Goldfinger, was a character after Mr. Engelhard.

SMITH: After him.

SWITZER: He was a very nice man, rarely visited the stable, rarely visited the United States, uh, but we had some wonderful horses like Hawaii and Zulu Tom, Tom Rolfe. Um, so I, I worked with Mr. Miller and was under a fellow the name of Tommy Bonham who was a tremendous horseman. Uh--

SMITH: Now where was this?

SWITZER: This was in Belmont Park.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: On Long Island. Tommy was from Mississippi, but he was, uh, a true horseman and I learned an awful lot of, from him.

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SMITH: Now what was his job?

SWITZER: He was the assistant trainer, and I started out as just a, a barn foreman and the role of barn foreman is to basically manage the help and, uh, make sure the, the proper tack is on the horses when they go out to exercise. And if one groom doesn't show up then you're the groom of the day for that one and, uh, type thing and so--

SMITH: Was this work that you were familiar with, comfortable with?

SWITZER: Yeah. The, um, um, of course the grooming and stuff is no different than grooming a yearling as grooming a racehorse and, and the different things that you have to do there and the cleaning the stalls, this, that and the other. I had, did learn, um, I did not have experience on different types of tack that's used, different bridles, and I knew, I learned why we use certain bits on horses. I learned how to completely take a bridle apart and put it back together. It's similar--when in the military, you have your rifle and you have to do 28:00the same thing. Uh, it was, uh, we had some wonderful people work with us. They were mostly from central Kentucky. Uh, the grooms, they were all African American. Uh, most of their families stayed here. They went to New York. We were there for about eight months out of the year, nine months, and then we'd go to Aiken, South Carolina.

SMITH: And did the whole group go?

SWITZER: Everybody went.

SMITH: And so you were all employed by Mack or by Engelhard however you--

SWITZER: By Mack. Um--

SMITH: So about how many people would that be, that would be in the whole--

SWITZER: Oh. Well, we'd keep a stable of thirty horses, uh, with us and so most of the grooms then were rubbing three per, so we'd have ten grooms, we probably had five hot walkers and about five exercise riders.

SMITH: And were the majority of these people African-American at that 29:00point?

SWITZER: The, the, uh, grooms and the hot walkers. Actually, the hot walkers, uh, different than we used today were the exercise riders in, in a lot of cases. Two or three of the really good exercise riders, they, they were kept quite busy galloping and exercising horses and didn't walk hots, but yeah. The African Americans were big in--

SMITH: And they were mostly from Central Kentucky that went, that worked for him?

SWITZER: Um-hm. Yeah.

SMITH: Okay. Now what time period are we talking here?

SWITZER: That was, um, '70, '72.

SMITH: Okay. Early seventies.

SWITZER: Um-hm. And it was also the first, uh, time when we started seeing a lot of female, particularly, riders, uh, on the racetrack, uh, and most of 'em came from the hunter jumper arena.

SMITH: Now riders, were they--

SWITZER: Exercise. Exercise riders.

SMITH: Hmm. So before that you hadn't seen many females?

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SWITZER: Unh-uh.

SMITH: Still predominantly African-Americans in terms of exercise riders?

SWITZER: I'd say it was probably in that--yeah. It would have been maybe fifty-fifty.

SMITH: Okay. You'd have to be pretty small to be an exercise rider.

SWITZER: Well, then 140 pounds. A hundred and forty, forty-five pounds you can, you can do.

SMITH: Okay. Is that still true today?

SWITZER: Yeah.

SMITH: Okay. All right. So you saw--so you think the women were getting involved because they were coming up through other breeds, their experiences?

SWITZER: They were coming through the hunter jumper arena. Now hunter jumpers primarily are, have Thoroughbred blood. They may be all Thoroughbred or they may be part Thoroughbred. I think today there's a lot of Thoroughbred and, and warm blood in the hunter jumper business, but that's, they're the riders.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: They learn to ride. Um, I know it happens today and it would happen then. Someone would come to your barn wearing riding boots 31:00and say they're looking for a job as an exercise rider. What's your experience? Well, I worked for so and so down at Suffolk Downs or someplace where you had no contact with people, and that person had never been on the back of a horse in their life.

SMITH: Oh, really?

SWITZER: And, you know, so you'd learn that real quick. Put 'em, you'd put them on a horse--fortunately, the horse didn't get hurt or anything--the horse would run away with them, and you knew right then that they weren't exercise riders. (Smith laughs) It was. I think one of the things with Mr. Engelhard, when he did come around the barn, he would go around and greet each of the employees and, um, quite often give them a little--I think, it wasn't necessarily Christmas money or something--but he would always tip the, the folks in the barn. He was an interesting per-, I only met him one time. Mack sent me to the airport in Augusta, Georgia, to pick him up, and my only instructions 32:00were, take a six pack of Coca-Cola with you.

SMITH: I've heard that about him.

SWITZER: He was a diabetic.

SMITH: Right.

SWITZER: But he was very pleasant. Um, so, you know, and that, that was interesting. One of the things I had a little trouble, uh, understanding is, and it's still true today, unfortunately, the pay level of the people that really take care of these horses and the hands-on experience, um, you know, here we had hundred-thousand-dollar yearlings, and we were paying minimum wage at best, uh, to the grooms that were taking care of them.

SMITH: And minimum wage then was pretty low.

SWITZER: Oh, pretty low. Of course, the cost of living is all relative, you know, type of thing, um, and part of that is, you know, we have this perception--we might talk about this a little bit later--but this perception that everybody is rich and wealthy in this industry which 33:00is not the case at all. You know, 'cause people really--they're in it because they love it. And, you know, one of the demographic studies that, that we had, um, about six years ago--we had Dean, Dorton and Ford do it because we wanted it to be independent--it shows that the average net income is about fifty thousand dollars and that's not wealth.

SMITH: Unh-uh. Unh-uh.

SWITZER: Um, so, but anyway we, we tend to, our pay scale is because it is so expensive, uh, to raise these animals, animals and things--that our pay scale for people are, are tough, and they were always then and they were back there. Had to deal with folks that--we, we started paying on Mondays. I don't know if I thought of this idea or if Tommy Bonham did finally. We started paying on Mondays because we noticed 34:00that if we paid on Fridays, uh, even though we would send money orders home to the families--grooms would want to do that and we'd help them to do that--they'd end up partying on Friday night and not showing up for work on Saturday.

SMITH: Really.

SWITZER: Yeah.

SMITH: Most of them or just a few of them?

SWITZER: Enough that I had to clean too many stalls. (both laugh) I can say that, so we implemented a, a, uh, policy of, uh, paying on Mondays and hoping they would go to the grocery store instead of the liquor store.

SMITH: Did it solve the problem?

SWITZER: It got much better. Yeah. It really did. It did.

SMITH: Now when you started, when you went to work for Mack, what were you hoping to get from that experience?

SWITZER: To decide whether or not the racetrack was where I wanted my career to be; if I wanted to be associated with the breeding industry or if I wanted to be associated with the racing industry; uh, were 35:00there some other career opportunities out there.

SMITH: Now if you had chosen to be associated with the racing industry, what occupations would that have opened up to you besides being a trainer?

SWITZER: That's probably it.

SMITH: That's it?

SWITZER: Yeah. That was it.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: And, uh, though I had wonderful experiences working with Mack and, um, got to be around wonderful horses, um, top notch outfit. Until he retired just a few years ago, he maintained a top notch outfits when he went with Mr. Mellon after Mr. Engelhard. Uh, that would have been the type of stable I would have aspired to be, but I decided that living in, in Elmont, Long Island, and, um, seven days a week--

SMITH: --now did you li-, uh--

SWITZER: --ten to twelve hours a day wasn't quite what I wanted to do.

SMITH: Did you stay on the backside or did you have a house, too?

SWITZER: I had a house. I, uh, shared a, a, I shared a three-room 36:00efficiency apartment that was in some people's homes and, um, so did not live on the track. Now--(clears throat)--prior to that back when I was, um--let's see--I guess it was the summer that I graduated from high school so it would have been '63, Dr. Thomas sent his son who wanted to be a trainer as well and I to Hazel Park Racetrack in Detroit to work for a gentleman by the name of George White. You may get to interview Henry White. He was a nephew of George White. I didn't even know Henry White at that time. And we spent the summer of '63 working for, uh, Mr. White in his stable at, uh, at Hazel Park. Actually, Dr. Thomas' son, Bill Thomas, he worked for, uh, Marion Van Berg. His son, Jack Van Berg, is still training today, and I worked for, 37:00uh, George White. That was my real first experience with life on the backside of a racetrack, and I did live in the stable there.

SMITH: What do you remember about that experience?

SWITZER: Uh, I guess the most memorable thing was that Dr. and Mrs. Thomas came to visit us after we had been there about two months, two and a half months, and when Mrs. Thomas saw the living conditions that we were living in she told us to get on the next bus and get back home. It was kind of, it was rough. It was rough, but, uh, teenage boys were going to fight it out and we tried it and, um, but yeah. It was rough. The other thing that I remember is that Mr. White had a winter stabling in, uh, Brentwood, Tennessee--and Mr. White was quite a successful horse trainer, uh, as was Mr. Marion Van Berg in that era of time--uh, and Mr. White brought his help from Tennessee. Brentwood 38:00is just outside of Nashville. I spent, um, part of my time besides, uh, learning and taking care of the horses, reading letters and writing letters back to Brentwood, Tennessee. The help was illiterate. Good people.

SMITH: Now were they African-American or were they--

SWITZER: Nope. Nope. They were Caucasian Americans, and, uh, that, uh, I guess, it, it kind of surprised me a little bit but--

SMITH: Hmm. Were they good horsemen?

SWITZER: They were very good horsemen. Very good horsemen.

SMITH: Was, um, the background of some of these people who worked on the backside with you, were they, did they come from families that had worked with horses?

SWITZER: Usually they would be children whose fathers had so, yeah.

39:00

SMITH: And that's how they would have learned?

SWITZER: That's how they would have learned that. Um-hm.

SMITH: What was the average age? Was it mostly young people that got started in it?

SWITZER: Well, I--no, I'd say when I was with Mr. White, uh, forties, thirties and forty-year-olds, and when I was with Mr. Miller they were probably older than that.

SMITH: Um-hm. Now what kind of living can someone make in that kind of an occupation?

SWITZER: Well, you don't, you're not going to have a 401K or a savings plan. You're going to live from check to check. Now today, it's a little bit different. Some of our better stables particularly, uh, in order to get good help they realized that you've got to pay a little bit more, and, um, trainers will either charge a higher day rate or 40:00they'll supplement it with part of their commission that they make when the horses do earn money and they get a commission out of it, out of the purse account. But I think people today, we've got more people who are college graduates training horses today than we did back in the sixties for sure, and they understand business a little bit better maybe. And they understand--we've got some educated owners who understand that if you've got someone that is having a, um, decent living, they're probably going to take care of your horses a little bit better and, um, you're not going to have as much substance abuses and things with those type of people, so you pay a little bit more to take care of these horses. Now, you know, we're talking seven figure horses--

SMITH: Yeah.

SWITZER: --that we're, that we're taking care of today.

SMITH: Now, um, when you were--it was Detroit, right? Is that what you said?

SWITZER: Um-hm.

SMITH: What did you think of the conditions of the backside?

SWITZER: I don't know. I, it wasn't--uh, I guess the closest to the 41:00backside of a tack room that I'd been exposed to before was at Keeneland and, and yes, they are concrete block rooms. And they did have heat in them, but, um, at Hazel Park they were dirt floors and had a few four-legged animals running around in the barn that weren't horses.

SMITH: Oh. Okay. Got it.

SWITZER: Uh, rodents.

SMITH: Yes.

SWITZER: Um, you'd go to the, uh, bath house and take a shower, and by the time you got back to the barn you were dirty again, you know, type thing. So--but again, eighteen, nineteen years old.

SMITH: Yeah. You can do that for a while.

SWITZER: You can do that.

SMITH: But when you were in your forties and--

SWITZER: No.

SMITH: Okay. Well, what did you learn that summer about--did you, apparently you didn't learn enough to decide you, what you really 42:00wanted to do.

SWITZER: Well, no, not that summer. Um, that, that decision came when I went with Mack and, and tried the circuit there, and that's just, uh, I guess I'm more of a homebody type person and I didn't see. It's very difficult to raise a family as a trainer if you're going to be doing the circuit. Um--

SMITH: Were you married at that time?

SWITZER: No. No. I didn't marry until I was thirty. Um, the right person just didn't come around till then or I was too ornery; one or the other. So, but when I, when I left Mack, I was still confused as to what I wanted to do, and Joe Kennedy whom I told you I worked for when I was going through college and, um, John Butcher who was the general manager of Kennedy Bookstore--(clears throat)--they heard that I was back in town, didn't know what I was going to do and so they offered 43:00me a job, full-time job at the bookstore. And at that time, I was an ass-, kind of an assistant to the manager, so I learned a little bit about dealing with personnel, budgets, book-keeping, customer service, this that and the other. So, I did that for seven years. I think that's right--seven years--and I kept going to the horse sales. And, in fact, at one point I started a little, uh, farm supply business out of the back, back end of my car, um, and one of the big sellers I had unfortunately were, uh, surgical gloves. When we had CEM--

SMITH: I'm not sure what that is.

SWITZER: --here--that was a dis-, a venereal disease--uh, the breeding sheds to take precautions so that we didn't spread this had their 44:00grooms and stuff wearing surgical gloves, and I had a little business selling tack and selling surgical gloves out of the back of my car for a while. That kind of kept me in touch, I felt, with the horse business while I was still working full-time at Kennedy Bookstore. Well, finally I had some friends talk to me that were in the horse business, said, you know, "Would you be interested in starting an insurance agency and a bloodstock business?" A bloodstock business is like a realtor. And, uh, so I jumped at that opportunity. My wife--I was married then at that time, so, uh, we did have an income coming in. We didn't know where this was going to go, uh, so I went into the equine insurance business and, and bloodstock business.

SMITH: And about what year would that have been?

SWITZER: That would have been, um, let me think. I've got it. I'm gonna go back. Ninety-four, thirteen, '81, nineteen, somewhere in that 45:00area. So for thirteen years I was an equine insurance agent primarily and did a little bloodstock work, and I wrote for a company called American Live Stock Insurance Company. (clears throat) And it was during my time with American Live Stock Insurance Company that I really got to know a gentleman by the name of John Bell who unfortunately is not with us. He would have been a tremendous--

SMITH: He was on the list.

SWITZER: Yeah. And I tell you, you know, somebody that you might put on that list, Kim, is his son-in-law. His name is Joe Brown Nicholson, and Joe will recall a bunch of stories.

46:00

SMITH: Okay. Son-in-law.

SWITZER: And he's got an insurance company here in, uh, in Lexington, and it's called Nicholson Insurance Agency. He's a younger brother to Nick Nicholson.

SMITH: Oh, really? Okay.

SWITZER: Um-hm. Yeah. Nick, Joe and John Nicholson are all brothers.

SMITH: Is that all? Is that all in their family?

SWITZER: Pardon me?

SMITH: Is that all in their family? That--just the three boys?

SWITZER: Yeah. There's just three boys. Yeah. Yeah.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: So we did the insurance thing, and I enjoyed that, uh, tremendously. And, and during that period of time my wife and I owned some horses and we had some in training and partnership. And one day my wife said to, said, "David, the horses are eating better than we are. They're traveling better than we are. I'm going to give you the opportunity to have a dispersal sale or an estate sale. Which one do you want to have?" (laughs) She wasn't serious but, uh, anyway it was, and that was back then in about 1984, '85. We lost a lot of our tax 47:00breaks in owning horses, and actually, to be honest, prior to that it really didn't cost you a whole lot to, to own horses because you got so many write-offs on 'em, but when those tax breaks hit, it, it affected our industry tremendously. Actually, I think it affected it for the better. Uh--

SMITH: In what way?

SWITZER: Prior to that time we had a lot of what I call Wall Street brokers that were in our business, and they were selling, um, interest in horses like they were selling securities.

SMITH: Um-hm.

SWITZER: And so we had people who were investing in the business that really didn't have a clue about this business, and they inflated the market.

SMITH: Like buying a stock on somebody's advice?

SWITZER: Um-hm. Yeah. And I think it created somewhat of a false market for us, and then when, uh, the tax breaks benefits ceased, uh, I think it became a, a more stable market and we had more people who really had an interest in the horse business.

48:00

SMITH: So you're saying it just sort of weeded out some of that?

SWITZER: Um-hm. Yeah.

SMITH: It was probably pretty hard on--

SWITZER: It was hard on some people who had invested two, three years prior to losing those breaks, and then all of sudden they didn't have those breaks but they had inflated values in the horses that they owned. So, yes, there, there was a kind of a shake-out doing that.

SMITH: Yeah. I talked to, um, Mr. Bassett a little bit about that, and, um, he indicated it didn't impact Keeneland that much or, um, that he felt similar to what you feel that it sort of, um, created some hardship but put the industry back in sort of a readjustment.

SWITZER: Um-hm.

SMITH: Hmm. Um, I'm going to go back a little bit. Uh, when you started with the insurance company had you had any experience with that?

SWITZER: None.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: Not a bit, and, um, I'm trying to think. I guess it, it might 49:00have been John Bell who recommended to a fellow by the name of Frank Harding who was the owner of Harding and Harding American Live Stock Insurance and they're located in Geneva, Illinois; still in business. Mr. Harding is no longer with us, and, um, his partner at the time was named Clint Tomson--and, um, they offered me a contract, uh, to sell insurance representing American Live Stock Insurance Company.

SMITH: Here in Kentucky?

SWITZER: Here in Kent-, well, anywhere--wherever I was licensed.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: Happened to be the Kentucky where I was licensed, yes, uh, and so we just went to work and started knocking on doors, and, uh, my partners, uh, helped very much because they were in the industry, uh, to introduce me to people, introduce me to some of their clients. And, 50:00um, we had a successful thirteen years.

SMITH: Now tell me a little bit about how the insurance industry works in terms of, uh, Thoroughbreds.

SWITZER: It's a life insurance policy just like we take a life insurance policy out on ourselves or something. We do, write pretty much the same thing. It's called mortality insurance. There are other type policies that you can--some days you can buy, some days you can't. If the market changes, you can get fertility insurance to guarantee that a mare's going to get in foal or that a stallion is fertile, um, but the, the primary policies sold are the mortalities so that if a horse dies then you collect a--

SMITH: Now is this primarily sold on, um, the racehorses, the studs?

SWITZER: Anything.

SMITH: On anything.

SWITZER: Weanlings, yearlings, broodmares, stallions, racehorses. Um, of course, the greater the risk, the higher the premium. Uh, it's a 51:00very competitive market. I think when I started with American Live Stock, there might have, the only other real competitors would have been, uh, Lloyd's of London and, um, maybe a few smaller outfits. And now it's, Chubb is involved in it besides Lloyd's, XL is involved in it, American Bankers, Great American, American Live Stock. There's a--

SMITH: Did you see that starting while you were working?

SWITZER: It was one of the reasons, yeah, that's one of the reasons that when the next opportunity for a career came along that I was giving it some pretty serious thoughts about, you know, maybe it might be the time to move on, do something else while you can still sell your, your agency. Being a small operation, uh, the bigger groups were starting to gobble up the little guys, and, uh, you're probably seeing more and 52:00more of that today.

SMITH: Now did you also say you were a bloodstock agent?

SWITZER: Um-hm. And, you know, bloodstock agents, that's anybody that's got a quarter at that time, that's what it cost to use a pay telephone. Um, so anybody who wanted to throw their hat out there and say they were a bloodstock agent and go out and represent someone to buy and sell horses for or sell seasons and this, that and the other just needed a telephone to do it.

SMITH: Is that the case today?

SWITZER: Little more professional today, I think, although there are still some of that still going on.

SMITH: You don't have to be registered?

SWITZER: No. No. We tried that back and were talking about it actually today, but we tried this back in, uh, around 1984. Uh, Headley Bell who is, um, uh, Alice Chandler's son, ----------(??), uh, Headley put together a group of which I was one, uh, to try to, and put together a code of ethics and a possible licensing of bloodstock agents and, uh, 53:00we just couldn't get away from two things; one, liability and two, how do we keep the crooks from being able to get a license because they can take a test and get the license. That doesn't make them an ethical bloodstock agent, uh, and so we're experiencing that same thing now with Mr. Jackson wanting to, uh, is promoting that and we're having, we're just revisiting the same issues.

SMITH: Now isn't he the one that sued recently?

SWITZER: Um-hm.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: Right. Um, I think we are getting closer to getting something. We're going to get more than what he had in '84. I'm pretty sure about that, but it, it's still the same questions, same answers--

SMITH: Same problems.

SWITZER: --as we had back in '84.

SMITH: Did you enjoy doing that kind of work?

SWITZER: I did.

SMITH: Were you pretty successful?

SWITZER: I did, and I made some, uh--well, I was successful for thirteen years. We had a, a good, comfortable life, and, and, uh, I don't know. 54:00Probably not as successful as I would have liked to have been, but, uh, you know, you always like to be a little bit bigger. But, and, and I was introduced to some people that I probably never would have met before and have remained friends with those folks, um, and, um, actually Joe Nicholson is the person that ended up buying my agency and he still has some of the same clients that I had fourteen years ago which is wonderful.

SMITH: Yeah. Yeah.

SWITZER: And so, you know, we have met some, some wonderful people in this business, and, um--

SMITH: Now when you, um, when you left Mack you said you still weren't really sure what you wanted to do, but the bookstore opportunity was presented.

SWITZER: Right. I wasn't sure that I wanted to stay in the horse business. It was, I, I had experienced some things that just--I don't 55:00know--didn't sit right with me, maybe some, uh, uh, I don't want to say unethical practices but some practices that just I didn't know if this was the side of the industry that I wanted to be associated with, and I can't pinpoint what it is, Kim.

SMITH: Um-hm. But you, now, most of the time with Mack was spent either at the track or in Aiken?

SWITZER: In Aiken, South Carolina. In Aiken, South Carolina, now, I could live in Aiken, South Carolina then. They only had one paved road in the whole city, and it was very much a backwoods, country, southern country-type town, horse paths everywhere. And although I not, was not a rider as I mentioned to you, I would get on the lead pony and go riding through the Hitchcock Woods and stuff down there, and it's so beautiful and relaxing. Now I understand they've got a Wal-Mart.

SMITH: Oh. Oh, dear.

SWITZER: Something like that.

SMITH: I know Mack always spoke, um, very longingly of Aiken. I think 56:00he misses it. It's a special place, but the track would have been an entirely different environment. So you were probably exposed to a lot of different--

SWITZER: Oh, yeah. When you're in Aiken, in Aiken it was a relaxing type environment. Even though you worked every day, back then we would get a half day off or something during the week, but it wasn't the rigors of the racetrack. And I think that's part of what prompted me to, to start shying away from it. We were stabled at Belmont Park, but we were still there in the month of November when racing was going on at Aqueduct. And, you know, you get to the barn at 4:30 in the morning, five and--to make sure the horses got fed--and then you started the cleaning routines and this, that and the other, and if you had a horse in the last race at Aqueduct on any one day, you weren't getting back to Belmont until midnight. And for a young person, that kills a social life.

SMITH: Absolutely. And then back up again at 4:30 in the morning.

57:00

SWITZER: Right. Right. Now you didn't have to do that that often, but, you know--

SMITH: Yeah. Well, you could see it was sort of a, a lifestyle that.

SWITZER: Yeah. That I wasn't real sure that's what, um--

SMITH: Um-hm. What did you enjoy doing with the horses when you were working there? What part of your job did you enjoy the most?

SWITZER: Hmm. I guess the early on, the early years and stuff was the fact of raising those little boogers from the time they were born and being around them, um, and I still today think that the neatest time to be in Kentucky is in the spring when the foals are being born. And, and now that I spend quite a bit of time driving US 60 between Versailles and Frankfort to go over during the legislative sessions, I, I love seeing the foals out there romping with their mothers and then actually across the road from Ashford is the university farm, and those 58:00darn little calves are just as cute. (Smith laughs) Uh, I do have a fondness for all of agriculture, not just the horse industry, and that's one of the things that I hope my legacy with this association will, um, continue. I'll jump forward a little bit here, Kim.

SMITH: That's okay.

SWITZER: Um, we've never been considered a part of agriculture, the horse industry. It's been s-, again, it's that perception thing; rich hobby farmers over there. And from, I guess because of my, uh, background with, uh, the College of Agriculture at UK, when I first came on this, this job fourteen years ago I got involved in as many agricultural committee meetings in Frankfort as I could and got to meet with my counterparts in the beef cattle and the poultry and the swine industry and this, that and the other. And we are now considered 59:00agriculture. We're part of the family.

SMITH: But you don't feel that was the case before?

SWITZER: Oh, no. Not at all. Not at all. We had never had anyone serve on the KARDA board--that's the Kentucky Agricultural Research Development Authority. Um, I was the first person to serve on that board in the, from the horse industry ever. Um--

SMITH: So when would this have been? What years?

SWITZER: That would have been about nineteen, um, ninety-five.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: I think I was appointed and I'm still, I just got reappointed to the thing, so I've been on that thing for, I guess, ten years or so; ten or twelve years. Um, but no. When you'd go over to the Department of Agriculture and sit down with the commissioner, um, there was no connect to the horse industry.

SMITH: Hmm.

SWITZER: And then they started realizing--and I guess it doesn't hurt 60:00that we're the number one agricultural cash crop now--

SMITH: No. Doesn't hurt.

SWITZER: And it didn't hurt that people like Governor Patton took us on economic development trips because we were a way to make introductions into--an example, in Chile a number of horse people in Chile are in the wine industry as well, um, and so, and Mexico, same situation. We went on economic development trips to Mexico with Governor Patton and used the racing industry as a way to meet some of those big manufacturing people. Um, we went to Chile with Governor Fletcher. We have a, uh, company in, uh, Carrollton, Kentucky, that--I don't know if you manufacture or what--but uses stainless steel and produces these big vats that they store wine in.

SMITH: Um-hm.

SWITZER: That was an economic development trip to Chile and we went to a 61:00horse farm to where they, on the horse farm was the winery.

SMITH: The winery? Well, that's interesting.

SWITZER: So, you know, and, and now when we sit in front or meet with, uh, the chairman of the ag committees, they know who we are. They know that we play a bit of a role in the economy of the commonwealth and stuff and that we're not just rich hobby farmers and that our farms are open. In fact, we encourage legislators to visit our farms and bring constituents to visit our farms.

SMITH: Um-hm.

SWITZER: So that, that's something that I'm proud of that we've, we've done that.

SMITH: I noticed you received the, um, 2005 UK Equine Initiative Award.

SWITZER: Um-hm.

SMITH: And in that article they were stressing that your efforts to make, um, the horse seen as an agricultural product--is that what you're talking about?

SWITZER: That's, yeah, that's it. You know they, I know they quoted me, 62:00I think, in, in one press release on that is, that it's taken me forty years to get it accomplished. When I graduated from the University of Kentucky in '67 we had one--I don't even think we had it in '67. I think we had it in '63,'64--they had one Light Horse Husbandry class.

SMITH: Oh, really? That's all.

SWITZER: And it was basically a P.E. class--

SMITH: Oh, my.

SWITZER: --for people that wanted to ride a horse. And so I, I kid 'em. I said, you know, "I work slow, but we eventually get it done." But it's taken me forty years to get some kind of a program, now we're going to have a four-year curriculum, major in equine.

SMITH: Right. That's right. Do you feel like you've achieved that goal or do you still need? Is there still more of an education needed to get people to appreciate the agricultural aspect?

SWITZER: Oh, this is ongoing, and we, we can't stop doing it. And a, and a, and a good local recent example of that is the comprehensive 63:00plan for the development here in Fayette County. Um, that is-- we've got to continue to educate the people of the significance of agriculture to this community, uh, and when we talk about development and, and we've worked quite a number of years on this, is that we don't oppose development but we think it needs to be planned and controlled so that we can continue to have these manufacturing facilities, our horse farms--

SMITH: Right.

SWITZER: Because that's what we are. We're a manufacturing business.

SMITH: Now are you talking primarily about Thoroughbreds?

SWITZER: Well, I speak Thoroughbred, but I'll be honest, I like to talk equine and I do that and have done that for a particular reason and that is the more constituents you have working for your cause, the more impact you're going to have on your local government officials and your legislators. If I just talk about the Thoroughbred industry then it's a fewer number on constituents. So you use equine, and we're also 64:00bringing in the Quarter Horse people, Standardbred, Morgan, Paso Fino--

SMITH: Saddlebreds?

SWITZER: Saddlebreds, all of that, and, you know, Thoroughbreds are concentrated right here in this seven-county area and then we have our sisters up there in Oldham County, um, but that's primarily where it is. But the equine industry is in 120 counties.

SMITH: Right.

SWITZER: So that, and that is one of the things that, that keep, uh, has a positive of trying to get that message across in all 120 counties. And let's talk equine. Let's not talk Thoroughbred. Granted, Thoroughbreds generate the most dollars--they're the big economic driver--but, um, you know, we want to bring everybody, and be as inclusive as we can.

SMITH: There's still some things that I'm going to go back to, but, uh, I'm going to jump to this.

SWITZER: And I apologize for rambling too much.

SMITH: No, no, no. That's okay. That's how--

SWITZER: --chronological stuff--

SMITH: --that's how interviews work. That's okay. Um, the sales tax on the raw products for horse farmers, I hear a lot of, of complaint 65:00and concern about that. Uh, where, where do we stand on getting that addressed and how serious of a problem do you think that is?

SWITZER: Well, we have labeled it the inequity tax--

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: --in that the equine industry is subject to sales tax on feed, fencing, farm equipment. The bovine industry is not.

SMITH: Right.

SWITZER: Poultry, swine, et cetera are not. When one of our farmers goes into a feed store and buys a bag of oats, they've got to pay a 6 percent sales tax. Now I know the cattle industry doesn't feed oats, but if they go in there and buy it, they say they're going to feed it to their cattle, they don't pay the sales tax. It, it, that in itself doesn't seem fair. When we had the ice storm, our farmers went in--I 66:00say our--the Thoroughbred farm folks went in to buy chainsaws and they paid a 6 percent sales tax. Cattlemen living right next door to that horse farm went in and got a chainsaw and got it for 6 percent less. It creates--besides that being inequity, I think--it creates a moral problem. Many of our horse farmers run cattle, too, and that goes, that goes back to an era when, when I first started as a thirteen-year- old. A good farmer rotated their pasture; horses, cattle, sheep.

SMITH: Oh, I hadn't heard that.

SWITZER: And it's because horses eat higher on the grass, cattle less and the sheep eat right down to the ground, and it was a rotation thing and it was a way to kind of clean the fields. Um, let me jump here- 67:00-help me get back to this point--but one of the projects, uh, semi-4-H project that Dr. Thomas had, had us boys do was we bought fifty head of spring lambs one year. I took a loan out from my parents. I probably still have that loan document. I paid it off--(laughs)--uh, and I mean it was a small amount of money--you know, a lot of money to me at that time, seven hundred dollars I think it was something like that--and we bought these fifty lambs, and what didn't get killed by a train that ran through the farm, what didn't die because of a disease, what didn't die from a broken leg because they fell in one of the fence holes that we had dug and hadn't covered it up the night before, we sheared the sheep, sold the wool, sold what was left of the crop and we 68:00each made fifty cents.

SMITH: Oh, my.

SWITZER: Had--(laughs)--I said then, "I'm not going to be in the sheep producing business," but at that time, Kentucky was the third largest producer of spring lambs in the United States. This was a big sheep producing, uh, part of the country.

SMITH: But that's changed.

SWITZER: It has changed, and part of the reason it's changed is because of dogs.

SMITH: Oh.

SWITZER: Development.

SMITH: Okay. Okay.

SWITZER: I was on an ag task force meeting a couple of weeks ago and there's a lady who has a farm in, in Bourbon County and raises sheep, and that's their biggest--

SMITH: Are the dogs?

SWITZER: --biggest problem. Yeah.

SMITH: Interesting.

SWITZER: All right. Now where was I before I jumped ship on that?

SMITH: Okay. We were talking about the horses and how the--

SWITZER: Oh, the sales tax.

SMITH: --people with farms--

SWITZER: In dealing with the sales--

SMITH: --also have cattle.

SWITZER: Yeah. And so they can go in and say to the feed man, "No, I'm going to feed this to my cattle." Well, is it really worth six bucks to 69:00not tell the truth, but you know, it creates that problem. And I'm not saying that it happens regularly, but I'll bet there are some areas in the state of Kentucky where it does, where it does occur.

SMITH: It would be very tempting.

SWITZER: Now part of the problem with that or part of the situation is we have been perceived as being a companion animal rather than a part of agriculture, rather than livestock. Almost every statute that is written in Frankfort will say "livestock including equine."

SMITH: Hmm.

SWITZER: So still in those statutes we're really not considered the livestock. We're more the companion animal. The companion animal is a dog and cat, and I pay 6 percent sales tax on the cat food--or my wife pays the 6 percent because it's her cat. So we feel that that, you know, it's not equitable. Now, are, are we truly livestock? In 70:00Washington--and, and I lobby in Washington as well and we deal with issues--we, we use the American Horse Council year-round up there, and we just dodged a big bullet on Friday thanks to the American Horse Council. But anyway, we have been trying to qualify for disaster relief in the event that we have, for example, another Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome situation which was a major headache for me when it happened. We can talk about that, too.

SMITH: Yeah. We'll get to that.

SWITZER: The federal disaster relief this year, the citrus growers in southern California and Florida lost quite a bit of their citrus crop. You're paying 40 percent more for your orange juice and stuff because of it. The federal government will, has low interest loans and relief 71:00dollars that will go to the citrus industry. If we have a drought, the cattle industry can get low interest loan money to buy hay if there is hay to be bought someplace, et cetera. The horse industry was not eligible for any disaster relief money when MRLS hit us. Now fortunately with Jay Hickey and the American Horse Council and myself beating on Senator McConnell and to some extent Senator Bunning, we were able to get a, an emergency low interest loan, but we had to put such tight restrictions on it in order to get it passed through Congress that I think we only got, I think only five people qualified for it.

SMITH: Oh, my.

SWITZER: But that's five that did. That's five more than we'd had before, and it was a step.

SMITH: Right.

SWITZER: So we currently have language, um, in the, uh, 2008 Farm 72:00Bill that will include equine for disaster relief for, for production equine; in other words, brood mares, stallions, yearlings, weanlings.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: Show horses, racehorses wouldn't qualify. We're taking another baby step.

SMITH: Yeah.

SWITZER: Okay. Well, that's great right now, but then we have this issue of, the controversial issue of the slaughter horse, uh, that's going on. So our board actually did not take a definitive position on the issue. We were split. Um, what are we going to do with the abandoned horse? Big concern. Um, we don't really support the slaughter of horses for human consumption. What's the alternative? We don't support the federal government telling us how to raise and take care of our 73:00horses, what to do. Kim, it's not an issue here in Central Kentucky because--with the Thoroughbred industry--because almost all of our farms have a retirement pasture or they will, uh, humanely euthanize.

SMITH: But you're talking--that's in Central Kentucky?

SWITZER: That's in Central Kentucky. That's right. So Congressman Goodlatte from Virginia was attending the races here a couple of years ago, and we were chatting and he said, "David, you're sending us a mixed message. You want to be treated like livestock for federal disaster relief, but you don't want to be treated like livestock because of the slaughter issue. You can't have it both ways." I said, "But I want it both ways." (laughs) Uh, and, and that's the message. 74:00Now, um, I, I think it's going to get worked out because I believe eventually that the slaughter facilities are going to be found to be illegal in the United States. I know that the one, uh, in Illinois just reopened, uh, but it's while their lawsuit is pending they can do that. Um, but, you know, that in our industry unfortunately, they don't understand that difference. So many of our people, uh, and, and I take it as a great compliment, they rely on people like Jay Hickey and I to make sure that things don't happen bad or detrimental to our industry, but you take care of it, David. You know? Um, so they probably don't realize--our board does because I keep them informed of that--but they probably don't really realize the difficulty we've got here with disaster relief, sales tax--because that's the same thing, 75:00it's the same thing on the sales tax even though that's just here in Kentucky. Um, some of the sales tax issues are a result of legislation or statutes that were passed back in, um, I'd guess the sixties, uh, when a gentleman by the name of Gip Downing, uh, was in our state senate and he was an attorney who was also involved in the horse industry. And it was a case of, at that time, uh, not charging sales tax on yearlings and breeding stock, and in return we agreed to allow the sales tax on two-year-olds and stallion seasons as a kind of a quid pro quo type thing. Um, I'm really not sure how the sales tax on feed, fencing and equipment stayed where it is, but, uh, that was probably 76:00part of those negotiations. Now if you talk with, um, in 2005 Governor Fletcher put in his tax modernization bill the breeders incentive program of which we lobbied him. That, that actually occurred on our economic development trip to Chile sitting on the top floor of a hotel having breakfast, and he said, "How do you want to put this together?" And there were a couple of us sitting with him, and said, "What we'd like to do is take the sales tax that we're paying on seasons and put it in the breeder incentive program," and we, we kind of hinted and hawed and chatted about it and et cetera and that came to fruition. So our trip to Chile was beneficial.

SMITH: (laughs) It sounds like it.

SWITZER: Plus we sold a lot of, we sold a lot of horses to those folks, now. Um, today my instructions are, if you can find six or seven 77:00million dollars to put back into the general fund then we can talk about taking the 6 percent sales tax off food, fencing and equipment.

SMITH: Well, now how could you find six to seven million?

SWITZER: I don't know. I don't know. Um, I haven't come up with that answer, yet.

SMITH: Gaming?

SWITZER: Um, my concern on that--we might have to sign a restriction of policy on this, Kim.

SMITH: (laughs) That's okay.

SWITZER: Um, I'll probably be retired before you publish this thing.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: My concern on the gambling issue is that if, when we get gaming, sales tax will be nothing. Nobody will care about it.

SMITH: Oh.

SWITZER: In the Thoroughbred business.

SMITH: But, uh, I know from my interviews with the other breeds--

78:00

SWITZER: It's going to be still a big issue.

SMITH: --they care very much.

SWITZER: Now what it can help do is the state's getting all of this money, so why not give up six million. That's how you offset it.

SMITH: Hmm.

SWITZER: Excuse me. Excuse me. Sorry. Um, but in the big, big picture of thing when you're looking at doubling your purse account, for example, going from eighty-eight million to a hundred and sixty-some million dollars in purse accounts, um, what's 6 percent on the sales tax to us?

SMITH: For the big Thoroughbred?

SWITZER: For--yeah.

SMITH: Okay. Um, now I know that you spent, most of your focus is on the Thoroughbred, but you're aware of, of the other issues--you're on all of these various ag boards, um, for the other breeds. How serious 79:00of a problem is the sales tax or how much of it is just because they feel it's unfair?

SWITZER: Oh, I think it's primarily because it's unfair. Um, now when we get down into the 4-H kids, when we get down into the backyard, uh, single or adult two-horse owner people, 6 percent could, could well mean something in their budget, and if your, that income is fifty thousand dollars, 6 percent on the feed and on the worm medicine and the vet supplies, um, you know, that can add up. And go buy one tractor--

SMITH: Do you feel there's some way that just as you've had some compromises or, you know, quid pro quo is, uh, in changing the law that it will continue to be sort of eaten away at versus just, uh, we're going to get rid of 6 percent sales tax on everything?

SWITZER: I don't think it's going to be an easy one.

80:00

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: And the reason I say that is we've not been able to get a hearing in front of a committee, in front of appropriations and revenue committee in two years, and there's been bills passed. There's been bills introduced.

SMITH: Hmm. Hmm.

SWITZER: They've been introduced by the majority party and have not gotten a hearing by the majority party in committee.

SMITH: And that's, well, I'd say that's odd, but.

SWITZER: It, it is. I mean, a hearing is nothing. I'm not--now I could well say we got a hearing but we just didn't get, get a vote on it, but to not even get a hearing--

SMITH: Hmm. Hmm. Do you think, um--we can talk a lot about politics, and at some point I hope we get into that aspect.

SWITZER: We'll be signing that other document.

SMITH: We'll be signing that other document, but you have to, you know. Um, do you think that the legislature as a whole still views the horse 81:00industry as something for the more elite, uh, in the industry or do you think they have a better understanding now?

SWITZER: No, I think they still have that thing, but the, the, the thing that we have to overcome, the elitism, is not whether it's the legislator. It's his const-, his or her constituents' perception. Um, most, most legislators today in the United States are politicians first. They've probably never learned to spell the word statesman--and this is what I have to--

SMITH: I understand.

SWITZER: Right. Um, I don't think we'd be forty-eighth in education if we had statesmen. They're going to vote to what their constituents 82:00think, and their constituents' perception in Edmonson County and Bell County and Larue County, et cetera, is that this is just a bunch of rich, wealthy people up there in Central Kentucky. They don't realize that that billion dollars in horse sales that, that we do annually over the last couple years, that there are sales tax paid on some of those and some of those are going in--and that money is going into the general fund--and some of that money is going to Laure County and Bell County and Edmonson County to help bring water to your home or to help- -well, it wouldn't build a road because that's a different tax--but it is coming to your county. It's not ear-marked that it's coming from the horse industry, but it's, that's where it's coming, a lot of it's coming from.

SMITH: Um-hm. Yeah. That's a pretty hefty tax on those kinds of sales.

SWITZER: Well, you know, our sales on just stallion seasons that's now going to our breeders incentive programs is about fifteen million dollars, so we've taken fifteen million dollars out of the general fund.

83:00

SMITH: Yes.

SWITZER: But we sold it, the way we sold that was we're going to put a requirement in this that the mare has to reside in the state of Kentucky the entire conception period, so that's eleven months.

SMITH: Yeah.

SWITZER: I think the books say eleven months, eleven days but eleven months, so for every nine horses, breeding stock horses, mares that you have residing here you have to have one employee.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: So we're going to be paying payroll taxes, occupational taxes, and that was one of the ways that we were able to sell this idea to the governor and the governor then sell it in his package.

SMITH: Do you feel that's a pretty secure program?

SWITZER: Uh, well, I think so. I mean, what, what is fifteen million dollars going to do to help education, Medicaid, uh, state pension? But 84:00if we have a hundred and fifteen million dollar projects we could tap into, it's, it's vulnerable.

SMITH: Right. Okay. Okay. Um, we've been going about an hour and a half, and I've still got--we haven't even gotten to--

SWITZER: Oh, I can keep going.

SMITH: Well, we can keep going.

SWITZER: I, I've got a one o'clock or we can schedule another time. Whatever--

SMITH: Well, let's go for a little bit longer--

SWITZER: That's fine.

SMITH: --and then, um, and then schedule for another time because I'm going to want to think through some of it and, honestly, I was looking at all the different organizations you've been associated with and I want to do a little more research on some of them before I, so I can come back and ask a few more intelligent questions. Um, I'm gonna take you back a little bit. I'm going to completely change the subject here, and, uh, you came back after working--well, I'm going to go back 85:00even further. You joined the Navy, um, during the Vietnam era. Now where did you serve?

SWITZER: Pensacola, Florida.

SMITH: You were able to stay stateside the whole time?

SWITZER: Um-hm.

SMITH: And how long were you in the Navy?

SWITZER: A year. I was in the first--(laughs)--uh, I was in the Naval Air Corp, and I was in the first cutback of airplanes to service Vietnam that President Nixon did and I had not gotten through flight school. And so I was the most vulnerable to be cut back.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: And so I came home.

SMITH: So just one year?

SWITZER: One year.

SMITH: In Pensacola?

SWITZER: Um-hm.

SMITH: That's not too bad.

SWITZER: Pensacola and we, we went, uh, with, uh, as I said with the air choir, uh, we went to Puerto Rico. We went to, uh, California. The most memorable was Minneapolis, St. Paul where we were singing for the 86:00Altrusa Convention, and don't ask me what Altrusa is. I think it's a ladies organization of some sort.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: Um, and it was the night that we landed on the moon.

SMITH: Oh, my.

SWITZER: They held up our performance until that occurred. We came out- -and we always sang patriotic songs--we came out and we started singing "American the Beautiful," and there wasn't a dry eye in the place including, I think, including us. Uh, and I just, um, that's just one of the things I guess I remember about my time in the Navy was that, I think. We generally sang for conventions or, uh, uh, church services. 87:00Small group of thirty guys.

SMITH: So, uh, you knew you could sing before you joined the choir?

SWITZER: Oh, I sang in high school and, and stuff. I was in our glee clubs and things like that. Yeah.

SMITH: Okay. Do you like singing then?

SWITZER: I do. I don't do much now. Shier. (Smith laughs) Yeah. I mean, and part, part of the thing that, uh--you know, I have to blame my first semester in college on myself and on immaturity, but I was in a rock band also.

SMITH: Oh.

SWITZER: I started that when I was a, uh, junior in high school.

SMITH: Did you play an instrument?

SWITZER: I played the trumpet and sang in the group, and, um, I tell people that the only reason that they invited me to be in their band is 'cause my parents had a station wagon that would haul the equipment. But we did that for three years and the band is still going--

88:00

SMITH: Really?

SWITZER: -- to this day.

SMITH: What's the name of it?

SWITZER: It's called the Torques, and, uh, there is a gentleman by the name of, uh, Dr. Bill Brooks who is a neurosurgeon. He was lead guitar player for the group back in the sixties when I was with them. He still performs today. I think they're playing two nights a month or something, uh, and the guys that, that are still from the original group are successful business people and doing that. So, you know, we played the, the high school sock hops and the proms and a lot of fraternity parties and things like that. So singing has been a part of me.

SMITH: Did you ever dream of doing that as a career?

SWITZER: No, no. No, no. That wasn't going to happen. That part wasn't going to happen, but some of the guys--Phil Copeland who was one of our lead singers, uh, has continued to make that part of his career.

89:00

SMITH: Hmm.

SWITZER: Writing ad-, writing, uh, uh, advertisements, advertising jingles, singing.

SMITH: Really?

SWITZER: Lives in Louisville.

SMITH: Hmm. Hmm. Okay. Um, all right. So you had your good time in the Navy, came back and, uh, you said you went to Florida? Is that right?

SWITZER: That's when I went to, uh, Allendale, Florida.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: Training center in, uh, Dade, in, just Miami.

SMITH: Okay. And how long were you there?

SWITZER: I was only there six months.

SMITH: All right.

SWITZER: Then I left there and went directly to New York.

SMITH: And you worked for--

SWITZER: --for Mack--

SMITH: --Mack for what, six years you say?

SWITZER: No. No. I was only with Mack for about two, two and a half years.

SMITH: Okay. Okay. And then you came back to--

SWITZER: And then I came back here with the bookstore for seven years and then the insurance, bloodstock agency for thirteen years.

SMITH: Now when did you meet your wife?

SWITZER: Uh, when did I meet my wife?

SMITH: And what is her name?

90:00

SWITZER: Her name is Kay. Uh, I met her in 1974, and we got married in 1975.

SMITH: Oh.

SWITZER: Blind date. Um, her family was--her, her dad was an IBMer and they moved here in the 1950s when they did Oklahoma. When they--uh, the movie Oklahoma, part of it was fil-, filmed here, um, at the Red Mile. My wife is a twin, and I think they were in the movie.

SMITH: Really.

SWITZER: That's right, yeah. No big deal. Just part of a gang of people. Um, she, uh, graduated from the University of Kentucky in education. She taught fifteen years, and at that time once, once you graduated you didn't have to have that master's degree but she fell into that gap that you had to get it within so many years or something like that. So anyway, fifteen years. She took off for a year to get 91:00her master's and it ended up being five years. She got her master's in a year, but she stayed out of teaching for five years. I guess the insurance, bloodstock business was doing okay--

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: --at that time, see? And, um, and then she decided to go back to teaching, and she taught thirteen years, um, after she went back. And she just retired totally two years ago. She taught, uh, chemistry and physics in middle school the first fifteen years, and then she taught earth sciences the last thirteen years at Morton Middle School.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: Yeah. She has a twin.

SMITH: What was her maiden name?

SWITZER: Ketler. Uh, she has a twin that, uh, lives in Maitland, Florida, and, um, there's a middle sister, Chris. Her husband works for Keeneland. He's head of the, um, heating, air, plumbing; whatever 92:00that department would be called.

SMITH: Maintenance?

SWITZER: Maintenance of sort. And then, uh, we have a younger sister that lives here in Lexington that, um, my wife helped raise as a child. Their mother died when Keeley was a baby, and, um, she has the only offspring coming from the Ketler side of the family, two little girls that are our grandkids, we think. We're very proud of them. We've got--the oldest is, uh, will be seventeen. She is currently at Morehead State University going through the Governor's Scholars program this summer.

SMITH: Now she would be your niece?

SWITZER: She's our niece. Yeah. And, uh, I'm going to brag here a little bit.

SMITH: That's okay.

SWITZER: She's a four-point student. She's president of the National Honors Society at Henry Clay High School. Competitive dancer--

SMITH: Now what's her name?

SWITZER: Her name is Emily, and she has her first boyfriend. (laughs) 93:00That was interesting. The, then she has a younger sister, uh, Madeline. She'll be, uh--let's see. Thirteen, she'll be fourteen, fifteen, she, is that right? Yeah. She'll be fifteen, uh, in September, and she just graduated from Morton Middle School with honors. I'm trying to figure out, the, the brains are coming from. We're not sure if it's the daddy's side or I think my, my wife and her little sister does not have a college education.

SMITH: Really? Hmm.

SWITZER: Which is unusual I think, you know, at, uh--

SMITH: This day it seems to be.

SWITZER: But, it's not what--her parents, her parents saw she was raised by a stepmother and her dad, and they didn't push for it and stuff. She's bound and determined that these two little girls are going to get more than what she got.

SMITH: Now did you and your wife have any children?

SWITZER: Had no children. No.

94:00

SMITH: Well, it sounds like you've got some special nieces and nephews.

SWITZER: Yeah. We've got, we're pretty, pretty, pretty proud of them. Um, Emily gets home from, uh, the Governor's Scholar program Friday. We're going to be out of town. We're going to Philadelphia for the, uh, ALEC Conference, and, uh, so we'll have to catch up with her next week and find out all about what went on up there at Morehead. She did, she did write us a letter the other day. My wife has sent her a card every day.

SMITH: Aw. That's nice. That's a good program. That's a hard program for some of these kids.

SWITZER: It is.

SMITH: To be away from home for that extended period of time.

SWITZER: Five weeks. They were allowed to come home for one day during that five weeks.

SMITH: That's tough.

SWITZER: And I think that was spent washing clothes.

SMITH: (laughs) Of course.

SWITZER: Her, her boyfriend, um, neat kid. He packed a picnic lunch, 95:00and they went to McConnell Springs and they had a picnic lunch for their date when she got to come home for a few hours before they went back. And I thought, Well, now that's a neat little gesture.

SMITH: Yes, that is. That is for a young man.

SWITZER: A neat thing. Yeah.

SMITH: Hmm. Now your wife, you said she just recently retired?

SWITZER: Two years ago.

SMITH: What is she doing with her retirement?

SWITZER: She's doing some volunteer work, God's Pantry. Um, she's got a, uh, a, um--I don't want to say elderly, but Ruth's probably in her mid-seventies--that lives on our street. She's a widower and a cancer survivor, and, uh, Kay keeps company with her two or three days a week. She'll go down there and have coffee with Ruth, and we look after Ruth. Things like that. Uh, she's getting ready, that she has signed up for an assignment with some company out of Texas that when people, uh, international people move to our community, to work, something, 96:00they put them with someone like Kay who shows them where the grocery stores are, where the banks are, where to go do this and do something like that. Uh, she had a cousin that did this and introduced Kay to it, so we haven't had the first client, yet, but it's something that'll give her something to do.

SMITH: Um-hm.

SWITZER: Um, she's enjoying the, the freedom of, uh, being able to travel a little more with me. We do things.

SMITH: Now does she have an interest in the horse industry? You said she went out and worked with you for a little while when you were doing the--

SWITZER: You know, uh, to support me, you know. Uh, not monetary support but when we go to social events or we go to meetings or something, she can converse, um, and one of the things that is so important and, and I use Kay--I don't say use Kay in, in a negative sense--is that she can entertain the spouse while I'm talking to the other spouse or something like that. And we do this quite a bit, 97:00that's why she's going with me to ALEC for an example. We were in Williamsburg last weekend, the weekend before last, uh, for SLC.

SMITH: Right.

SWITZER: And, uh, you know, I think it's so, it's important to be able to, uh, relate on less--other than legislative issues--and get to know the legislator, get to know the legislators' wives, things like that, and Kay's very helpful with that.

SMITH: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I think that is, uh, critical. I've been to a few of those meetings, I understand how, how that works.

SWITZER: Oh, this one in Williamsburg, whew. We had the R's on that side of the room and the D's on that side of the room, and they weren't--

SMITH: Weren't communicating too well?

SWITZER: --weren't communicating.

SMITH: Huh. Huh. We can talk about the special session. We'll do that after we finish with today's interview. Um, now let me see. So now, so you got married when you were working at the bookstore?

98:00

SWITZER: Um-hm.

SMITH: Is that the time period?

SWITZER: It was.

SMITH: Okay. Um, well, let's, let me see what have I got here. Okay. You were talking about a man who worked for, uh, with Mack--it was Tom Bowman?

SWITZER: Bonham.

SMITH: --Bonham. As someone that you learned a lot from during this, up to this, that period of your life. Who were some of your mentors within the horse industry?

SWITZER: Hmm.

SMITH: Mr. Ward?

SWITZER: Well, Mr. Ward would have been one, um, and of course Dr. Thomas, uh, much. Uh, one of the things, Dr. Thomas was one of the first equine surgeons in Central Kentucky and had, um, started off with his first surgical, uh, facility was in the old tobacco, was in our tobacco barn, there was nothing but a wooden table and, I mean, it was crude. But orthopaedic surgery was not a big deal then, and, as it 99:00is today. It's a big deal. And then he built a hospital on the farm. The boys, we all assisted in the surgeries.

SMITH: Hmm.

SWITZER: Um--

SMITH: So that's what got you interested in being a vet?

SWITZER: Um-hm. And, um, so we did that, and I, I'll never forget my mother laughing at me one day. I came home and I said, "You're not going to believe this, but we had some human doctors work on one of the horses." And she looked at me and said, "Are you telling me that Dr. Thomas isn't human?" I said, "No, mom." (both laugh) M.D.s wanted to come in here, and what they were doing is showing their--they were so far advanced than the veterinarians were on orthopaedic--they weren't into orthoscopic surgery, yet. Again, that's--we're still back in the sixties. Um, but it's joint surgeries. So, they agreed to come in and 100:00show Dr. Thomas how they did a knee surgery, for an example, and, uh--

SMITH: On the horse?

SWITZER: On the horse. They showed him a great deal. I've got scars all over my knees from having knee operations and so they, and they were--they probably could have thrown me on that table at the same time. But, and he, uh, so that was one of the things that we were exposed to, and I think that, I just think the animal husbandry, the feeling of being around animals--I still feel that way--is what was heading me in the direction of the, of the veterinary medicine idea.

SMITH: Now it was, if I remember correctly from our earlier conversation, up until you went into the Navy you were still thinking you might be a vet.

SWITZER: Actually the year that I went into the Navy, I qualified for vet school, but I couldn't go.

SMITH: And when you came back--

SWITZER: I decided that, let's just go on and do something else.

101:00

SMITH: Um-hm. Did you enjoy that type of work with horses, though? The caring, healing, caring?

SWITZER: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And we were able to, with Dr. Thomas, he would allow us to do some injections, and if we had to give combiotics- -which is Penicillin, you know--he taught us how to give those injections and how you'd do it to, such the horse doesn't feel it. You can have some compassion there. We raised cattle, and I learned to dehorn cattle. That, that was a, that, that's a bloody experience actually is what it was, uh, and even when we would, uh, worm the sheep or worm the cattle, worm the horses, all that stuff, you know, I enjoyed that.

SMITH: Hmm.

SWITZER: But I think it's the animal husbandry.

SMITH: Um-hm. So, um, Dr. Thomas, right? Thomas.

SWITZER: Um-hm.

SMITH: And, um, who else? John Ward's father probably?

102:00

SWITZER: Yeah, uh--

SMITH: Who else had influence with you when it comes to horses? Taught you more, not just about the horses perhaps, but about the business?

SWITZER: Really the business aspect came--I'm going to have to say I self-taught and learned that from the insurance and the bloodstock thing, of writing contracts and, um, flying by the seat of my britches and making a mistake but not making one too bad that it couldn't be reconciled. But, um, and then I guess, I guess some of the business part would have come through my seven years at Kennedy Bookstore there where I was learning budgets and book-keeping, um, things like that.

SMITH: Did you also learn about marketing and those things from the bookstore or was it more management?

SWITZER: Uh, let me show you a market--opps, I can't get up from here-- later I will show you a marketing tool that, that we had a ball putting 103:00together, but not so much marketing and we didn't have to do much marketing for--at Kennedy Bookstore 'cause at the time when I started, they were the only bookstore on campus. Then, uh, Wallace Wilkinson opened a bookstore ov-, in competition having had worked at Kennedy Bookstore at one time, but that's beside it--uh, so there wasn't a whole lot of marketing and advertising. One of the, there is, there was one marketing tool that Mr. Butcher, John Butcher--we always had sorority girls man the cash registers.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: And who better than to say, "Well, come buy your books at Kennedy Bookstore at one of the sorority meetings," or something.

SMITH: Right. Right

SWITZER: And they were generally--I hate to say it--they were generally attractive, and so who follows attractive young ladies? John Butcher thought of this idea well before the Japanese Racing Association.

104:00

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: You know, the Japanese Racing Association put on a marketing thing--I think it was JRA. I'm not sure it was JRA--of catering to young ladies--

SMITH: Oh, I wasn't aware of that.

SWITZER: --with the idea that young men follow the young ladies. Well, actually John Butcher thought of that many years before the JRA did. I'm just now thinking, realizing that.

SMITH: (laughs) So that was the marketing plan?

SWITZER: That was, uh, the marketing plan there. Yeah. (laughs)

SMITH: So, um, well, I'm going to ask you just one other question to take you up to the next phase of your career and then maybe we'll stop there and hold more detailed questions on that. So when you lo-, why did you choose to leave the insurance business and what did you go into?

SWITZER: John Ward again. He pops up. He, uh, I had worked with John, uh, during the Calumet Farm bankruptcy. Johnny was asked to try and 105:00save Calumet Farm from bankruptcy, and he asked a fellow friend of ours by the name of Ron Sladon who had a, a law degree, had some knowledge of the horse business and asked me if I would come on board. I still kept my insurance agency, but I was actually there to help advise them on insurance and any bloodstock dealings while we were trying to save Calumet Farm from the bankruptcy. Um, little did we know that when John agreed to take this the, the debt was somewhere around, uh, I want to say a hundred million dollars. It was less than that. It less than, it was more like fifty million. By the time we got into looking at everything, we were well over a hundred twenty-five million dollar debt that we were trying to--and we couldn't make payroll which 106:00is another cute little story I can tell you about. But anyway, John asked me to come on board and, and help manage insurance because of my relationship with American Live Stock. Nobody wanted to take on this insurance liability because they didn't know if they were going to get paid or not, uh, but, we were able to work out an arrangement with the creditors that they would guarantee that American Live Stock would get paid. Sometimes it wasn't as timely as they wanted, but that they would in order to ensure the only credit, the only, uh, uh--what am I trying to say here--

SMITH: Can't help you. I don't know the insurance world that well.

SWITZER: Well, no. It's, it's when you have--asset. Excuse me. Asset. The only asset that they had was the land and the horses.

SMITH: Right.

SWITZER: And so we needed to be able to insure those horses, and we 107:00worked with American Live Stock and came up with some, um, you know-- maybe not innovative--but some unique ways of being able to provide the insurance and keep the cost down. So that's one of the things there. Well, after, after that was all done and we did have to file for bankruptcy because there wasn't enough money, we couldn't do anything. After Mr. de Kwiatkowski bought the farm then I was just back with my insurance agency and, uh, bloodstock business, and it wasn't but, oh, maybe a month or two after that, I guess, that John called me and he said, "Would you have any interest in applying for the executive director's job at the KTA?" He said, "We're looking for someone to replace my predecessor." Um, and I thought about it, and I thought the market was such that maybe if I can sell my insurance agency that 108:00might, this might be a good opportunity. The second thing--and I'll never forget--my interview with, uh, Dr. Gary Lavin and, uh, Dale Hancock, and they asked, "Why would I want to do this?" And I said, "I think one of the reasons is it will give me an opportunity to give back to the industry," because having been involved in it in so many different ways since a child, a teenager, uh, and having met so many people, I thought, you know--and, and it was part of the thing that helped me get through college because I did continue on in, in winter breaks and stuff if I wasn't working at the bookstore, I was working with the horses, uh, to get an education that I'd like to try this.

SMITH: Now when was this?

SWITZER: That was fourteen years ago.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: I am the, I believe--I can't go back to the original executive director--but I believe I am the longest sitting executive director 109:00for this association, fourteen years. Now I don't know if that's a compliment or if they just can't find somebody dumber than me that wants to take on this--

SMITH: No.

SWITZER: --this thing, but it's, uh, it's been a rewarding career. I've really, I really have enjoyed it. When I talk to kids, I was talking to a group of young people with the Darley Flying Start program. Are you familiar with that?

SMITH: I've heard of it.

SWITZER: Yeah. Uh, and telling them--Sheikh Mohammed developed this program concerned where the future leaders of our industry gonna come from. And I said, "Now I know that most of you are looking toward careers in farm management, maybe bloodstock, something like that. Think about a career in association management," and I tell them about my, how I got to where I am today and that I have no formal education in association management. I mean, you can get degrees up your arm in association management things, CPAs; whatever they're called.

110:00

SMITH: MBAs?

SWITZER: Yeah. But, you know, I said, "Uh, think about a career. It's just very rewarding experience." And, uh, you know, you can affect an awful lot of this industry whether it's through the political part of it or our international marketing program that we do in conjunction with Keeneland. Um, you know, you can affect an awful lot that goes on in, in the industry. So think about a career in association management.

SMITH: Do you think they appreciated that?

SWITZER: Well, I think that they say, well, you know, "I never thought about it." We have an internship program, uh, Kentucky Equine Management internship that, uh, a fellow that really spearheaded this, Garrett O'Rourke, uh, about the year 2000, we bring, we get college age kids. We try and make them at least sophomores in college who aspire to have something to do in the horse industry.

SMITH: Um-hm.

SWITZER: We're hoping they're going to be future farm managers in the Thoroughbred industry is what we're hoping for but and, and pleased 111:00that out of--oh, I think it's about two hundred young people who have gone through the program--seventy-six of them are full-time employed in Central Kentucky in, in the Thoroughbred business. Uh, but when I speak to them, I tell them the same thing. "I know you're here thinking about farm management or stable foreman or something like that, but, you know, maybe one or two of you might want to think about office-type work and association management." There's not a whole lot of opportunities. There's only about six of us anywhere near the size of this one. I mean, there's probably thirty of them in the United States, but the size of ours, um, so you know, the opportunity's there. But there's other types of associations that deal in the equine industry.

SMITH: Oh, the list of--

SWITZER: And there's--yeah.

SMITH: --it's huge.

SWITZER: And so many of them are right here.

SMITH: That's right. That's right.

SWITZER: So it's, uh, it's been a very interesting fourteen years.

SMITH: Well, we'll get to that in the next interview if that's okay 112:00with you because, um, that one of the things that I'm hoping you'll be able to do--not only to chronicle some of the, there have been some significant issues in those last fourteen years--um, but also help educate me so that I can do a little bit better job, um, on some of my other interviews 'cause the industry is still very complex and mysterious to me in some ways. So, uh, I'm looking for a mentor as well as, as recording this history, um, uh, at this point because, um, after interviewing Mr. Bassett and, you know, talking with a few others, I mean, the, the business end of the industry is so critical, not just talking to people who work on the farms. Um, and I think it's one aspect that a lot of people don't appreciate.

SWITZER: You know, a person like, uh, Sam Barnes--I don't know if you know Sam or not--Sam is president of Fifth Third Bank here in Lexington.

SMITH: Oh, okay. Yeah. I know who you mean.

SWITZER: Sam invests in our industry. He owns some horses. They lend 113:00a lot of money to the horse business. He can have, he would have a business, uh, perception of what this industry means to, say, Fifth Third Bank--when we did that demographic study. At that time, we contacted five banks here in Lexington that we knew did equine lending, and they had three hundred and twenty million dollars on loans to the equine industry, primarily the Thoroughbred industry. That's a lot of money.

SMITH: Yes, it is.

SWITZER: And if you just take a 5 percent interest rate on that, that's generating fifteen million dollars to the lending institutions.

SMITH: That's right. That's right. Now, um, do these loans cover just about anything?

SWITZER: The most--yeah, a lot of it was livestock.

114:00

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: (laughs) They had a law, they have a law seminar here, um, that's usually the Thursday before the Derby and they had some bankers involved, and they couldn't believe that anyone would loan money on horses. Said, "Well, it's a pretty big business around here. (Smith laughs) You better know what you're doing, but it's a pretty big business."

SMITH: Yeah. Yes, it is. Well, I have to say, um, you know, the first book I read when I got started on this project was, uh, Wild Ride, and I had to sit there and read some of those chapters over again because it would be, the complexity.

SWITZER: There's one glaring error in that book. I think that, um, Laura did a very good job documenting that book, uh, but there's one glaring error in it.

SMITH: What's that?

SWITZER: It accuses me of being a lawyer.

SMITH: Oh. (laughs)

SWITZER: It has me in there and it does, it says that I'm a lawyer. I 115:00called, uh, in a kidding way I called one of our council members or one of our lawyers for the association, and I said, "Bill, do you all handle defamation of character lawsuits?" He said, "What? What are you talking about?" He said, "We'll handle anything." This is Stoll, Keenon and Ogden--it was called Keenon Park at that time. They've got a lawyer for everything, and, and I said, "Well, I think I've been defamed." I said, "Laura Hagedorn in her book says that I'm a lawyer." He says, he said, "David, you have to be famous to be defamed."

SMITH: (laughs) Shoot.

SWITZER: It was, uh, that was, that was an interesting couple of years in my life--

SMITH: Yeah. I'd like to know more about that.

SWITZER: --working, working the Calumet deal--

SMITH: Um, that seems to, uh, pull together a lot of the critical issues that were happening in the industry at that time.

SWITZER: The, uh, in case I forget-- can I ment-, tell you a little story?

SMITH: Sure. Yeah. Please.

SWITZER: I mentioned earlier about Calumet. We, we had trouble making payroll every week. We had to find something to sell in order to make 116:00payroll. J.T. Lundy had--Ford Motor Company did a commercial and they did it at Calumet Farm, and they were advertising the Crown Victoria. Uh, J.T. got the Crown Victoria. Well, when we got into the bankruptcy and everything, we thought that actually the Crown Victoria belonged to Calumet Farm and not to J.T. Lundy, and so we asked them if they would give that car up. Our intent was to sell the car to make payroll that one week. So I was sent to go pick up the car. Now we had just learned that the farm had done some business with a gentleman by the name of John Gotti, so we've got all kinds of things going 117:00through our minds now speculating, uh, who else might be involved in some of these dealings. You know, we still don't know whether Alydar was killed or whether it was an accident. There's also a, a horse that was named, um, by the name of Migoletty, and we figured that probably because his last name--there was a man who was a client of theirs, J.T.'s that with his last name ending in a vowel maybe he was from a family of Mr. Gotti's as well. So I go down and pick up the car.

SMITH: From--who had the car?

SWITZER: The car was at, uh, um, the attorney--oh Gary, drawing a blank here for a minute, Gary Matthews. I believe that's right. He was an attorney for J.T. He ended up going to prison.

SMITH: Okay.

SWITZER: Along with J.T. But they sent me down to get the papers and I went down there, and I asked Gary, I said, "Gary, would you mind going 118:00out and starting the car because I don't want to take possession of a car that, you know, if it's not gonna run." That wasn't the reason I said it. I was afraid there might be a bomb in the damn thing and it might blow up. (Smith laughs) I'm sure that was far-fetched, too. But anyway, we got the car. I took it out to Paul Miller Ford, Kermit Blackburn gave us, I think, it was a check for seventy-five hundred dollars and we made payroll.

SMITH: Oh, my. So that was sort of a weekly problem?

SWITZER: Every week.

SMITH: Oh, geez.

SWITZER: Until we--well, that was until we went into the bankruptcy and then once we got into the bankruptcy then there was money was made available to us from the creditors because, again, we had the assets, we had to feed the assets, and we had to have somebody take care of the assets, so then that's the way the, it all works. But until we filed for the bankruptcy, we were fighting every week to try and pay the help that we had out there thinking we, we were going to save it, and it got 119:00to the point there wasn't any way.

SMITH: What a complicated--

SWITZER: It was.

SMITH: --situation.

SWITZER: It was.

SMITH: Okay. Want to go back and read Wild Ride again, certain sections of it, and ask you more questions about that--(Switzer laughs)--when we, when we get together again. Um, so okay. I'll go ahead and stop this now. Is that all right?

SWITZER: Yep. Yeah.

[End of interview.]

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