The number of Thoroughbred broodmares registered in Ohio in 2012 jumped 53.9% from 2011 to 2012, according to Ohio State Racing Commission statistics.
The increased interest in the Ohio Thoroughbred Race Fund stems from anticipation of revenue from racetrack video lottery terminals. Thistledown near Cleveland will be the first Thoroughbred track in the state to operate VLTs, probably by the second quarter of this year.
The statistics show 174 broodmares registered in Ohio in 2012, up from 113 in 2011 and 63 in 2010. The Ohio-bred program has taken a hit in recent years because of sharp declines in pari-mutuel handle and purses.
In addition, the number of Thoroughbred stallions in the state went from 40 in 2011 to 50 in 2012.
The Standarbred breeding program in Ohio registered bigger increases, according to United States Trotting Association figures provided by the OSRC. There were 1,650 Standardbred mares bred in Ohio in 2012, way up from more than 400 several years ago.
The flow of mares to the state again is tied to VLT revenue. The only Ohio track with operating VLTs thus far is Scioto Downs, a harness track; purses there more than doubled last summer.
Ohio last year ranked third in North America in Standardbred mares behind Indiana and Pennsylvania.
OSRC chairman Robert Schmitz said Jan. 10 he wants industry stakeholders for each breed to review their breed development programs and "come up with innovative ideas to make Ohio a more attractive place to breed mares. It's the engine that keeps the racing end going."
The racing industry also gets 3% of the state's 33.5% share of revenue from full-scale casinos; three of four are open. The first quarterly payment produced $1.77 million.
The OTRF and Ohio Standardbred Development Fund each received $337,000 from the initial payment.
In a recent interview with Blood-Horse, Tim Hamm, president of the Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners, said the 2013 OTRF program will be similar to that of 2012. The casino money will help offset a projected decrease in handle.
But the current value of the program–roughly $2 million–is expected to hit $8 million to $10 million when the VLT build-out is complete, Hamm said.
As for purses, Hamm said Thistledown management plans an increase when the live meet begins April 19. Purses this year could average about $90,000 a day, about double the 2012 payout, even if VLTs aren't operating when the meet commences.
In other OSRC statistics:
–Wagering on live and simulcast races at Ohio facilities dropped 7.4% to $212.26 million in 2012. The high-water mark of more than $600 million a year in handle came in the mid- to late 1990s after full-card simulcasts were legalized.
Scioto Downs, however, recorded a 45% spike in live handle after its VLT casino opened June 1.
–From about 18,000 Thoroughbred starts at three tracks, there were 38 equine deaths resulting from racing or training, or about two per 1,000 starts, down from 40 in 2011. Beulah Park, River Downs, and Thistledown report their statistics to the Equine Injury Database but don't make them public.
On a monthly basis there were seven fatalities in June, when River Downs and Thistledown were open for live racing, and six in December, when only Beulah Park raced.
As expected, the number of racing and training deaths for Standardbreds was nominal, with only two from 33,000 starts in 2012.