The Kentucky Thoroughbred Breeders' Incentive Fund had more than 8,000 mares registered by the Aug. 15 deadline, about the same number as last year.
Last year the program was altered to encourage more participation after the initial deadline. The fee for mare registration from Aug. 16-Dec. 31 was reduced to $150 from $750, and the results were encouraging.
Jamie Eads, director of the incentives and development for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said about 80 mares were registered after the August deadline compared with 17 the previous year. She said there could be an opportunity for a promotional push in conjunction with the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
The Breeders' Incentive Fund derives revenue from the 6% sales tax on stud fees. Though most of the money comes from Thoroughbred fees, the about $10 million a year is divvied up 80% for Thoroughbreds, 13% for Standardbreds, and 7% for other breeds.
With the foal crop projected to remain steady rather than decline, the fund should have some stability. Eads said that traditionally about 57% of the mares in Kentucky are registered with the program.
"We'd like to have 100%, but we're doing the best we can," she said, noting competition from incentive programs in other racing states.
After much debate by a committee, the Thoroughbred Breeders' Incentive Fund was altered to reflect the fact top Kentucky-bred horses are purchased by international interests and race outside of the United States. Also, eligible stakes were expanded to races won anywhere in the U.S.
In 2006, the first year of the program, more than $12.6 million was awarded. The total topped $15 million in 2007 and 2008 before falling to $13.4 million in 2009. The last two years, about $10 million has been paid.
The Kentucky Equine Education Project in a member survey that was sent out Sept. 10 is soliciting opinions on how revenue should be used if the General Assembly opts to shift the 6% sales tax on items such as feed and fencing to the equine industry. One of the survey options is using the money to bolster the Breeders' Incentive Fund.
Lawmakers have indicated it's too soon to say whether there will be such a proposal during the 2012 legislative session.