The Kentucky Breeder's Incentive Program, which is comprised of sales tax on stud fees and awarded its first check during Kentucky Derby week, is kicking into high gear to get more mares registered and is expanding its efforts to include non-race breeds.
To strengthen the goals and objectives of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, which implements the regulations that govern the breeders' incentive funds, the organization has brought former jockey Patricia Cooksey on board as deputy executive director, and Jamie Scott Haydon as fund administrator.
"Being on the other side of the fence has been an eye-opening experience," said Cooksey, who has taken on the task of improving the KHRA website, which has recently added an online form to register mares in the program. "I want to continue to help Kentucky be the horse capital of the world," she said, explaining that her avid support partially stems from spending 23 of her years as a jockey in the Bluegrass state.
Haydon said the program's current 3,300 registered mares can be attributed to the stringent marketing efforts the program has made since July 1. The KHRA, he said, is spreading the word through emails, fact sheets, question and answer segments on their website, and two direct mail campaigns to 3,000 Kentucky breeders. In addition, the Kentucky Equine Education Program newsletter, which explains the logistics of the program and its Aug. 1 deadline, is sent to its 10,000 members. Haydon added that he would be present at the Fasig-Tipton July sales next week to follow up with additional information.
He further related that the winning breeders of the grade I Kentucky and American Oaks would receive $100,000 from the incentive fund, and the three Kentucky breeders that swept this year's Triple Crown would collect additional bonuses. Grandfathered into the breeders' incentive system are horses that are already racing and foals born this year, so their mares need not be made eligible.
Jim Gallagher, executive director of the KHRA, gave an update on the money being distributed to non-race breeds.
"I want to say 'kudos' to KEEP--they had tremendous interaction with non-race breed organizations that we would have never had the ability to develop," he said.
Currently, $1 million of the $15 million total allocated breeders' incentive fund will be distributed among non-race breeds. In current legislation, both owners and breeders will be eligible for the incentives, which will provide further development for these breeds, Gallagher explained.
By relying on a registry system of the number of horses representing each non-race breed, the KHRA will soon determine a proper allocation of money, which individuals will earn via breed-related performances yet to be determined. Gallagher predicted the details of the distribution to be completed in about a month.
As testament to the impact of the Standardbred Breeders' Incentive, Gallagher said six new stallions have been brought Kentucky to reap the benefits of the program. Of those stallions representing the Standardbred breed, which has previously struggled in Kentucky, is five-time leading Illinois sire Valley Victor, who now stands near Georgetown, Ky., and has covered a full book of mares this year.
In addition, the Kentucky Standardbred Breeders' Association has contacted the KHRA and expressed interest in creating a four-race Kentucky-bred series, of which the winner would receive $500,000. The prize money would, of course, be enhanced by breeders' incentive dollars.