Kentucky Breeder Incentives Could Increase 20%

The Kentucky Breeders Incentive Program, which began offering financial awards for various breeds of horses in 2006, is poised to increase by 20%--to about $18 million or $19 million--next year.

The program, for Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, Quarter Horses, and non-racing breeds, took effect Jan. 1, 2006 as part of a tax-modernization plan. Funded by the state’s 6% sales tax on stud fees, the program began by providing about $12 million for Thoroughbreds, $2 million for Standardbreds, and $1 million for other breeds.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, which oversees the program, will report on the status of the breeder incentives during a November meeting of the Kentucky General Assembly’s Interim Joint Subcommittee on Horse Farming. The KHRA is making payments this year for awards earned in 2006.

“All payments are out for Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds,” Republican Sen. Damon Thayer said Sept. 9 during a KHRA-hosted dinner at The Red Mile, which featured eight $200,000 stakes for Kentucky-sired horses as part of a “super night” program. “The good news is there’s more money coming into the fund this year--perhaps 20% more.”

Thayer, heavily involved in formation of the program from a legislative perspective, said he was pleased to make a trophy presentation for a Kentucky Sires Stakes event to Alan Leavitt, whose Walnut Hall Ltd. owns and bred in partnership the 2-year-old trotting filly Debbie Hall, who won one of the $200,000 stakes. Thayer said Leavitt was the first person to contact him a few years ago to urge that Standardbreds be included in any breed incentive program.

“I think the Breeders Incentive Program has injected new life into the Standardbred industry in Kentucky,” Thayer said. “These purses tonight are about three times higher than they were two years ago. It’s nice to see the fruits of the program work to invigorate the racing and breeding industry.”

Democratic Sen. Joey Pendleton, also on hand at The Red Mile, said the fact more than $1.6 million was paid out Sept. 9 to a host of well-bred horses speaks volumes for the program. The Standardbred industry opted to use its share of the program to bolster sires stakes purses rather than pay breeder awards.

“I think it’s pretty obvious with the purses and horses we’re seeing here tonight that the program is working,” Pendleton said. “However, I’m a little disappointed with the number of people that came out to witness it and see what we’re doing to help the industry.”

Thayer, who has ties to the Thoroughbred industry, agreed. “I’d like to see more people here tonight, but maybe as ‘super night’ grows, on-track attendance will increase.”

The KHRA and the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet arranged to have some Kentucky products available for guests, but the event wasn’t otherwise promoted to attract the public’s interest.

Should Kentucky legislators and the public, through a constitutional amendment, ever approved racetrack casinos, revenue from gaming would be used in part to increase breed development awards and probably add new programs.

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