The breeders of Kentucky-bred horses winning anywhere, not just within the Commonwealth, will now be eligible to receive breeders' awards because of changes approved May 18 by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
The commission approved changes to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Breeders' Incentive Fund that already had been endorsed by an advisory committee overseeing the fund. The changes include:
— Removing age restrictions on races outside Kentucky
— Expanding eligible stakes races to races won anywhere in the United States
— Recognizing Canada’s Woodbine Racecourse under the component for the U.S.
— Redistributing the Kentucky claiming component to the top 20 claiming horses with the most wins in Kentucky
— Expanding the international component, and
— Moving the mare nomination deadline to Aug.15 and reducing the fee from Aug. 16–Dec. 31 of the cover year from $750 to $150.
“The action by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission today signals to the racing industry around the world that Kentucky is open and ready to do business with breeders everywhere,” said Frank Jones Jr., who along with Wade Houston represented the commission on the advisory committee. “This is a unique program that is enhanced by the actions of the commission and, we believe, will begin to bring breeders and their stock back to Kentucky where they belong."
Jamie Eads, director of the KHRC’s division of incentives and development, said the changes were necessary for the Kentucky breeders' awards program to remain competitive. She said Kentucky has an advantage over many of the other programs because it and Louisiana are the only two states that reward breeders for races won outside the state.
Racing commissioner Tom Ludt, president of the Vinery racing and breeding entity that races horses throughout North America, praised the changes.
“As a breeder who buys a lot of these horses, I want to say this is a wonderful thing,” Ludt said.
Another adopted change is a reduction in the breeders' awards for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, both grade I, from $100,000 to $50,000 each.
The committee that recommended the changes met six times and considered input from various aspects of the horse industry as well as comparing the Kentucky program to incentive programs in other states. Funding for the incentives comes from a 6% state sales tax on stud fees. About $10 million is estimated to be available for the Thoroughbred program this year.
Also during the May 18 meeting, KHRC chairman Robert Beck appointed a committee to review the state’s race-day medication program. With various industry organizations calling for reviews of race-day medication use and some supporting a ban on them, Beck said Kentucky should review its own policy.
The committee, to be chaired by Tracy Farmer, will include commissioners Betsy Lavin, Alan Leavitt, John Ward, Dr. Jerry Yon, and Dr. Foster Northrop.
During the monthly report from the state veterinarian’s office, Dr. William Farmer reported that there were no fatalities during the 15-day meet at Keeneland, where 1,241 horses started over the main Polytrack artificial surface and turf course. He also reported that during the first six days of the Churchill Downs meet, which included the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), there had been one racing fatality.