By Dan Johnson
Iowa has removed a restriction requiring Iowa-registered stallions to be owned by in-state residents.
Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill April 3 that ends a provision stating a horse must be 51% owned by an Iowa resident to be registered as an Iowa stallion. The measure had been passed 49-0 by the Iowa Senate and 96-1 by the House.
Breeders sought the change, hoping it would help draw quality stallions to Iowa and in turn make breeding easier and more affordable to residents.
"I think it will bring additional quality into the state," said Deb Leech, president of the Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association. "We've had stallion owners want to bring a horse in, but they wouldn't relinquish 51% (ownership)."
Pam Schutz, whose family owns Madison County Thoroughbreds and stands the stallions Woke Up Dreamin and Wild Gold, said the ownership rule had been a barrier.
"There is interest from people sending stallions to Iowa, but that has always been a deal-breaker," Schutz said. "Either you're going to have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, which a lot of us can't afford, or they're going to have to sign over 51% of that stallion. A lot of people wouldn't do that.
"Now that it is gone hopefully we can get them to Iowa and improve the breeding here. I think it's going to be exciting."
The legislature also gave the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission permission to reduce the permitted amount of phenylbutazone in graded stakes. That was done to ensure Iowa can comply with national levels set for graded stakes. Iowa's normal limit for phenylbutazone, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called Bute, is 5 micrograms per milliliter of blood.
Another law change bans advance deposit wagering firms that are not licensed in Iowa from taking any bets from Iowa residents. The law previously only restricted ADW firms from taking bets from Iowa residents on races at Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino.
Meanwhile, Prairie Meadows' racing season opened April 18 with a 42% jump in pari-mutuel handle from its 2013 opener. The nine races took in $650,079 in wagering, up from the $457,754 total on the 2013 opening night.
The on-track wagering of $91,794 was up 15% from 2013 opening night. The 67-day meet runs through Aug. 9. The track averaged nearly nine horses per race compared with an 8.3 horse-per-race average for its 2013 opening night.