The Ohio Thoroughbred Racing Fund, now fully supported by revenue from racetrack video lottery terminals, will almost double to more than $5 million in 2015.
The Ohio State Racing Commission approved the budget Dec. 18. Included is money for purses, bonuses, and marketing of the program for Ohio-registered and -accredited racehorses.
As was the case in 2014, the five Best of Ohio championship races, held in the fall, each will be worth $150,000 in 2015. Thirty-six other stakes for state-bred runners each will be valued at $75,000, up from $50,000 in 2014.
The OSRC said awards for broodmare and stallion owners will more than double to $1.39 million and $265,000, respectively, for 2015. Overnight purse supplements for Ohio-breds will total about $2.32 million in 2015, up from $1.02 million this year.
The fund has been enhanced not only by racetrack VLT revenue but also from a percentage of revenue paid by four non-racetrack casinos in Ohio's four largest cities. The OSRC a few years ago began awarding the non-casino share to racing while the VLT buildup was under way.
According to the OSRC, the non-track casino payments will provide about $1.56 million in 2015. The Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which negotiates purse contracts at the state's three Thoroughbred tracks, anticipates a contribution of $1.8 million in VLT funds to the OTRF in 2015, as well as another $1.7 million in accrued VLT purse revenue.
All three Thoroughbred tracks—Belterra Park, Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course, and ThistleDown Racino—are now established racetrack gaming facilities. Mahoning Valley, the replacement for the shuttered Beulah Park, began its inaugural race meet Nov. 24.
Belterra Park, formerly called River Downs, paid $8.31 million in purses, including $2.72 million for Ohio-breds, in 2014, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. That's up $4.21 million ($1.04 million for state-bred) in 2012, the last year River Downs held live racing on its property.
ThistleDown in 2014 paid total purses of $14.09 million, with $3.34 million set aside for Ohio-breds, over 121 racing programs. The previous year the track paid $10.35 million in purses, with $2.81 million for state-breds, according to TJCIS statistics.
On the Standardbred side in Ohio, breeding fund revenue is used to pay for the Ohio Sires Stakes series of races for horses by stallions that stand in the state. For the first time in 2015, total sires stakes purses will top $5 million, according to the OSRC.
The races are for 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers, and there are four late-season races for 4-year-olds of each sex and gait. The advent of racetrack VLTs has led to a spike in the number of stallions in the state as well as the number of mares bred.