The Best of Ohio will be held at Belterra Park, formerly known as River Downs.

The Best of Ohio will be held at Belterra Park, formerly known as River Downs.

John C. Engelhardt

Ohio-Bred Program Gets Financial Boost

Broodmare and stallion awards will increase in 2014, as will number of stakes.

Growth and new revenue for the Ohio Thoroughbred industry has led to projected increases in breeders' awards and an expanded state-bred stakes schedule for 2014.

The Ohio State Racing Commission Jan. 23 approved the parameters of the Ohio Thoroughbred Race Fund for this year. The total budget is $3.25 million.

There will be 41 stakes for Ohio-registered or accredited horses, up from 33 in 2013. Total stakes purses–from the OTRF (35%) and horsemen's purses (65%)–are listed at $2.7 million.

Purses for the five-race Best of Ohio championship series have been increased again. Each stakes will go for $150,000, up from $100,000 in 2013.

The Best of Ohio is scheduled for Oct. 11 and will be held at Belterra Park, formerly known as River Downs, near Cincinnati. The track hasn't hosted the championship races since the mid-1990s.

Because the grass course at Belterra Park won't be ready for the 2014 racing season, all the stakes are on the dirt. Belterra Park will have 16 stakes and ThistleDown Racino (Thistledown) will have 17. Beulah Park, which will close for good May 3, was assigned three stakes, while its replacement, Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course, will offer five stakes in November and December.

Any open stakes will be announced by the racetracks at a later date. In recent years there has been only one: the Ohio Derby at Thistledown, which lost its grade III status for 2014.

The OTRF projects a 74.2% increase in broodmare awards, from $432,975 in 2013 to $746,736 this year. Stallion awards are projected to jump 96.9% from $96,972 to $190,941.

State-bred supplements for overnight races will increase 11.2% to $770,706 from $692,600 in 2013. The OTRF also will increase its promotional budget to $50,000 from about $12,000.

Greg Veit, Thoroughbred fund registrar for the OSRC, said it appears there will be 59 stallions registered in Ohio for 2014, up about 25 from last year. "The quality is increasing dramatically," he said, noting stallions such as Kettle Corn , Lunar Pal, and Mobil  will stand in the state.

The OTRF also has made changes to ensure integrity in the program. Veit said that last year, a trainer entered multiple horses so that a state-bred stakes would fill, but one had no tattoo, one had no gate card, and another was injured at the time of entry.

Now, in order to enter an OTRF stakes, a horse must have a required number of published works, a gate card, and a tattoo. Also OTRF stakes must be run if there are at least five separate betting interests; if there are four or less the track can elect to run the race as an exhibition.