Anne M. Eberhardt

Interest Growing in Ohio Breeding Programs

Gaming revenue has generated interest in the breeding of horses in the state.

Ohio breeding programs grew in 2013 and are expected to continue that trend in 2014, according to Ohio State Racing Commission statistics.

On the Thoroughbred side, there will be more than 20 new stallions for 2014; the previous total was about 55. More than 240 mares were registered in 2013 to continue a turnaround that began in 2012.

"It's growing immensely," OSRC executive director Bill Crawford said during the commission's Dec. 19 meeting.

Ohio's Standardbred program also has rebounded, so much so the state has moved into second behind Pennsylvania in mares bred. Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association executive director Jerry Knappenberger said about 2,200 Standardbred mares were bred in Ohio in 2013, and the number probably will increase next year.

There are at least 16 new Standardbred stallions for 2014 to bring the total close to 150.

Renewed interest in the Ohio breeding and racing program began in 2011 when video lottery terminals were authorized at racetracks. Thus far four racetrack gaming facilities are operating, with another three scheduled to open in 2014.

In addition to a yet-to-be-determined percentage of VLT revenue, horse racing in Ohio gets 3% of the 33.5% state tax on gaming revenue at four full-scale casinos. The OSRC works with industry stakeholders to determine which programs share in the revenue; breeding programs have benefited substantially thus far.

For instance, when the most-recent quarterly payments were made in October, the Ohio Thoroughbred Race Fund and Ohio Standardbred Development Fund each received $400,392. The three-month total from the casino fund was $2.1 million, which also was used to support purses, racetrack operations, and administrative staff for the OSRC.