Breeders and owners in New York, shortchanged the past couple years, in part, because of the bankruptcy of New York City Off-Track Betting Corp., are in line to get $4.4 million in purse awards due them in 2009 and 2010.
The decision by the New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund provides a financial infusion to breeders and owners at a time when other states are actively trying to lure horse breeding operations away from New York.
“It’s been a difficult environment because of the bankruptcy of New York City Off-Track Betting to convince breeders to hang in there,’’ said Tracy Egan, executive director of the fund. “This helps.’’
“It’s really news that the breeders need to hear,’’ she added.
The board is dealing with financial obligations from two battered years for breeders. In 2009, NYCOTB failed to pay more than $2.1 million in revenue-sharing payments to the breeding fund. In December, after the OTB shut down operations, the fund got a $1.2 million payment from the one-time betting giant, which covered some of the fund obligations it had for 2010.
For a period in the beginning of last year, the fund withheld 30% of what were due owners and breeders in awards payments because of the NYCOTB situation. In July, they cut it to 50% percent for the remainder of the year.
But now the breeding fund says it will have enough funds on hand by March to send out more than $3 million in payments to make owners and breeders “whole” for 2010. Officials expect the full 2010 payments to go out in a couple months.
Before then, though, the fund expects to send out about $1.4 million, which is to make fund recipients partially whole for money they had coming to them in 2009. Nearly $400,000 of that money is being made available because the New York Racing Association said it would forgo purse enhancement money the fund owes it; NYRA said it would give up the money if the state fund turned the money over to breeders and owners to make up for the loss of awards in 2009.
“They know how badly injured our breeders are,” Egan said of NYRA.
Egan said awards recipients already received 70% of what they were owed in 2009. For the remaining 30% owed, she said, breeders and owners will be getting 52 cents on the dollar.
She said the payments come at a time when decisions are being made by breeders about where to foal their mares.
“We here at the fund firmly believe that breeders who stick with the program will still start with an advantage unmatched by any other state,” the breeding fund said in a statement.
State Racing and Wagering Board chairman John D. Sabini, who last year pushed NYCOTB to set aside segregated funds to pay for expenses such as the breeding fund awards, said the release of the funds for breeders and owners will assist the state's racing industry. "These dollars will enter the pipeline to New York-based Thoroughbred breeders at just the right time, as they will soon be dealing with all the costs associated with the start of the breeding season,” he said.