KTA Discusses Ways to Increase Purses

The KTA met with Sens. Damon Thayer and David Williams to discuss improvements.

Several Thoroughbred industry officials met in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 14 to discuss a 2011 legislative plan for increasing purses and breed development funds.

Kentucky Thoroughbred Association/Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders executive director David Switzer and John Greeley, a director of the organization, met with Republican Senate President David Williams and his deputy chief of staff Jay Hartz, as well as Republican Sen. Damon Thayer, who introduced the Breeders' Incentive Fund legislation, to brainstorm and weigh options for various changes.

“We didn’t get into any specifics; we just started some good dialogue,” Switzer said. “I thought it was a very positive meeting.”

Switzer said raising breed incentive funds via taxes and pari-mutuel wagering were among the topics discussed. Currently, the program is funded from a 6% sales tax on stud fees.

“I think Sen. Williams agreed (the incentive program needs to be improved), and he would have his staff start looking at some ideas for us,” Switzer said. “We’ll probably get together before the (legislative) session starts, at least with Sen. Thayer and Jay Hartz, and of course I want to reach out to the members of the House of Representatives and have some of them there as well.”

Switzer said the KTA/KTOB still has research to do on how to improve the Breeders’ Incentive Fund and plans to work with Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate to generate ideas.

In the fall, it was announced that a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission committee was also considering changes to the Breeders’ Incentive Fund in order to better market the program.

The fund paid about $15 million in awards to Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, and other breeds of horses in 2008. The money is split 80% to Thoroughbreds, 13% to Standardbreds, and 7% to other breeds under legislation passed in the mid-2000s.

In 2006, the first year of payments, breeders earned $12 million. The total improved to about $15 million in 2007-08, but 2010 payments are projected at $13.4 million because of declines in the breeding industry.

Roughly 98% of the fund comes from the tax on Thoroughbred stud fees.