The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced March 27 the Kentucky Breeders' Incentive Fund will distribute more than $18.7 million in awards for 2008.
While this year's KBIF awards are down from the $19,220,007 paid in 2007, they are still higher than the $15 million awarded during the program’s first payout in 2006.
“It’s certainly much-needed good news for breeders who are finding many challenges in this economy,” said Republican Sen. Damon Thayer, who was heavily involved in formation of the program from a legislative perspective. “The timing of the check that will be sent out in the near future is going to be good for breeders in Kentucky.”
The fund, established in 2005, is supposed to foster growth of the horse industry in Kentucky. It is financed through the 6% sales tax paid for breeding a stallion to a mare in the Bluegrass State.
“The breeder incentive programs continue to be a significant benefit to the industry, and we are thrilled for the opportunity to offer more than $18 million in financial rewards to those individuals supporting the industry and the economic growth of the horse industry in the commonwealth of Kentucky,” KHRC executive director Lisa Underwood said.
Eighty percent of the money collected goes to breeders of Thoroughbreds, with 13% and 7% going to the breeders of Standardbreds and non-race breeds, respectively.
Thayer said the KHRC is currently trying to manage the fund to avoid a significant drop in payouts next year due to lower 2009 stud fees.
“I think most breeders need to realize that due to market conditions, the amount being paid out next year is going to be significantly less than this year,” Thayer said. “Normally, the KHRC would include interest income earned on the fund in this year’s payments, but (KBIF administrator) Jamie (Haydon) explained that the decision was made to hold on to that interest income and use it for next year to keep the drop from being as big as it would otherwise be, and I told her that I supported that decision.”
Thayer said he had heard fewer mares were being bred in Kentucky this year due to the state of the economy, which creates even more of a need to create attractive incentives for breeders.
“I would still like to see a little broader payment based on races outside Kentucky, significantly in Canada, and I also think there ought to be payments considered for Kentucky-breds who win group I races in places like Japan, Hong Kong, and Duabi,” Thayer said. “I want to make sure Kentucky breeders are rewarded for breeding a good, stakes-winning horse no matter where they win.”
Thayer’s other suggestions for improvement of the program included rewarding breeders of horses that have won listed stakes, and redistributing smaller checks toward more significant races to provide breeders of those races with larger payouts.
“As the author of the legislation, I would be eager to work with the racing commission on how changes in the program might work, but I think by and large, the program has been a tremendous success in rewarding breeders of all sizes,” Thayer said.
The 2008 breeders’ incentives were distributed as follows:
Kentucky Thoroughbred Breeders Incentive Fund
The KBIF received more than $15 million to be distributed in awards for the 2008 racing season. The KBIF requires owners to board mares in Kentucky from the time of breeding until the birth of the foal. Incentive payments are based on the foal’s eventual winnings on the racetrack. The KBIF awarded 4,119 races in Kentucky, across the United States, and in group I international races in Canada, England, France, and Ireland.
Kentucky Standardbred Development Fund
The KSDF received $2.4 million for the Kentucky Sires Stakes program, which consists of three $25,000 legs and a $300,000 final for 2- and 3-year-olds (eight finals in all). Races will be run at The Red Mile in Lexington Aug. 9, 17, and 27 for 2-year-olds, and Aug. 10, 20, and 30 for 3-year-olds. The $300,000 finals will be run Sept. 6. The KYSS payouts have resulted in award-winning stallions standing in Kentucky, including Deweycheatemnhowe.
Kentucky Horse Breeders Incentive Fund
The KHBIF received $1,315,708, which will be split proportionately among the 11 non-race breeds. The Kentucky Quarter Horse Association, representing the largest non-race breed in the state, received $428,927, and the Paso Fino, representing the smallest breed in Kentucky, received $13,579.