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Breeders' Cup Suspends Stakes Program

Breeders’ Cup officials have decided to suspend the entire Breeders’ Cup stakes program for 2009, according to a memo sent to racing secretaries, stakes coordinators, and officials Dec. 11.

The memo, from Breeders’ Cup senior vice president of operations Pam Blatz-Murff, said that the organization was projecting a reduction in overall Breeders’ Cup revenues of more than $10 million next year due to the global economic downturn and a likely shortfall in nominations revenue. It goes on to state that in order to maintain the Breeders’ Cup Championship purses at their current level of $25.5 million, television and marketing spending will be slashed by more than $5 million. In the last two years, the Championships have expanded from one day to two, and from eight races to 14.

Previously, according to the memo, the Breeders’ Cup had committed to allocating funds for 2009 races, but now those allocations are suspended.

"Even with the difficult economic circumstances, the board was committed to holding the line on Championship purses," said Breeders' Cup president and CEO Greg Avioli in a release. "While the financial results for the 2008 Championships were solid, the combination of the economy and its effects on the sales and breeding segments of our business provides a challenging environment, and we've had to take steps to ensure that we emerge positively from the current atmoshpere."

The 2008 Breeders' Cup stakes program featured 100 races and allocated $5 million in Breeders' Cup Funds to existing stakes races across the United States and Canada. For the past 13 years, Breeders' Cup and 40 racetracks and racing associations have participated jointly in this program that provides additional purse money to Breeders' Cup nominated horses. Total purses for the 2008 program exceeded $25 million.

In Breeders' Cup Stakes program races, Breeders' Cup nominated horses run for the total purse. Non-nominated horses compete only for the purse money provided by the host racing association. Breeders of nominated runners that finish first, second or third in a Breeders' Cup Stakes program race also receive nominator awards.

Since 1984, Breeders' Cup Ltd. has paid out more than $445 million in purses and awards through the Breeders' Cup World Championships and its year-round racing programs.

Breeders' Cup also announced it was reducing the horse of racing age fees by 33%, from $150,000 to $100,000 for horses that were not nominated to the program as foals, and from $250,000 to $200,000 for horses whose sires were not nominated. Breeders' Cup will discontinue the separate supplemental nominations program whereby non-nominated horses could enter a particular Championship race by paying between 9% and 15% of the purse.

The Breeders' Cup board also authorized a return to the 3% entry fees for Championship races that were in place until 2005.