Indy-Bred Purses Get $800,000 Bump

Horsemen interested in the impact revenue from slot machines will have on Indiana’s racing program need look no further than the upcoming Hoosier Park Thoroughbred meet.

The Indiana Horse Racing Commission approved a plan Aug. 14 that calls for significant increases to purses offered through the Thoroughbred Breed Development program. Under the plan, $800,000 in purse supplements have been added, and each of the 12 stakes offered for Indiana-bred horses will carry purses of $100,000, up from $50,000.

“We had not counted on slot machines at all in 2008 when we submitted our plan in January. We just didn’t know for sure,” said Jim Hartman, a member of the Indiana Thoroughbred Breed Development Advisory Committee. “It’s easy to see the impact was significant.”

Hartman said discussions regarding changes to the budget came about after financial reports on the performance of the casinos at Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs for the month of June were released. He said the breed development program has received $1.435 million in slots revenue in the first two months alone.

All told, the breed development budget for the Hoosier Park meet will reach $4.3 million. About $1.5 million will be added to the $2.9 million already budgeted for the 2008 Thoroughbred meet.

Breeder, owner, and stallion owner awards also have been altered slightly. The awards now will be linked to gross purses instead of base purses, as they had been previously. With the increase of total purse supplements, the amount of money designated for awards will also increase.

Currently, breeder and owner awards are equal to 20% of the purse, with stallion owners are eligible an award equal to 10% of the purse.

“That was obviously something where we wanted a ‘wow’ factor,” said Hartman, who serves on the committee with Dr. James Carmichael and Jim Elliott. “We wanted to send breeders and owners in other states the message that the slots era has begun. The deadline for residency for mares is coming up (Nov. 1). We’d like to entice some folks to become involved in the program.”

Hartman, who has owned and bred Thoroughbreds since 2000, said the committee is still working out the details regarding how the money will be spent, but a plan will be in place before Hoosier Park begins racing Aug. 29. The changes have come about so quickly, they are not reflected in Hoosier Park’s first condition book.

“It came about as a joke,” Hartman said. “One month doesn’t make a trend, but we looked at ourselves and asked what we needed to do. We could have done a lot more, but as (IHRC Thoroughbred Breed Development director) Jacki Brown stated, this is a jump start. We haven’t put a pencil to what we’ll do in 2009. We’ll definitely add additional stakes, but it is wide open. It’s a great feeling to have.”

Hartman said that, based on the current budget, any slots revenue received from September through the end of the year will go toward the coffers for 2009.

In the first month of operation, the casinos at Hoosier Park (opened June 2) and Indiana Downs (June 9) combined to generate more than $26 million in adjusted gross receipts. In July, receipts for Hoosier Park’s casino topped $17 million, while Indiana Live! Casino pulled in nearly $14 million.