The Kentucky Thoroughbred Breeders' Fund, signed into law in late December by Gov. Ernie Fletcher, kicks into high gear with the opening of the 2006 breeding season. The new law, which will distribute to breeders of Kentucky-breds as much as $12 million annually collected from an existing tax on stud fees, is designed to generate additional business by keeping more mares in the state on a year-round basis. Kentucky Sen. Damon Thayer was the sponsor of the bill, which also had the strong backing of the Kentucky Equine Education Project. During a debate over how the KTBF awards should be distributed (e.g., to winners of races in Kentucky only, or to out-of-state and international winners as well), there was one universally embraced concept: that a mare's residency in Kentucky needed to be a vital component. What the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority adopted in this regard was simple. Beginning with the 2006 breeding season, breeders of Kentucky-breds will be eligible for KTBF funds if their horse was sired by a Kentucky-based stallion and was produced from a mare residing in the Bluegrass State from the time of the first cover until foaling. The only exceptions are for in-foal mares still racing or those which left the state on a medical emergency. Written notice to the KHRA is required in both cases. Breeders of Kentucky-breds foaled prior to 2007 are also eligible for the KTBF awards, beginning with racing on Jan. 1, 2006. If a horse foaled prior to 2007 is eligible to receive funds under the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (sired by a Kentucky-based stallion in the year of conception and foaled in Kentucky), its breeder is eligible for awards under the new program. The KTBF program has five different components for awards to breeders of horses meeting eligibility requirements: * All winners of maiden special weight, allowance, and stakes races at Kentucky tracks are eligible for a bonus equal to 25% of the winning purse (excluding supplemental funds). Maximum bonus $10,000 per race. * Winners (2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds) of maiden and allowance races in other states are eligible for a bonus equal to 10% of the winning purse (excluding supplemental funds). Maximum bonus $10,000 per race. * Breeders of a Kentucky-bred winner of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) or Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) will receive a $100,000 award; $25,000 will be awarded to the breeder of a Kentucky-bred winner of other grade I races at Kentucky tracks. * Breeders of Kentucky-bred winners of grade I races in other states will be awarded $2,500 for each win. * Other awards will go to breeders of the Kentucky-bred horses who accrue the most claiming earnings at each of the following tracks: Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Keeneland, and Turfway Park. In addition, a year-end award will be divided among breeders of the top three horses with the most cumulative Kentucky claiming earnings throughout the year. An estimated $200,000 will go toward these awards. Breeders, however, are going to have to work for the money. The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, which oversees the program, requires applications be filed this breeding season for mares expected to foal Kentucky-breds of 2007. An applicant must supply information on the date of the first cover, name of stallion and mare, and the name, address, and contact information for the Kentucky farm where the mare will be boarded during her pregnancy. For Kentucky-breds born prior to 2007, applications for awards during the 2006 racing season must be filed by Feb. 1, 2007. The Horse Racing Authority has said it will notify breeders throughout the racing year that they are eligible for an award once they register their horses in the program. Applications and a more thorough explanation of the KTBF program can be found at the following Web site: www.khra.ky.gov/breedersincentive/.