Louisiana Horsemen Carrying On

A unique Fair Grounds at Louisiana Downs meet is not expected to have any effect on the way the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders' Association distributes breeders' awards money, according to Tom Early, LTBA executive director.

Early doesn't expect the organization to be forced to cut the amount of breeders' awards money paid from the normal 20% of the winner's share of the purse despite the possible loss of live racing dates due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.

"I don't anticipate any reduction," Early said. "We're not going to have to cut the breeders award rate from 20% to 15%. I think we can continue to go because when you don't run "X" number of days at the Fair Grounds then you don't have those breeder awards to pay. So even though we're not generating money, we're not spending it either."

Early did predict a loss is the amount of money the breeders' awards program receives from the state's Off-Track Betting Parlors. "Where we're going to take a big hit is the OTB money because right now there are no OTBs, except for the few scattered throughout the northern and southwestern parts of the state," he said. "The eight or nine in metro New Orleans are obviously gone and won't be back anytime soon."

Early estimated the LTBA receives about $1 million per year from OTBs, which breaks down to $250,000 per quarter. "We may lose two quarters worth of money and that is what we use to pay the out-of-state breeders awards and the open race breeders awards."

The LTBA has the option of tapping into reserve money collected from slot machine revenue. In Louisiana, 15% of the adjusted gross revenue from slot machines is designated toward purses, and 2% is given to the LTBA to pay breeder awards.

Currently, Delta Downs, Louisiana Downs, and Evangeline Downs have slot machines. Fair Grounds was scheduled to go live with slot machines this year.

The horsemen's organization is also planning to go forward with their annual sale at Louisiana Downs, Oct. 15-16. The LTBA has 450 horses catalogued.

"The sale is still on as planned," said Early. "As for right now no one has said they can't come or that they're not coming."