The 2016 Ohio Thoroughbred Race Fund will be worth $5.79 million, up 4.2% from last year under a proposal approved by the Ohio State Racing Commission Jan. 26.
The OTRF, which provides money for state-bred purses, supplements, and breeders' awards, has greatly increased the last few years because of racetrack video lottery terminal revenue and a quarterly cut of revenue from four non-track casinos in Ohio.
The Ohio-bred stakes schedule will be valued at $3.45 million, which includes $750,000 for the five Best of Ohio championship races. The divisional championships will be held for the first time at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course Nov. 29.
All Ohio-bred stakes are funded 35% from the OTRF and 65% from the horsemen's purse account; the OTRF will contribute about $1.2 million, the same as in 2015.
The Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association by contract contributes 10% of its VLT purse share to fund Ohio-bred races. This year horsemen will provide $2.14 million, down from $3.3 million last year when carryover funds from 2014 were added to the total.
The Ohio HBPA has 10-year contracts with Mahoning Valley and ThistleDown Racino. Thus far it has been unable to reach a deal with Belterra Park Gaming. Ohio HBPA executive director Dave Basler said the horsemen's contribution goes to the OTRF, which then distributes the money to all three Thoroughbred tracks in the state.
As for the Best of Ohio, horsemen will contribute $487,000 of the total $750,000 in purses.
"We pushed for the return of a three-track (rotation) for the series," Basler said. "It's fair because we have horsemen in the northern and southern parts of the state. It's also a substantial hit to the on-track purse account at each facility."
Broodmare awards this year will total $1.56 million, up 6.8% from last year, while stallion awards will increase 5%, from $219,000 in 2015 to $230,000, according to OTRF documents.
In a change from previous years, broodmare (15% of the purse) and stallion awards (10%) will be paid to the breeders of horses that finish first, second, or third in eligible races. The OTRF also changed conditions to ensure specific races are included in condition books on a regular schedule throughout the year.
The Ohio-bred program has two components: Ohio-registered horses must be foaled in the state but mares can be bred to out-of-state stallions, while Ohio-accredited horses must be the progeny of state-based stallions. Under the OTRF, not less than 10% but not more than 25% of total funds must go toward accredited overnight races; for stakes, 25% of the total pool must go to accredited runners.
The OTRF has set aside $2.59 million for Ohio-bred overnight races in 2016 based on number of racing dates at each track. That equates to $883,000 at Mahoning Valley and ThistleDown and $823,000 at Belterra Park.