Ohio is among the weakest when it comes to Thoroughbred purses, but it’s about to have the strongest rules governing registration of state-bred horses.

The Ohio State Racing Commission Feb. 19 approved new regulations generated by a 2008 investigation that uncovered horses listed as being bred in Ohio actually were foaled in Kentucky. An advisory committee was formed to recommend new rules.

The revised rules take effect March 2, OSRC executive secretary Sam Zonak said.

Ohio Thoroughbred breeders will be licensed by the state for a fee each year and face serious penalties—including a suspension of up to 10 years—should they violate the regulations. Those found in violation also face a fine of up to $10,000.

In addition, breeders’ awards could be denied in the future, and purse money would have to be returned.

Breeders will pay $10 a year for a license. They may be required to submit an additional amount to cover the cost of fingerprinting. In order for a breeder to receive purse awards, he or she must be licensed under the proposed rules.

Owners of broodmares that want to breed or board mares in Ohio to qualify for breeders’ awards would have to register the mare with the OSRC.

The rules also give the OSRC more power in regulating the state’s Thoroughbred breeding industry. The commission would only need “reason to believe” an application is fraudulent or misleading to summon those involved, and could, after a hearing, “suspend, cancel and/or bar from further registrations horses owned by the person who executed the false or misleading application,” according to the regulations.

One of the improperly registered horses—Foxwood Stable’s Marble Cliff—won two stakes, including the $100,000 Cleveland Gold Cup at Thistledown, last year.  He was disqualified from all starts, and his owners had to pay back more than $100,000 in purse earnings. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Jump Start has since finished second and third in maiden special weight company at Turfway Park in Kentucky.

The breeders of the horses in question told the OSRC during a special hearing “mistakes” were made that led to the false registrations.

The Thoroughbred foal crop in Ohio has been declining for more than 10 years. According to The Jockey Club, the crop was 648 in 1996 and 345 in 2006; this year, it could fall under 200, according to estimates from Ohio breeders.

The number of registered stallions in Ohio in 2007 was 69, down from 89 two years prior, according to The Jockey Club. The number of mares bred fell from 490 in 2005 to 354 in 2007.

Thoroughbred purses at three racetracks in Ohio totaled $17.67 million in 2008 for 329 racing days, an average of $53,700 per day, based on statistics from The Jockey Club Information Systems. In all, there were 430 Ohio-bred races, many of them for claiming horses.

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