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Awards program under consideration for Ohio breeders
Thursday, January 23, 2014 - by Tom LaMarra, USTA Web Newsroom Correspondent

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Columbus, OH --- A breeders’ awards program for Standardbreds is under consideration by harness industry stakeholders and the Ohio State Racing Commission.

OSRC chairman Robert Schmitz on Thursday (Jan. 23) said Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association president Steve McCoy presented language for a proposal during a recent industry meeting. Schmitz noted the Standardbred industry in Ohio has not had a program that offers incentives to those who breed in Ohio; the money is used for the Ohio Sires Stakes program and racing at county fairs.

One aspect of the proposal is to require a mare bred in Ohio to have 180 days of continuous residency in the state. Such parameters, which are in place in other states, are designed to foster growth and revenue in agriculture.

Foals that don’t meet that criteria but are bred to Ohio stallions would continue to be eligible to compete in sires stakes. Breeders’ awards could total about $750,000 a year, officials said, which could be a big carrot for mare owners.

Schmitz said the OSRC has no statutory authority to approve a breeders’ awards program, so it must be presented to lawmakers in the form of legislation. There currently is no timetable for movement on the plan, which would dovetail with a period of growth in the Standardbred racing and breeding industry because of revenue from racetrack video lottery terminals.

The racing and breeding industry has also benefited from a small cut of non-racetrack casino revenue. On Jan. 23 the OSRC approved the latest quarterly payment; the Standardbred Development Fund will get about $391,000 this go-around from the total of more than $2 million.

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