Columbus, OH --- After a presentation by program administrator Joe Crugnale during its monthly meeting in Columbus on Jan. 23, the Ohio State Racing Commission approved the Ohio Sire Stakes program for 2014.
Crugnale told the commission it would be a year of change and growth, both in purses and participation. The biggest changes are the movement of the deadline to nominate from Feb. 15 to March 15, and the elimination of the April 15 sustaining payment.
Eligibility to race in all four legs leading to championships for 2- and 3-year-olds will also cost less. The single $500 payment due on March 15 replaces two $350 payments required in previous years.
In another change related to payments, the cost to enter championships was also reduced, from $1,500 to $1,000. At the same time, championships for younger horses will also be worth more, increasing from $150,000 in 2013 to $200,000 this year. Scioto Downs will host the eight championships on Sept. 27.
Scheduled races leading to championships will also carry higher purses. When one field of horses goes postward the race will be contested for $45,000, up from $35,000 a year ago. When enough horses enter to require divisions, each will go for a minimum of $40,000. This amount also reflects an increase of $10,000 over 2013.
Four championships for older horses (4-year-olds and up) of each gait and sex were also scheduled for the first time since 2009. Each championship for a $50,000 purse will be held at the new Dayton Raceway on Oct. 17-18. If necessary, eliminations will be held a week in advance. Nominations costing $250 will close on June 1.
All of the changes above were recommended to the commission by members of the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund, Richard McClelland, Kevin Greenfield and Senena Esty. They received input from harness horsemen and track managements in determining proposed conditions and dates for 2014.
They also endorsed a budget that projects total OSS purses in excess of $4.30 million. Purses in 2013 were $3.12 million. Annual OSS purses have never exceeded the $4.02 million raced for in 2000.
Last year, individuals paid $578,500 (18.57 percent of the total purses) in nominating, sustaining and starting fees. Horsemen collectively contributed $425,700 (13.67 percent of the total) through purse pool deductions at four racetracks. The remaining amount, $2.11 million, came from the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund.
Prior to last year this fund only derived money from taxes on wagers at commercial harness tracks and fairs. There are now two other sources of funding, tax proceeds from casinos and a portion of the net proceeds from video lottery terminals at harness racetracks. Crugnale estimated total revenue from these sources at $3.35 million in 2014. Fund revenue was less than $1 million two years ago.
This growth has fueled an increase in the number of Standardbred stallions registered, according to Crugnale, and an influx of better stallions, according to Commission Chairman Robert K. Schmitz. He named some of the prominent racehorses already registered to stand in Ohio for the first time in 2014 and their accomplishments.