Lexington, KY --- The Kentucky Standardbred Development Fund, which is in a transitional year because of rule changes, will offer $1.4 million in purses for the Aug. 31 finals of this year’s Kentucky Sire Stakes at The Red Mile.
Each of the eight finals for 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers will carry a purse of $175,000. That’s down from $250,000 last year, but the reduction is by design.
Stallion nominations have continued to decline in Kentucky, in large part because of gaming-generated incentives in other states. With fewer horses eligible for the sire stakes, an advisory committee opted to reduce purses until there is an increase in the number of eligible horses.
“We’re being conservative,” said Marc Guilfoil, director of racing for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. “We’ll know more when we know the number of mares bred.”
For the 2014 Kentucky Sire Stakes the connections of 57 2-year-olds made the first payment; after the third payment was due 43 remained eligible. The connections of 70 3-year-olds made the first payment; after the third payment was due 65 remained eligible, according to Kentucky Breeders Incentive Fund statistics.
Kentucky’s statute was changed in order to generate more interest in the breeding program. Beginning in 2014, the offspring of any mare boarded in Kentucky for at least 180 consecutive days is eligible for the sire stakes program -- no matter where the sire stands.
“Several broodmare farms in Kentucky have benefitted from it this year,” said Jamie Eads, director of incentives and development for the KHRC. “I believe we’re going to see a positive impact and positive numbers (going forward). We still have a strong Kentucky base participating in the program.”
The Kentucky Standardbred industry receives 13 percent of the six percent tax on stallion fees that now funds the overall Kentucky Breeders Incentive Fund. Most of the money comes from Thoroughbred stallion fees.
The overall program has leveled since its inception in 2006, but more revenue is coming from a percentage of wagering through historical racing machines, also called Instant Racing machines. The Red Mile in Lexington is expected to be the first harness track in Kentucky to offer historical race wagering given its plan to have a facility operating in 2015.
Guilfoil noted the breed development fund will receive a percentage of revenue from the machines.
“It’s going to be a good, healthy program once it gets up and running,” Guilfoil said. “The (advisory) panel will be very creative on how to spend that money.”
Eads said the advisory committee will meet again in early September to finalize purses for the 2015 program.