On January 9th, we announced changes to the bonus payout guidelines for the Virginia-Certified and Virginia-Bred owner/developer programs. As we explained in our earlier notice, these programs are funded from revenue generated by Historical Horse Racing (HHR) machines which also fund other aspects of Virginia’s racing program. The Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA), in consultation with the Virginia Thoroughbred Association (VTA) and Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (VAHBPA), has established an annual budget of 4 million dollars for these programs. The plan is to increase funding for these programs once Colonial Downs adds more HHR locations and machines (we hope in 2024 and 2025). In the meantime, the changes below will help us to stay within our allocated budget.
Our previous objective was to keep bonuses as close to 25% as possible. In order to achieve that objective, we decided to end awards for wins in state-bred restricted races. Our decision of where to make cuts generated quite a response from you! Overwhelmingly it is clear that folks would rather receive a bonus for any race won, even if the award is a lesser amount. We heard you and this week the VTA Board updated the previous published changes.
UPDATED CHANGES TO THE VIRGINIA-CERTIFIED PROGRAM:
- Certified Developer bonuses of 10% will be earned for wins in state-bred-restricted races in the Mid-Atlantic region (NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, & WV). Winners of Virginia-restricted races are not eligible for any Certified bonus.
- Certified Developer bonuses will be earned for open race wins in the Mid-Atlantic region (NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, WV, & VA). Open bonuses will be calculated as follows: After the 10% state-bred-restricted race bonuses are subtracted from the 4 million dollar incentive fund, the remaining incentive money will be distributed on a pro-rata share of each open winning purse divided by the total of all open win purses. We estimate the open win bonuses for 2023 and 2024 to be in the 15% to 20% range.
- Beginning with foals of 2023, Certified Developer bonuses will no longer be earned for any win in West Virginia.
- Certified Developer bonuses will not be earned for out-of-state wins during the Colonial Downs meet.
- Plans to grow the VA Restricted race program during the Colonial Downs meet are now in the works.
- Because of the difficulty of estimating the number of wins each month, Virginia-Certified awards will now receive bonus checks once a year (after December 31st of the year they were earned).This is the only way to ensure open race bonuses are paid at the same percentage month to month.
VIRGINIA-BRED OWNER/DEVELOPER PROGRAM
- Beginning with the foal crop of 2021 (two-year-olds of 2023), the Virginia-Bred Owner’s bonus of up to 25% earned for wins in the Mid-Atlantic region (NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, WV) will be paid to the horse’s Developer. (The Developer is the person or entity that owns the Virginia-Bred horse when the horse makes its first start).
- Because of the difficulty of estimating the number of wins each month, Virginia-Bred Owner/Developer awards will now receive bonus checks once a year (after December 31st of the year they were earned).This is the only way to ensure open race bonuses are paid at the same percentage month to month.
Remember: Owners of Virginia-bred horses earn a 50% bonus when their Virginia-bred or sired horses finish 1st – 4th at Colonial Downs.
Making changes to these programs is nothing we desired to do. We are hopeful it is a short-term issue, that we can resolve sooner rather than later.
Debbie Easter, Executive Director
Virginia Thoroughbred Association
*Please note that these changes do not affect the award program for the Breeders of registered Virginia-Breds. Breeder awards are funded separately and are not affected by the Certified Program or the Virginia-Bred Owner/Developer program.