On Wednesday at its regular monthly meeting, the Virginia Racing Commission will vote on the 2010 Virginia Breeders Fund. A report was submitted last week by the VRC’s Breeders Fund Thoroughbred Task Force the recommended a series of changes and new programs.

After a series of meetings involving the Virginia H.B.P.A. and the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, the Task Force recommending changing the 100% bonus for the winners of open races at Colonial Downs to a 60% bonus for the first four finishers.

“While everybody likes the 100% bonus as a marketing campaign, the majority of the members of the VTA’s Breeders Fund Committee felt the cap on the program of $10,000 a race really undermined the credibility of the program,” said Glenn Petty, Executive Director of the VTA. “The sentiment was pretty clear ‘figure out how much money we have and pay a bonus first through fourth that matches that number,’ so the 60% simply reflects the amount of available funds.”

The 100% Owners bonus at Colonial Downs was instituted in 2008. Paying a full 100% on all purse amounts for registered Virginia-bred and Virginia-sired horses, the Fund generated bonus payments of $1.1 million. The popularity of the program created some positive “buzz” for Virginia-breds nationwide, but it literally depleted the Fund.

In the face of declining Breeders Fund revenues – the Fund has declined 27% over the past two years – the 100% bonus was capped at $10,000 per race in 2009. “As a result,” Petty explained, “some races had a 100% bonus and some didn’t.”

In addition, owners, trainers and breeders participating in the process all noted that second, thirds and fourths needed to compensated as well.

In addition, the Fund will pay a 25% purse supplement on races restricted to Virginia-bred/sired horses. For example, a Maiden Special Weight race which normally has a purse of $23,000 will be run for $28,750. (For more information, see post below.)

In addition, the program will continue to host six stake races restricted to registered Virginia-bred/sired horses.

Finally, the members of the VTA’s committee made it clear that they would like to see the ratio of the payouts of the fund return to the 2007 level of 50% to year-end stallion and breeders awards and 50% for purses and bonuses at Colonial Downs. These levels were written into the original regulations although the VRC has the right to change those amounts. In 2008 and 2009, the ratio was closer to 20% to 80%. Breeders feel like their efforts the other 325 days of the year need to be adequately compensated since the Colonial Downs’ meet is only 40 days long.

VRC Chairman Peter Burnett serves on the Task Force as attended several of the meetings including the final one where the final recommendations were crafted. We expect the report to be approved by the VRC on Wednesday.