Two things dominate recent conversations on Garrett Street – 1) the upcoming session of the General Assembly and the 2) the ongoing problem of ADW (telephone and internet wagers) being conducted here in the Commonwealth without the Breeders Fund getting compensated.

The stakeholders with the support of the Virginia Racing Commission will offer an omnibus bill in the 2009 General Assembly. Tentatively named the Secretariat Thoroughbred Industry Revitalization Act, the bill deals with a number of issues facing the industry. The most important is the request to remove the enabling referendum and replacing it with an alternative local government approval to allow CLN to locate their remaining SWFs.

While we have been discussing this for years, the timing seems right to pursue this change in 2009. As most of you know, the referendum process has kept Colonial Downs out of Northern Virginia. We estimate that the NoVa market could produce anywhere from $50 to $100 million in new wagers and $500,000 to $1 million in new Breeders Fund money.

We will simply be asking the General Assembly to give the Racing Commission the authority to operate the way the state’s Lottery Commission does. The lottery was also passed by a state-wide referendum as was parimutuel wagering. After the referendum, the Lottery Commission was allowed to place outlets in every municipality in the state – even in those that voted no. We are simply asking the General Assembly to allow the industry and the Commission to work with local governments to help stimulate our industry.

The ADW and Breeders Fund debate is slowly working toward a conclusion. The Virginia Racing Commission will address this subject at their meeting on Wednesday (12/15/08), and hopefully a resolution of the matter will come about. Feel free to attend the meeting and make yourself heard.

We are also seeking compensation in arrears for the ADW that has occurred since 2005. We need this money to fund Breeders and Stallion Awards for 2008 after the 100% Owners Bonus during the past Colonial meet depleted the Breeders Fund. Negotiations are on-going.

On an ongoing basis, there is talk of legislation to secure payment of the Breeders Fund from each ADW wager.

More later and comments are welcome.