At a meeting of the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund earlier Tuesday, the three-member panel approved a racing schedule for the 2014 Ohio Sires Stakes (OSS) that includes higher purses and additional races.
OSS championship purses in 2013 were $150,000. Eight championships for 2 and 3 year olds will each be worth $200,000 next year. Scioto Downs will host the races on Ohio Super Night on Saturday, Sept. 27.
Purses in four races that lead up toeach championship will also climb. When only one race is scheduled the purse will be $45,000, up from $35,000 this year. When enough entries require two or more divisions, each will go for $40,000, an increase of $10,000 from 2013.
The development fund committee, Chairman Richard McClelland, Senena Esty and Kevn Greenfield, also approved the return of OSS races for horses aged four and up.
Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway will host $50,000 races for older trotters and pacers of each sex. The mares will race on Friday, Oct. 17. Stallions and geldings will go postward on the following evening. Eliminations, if needed, will be held a week before each race.
The cost to nominate will be $250 due June 1, 2014, 2 1/2 months following the nomination deadline for 2 and 3 year olds. The starting fee will be $500.
Overall, harness horses bred in Ohio will race for OSS purses of $4 million or more. Purses in 2013 were $3.1 million. Two years ago they were $1.9 million.
The increased purse money for Ohio-bred harness horses is a result of two developments: One was the start of video lottery terminal gaming at Scioto Downs in 2012. Two other harness racetracks will begin VLT gaming this month, Northfield Park and Miami Valley Gaming and Racing.
The other was the start of Ohio State Racing Commission distributions of tax proceeds from casino gambling. The development fund received $1.8 million this year.
The OSDF committee approved more than a handful of other changes to the racing conditions for 2014, but none more important than entry guidelines, including the following: nominating and sustaining payments of $350 for each horse entered have been due on Feb. 15 and April 15 in all years of OSS racing since the program's inception in 1976. They were replaced by a single payment of $500 due on March 15.
Two other harness stakes programs are expected to strongly consider the change to single payment nominations. According to Delaware County Fair general manager Phil Terry and Scioto Downs general manager Stacy Cahill, each is considering closing nominations for the Ohio Breeders Championships and Ohio State Fair Stakes, respectively, on March 15 instead of Feb. 15.
Other changes in 2014 racing conditions include the following:
Before adjourning the committee also discussed awards for breeders and a proposal to shift administration of the two stakes programs mentioned above to the OSDF. These items may be addressed at a meeting in January. (OSRC)