The Ohio State Racing Commission approved going forward with 13 rule changes during its monthly meeting on Wednesday (Aug. 27) at the Riffe Center in Columbus. The rules were updated as a result of the agency's five-year rule review. Each rule will now be submitted to the Common Sense Initiative Office and the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.
Live racing dates for next year were announced and discussed. Seven commercial tracks have applied for 761 live days, an increase of 30 over the number scheduled this year. Approximately 61 percent are harness days; four are quarter horse days; the remainder are for thoroughbreds.
Thoroughbred purses will grow this year for Ohio-breds after the commission approved spending an additional $230,000 from the Ohio Thoroughbred Race Fund between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31. This will double the amount paid ($200,000) to purses for overnight races during this period. The remaining amount will increase supplements to Ohio-bred horses winning in open competition.
The commission approval of Resolution 2014-17 affects harness racing purses as it will allow the commission to receive $1.3 million from video lottery terminal (VLT) revenue due to be paid to horsemen at Miami Valley, Northfield Park and Scioto Downs. The money, pending approval by the Ohio Controlling Board, will then be forwarded to the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund and used for championship purses.
The commission authorized the seventh distribution of its share of taxes collected on casino gambling in the state. Over $2 million will be paid to purse pools at commercial racetracks ($859,191), thoroughbred and harness breed funds ($777,363), and four commercial tracks not owned by casinos ($306,854). The commission itself will receive $102,284 for specific uses that benefit horsemen in the state.
Two racetracks reported on efforts to reach agreements on the amount of revenue horsemen will receive from VLT proceeds. Ken Kaufman, representing Belterra Park, said progress has been made in negotiations with horsemen. Racetracks and horsemen have six months to reach agreement before the commission has the option of setting the percentage by rule.
Northfield Park President Tom Aldrich and Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association Jerry Knappenberger reported an agreement at that racetrack has not been reached. Both individuals said they have yet to agree on certain issues apart from the VLT percentage.
Absent an agreement, Chairman Robert K. Schmitz said the commission may start the rule-making process when it meets in September. The date of that meeting will be announced. (Ohio State Racing Commission)