Ohio harness horsemen, and Thoroughbred horsemen, gained Ohio State Racing Commission approval to spend a portion of their Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) proceeds to augment stakes programs and purses at a meeting held on Thursday (June 26). Each commission-endorsed transfer of funds must now go before the Ohio Controlling Board. This is expected to happen in August.
The harness contribution, offered by the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association (OHHA), will increase purses for Ohio State Fair Stakes by $240,000, Ohio Breeders' Championship purses by the same amount, and the Little Brown Jug purse by $150,000.
There are eight different state fair races and eight breeders' championships for Ohio-bred 2- and 3-year-olds. Purses for each of the 16 races will go up by $30,000. The Little Brown Jug purse, the state's highest, is estimated at $600,000 in 2014.
The total amount—$630,000—will be taken from purse pools at Scioto Downs ($377,067), Miami Valley Gaming and Racing ($141,126) and Northfield Park ($111,807).
The Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association sought to move $1,364,327 from the purse pool at Thistledown to benefit the Ohio Thoroughbred Race Fund (OTRF). The money will support purses and be used for breeders' awards. Only Ohio-bred or Ohio-foaled thoroughbreds are eligible to participate in the program.
Three members of the OTRF Board will meet in the near future to consider expenditure options. There are no budget shortfalls to address. Chairman Robert K. Schmitz suggested the consideration of an increase in purses for the Best of Ohio series of races. Each purse is currently $150,000.
Statewide, thoroughbred and harness racing purses at commercial racetracks will amount to approximately $23.7 million for the first half of 2014. Last year's purse total after six months was $15.1 million.
While the following did not require commission approval, Miami Valley General Manager Jim Simms and OHHA President Steve McCoy announced they have signed an agreement on the amount of revenue horsemen will receive from VLT proceeds at the racetrack. However, McCoy and track president Tom Aldrich both said a similar agreement has not been reached for Northfield Park. According to each, negotiations will continue.
"This is unacceptable,” said Schmitz. He reminded the parties the commission has the authority to set the percentages by administrative rule. (Ohio State Racing Commission)