Changes Coming to Massachusetts Race Horse Development Fund

Massachusetts-based Thoroughbred horsemen are about to see a reduction in allocation of the state’s multimillion dollar Race Horse Development Fund earmarked for breeders’ awards and purses after a a decision to revise the split between the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries was agreed upon unanimously (5-0).

The vote was held on June 20th, with the final result seeing the Race Horse Development Fund receiving 55 percent to harness horseman and the Thoroughbred horsemen getting 45 percent. The vote is retroactive to January 1st of 2016. The previous split was 75-25 in favor of Thoroughbred to Standardbred.

One aspect that had an impact on the decision was the number of current live racing days, according to Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Gayle Cameron, who is the sole member of her committee to sit on the Horse Racing Committee.

2014 saw only three live Thoroughbred racing days in Massachusetts, but that number grew to 100 last year after a slots parlor license was granted to Penn National Gaming Inc.

“The members of the committee read all of the reports submitted by the attorneys for each group. Look, they (the Standardbreds) have the bulk of the business now and all of the numbers have flipped as far as live handle, employment, and ancillary jobs outside of the track. The only numbers that haven’t changed would be the simulcast handle on Thoroughbred racing, even at Plainridge, and that was a plus for the Thoroughbreds,” Cameron said. “The Standardbred people made a pretty compelling case.””

While the Thoroughbred horsemen suffered a huge loss, as they will be with 40 percent less of the Race Horse Development Fund monies, the scary thing is it could have been worse. “Their (the Standardbred horsemen) original brief called for flipping the splits 75% to the Standardbreds and 25% to the Thoroughbreds,” said Cameron.

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