by Suzanne Bush
The Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association (PHBA) recently announced changes in residency requirements for Pennsylvania-bred foals. The PHBA administers the state's Breeding Fund for Thoroughbred racehorses, and maintains the official registry of Pennsylvania-bred racehorses and stallions. The Breeding Fund was designed to support live racing at the state's racetracks, and to provide incentives for breeders to race their horses at Pennsylvania's racetracks.
The new requirements state that:
"A Thoroughbred foal born in the state of Pennsylvania and registered as such
with The Jockey Club is eligible for Pennsylvania-Bred registration with the
Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association if one of the following conditions is
• For foals of 2007, the dam of the foal resided continuously in Pennsylvania since November 1, 2006, through foaling.
• For foals of 2008 and thereafter, the dam of the foal resided continuously in Pennsylvania since October 1 of the year of conception through foaling.
• The dam of the foal was purchased at a public sale after October 1 of the year of conception and brought into Pennsylvania within 14 days of the date of purchase and remained continuously through foaling. During the year of foaling, the foal or its dam spent at least ninety (90) days in the state.
• The dam of the foal was bred to a stallion standing in Pennsylvania which was registered with the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association as a Pennsylvania stallion during the breeding season of the year of foaling, and said dam of the foal remained in the state for at least the next ninety (90) days after foaling."
According to Mark McDermott, Executive Secretary of PHBA, the state's breeders are enthusiastic about the change. "They've embraced it. It brings added business to farms for boarding, and increased commitment to the breeding program."
The PHBA's Broodmare Domicile Report, which owners of broodmares participating in the state's Breeding Fund program were required to return by the end of November, 2006, could be considered a barometer of at least one aspect of the state's breeding program. According to McDermott, PHBA received information on 1400 mares in foal at Pennsylvania farms. "A significant number of those mares are from out of state," he explained, further proof that the new residency requirements are achieving the desired effect.
The Jockey Club, which is the official registry of North American Thoroughbreds, maintains statistics on virtually every aspect of the breeding industry. In 2005, the most recent year for which complete data are available, there were 1,204 mares bred in Pennsylvania—so the state has seen an increase of more than 16 per cent in mares bred. Despite the influx of mares from out of state, McDermott says there's no shortage of boarding facilities at this time. In fact, he says that PHBA has received calls from several farms with stalls available for mares.
The PHBA's new residency requirements were designed to take advantage of the slots revenue and "maximize the commitment of breeders to Pennsylvania's Thoroughbred community," according to the PHBA. McDermott says that so far the response to slots has been positive at Philadelphia Park, with revenue exceeding estimates. "As of a couple of days ago, they were above what the original projections have been." And that revenue translates to bigger purses. "Effective the first of the year," McDermott says, "Philadelphia Park purses jumped by 40 per cent per day." That, he says, is further proof that slots are paying off for Pennsylvania's horseracing industry.
As incentives increase with the increased purses at the state's racetracks—fueled by revenue from the slots—it's likely that Pennsylvania's farms will see an influx of top stallions as well as broodmares. One of the nation's top stallions, Real Quiet, now stands at Pennsylvania's Pin Oak Lane Farm. Currently the only Kentucky Derby winner at stud in Pennsylvania, Real Quiet is part of the joyful noise Pennsylvania's resurgent racing industry is making in the United States.