07/09/2009 11:00PM

Bill adds bonuses for maiden wins

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Legislation that would award the owners of California-breds that win maiden special weight races throughout the state with hefty bonuses is working its way through the legislature and could take effect this fall, according to Doug Burge, general manager with the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

The legislation would permit the CTBA to redirect part of the money it distributes to owners toward the new bonuses. Under the plan, the owner of a California-bred that wins a maiden special weight on the Southern California circuit would receive a $20,000 bonus in addition to purse earnings. A California-bred horse that wins a maiden special weight race on the Northern California circuit would receive a $10,000 bonus.

The bonus is seen by the CTBA as enticement for owners to acquire better quality California-breds and race them in maiden special weight races instead of maiden claiming races.

Burge said the bill is not expected to face any opposition in state government. The bill passed the state Assembly in May and was approved by the Senate Governmental Organization Committee by a vote of 11-0 on Wednesday. It is expected to be heard by the full Senate in coming weeks.

If approved, the bill would not take effect until Jan. 1, but Burge said that the racing industry intends to implement the plan on Sept. 30 to coincide with the start of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting by using money from the California Marketing Committee. The CTBA has reached an agreement with the Thoroughbred Owners of California and racetracks to launch the plan in late September. The marketing committee uses some of its budget to enhance overnight purses on major racing days, such as the American Oaks program last weekend and the Pacific Classic program at Del Mar on Sept. 6.

"We want to start sooner than later," Burge said. "The whole premise of this is to create a maiden bonus program to significantly reward a California-bred that breaks its maiden" in a special weight race.

If the plan had been in place earlier this year, Burge said that the owner of a California-bred winner of a maiden special race at Santa Anita would have earned a purse of $27,600 and an additional $20,000 paid by the CTBA within 30 days of the race.

With yearling prices depressed in the state and breeding farms reporting a decline in mares bred this year, the new program is considered a way to boost interest in the state's breeding program.

"This should generate more interest in breeding and developing young horses," Burge said.

Burge said that the minimum maiden claiming price for statebreds is being raised from $40,000 to $50,000 later this year. He said that winners of such races would still be eligible for a starter allowance against open company for horses that won their maidens for a claiming price of $40,000 or less and have not won two races.

Bootleg Annie targets Solana Beach Handicap

Bootleg Annie, who won the Fran's Valentine Stakes for statebred females at Hollywood Park in April, won a $75,400 allowance race over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on Thursday.

The victory gave Bootleg Annie wins in half of her 28 career races and earnings of $373,358. A 5-year-old mare trained by Kathy Walsh for Al and Sandee Kirkwood, Bootleg Annie ran in claiming races in Arizona, California, and Washington until earlier this year.

Bootleg Annie, by Go for Gin, has won 4 of her last 5 starts. Walsh said that Bootleg Annie will be pointed to the $100,000 Solana Beach Handicap for statebred females over a mile on turf on Aug. 23.