02/04/2009 12:00AM

Breeders' Cup promises no cuts


The board of Breeders' Cup Ltd. on Wednesday committed the organization to a $5 million supplemental purse program "beyond 2009" and guaranteed that the purses for its 14 year-end races would remain at the same levels through this year's event, the organization announced.

The commitments ensure that Breeders' Cup will not cut its purses this year in order to plug an estimated $10 million operating deficit. Breeders' Cup is expecting revenues from its nominations program and its year-end event to drop dramatically this year, resulting in a budget of $40 million, compared to $50 million in 2008.

Over the past two years, the year-end event held by Breeders' Cup has expanded from eight races distributing $14 million in purses to 14 races distributing $25.5 million.

Late in 2008, the Breeders' Cup board voted to suspend the supplementary program, which distributes $5 million in subsidies to more than 100 stakes races across the country. However, the board reversed itself shortly after that vote following criticism from breeders.

Breeders' Cup distributed approximately $32 million in purses and breeder awards in 2008 while collecting $20 million from its nominations program in the form of fees from foal and stallion owners. The fees allow foals from nominated stallions to become eligible to participate in the year-end event and earn purse supplements from the subsidy program, although horses can be made eligible during their racing careers if their owners pay a costly fee.

Last week, Breeders' Cup officials said the organization will likely sell some of its investment portfolio to plug part of the operating deficit. The organization has also cut $5 million from its marketing budget.