04/13/2012 12:20PM

Less bonus money for Cal-bred maiden winners


ARCADIA, Calif. – The bonus for California-bred runners who win maiden special weight races in Southern California will be reduced from $20,000 to $17,500, effective with the start of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting on April 26, the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association announced earlier this week.

The decision to reduce the bonus by 15 percent was one of economics, according to CTBA executive vice president Doug Burge. The program has become too successful, and paid out too many dollars in recent years, he said.

Burge said the bonus was paid to the owners of approximately 120 race winners in 2011, of which approximately 100 won maiden special weight races for California-breds. The other 20 winners won maiden special weight races against open company.

As a result, the cost of the bonuses in 2011 was $2.4 million, a higher sum than projected when the program was launched in the fall of 2009.

The program is financed by a portion of revenue from handle.

“When we put the numbers together, we did it on five days a week of racing and what it would generate in handle,” Burge said on Thursday.

“Now, with four days a week [of racing], we’re generating less money for the program.

“We’ve had a 50 percent increase in the number of maiden special weight winners since the bonus has been in place.”

Burge said that some horses that may have started in maiden claiming races have won maiden special weight races, adding further obligations to the bonus fund. The bonus is not paid to owners of maiden claiming races.

“It’s somewhat of a good problem to have,” he said. “We’ve been able to increase the number of maiden special weight winners.”

There will be no change to the structure of the bonus in Northern California, which will remain at $10,000 for a maiden special weight winner, Burge said.

Even with a reduction, the bonus is still part of a lucrative payoff.

For example, Hollywood Park is scheduled to offer a $52,000 maiden race for fillies and mares over 1 1/16 miles on May 3. If a California-bred wins that race, the winning owner would receive approximately $58,060 – $31,200 from the winner’s share, $9,360 for a California-bred winning against open company, and $17,500 from the maiden special weight bonus program.

“It’s still a lot of money,” Burge said. “It’s not like we’re cutting it severely. We’re trying to make sure that it can remain sustainable. “