09/28/2006 11:00PM

New rules stress longer residence

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With Pennsylvania's racetracks moving rapidly toward the installation of slot machines, the state's breeding program is undergoing a major retooling of its own.

Changes in the Pennsylvania Breeding Fund requirements, announced last week by the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, establish the steps that must be taken in order to share the anticipated wealth.

"We're saying 'Come on in, and be one of us,' " Peter Giangiulio, president of the breeders' association, while noting that the Pennsylvania Breeding Fund is expected to increase from its current $8 million to $12 million or $14 million in 2007. In the not-too-distant future, the number could climb to more than $25 million.

"There's plenty of money," said Giangiulio. "But to participate in our program, breeders are going to have to make a significant commitment to this state. It's not going to be Kentucky mares foaling in Pennsylvania."

To be eligible for Pennsylvania-bred registration, foals born in 2007 and beyond must meet one of the following residency requirements:

* For foals of 2007, the dam of the foal must have resided continuously in Pennsylvania since Nov. 1, 2006, through foaling.

* For foals of 2008 and thereafter, the dam of the foal must have resided continuously in Pennsylvania since

Oct. 1 of the year of conception through foaling.

* The dam of the foal must have been purchased at a public sale after Oct. 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 must have spent at least 90 days in the state.

* The dam of the foal must have been bred to a stallion standing in Pennsylvania who was registered with the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association as a Pennsylvania stallion during the breeding season of the year of foaling, and that dam must have remained in the state for at least the next 90 days after foaling.

"A system of accountability - to ensure that mares are at their stated locations - will be announced by the end of October," said the breeders' association's executive secretary, Mark McDermott.

McDermott explained that the changes are a result of lengthy consideration.

"We consulted with basically the entire PHBA membership, via a questionnaire," he said. "And this plan was the popular choice."

The new residency requirements are designed to boost business opportunities for breeding farms during what is traditionally a slow time of the year - from October through the beginning of the next breeding season.

And, of course, it is hoped that many farms will begin to prosper with additional year-round boarders.

As breeding farms begin to experience an influx of horses - propelled by increasingly lucrative breeding-fund bonuses - the quality of the state's broodmare population is expected to improve. That, in turn, will enable the state to support better stallions.

"The goal is to grow our Thoroughbred industry," said Giangiulio. "That was the intent of the slots legislation."

Residency requirements are not an entirely new element of the Pennsylvania Breeding Fund program. Beginning with the foal crop of 2000, a mare or foal has been required to spend 90 days within the state during the year of foaling in order for the foal to be eligible for Pennsylvania-bred registration. The new changes, though, make Pennsylvania's requirements among the most stringent in the nation.

McDermott argues forcefully against the idea that Pennsylvania is about to become exclusionary. "We're not asking anyone to make a sacrifice," he said. "It's not hard to get in. In fact, Pennsylvania is a wonderful place to breed, raise and race horses. We have a great deal to offer, and we want to make sure that everyone within the Thoroughbred industry knows about it."