01/28/2011 2:57PM

New York breeding awards flowing again

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New York Thoroughbred breeders got some good news this week: the check really is in the mail. After two years of shortfall, New York’s breeder, owner, and stallion owner awards program will receive about $4 million from the New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund and the New York Racing Association.

The breeding and development fund’s payment, totaling about $3 million, is from awards the fund withheld in 2009 and 2010, partly because of the bankruptcy and subsequent closure of New York City Off-Track Betting. NYRA effectively contributed another $383,000 by waiving the fund’s usual payment toward purse enrichment, leaving that money available for distribution among award recipients.

In 2009, New York OTB’s bankruptcy meant the struggling corporation could not pay its obligations to the breeders’ fund, resulting in a shortfall of more than $2 million that left the fund unable to pay award-earners the full amount of their breeder, owner, and stallion awards. The breeding fund now says the estimated $383,000, added to money it already has on hand, will allow it to pay about 52 cents on the dollar towards what it owes in 2009 awards.

The executive director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Jeff Cannizzo, said his group’s constituents had not expected to see any awards payments from 2009 after New York OTB failed. In 2010, the breeding fund initially had paid award-earners about half of what they were due.

The fund now anticipates paying off 100 percent of 2010’s awards, thanks to more than $1 million from escrowed money the New York OTB owed the fund. The breeding fund credited its chairman, John Sabatini, with arranging that set-aside, which brings the fund’s coffers for 2010 awards to more than $3 million.

Cannizzo said about 800 breeders will receive checks that will go back into the breeding economy in stud fees, feed, and veterinary payments. “They’ll have money to make payments,” he said. “That helps everybody. This is good news for other states, too. When you have more money in breeders’ pockets, it just transitions to stud fees, boarding bills, veterinary bills. It’s putting money back in the system.”