03/26/2009 11:00PM

Ontario approves $20M in incentives

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The Ontario Racing Commission has approved a $20.9 million budget for the Thoroughbred Horse Improvement Program, which provides incentives and rewards for the province's racing and breeding programs.

The budget includes a 5 percentage point increase in the Ontario-bred purse bonus, which was inaugurated last year and has been increased from 10 percent to 15 percent. More than $6.1 million will be available to be won by eligible Ontario-breds in open races.

There also is $3 million available for breeders awards and $400,000 in stallion awards.

In addition, there are incentives of more than $5.8 million, including purse supplements, for Canadian-bred and Ontario-bred stakes, added money for selected graded stakes races, and the Ontario Sires Stakes racing program.

The Thoroughbred Horse Improvement Program is funded by a levy on parimutuel wagering and a cut of the horsemen's share of slot machine revenue.

The Ontario Thoroughbred racing season begins next Saturday at Woodbine, which will host a 167-day meeting.