02/21/2009 12:00AM

Slots dollars help attract better stallions


The electronic gaming operations established in the last few years at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., and at three of the four tracks in Oklahoma are having a direct impact on the breeding programs in both states. They are not only creating more revenues for statebred incentive awards and restricted stakes races, they also are leading to increased quality in the stallion ranks. This season alone, Oklahoma is the new home to Grade 1 winners Artax and Tactical Cat, while Arkansas has drawn an impeccably bred freshman stallion in Portobello Road.

"It's been tremendous," said R.D. Logan, the executive director of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association. "We have been lobbying for people to bring stallions here because of the growth in our breeding program. Adding the gaming has improved the probability or chances of at least a reasonable return on their investment."

Logan said the Oklahoma-bred program, which includes purse funds as well as breeder, owner, stallion, and broodmare awards, paid out about $3.1 million among the state's four tracks last year. That figure, which includes money tabbed for the program from both handle and gaming, was up 12 percent from $2.7 million in 2007.

By contrast, there was just $680,000 paid out through the Oklahoma-bred program in 2005. A full year later, in 2006, the Oklahoma-bred program paid out $1.1 million, said Logan.

Arkansas has expanded its stakes program for statebreds from four to six races, with two new offerings for older sprinters to be run at Oaklawn in March. The $50,000 Natural State Breeders' and the $50,000 Nodouble Breeders' are the first-ever Arkansas-bred stakes for older horses, and they complement the program's Razorback series for 2-year-olds that has been held each fall at Louisiana Downs since 1993, and the Rainbow series for 3-year-olds held each spring at Oaklawn since 1973.

The new races were made possible in part by supplements the Arkansas-bred program receives from Instant Racing, a parimutuel game installed at Oaklawn in February 2001, and electronic gaming terminals, such as video poker and electronic blackjack, which were installed at the track in November 2006.

Oaklawn plans to significantly expand its number of electronic gaming terminals in May. Last year, the Arkansas-bred program received $120,302 in supplements from the electronic gaming terminals currently in place, and $168,110 in supplements from Instant Racing.

Oklahoma: Sweep for Diamond G

Diamond G Ranch in Edmond, Okla., is the home of the state's three leading general sires for 2008. Tactical Cat, who moved in last summer, leads the pack with progeny earnings of $3,189,434. He also had 88 winners from 170 runners, led by Grade 3 winner Wishful Tomcat.

The second-leading sire, Lucky Lionel, had progeny earnings of $2.7 million, his success due in part to Benny the Bull, who was voted champion sprinter of 2008. Evansville Slew had 56 winners from 110 runners last year, and his progeny earned $1.7 million to place him in third in the standings for Oklahoma.

Tactical Cat and champion sprinter Artax, who also is at Diamond G, will both be standing their first seasons in Oklahoma in 2009.

Diamond G, located about 20 miles from Oklahoma City, stands its four stallions for $2,500 each.

The leading first-crop sire in Oklahoma for 2008 was Ocean Terrace, with progeny earnings of $130,447. He had 4 winners from 10 starters and stands at Mighty Acres Farm in Pryor.

Dance Master was Oklahoma's leading 2-year-old sire with 21 winners from 46 runners for progeny earnings of $827,190. He stands at JEH Stallion Station in Wynnewood.

Arkansas: Pine Bluff tops list but relocates

Pine Bluff was the leading general sire last year in Arkansas, with progeny earnings of $1,592,670. He had 42 winners from 75 runners, with his chief earner being Emma Ain't Bluffin, a winner of $143,188 in 2008. Pine Bluff will stand at Duncan 20 and Change Farm in Trinity, Texas, in 2009.

Storm and a Half ranked second on Arkansas's general sire list with progeny earnings of $1.2 million. He was also the state's leading 2-year-old sire with 7 winners from 22 runners and juvenile earnings of $191,262.

Proudest Romeo, the sire of Grade 1 winner Dearest Trickski, was third on the Arkansas general sire list with $1,150,055.

* Portobello Road, a son of Storm Cat and the multiple Grade 1-winning mare Sky Beauty, will begin his stud career at Anderson Farm in Malvern.

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