01/05/2005 12:00AM

Tax issues, awards for breeders on agenda

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky Equine Education Project approved plans to lobby for creation of a Kentucky breeders' awards program and for tax parity for horse farms and owners in the state.

KEEP also hired a lobbying firm, Capital Link Consultants, to represent horse-industry interests before legislators in Frankfort, Ky.

In other business, the organization's board approved a $1.345 million statewide advertising campaign designed to make Kentuckians aware of the horse industry's importance to the state economy and culture.

KEEP chairman Brereton C. Jones Jr., former governor of Kentucky, detailed the group's legislative plans Tuesday night at a meeting of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club. He also encouraged breeders and farm owners to offer feedback on the kind of breeders' awards program they would like KEEP to propose.

KEEP, a lobbying group made up of representatives from Kentucky's horse industry, supports the idea of using revenue from the 6 percent stud fee sales tax to fund an awards program, a plan that Jones says would raise about $15 million for breeders' awards. Among the issues under consideration, he said, are whether to make the awards apply for horses that win in nationwide open competition; to start the program on a statewide level only; or to include graded stakes under the awards program.

"We want to get feedback from people on the structure of it," Jones said.

A breeders' awards program would apply only to Thoroughbred interests, but Jones said the group's commitment to push for tax parity affects all of the state's horse owners and breeders. KEEP said it hopes to eliminate the 6 percent sales tax on feed, fencing, farm equipment, and similar items for horse farms.

"If you buy a sack of feed for your goat, llama, or cow, you don't pay a tax," Jones said. "But if you buy that same sack of feed for your horse, you do. That's so illogical, I think we can get that changed."

The same sales tax is also levied on foals, weanlings, and yearlings that are auctioned in Kentucky and not removed from the state - another tax KEEP would like to see the state drop on the basis that it only encourages people to send their horses to other states for care and training.

With state legislators under pressure this year to come up with a workable budget, the issue of expanded gambling might arise in Frankfort. But so far, KEEP is "still in the discussion stage" on that topic, Jones said.

"Some folks want to wait for the 2006 session and spend the time between now and then to continue the education process in the state, then put together a coalition to support a constitutional amendment, not to allow additional gambling locations, but to allow current locations to meet their competition," he said, adding that a proposed amendment would also need to set out exactly how additional gaming revenues would be distributed. "Another school of thought is to do it by statute and try it now. Both schools of thought have support within the organization, and we feel it's premature to take a position yet.

"To me," he added, "the important thing is to build our coalition within all 120 counties and unite all horse industries to get to a position of strength."

Eaton Farms sold to Yoshidas

Eaton Farms, operated by Tom VanMeter and Reiley McDonald, has sold its Indian Hill Farm north of Lexington to Dr. Naoya Yoshida and Yoshida's wife, Marie.

The Yoshidas, who previously had a farm in Japan, purchased Winchester Farm in Paris, Ky., in 2002. They have put that property on the market.

The 268-acre Indian Hill property had served as a broodmare division for Eaton Farms and has produced champions Woodman, Green Desert, Market Booster, and Russian Rhythm, according to Eaton officials.

"We are thrilled for Dr. Yoshida to have this historically successful Thoroughbred farm," McDonald said. "My partner Tom and I own three additional broodmare farms, and, of course, we will continue to operate our yearling preparation division located on Newtown Pike."

Eaton Sales, also operated by VanMeter and McDonald, is a top seller at major U.S. auctions.

The Yoshidas have entered Indian Hill Farm in the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government's Purchase of Development Rights program, a countryside preservation program under which the Yoshidas forfeit the right to subdivide and develop the property.

Regal Sanction stands for charity

Grade 2 winner Regal Sanction has joined the stallion roster at Metropolitan Stud in New York, where he will stand for charity.

Regal Sanction, a 6-year-old Regal Classic horse, will stand for $3,000 in 2005. All fees will go either to the Moore Foundation developed by his owners, John and Susan Moore, or to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Thoroughbred Charities of America, or New York Horse Rescue, as the breeder requests.

The Moore Foundation is a 501(c)(3) foundation that the Moores established in 1999.

"Since then, the foundation has provided not only needed veterinary care, but also ongoing support and, in some cases, retirement funding," said Susan Moore. "We have also contributed to other equine charities. This is simply an unusual extension of our normal activities."

Metropolitan Stud operator Michael Lischin said Regal Sanction was to arrive at Metropolitan in Pine Plains, N.Y., on Jan. 3.