Time for a Makeover?
Created in 1962 by the Maryland General Assembly, and the first of its kind in the nation, The Maryland Fund was a radical and creative legislated incentive program enacted to encourage the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing through monetary incentives.
The fund receives slightly less than 1% of the total mutuel handle and breakage from Laurel and Pimlico (the state’s two major tracks), and receives approximately 1.5% of the mutuel handle and 5% of the breakage at Timonium (the state’s only minor track). The parimutuel handle is the amount of money returned to the better after the “house” takes its cut (in this case, the house is the state and the track owners).
How the fund is distributed:
1) purse money for races for registered Maryland-breds
2) awards for owners of winning registered Maryland-breds
3) awards for breeders of winning and stakes-placed registered Maryland-breds
4) awards for stallions who sire registered Maryland-bred winners and stakes-placed horses
5) purse premiums for owners of registered Maryland-breds in selected unrestricted stakes
6) bonus awards for the highest-earning two- and three-year-olds shown at the annual MHBA yearling show
7) an allocation for purses for Maryland-sired horses
According to the MHBA, which administers the fund:
Of the 55 percent designated for purses and owner awards, 66 2/3 percent is allocated to purses and 33 1/3 percent is allocated to owner awards. The remaining 45 percent is distributed in the form of breeder awards and stallion awards. (Maryland Million day’s awards are based upon a separate formula.)
Owner awards are paid to the owners of all registered Maryland-breds when they win any race (including all maiden claiming races) other than stakes, starter races or claiming races in which the winner runs for a claiming price of less than $20,000.
Breeder and stallion awards are paid for the registered Maryland-bred who wins any race or finishes second, third or fourth in any stakes race in Maryland. Historically, the breeder award has been approximately twice the amount of the stallion award. In stakes races the award is based on the first $100,000 of the gross purse.
In order to earn a breeder award, the winning (or stakes-placed) horse must be registered as a Maryland-bred. In order to earn a stallion award, the winning (or stakes-placed) horse must be registered as a Maryland-bred, and the sire must be registered with the MHBA, in addition to having been standing in Maryland at the time the winner was conceived.
Extreme Fund Makeover?
In 2000, the Maryland-bred Fund distributed over $5 million dollars, but in 2010 it distributed a little over $2 million. Meanwhile, the bred funds in other states grow, as do race entries. In 2000, the Pennsylvania Breeding Fund distributed a little over $8 million (about a $3 million spread from ours). In 2010, Pennsylvania distributed over $16 million. It begs the question: how can we expect people to want to breed and own Maryland-breds?
Like the showplace kitchen built in the 1960s with harvest gold appliances, avocado walls, knotty pine cabinets and asbestos-lined vinyl flooring, maybe it is time to remodel—or at least give the old girl a makeover, if not a complete overhaul!
Larking Hill’s Christy Clagett (whose uncle Hal C.B. Clagett authored the original Maryland-bred Fund bill) seems to think so—and she is not alone. “Maryland-breds need the ability to earn more in their own state,” she explains. “The way to have a Maryland horse earn more is to have restricted races for Maryland-breds at all levels with enhanced purses and fund these from the purse account. In the other races, have 40% purse enhancements at all levels for Maryland-bred horses running 1st-6th, again funded from the purse account. Then use the bred fund for breeders, stallion and owner bonuses. The redirection of existing funds will reward people who invest in Maryland agriculture, people who breed horses, own farms, provide jobs, and spend and pay taxes in Maryland! As an added bonus, grasslands (i.e.horse farms) are the best natural protection for the Chesapeake, and this would help to ensure Maryland’s grasslands remain viable.”