BY STEVE KOCH
Ocala, FL–The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, Gulfstream Park and the Florida Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association announced today an unprecedented $2.1 million Florida-Bred Incentive Fund for overnight race conditions beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
Independently, the FTBOA has announced an additional $1.3 million of Florida-bred race incentives on Gulfstream Park stakes and selected overnights to complement the expanded FBIF and longstanding Florida Sire Stakes 2-year-old series.
The combined programs, totaling $4.6 million, are substantially enabled by HB 7063, a 2023 Florida tax package directing more than $55 million into the Thoroughbred industry over two years.
Florida Bred Incentive Fund Quadruples
The Florida-Bred Incentive Fund offers up to $1.8 million to FTBOA-registered Florida-breds in selected open overnight conditions. The popular 2-year-old maiden win bonus program – that includes $10,000 for Florida-breds in open maiden special weight races and up to $5,000 per 2-year-old Florida-bred maiden claiming race – has been extended to a full-year offering.
Beginning in April with the Summer meet, up to $6,000 will be added for Florida-breds of any age that finish first, second or third in unrestricted handicaps, maiden special weights, allowance races, claiming or maiden claiming races $25,000 or higher and $16,000 or higher starter conditions.
In addition to the FBIF, the total pool of $5,000 bonuses for 2-year-old Florida Sire Stakes eligible winners in maiden special weights will triple to $300,000 from the $100,000 total bonus pool offered in prior years.
The $2.1 million 2-year-old and FBIF incentives for Florida-breds nearly quadruples the $550,000 program of 2023.
“The 2024 Florida-bred Incentive Fund is a win-win situation for our FTHA membership,” FTHA president Joe Orseno said. “The agreement will help our owners and trainers benefit and achieve their objectives. In the collaboration with all sides, we found common ground to reach this mutually beneficial agreement.”
Gulfstream Park’s Executive Director of Florida Racing Operations Bill Badgett emphasized state legislative support that enabled the expanded incentives.
“All of us at Gulfstream Park are excited over the additional purse money available to our Florida-bred owners,” Badgett said. “We need to give special thanks to all the legislators up in Tallahassee who support our industry.”
FTBOA Adds $1.3 Million for Florida-Breds in Allowances and Stakes
The FTBOA independently announced an additional $1.3 million FTBOA-registered Florida-bred incentives in Gulfstream Park stakes and selected overnights to complement the expanded FBIF.
Beginning Jan. 1, the FTBOA offers up to $20,000 for Florida-breds in open stakes or Florida Sire Stakes eligible runners in restricted stakes. The $20,000 incentive will distribute $10,000 to winners, $6,000 for place and $4,000 to show.
In overnight conditions, the FTBOA will boost maiden special weights, allowances and handicaps with $5,000 win bonuses for Florida-breds in open races and Florida Sire Stakes eligible winners in restricted races. The win bonuses apply to all ages except 2-year-old winners already benefiting from lucrative FBIF incentives.
“FTBOA has a long, generous history of bonusing Florida-bred stakes winners and juveniles at Gulfstream Park. The magnificent expansion of Florida-bred incentives in 2024 – both from the FTBOA and in partnership with the track and horsemen – are certain to drive entries and grow Florida racing,” FTBOA’s Steve Koch said. “Our emphasis on open-company conditions acknowledges that Florida-breds shy from no one.”
The FTBOA additionally has renewed its $200,000 incentives for Florida-breds in the Grade 1 Curlin Florida Derby ($100,000 to Florida-breds, $100,000 to Florida Sire Stakes eligibles) and $100,000 in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks ($50,000 to Florida-breds, $50,000 to Florida Sire Stakes eligibles). The bonuses respectively offer 60% to win, 30% to place and 10% for show finishers.
“The partnered programs mean Florida maidens and allowance starters, for example, will contend for as much as $11,000 extra in the summer meet,” FTBOA CEO Lonny Powell said. “That is a major boost that should fill the starting gate. We applaud this summer emphasis and look forward to a breakout season for the track and horsemen. Our record-setting, year-round Florida incentives enabled by 2023 legislation investing in Florida Thoroughbreds across the board set the bar at its highest ever. I appreciate the efforts of FTBOA’s Steve Koch and Gulfstream Park’s Vice President of Racing Mike Lakow for working out a robust and impactful incentives package in cooperation with the FTHA – everyone wins.”
Florida Sire Stakes Two-Year-Old Series Returns
The FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes 2-year-old stakes series is set to return to Gulfstream Park in 2024 for its 11th season. The six-race schedule, with total purses of $1.2 million, tentatively replicates the 2023 format, to be announced at a later date.
Return to the December 20 issue of Wire to Wire