FTBOA Making Voluntary HISA Contributions, Seeks Alternative Funding Options – Horse Racing News

|08.09.2022|6:37pm

Lonny Powell, CEO of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association

On Friday, Aug. 5, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) advised the Florida Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (FTHA) that the FTBOA will immediately begin making voluntary monthly contributions to help the FTHA offset a portion of its payments to the new federal Authority as it implements HISA at Gulfstream Park.

The FTBOA delivered its first monthly check to the FTHA that same day, as the initial installment of its anticipated $250,000 annual contribution. At the same time, the FTBOA committed to work with the horsemen and track to explore alternative funding sources to cover the increasing HISA costs that the horsemen and track will be responsible for going forward.

“The FTBOA appreciates the very worthy objectives and goals of HISA, but we also understand the significant financial and logistical challenges and burdens placed on the tracks and on horsemen and owners, many who are also FTBOA members, as they grapple with what most in our industry would agree has been a sometimes-rocky road toward full HISA implementation,” commented FTBOA CEO Lonny T. Powell.

“Stepping up on behalf of the state’s breeders goes beyond just providing financial support — it demonstrates in a very concrete way our belief that this industry will thrive only if we move forward into the future together. Supporting FTHA and Gulfstream in this way is a perfect example of Thoroughbred horsemen helping each other. It also demonstrates our desire to support HISA and our industry’s current and future efforts to keep the safety and welfare of our Thoroughbred racehorses the top priority at the track. Though we would all acknowledge that the recent launch of HISA under federal supervision has sometimes been confusing and frustrating, I am impressed with HISA’s CEO and believe we need to give her and her team a chance to move the program forward. That’s not to say that things don’t need to improve, including the current lack of a realistic and less industry-draining model for covering HISA’s regulatory costs. “

“This problem must be realistically dealt with by the industry coast-to-coast, including, and I think I speak for many of the states on this, the numerous individuals and organizations that helped bring HISA across the wire. Their impressive dedication and leadership is now needed on the financial part of the equation. Their continued hard work and passion will go a long way toward making HISA and its goals even more achievable and timely.”

“The FTBOA’s contributions are only possible because of an innovative ADW partnership we have in place with Gulfstream and the FTHA. We came together on this based on the challenge of dealing with Churchill-owner Calder’s exit from live racing several years ago and the resulting loss of purse and breeder awards funds. Our HISA payments actually closely equate to the amount we had hoped to add to our Florida-bred purse supplements at Gulfstream in an effort to start growing back our Florida-Bred Incentive Fund.  This program was jointly funded by the FTBOA, FTHA, and Gulfstream in years past, but the FTBOA was the sole funder in 2022.”

“Our thinking on the use of those funds changed after we spoke to The Stronach Group and truly appreciated the additional HISA regulatory costs being borne by our Miami partners.  After some quick research and internal discussion, it was pretty clear to us that, at least in the foreseeable future until changes are made to the HISA funding model in Florida, it would be better for all concerned to re-direct those ADW revenues from the FBIF to the immediate and present demands driven by HISA and the Authority.”

“Though no state breeders’ association has the resources to substantially offset the HISA costs imposed on the tracks and their horsemen, I think most of us certainly are trying to step up and volunteer our support in the name of horse racing safety and integrity. I expect there are a wide and diverse set of possibilities under consideration by breeders’ groups throughout the country based on their individual circumstances and their market and regulatory situations.”

“Beyond the FTBOA’s direct economic support to the FTHA in offsetting some of HISA’s regulatory costs, this action takes place alongside our continued commitment to work together with our Florida horsemen and track partners to seek possible legislative solutions like alternative HISA-funding options, etc. Additionally, we are always happy to work with the FTHA and Gulfstream to educate, inform and update owners, horsemen, and other industry members around the state on HISA matters through our ever-expanding Florida Equine Communications media products and platforms.”

“Once we get through this initial HISA adjustment phase, I would love for the three of us to then roll some of that same collective energy into other impactful programs, like growing the number of Florida-bred owners through active recruitment and retention. With Florida-breds currently winning more than 40% of Gulfstream’s races – and with more than 70% of those Florida-bred winners sired by Florida stallions, it is obvious that Florida Thoroughbred breeding, sales, and ownership are the foundation upon which our track partner’s racing programs operate all year long, in both the winter and the summer.”

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