KYSS preliminary purses boosted; secondary Bluegrass Series proposed

Lexington, KY — The Kentucky Standardbred Development Fund and Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund Advisory Panel met on Tuesday (Sept. 10), and approved changes to the Kentucky Sires Stakes program beginning in 2020.

Committee chairman Ken Jackson said the changes include increased purses for next year’s KYSS preliminary legs and the addition of a Bluegrass Series, a program similar to the Excelsior Series in New York and Stallion Series in Pennsylvania.

“Some of the changes we made we will be able to implement immediately, and some may require regulatory or statutory changes,” explained Jackson, who chairs the committee comprised of members Bob Brady, Art Zubrod, Joe Costa (representing the Red Mile) and Steve Stewart (representing the Kentucky Harness Horsemen’s Association).

One change that goes into effect next year is increasing the purses for the three KYSS legs for all eight divisions for 2- and 3-year-olds from $30,000 to $40,000. Jackson is also hoping to add the Bluegrass Series, which would be raced concurrently with the KYSS contests.

“We envision that series to be two legs of $15,000 each, and a $50,000 championship,” said Jackson. “A horse could race in the first (KYSS) leg, and if the connections believe that the horse couldn’t compete there, then at the time of the second leg you would have the opportunity to go to the Bluegrass Series. It would be the same time frame, just at a different level. This would give additional racing opportunities for horses. Pending approval, we’d like to hope that we can start the Bluegrass Series as early as next year.”

Jackson said approval was given for the same funding and purse structure — $5,000 legs and $15,000 finals — for the Kentucky Fairs in 2020, but noted also approved was the addition of “a meaningful marketing budget for the fairs to help them promote it.”

Jackson also said the committee also discussed finding ways to bring well-known stallions to Kentucky. Only eight stallions were registered in Kentucky for 2019.

“In order to attract stallions to Kentucky, we are exploring the possibility of a bonus program,” said Jackson. “We approved the process of taking the next steps to get the regulations and everything in order and appropriate approvals to add a stallion bonus program that would reward owners of racehorses that met not only the mare eligibility program, but who are sired by a Kentucky-standing stallion.”

Jackson said exact numbers haven’t been finalized, but one possibility would be that if a horse met all the qualifications to receive a bonus, the amount could be up to 50 percent of the purse. For example, if a horse won a $40,000 leg, instead of the owner receiving a $20,000 check, it would be as if the horse raced for $60,000 and it would be a $30,000 check. A horse that won a $250,000 final would then would receive a check for $187,500 (as if the horse won a $375,000 race) and not a $125,000 check.

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