At its regularly scheduled monthly meeting, the Virginia Racing Commission will address two important matters critical to racing and breeding in the Commonwealth – 2014 live racing days and which entity will administer and promote the 2014 Virginia Breeders Fund.  The meeting will be held in the Virginia H.B.P.A. building at Colonial Downs on December 11 at 10 a.m.

Colonial Downs and the Virginia H.B.P.A. had not reached an agreement as of Thursday of last week regarding the total number of days or the number of weeks  the race meet will be held.  Colonial Downs’ executives are proposing a further truncated schedule of only 12 live racing days spread out over a four week meet.  The live racing would happen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of each week.

Colonial Downs sites on going and rising expenses, trends from the 2013 live race meet along with a purse increase generated by the reduced number of days as justification for the shortest meet in Virginia’s pari-mutuel racing history.

The Virginia H.B.P.A. is advocating a schedule similar to 2013.

For the first time since its inception in 1996, two entities are competing for the contract to administer and promote the Virginia Breeders Fund.  The Virginia Thoroughbred Association and former VTA Executive Director Glenn Petty’s Equisport Solutions have both submitted proposals.

The VTA proposal will utilize Executive Director Debbie Easter and Easter Associates which the organization hired to run its business affairs in June of 2013. Petty was ultimately responsible for the administration and promotion the Fund for ten years from 2003 to 2013 while he was Executive Director.

According to sources, the VTA proposal is a continuance of the 2013 contract including the various programs and awards and a contract fee of $190,000.  The contract amount is 15.2% of the total estimated VBF for 2014.  The fee charged by other Mid-Atlantic states ranges from five to ten percent of the those state’s fund’s total value.

While the VTA is a non-profit organization (501c4), the affiliated for profit agency, Easter Associates, is scheduled to be paid $165,000 in 2014 which includes Executive Director Debbie Easter’s salary.  The Easter Associates management contract fee is approximately 86% of the VTA’s proposed VBF contract amount.

Petty’s Equisport Solutions, also a for profit entity, has submitted a proposal that calls for a $140,000 fee, a savings of $50,000 to the Fund. His proposal calls for the $50,000 savings to be utilized as seed money for a new Virginia Certified Program modeled after the popular one in Delaware.

Equisport’s fee is tied to the growth of total handle which would increase the value of the Fund. “The shrinking Virginia industry which produced an all-time low number of state-bred foals last year can no longer afford so much overhead. It’s a problem I had planned for and it involved tough decisions regarding staff and pay cuts, but I never had a chance to affect the needed changes,” said Petty.

“With my proposal, I’m looking to continue my 30 year effort on behalf of Virginia’s owners and breeders at a fair price while advocating some positive changes for the Fund,” he continued. “My proposal includes consulting services to the VRC and the industry designed to focus on issues that would grow handle, increase the Fund and better utilize tax dollars now being channeled to the General Fund and away from the racing and breeding industry which generated them in the first place.”

Petty has been involved with the Virginia Breeders Fund since co-authoring the original regulations. On behalf of Virginia’s breeders and the Fund, he also helped expand the SWF network from six to the current 10, establish ADW wagering which now produces almost 50% of the total wagering and pass legislation that pays 1% of every wager, including ADW, to the Virginia Breeders Fund.

Virginia was the first state to have a law that requires telephone and computer betting companies to make financial contributions to the related state’s Breeders Fund.

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