Breeders on edge

Special meeting called today to discuss removal of bonus on certain races, Bernard responds


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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The directors of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) are scheduled to meet this morning (Tuesday January 16, 2018) to discuss the 'removal' of the long-standing breeder's bonus payment on a number of races by the promoting company, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL).

News broke last week that letters were dispatched to stakeholders in the industry that SVREL is about to limit the number of races on which they pay a breeder's bonus. This non-payment of the breeder's bonus affects all claiming races, and four-year-old and upward events not including the levels of Overnight Allowance, Open Allowance and the Graded Stakes (Grade 1), and all two-year-old and three-year-old maiden and condition races.

At present breeders are paid nine per cent of the total purse of any race run at Caymanas Park. In races won by an imported horse, the breeder's bonus is paid to the local-bred horse finishing in second or third position and not beyond.

The move by SVREL to limit the number of races on which the breeder's bonus is paid is expected to save the company just over $20 million per year.

President of TOBA, Howard Hamilton, said while he is awaiting the inputs, thoughts and suggestions of his executive before a collective position is offered, he is personally not in support of the proposed removal of the breeder's bonus as espoused by SVREL.

“I was taken aback when I saw the correspondence last week regarding the non-payment of the breeder's bonus on a number of races by the promoting company, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited. TOBA was not consulted on the matter before the issuing of the stated change. This is why we are meeting on Tuesday (January 16, 2018) to discuss the issue as an association and formulate a position which we will then put to the promoter,” Hamilton said, while intimating that if the move by SVREL goes ahead as planned it could have a negative effect on the overall breeding industry in Jamaica, which he stated was already in dire straits.

Executive chairman of SVREL, Michael Bernard, commenting on the move to restrict the payment of the breeder's bonus to certain races, informed that the practice of paying this bonus in other racing jurisdictions across the racing world was quite different.

“Breeders in essence breed horses for sale, and what we really should be doing is breeding quality horses and getting people to buy these horses through the annual Yearling Sale or privately.

“Our research has shown that in most countries when an offer is made for a bonus payment to breeders, it is usually done through the breeders' associations or the state, and not the promoting company. Right across the world, we see where the remit for paying a breeder's bonus is not the remit of the promoter.

“As the promoter of local racing, we at SVRL cannot continue to pay a breeder's bonus the way it is paid here in Jamaica at present, which is on every race.

“We have to look and find ways of ensuring the viability of the local horse racing industry and we have to realign our expenses,” Bernard stated.

When asked to comment on the possible negative effects of this move by SVREL on the breeding farms, Bernard answered: “By the time a horse reaches the three-year-old stage, we know whether or not we have a quality horse with good earning potential, and we are going to continue to support the progress of these horses. We are continuing our support of horses at the two-year-old level, the three-year-old level, and when, because of their quality they move up the ladder, to Overnight and beyond, that support is still going to be there and will not be touched, but at this time there has to be a realignment in order to secure the long-term viability of the horse racing industry in Jamaica.”

On the issue of finding non-racing revenue earning streams by SVREL, Bernard shared that the company he chairs is currently looking at a number of proposals.

“This is a critical matter, as racing in its current form in Jamaica cannot be profitable for both shareholders and stakeholders, based only on the handle collected at the tote each race day.

“There is no doubt that we have to find, and find quickly, new areas of earnings, and come early February, SVREL will be unveiling new initiatives we have planned to earn outside of racing,” the executive chairman said.

Bernard further informed the Supreme Racing Guide that the commissions paid to jockeys, grooms and trainers will remain as is at present.


The breeder's bonus is nine per cent of the total purse.

So, if the total purse of a race is, say, $1 million, nine per cent or $90,000 is paid to the breeder of the winning horse, after which the remaining $910,000 is divided up according to established percentages from first to sixth place in each race. It is out of these amounts, the $910,000 in our example, that the various commissions (15% trainers; 10% jockeys and 5 % grooms) are paid.




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