by Nick Hahn
The administration of the Virginia Breeders Fund may change hands this year — for the first time ever.
The Virginia Racing Commission is expected to receive and review multiple proposals from entities wishing to administer the Fund moneys. It anticipates rendering a decision at the next Commission meeting on December 11th. The Virginia Breeders Fund provides incentive purse and marketing money for Virginia’s Thoroughbred industry.
Founded in 1941, the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, which represents the state’s Thoroughbred breeders, is the only organization to administer the Virginia’s Breeders Fund since Colonial Downs began accepting pari-mutuel wagers in 1996. The fund is estimated to provide over $1 million annually in incentive money, most of which is awarded through purses to owners and breeders during the summer meet at Colonial Downs.
The Commission, at the request of former VTA executive director, Glenn Petty, issued an informal request for proposals from the VTA and Petty’s Equisport Solutions, setting a November 15th deadline. The administration of the Virginia Breeders Fund by Virginia’s State Code is allowed to be a sole source contract awarded by the Commission and exempt from many procurement procedures.
“The issue has been raised and it’s incumbent on the Commission to listen to it,” said Bernie Hettel, the executive secretary of the Commission. Hettel clarified that the review is not subject to a formal competitive bid but is a judgment call to be made by the Commission.
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Petty was removed by the VTA board just prior to this year’s summer meet at Colonial Downs in a move that surprised many in the state’s Thoroughbred industry.
Petty said that his proposal will the “new and different.” At the same time, he said that he recognizes that the Commission’s vote may hinge on whether it “is willing to take the VTA out of the equation.”
Since Petty’s departure in June, the VTA has been headed by Executive Director Debbie Easter and Easter Associates, which manages various trade organizations and groups. Last year, the total Virginia Breeder’s Fund was $1,338.816 including the approximately $190,000 used for administration and promotion of racing in the Commonwealth. Petty was the VTA’s chief administrative officer during three different periods, his last tenure beginning in 2003.