Racing at Colonial Downs. Photo by The Racing Biz.

The Virginia Thoroughbred Association has announced two modifications to its popular Virginia-certified program. The program provides an incentive for owners to stable their horses in Virginia during the early portions of the horses’ lives.

First, the program’s awards henceforth will go to the “developer” of the horse: that is, the person or entity owning the horse at the time of its first start. Previously, those awards had gone to the owner of the horse at the time of the award.

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Additionally, the VTA will reduce awards paid to the owners of certified horses running in West Virginia-bred races. Instead of the normal 25% award, these will be cut to 10%.

Both changes take effect April 1, 2021.

The Virginia-certified program typically pays a bonus equal to 25% of the horse’s purse earnings for wins at tracks in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia. To qualify, a Thoroughbred must be stabled in Virginia for at least six consecutive months prior to the end of its two-year-old year.

The first change is designed to ensure that the benefit flows to the person who made the decision to participate in the program, rather than following the horse if it changes hands, either by sale or via the claimbox.

The second change should reduce to some extent the impact that Charles Town runners have on the program. In 2019, six of the top 12 recipients of funds from the program raced only or primarily at Charles Town. That includes Taylor Mountain Farm LLC, the overall leader, which received $75,781 that year, according to VTA stats.

In 2019, the program disbursed more than $1.35 million to owners.