Virginia-bred Largent’s three stakes and two allowance wins in 2020 triggered an $81,738 Virginia Breeders Fund bonus award for Lazy Lane Farm in Upperville, tops among any horse and breeding farm in the Commonwealth. Virginia Breeders awards took a big step forward in 2020, averaging 40% of each winning purse at tracks across North America compared with 22% in 2019.
“I’m extremely excited that the Virginia breeders are starting to reap the rewards from the growing revenue streams we have now in Virginia,” said Virginia Thoroughbred Association Executive Director Debbie Easter. “We certainly don’t breed as many horses as we once did, but I have to believe that our breeders are as happy as they have ever been. What other state pays a 40% breeders bonus for a win anywhere in North America? What’s even better is I expect that percentage to increase in the coming years. Right now, it really pays to breed horses in Virginia.”
Lazy Lane Farm in Upperville topped all breeders with $176,385 in overall bonus earnings courtesy of 17 winners. Largent, a Todd Pletcher trainee that is headed to the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, led the way with five wins including a pair of early season allowance scores at Gulfstream, Virginia-bred wins in the Edward P. Evans and Bert Allen Stakes, and a season-topper in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale Stakes, good for a $25,000 bonus. Lazy Lane’s Creative Genius also chipped in with four wins from a busy 13-start year.
Mr. & Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin III were next with 13 wins and bonus earnings of $119,993. Five different horses won a pair of races including Virginia Beach, who delivered a $18,997 bonus in capturing the M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes at Laurel. Attachment Rate, Holding Fast, Hold Me Black and Assume each had two wins while their Passion Play, with an allowance win at Delaware, produced a $15,958 bonus.
Audley Farm Equine was third in bonus winnings of $63,199 with seven wins. Tasting the Stars tied for the fourth highest bonus, $18,997, by winning the Brookmeade Stakes. The 5-year-old Bodemeister mare is 4-for-6 lifetime but made only two starts in 2020. Steeplechase jumper Curve of Stones earned a pair of $6,332 bonuses by winning the National Sporting Library Stakes in Middleburg and the International Gold Cup at Great Meadow.
Morgan’s Ford Farm was next with Breeders prize earnings of $59,526 from nine winners circle trips. Chess Chief, a 5-year-old Into Mischief horse trained by Dallas Stewart, captured a pair of allowance races at Fair Grounds while Lynchburg recorded a maiden special weight win at Colonial Downs last summer. Bear Trappe and Appraised chipped in with two wins apiece.
Jim & Katie FitzGerald bankrolled $55,923 in bonuses from eight winners. Tan and Tight, a 5-year-old Uncle Mo mare, delivered their bonus high of $15,789 from a maiden special weight score at Aqueduct while Soldado’s two allowance wins at Gulfstream returned a pair of $11,000-plus rewards.
Kenny Had a Notion’s trio of wins gave breeder Althea Richards a series of five-digit bonuses. The now 3-year-old Great Notion gelding connected in late July with a maiden special weight triumph at Delaware followed by wins in the Jamestown and Maryland Million Nursery Stakes, both at Laurel. The three combined to produce $54,882 in awards.
The William Backer Revocable Trust parlayed ten wins into awards of $44,411, topped by Day Dayenu’s maiden special weight win at Woodbine and a $13,050 bonus. Divine Interventio had three victories, which helped lead the 8-year-old Malibu Moon gelding to his 30th career “top three” finish. Hilltop Harmony and First Talent also collected a pair of wins.
Larry Johnson, Chance Farm and Carlos Moore & Jill Gordon-Moore round out the list of breeders that scored total reward monies of $30,000 or more. Nine-year-old Sir Rockport, bred by Johnson’s Legacy Farm, continued a series of strong late career showings with six wins in 2020. The son of Rockport Harbor also had five in 2019. He has now recorded 11 of 15 lifetime scores as either a 7 or 8-year-old. Brooke Royster’s Chance Farm rode Upgrade Me’s success as a 4-year-old to four individual bonus outings, though Red Pepper Mill’s maiden special weight triumph at Colonial last summer produced a $10,132 payday. Boldor’s allowance win at Oaklawn last winter triggered the third highest breeders bonus, $22,290, for the Moore’s. The 5-year-old Munnings gelding is trained by Steve Asmussen.
A total of $50,000 in stallion awards were distributed among three owners with 15 winners and combined purse earnings of $345,510. Horses sired by Smallwood Farms’ Friend or Foe won six and took $34,470 of the stallion reward pool. Mr. Buff led the way again with a trio of stakes scores in New York — the Haynesfield, Jazil and the Empire Classic Handicap. The 7-year-old gelding has amassed $1.2 million from 15 lifetime outs. In 2020 alone, he bankrolled $307,500. Goodluckchuck, sired by Anne Bonda Hartman’s Big Picture, won three races at Laurel to produce a $10,002 bonus payout. Four different horses by Susan Minor’s Fierce Wind got to the winners circle a combined six times last year.
Between Virginia-bred and stallion awards, $1 million in bonus monies will be distributed via the Breeders Fund. A total of 32 different breeders shared in the prize pool, which came from 137 winning Virginia-bred horses that accumulated purse earnings of $2,308,840.
The Virginia Breeders Fund is generated by one percent of every dollar wagered in Virginia on live racing and via OTB and ADW betting. Each year, the Virginia Racing Commission approves how the money in the Fund is allocated. A large portion is set aside for payments to breeders of registered Virginia-breds that win races at any track in North America. There is a $25,000 cap on any single award.