Changes Made to Oklahoma Racing Program

Oklahoma Futurity adds $50,000 Juvenile, changes made to Black Gold.

Press Release

The format of the Black Gold program in Oklahoma is set to change in 2015.

The OQHRA board has approved a big change for 2015 for the Oklahoma Futurity (G2). The nation’s oldest, longest running futurity for American Quarter Horses will add a $50,000 Juvenile in 2015 for horses that do not qualify to the final of the Oklahoma Futurity.

Nomination payments are $500 per month, beginning with October 15 and monthly thereafter for a total of $2,500.

"Adding the Oklahoma Juvenile will give owners a second chance to recoup their payments and earn some black type for their horses even if they are not the 10 fastest qualifiers," said Randy Hill, OQHRA board member. "It will make a guy like me more willing to pay into this race in the future."

The rules will require that horses not qualifying for the Futurity will be preferred by times in the trials for the Juvenile and a horse must run to earn any portion of the purse. Any scratches from the Juvenile will not be paid purse money.

All New Format for the 2015 Black Gold Championship
When the Black Gold Futurity program was first implemented, it was designed for Blue Ribbon Downs back in the days when that track raced all year round. The program for offspring of Black Gold-enrolled stallions was created to provide a financial incentive to breed to many of the eligible stallions by offering a yearlong series of smaller futurities building to a championship race in the fall.

Stallion owners paid a one-time lifetime enrollment fee which made offspring sired by their horses eligible to run in any or all of the divisions and have a chance to qualify for the championship with a large purse at the end of the year.

The Black Gold program was wildly successful in the pre-pari-mutuel days and was the first Quarter Horse race program to pay out a purse in excess of $1 million. Over the years, as the format for racing and the ownership of the program changed, there have been many subtle changes in the program but it is still a very popular racing series in Oklahoma and most all of the top stallions in the nation are enrolled as Black Gold stallions.

The fee to enroll a stallion has not changed in recent years, and for a stallion just entering stud and has not bred a mare yet, the lifetime enrollment fee is only $2,500. For breeding stallions to be added to the roster, the lifetime enrollment fee is $5,000.

In 2003, the OQHRA purchased the Black Gold program from the previous owner of Blue Ribbon Downs and with the changes in the live racing schedule over the years the number of divisions for the futurity dropped from the original five distances down to three distances for the divisions, then in 2011 the present format which calls for only two qualifying divisions in which to make horses eligible for the championship.

With the closing of Blue Ribbon Downs in 2009, a new home for the races was required. In 2010, the OQHRA offered one division at Fair Meadows and the other two at Will Rogers Downs, and then beginning in 2013 the program was reduced to two divisions and a championship which all ran at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Oklahoma.

The average number of horses eligible for the race program prior to 2014 was 200-plus paid up entries. For 2014, 146 eligible horses are able to run at a 350-yard division and a 400-yard division with the 15 fastest times for either division eligible for trials for the 440-yard championship final to be run on November 8, 2014, at Will Rogers. Each division pays a guaranteed purse of $150,000, and the 2014 championship purse is projected at $335,000. Stallion owners are paid 5 percent of the purse money in both the divisions and the Championship, which gives them a nice return on their investment each year if the offspring of their stallion finishes in the top 10 in any of the races.

The OQHRA board, after much discussion, determined that the current format at Will Rogers Downs with only nine full weeks of live racing makes it almost impossible for an owner’s horses to compete in both divisions and the Championship. There were concerns that it was very difficult to participate fully in a program that required a horse to race every two weeks if they wanted to run in trials and finals for both divisions and then come back and race in the Championship. Additionally, there was a lot of support for a change that created two really nice big purse futurities for the fall racing schedule while maybe freeing up a few more overnight races during the fall for horses that are not nominated to the program.

The new Black Gold Championship program for 2015 will provide for two Championship races - a 350-yard Black Gold Championship in the early part of the Will Rogers meet in 2015 - probably with trials on opening weekend and finals two weeks later, and a 440 yard Black Gold Championship in early November with finals on closing day of the 2015 meet.

All horses making the payments for the 2015 Black Gold will be eligible to enter trials and finals for both Championship distances with no additional payments after the payment schedule is completed. Each of these futurities will receive half of the $ 227,000 in added money which will include $38,250 paid from stallion nomination fees and half of the nomination payment for a total projected purse in 2015 of $360,000 for each Championship.

Total purses paid are expected to exceed $750,000. No longer will there be divisions or trials to qualify for a separate Championship race, but there will be two nice Championship finals, one at 350 yards and one at 440 yards.

"This new format should provide even more incentive for stallion owners to enroll stallions," said Lake Newcomb, OQHRA President. "Because it gives everyone a better chance for their horses to win some big money."

The Black Gold is still the only program in the country that gives owners and their horses two chances to run in major Championship quality futurities for one single schedule of nomination payments.

Nominations forms for all Oklahoma races can be found in the racing section on the OQHRA website oqhra.com.

OQHRA Directors Election Coming Up
Deadline for eligible OQHRA members to throw their hat in the ring to be nominated for a position on the board is September 1. Annually in the fall of the year there are six Oklahoma board positions that are up for election, and the out of state position. All these positions are for terms that will run three years beginning in 2015 and through 2017.

Directors with expiring terms are eligible to run for re-election. Additionally, anyone that is a member in good standing and eligible to vote in the election may seek nomination.

If you wish to let people know you would like to be nominated, you need to notify the OQHRA office in writing before September1. You can email oqhra@aol.com or mail that request to P.O. Box 2907 Edmond, OK 73083.

The directors with expiring terms are: Jeff Tebow, Connie Barnes, Stacy Hill, Butch Wise, Gary Walker, Dee Raper, and out of state director Ben Hudson.

If you started a horse at an Oklahoma track and did not opt out of OQHRA participation, or if you paid an annual for 2014, or are a lifetme member, you are eligible to participate. Directors do have an attendance requirement to remain on the board, and there are eight regular meetings each year held in Oklahoma City at Heritage Place.

The nomination ballots will be mailed in September. It will contain the list of people that would like to be nominated and also provide for a write in if you wish to nominate someone else. The 10 individuals receiving the highest number of nominations on that ballot when tallied by the accounting firm will be listed on the election ballot which will be mailed in late October or early November. The results of that voting will select the six individuals to fill the 2015-2017 terms for instate directors. One out of state person will be selected to fill the out of state position. Please call OQHRA if you have any further questions at 405-216-0440

Will Rogers Non-Pari-mutuel Trials
On Saturday, August 23, non-pari-mutuel trials start at 10 a.m. for the Kansas Jackpot and Black Gold Division One Futurities. Trials for the Kansas Jackpot are first on the card with two trials for this year's race. They will be followed by 10 Black Gold Division One 350 yard trials. Since this is a non-parimutuel day there will be no wagering and no simulcast, so these races will not be available on QRacing Video, HorseRacingNow, or any of the other websites that normally stream the live races.

August OQHRA Board Meeting Review
In other business at the board meeting the directors reviewed the financial projections for Will Rogers Downs and discussed the declining revenue from the electronic gaming at that track over the past 18 months.

Directors expressed concern for the reports that the Tulsa Area Tribal Purse Fund payments are also falling short of projections and previous years income which means that there will be less money available to supplement purses at Fair Meadows and Will Rogers Downs in 2015 unless something changes.

Directors reviewed all of the stakes races at each Oklahoma track, making a few revisions in what races have guaranteed purse money as compared to added money for 2015 and they moved to reduce the directive amounts for TATPF supplements to each track by a total of 5% for next year.

All of the projections and purse level analysis is due to the requirement that the Tribal Purse Directive be submitted to the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission before November 1 for the calendar year 2015. The board also heard a report on the medication panel at the National HBPA Conference held in Oklahoma City on August 16 and discussed the new ARCI proposal about "licensing racehorses."

The next OQHRA board meeting is scheduled for October 14 at Heritage Place at noon. There is no meeting scheduled in September since the month will be very busy with sales and opening of Will Rogers and Lone Star.

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