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Do the proposed changes to the NY Bred awards spell doom to this once mighty program?

Posted Saturday April 18, 2009 1:48:45 PM EDT

Our latest poll in which breeders voted for the best State program, it was a surprise to many that the once mighty NY program is fighting to stay in the top 3. Now comes these newsletters from  the NYTB which is the formal representative of the breeders and stallion owners of the State. Is this a case of the begining of the end of the program or it's present leadership? Can the program be saved? If not what are ramifications for the State relative to jobs, as well as the legal issues that may arise from mis-representation? Let us know your thoughts and of course, your solutions?

Here are the letters that have caused so much duress and concern to those who have read them:

4/14/2009 Important concept from committee of the New York Breeding & Development Fund

"As you know, 2009 has been a very challenging year for the thoroughbred industry and the New York breeding industry in particular. Both the New York Breeding and Development Fund and NYTB have been attempting to develop programs to improve the retention of resident New York mares, increase the incentives for people to breed and raise New York-breds, and add value to New York-breds commercially in the marketplace.

After approximately a half dozen meetings, a special committee of the New York Breeding and Development Fund has developed a concept to increase Breeders Awards from 20% to 25%, stallion awards from 7% to 10%, and open company awards for out of state sired New York-breds from 10% to 20%.  One impetus for this proposal is the fact that there are now more than 1000 restricted New York bred races carded in New York and the Fund can no longer pay the full amount of the awards for which provision is made in the current award structure.  The proposal, also contemplates the elimination of all awards for claiming races.

Yesterday, an overwhelming majority of the NYTB Board endorsed the concept as it will add value to New York-breds and eliminates award payment constraints.  Feedback from our membership is encouraged and welcomed.  Further details will follow in the upcoming week as the concept progresses."

4/17/2009 Newsletter to members reads: 

"There has been some confusion and concern about a proposal of a committee of the New York Thoroughbred Breeding & Development Fund (the “Fund”) to alter the Breeder Awards Program by increasing breeder awards for Maiden Special Weight, Allowance and Stakes races to 25% and eliminating awards for claiming races.  The impetus for this proposal is not a desire to disenfranchise small breeders.  The simple reality is that Fund revenue derives exclusively from on-track and in-state OTB handle, which has been declining.  Awards earned have increased; the number of New York bred races has climbed over the past three years from under 500 to more than 1,000.  The result; the Fund is not able to pay all of its advertised 20% breeder awards for New York-breds.  In 2008 the Fund fell short in awards payments by $1.6 million, disappointing the expectations of all participants in the program and reducing incentives for people to breed in New York and to New York stallions.  The Fund has no expectation of receiving increased revenue during 2009."

The special committee of the Fund has run innumerable calculations and concluded that to maintain the present program “as is” would result in breeders receiving significantly less than 100% of the 20% award.  The NYTB does not make policy for the Fund.  Our mission is simply to solicit comments from our membership and advise the Fund of the general views of the membership.  The purpose of this letter is to solicit further views about the proposal of the special committee of the Fund and to correct some of the misinformation that appears to be circulating about the nature of the proposed changes and the reasons for them."

How will this affect you as a breeder in New York or as a potential buyer of New York Breds?  


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Comment by nybreeder
Is anyone interested in joining in a class action or multi-plaintiff lawsuit against the Board and its members individually? I feel we have a very good case against them for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, theft of honest services, promissory estoppel, fraudulent inducement, etc. based on their reducing the percentage of breeders' awards and eliminating 4th place awards AFTER inducing people to breed horses and participate in the NY program for awards of 20% on 1st through 4th place. I specifically bred for the program - breeding horses that might not be as fast as others, but would stay sound and reap rewards for even 4th place finishes throughout lengthier racing careers. What little my company might have earned back has now been reduced or eliminated to support and enrich the bigger or richer names in the business (who are on the Board or friendly with Board members). I believe the Board has the right to reduce the percentage of awards and eliminate 4th place awards for future foals, but they can't breach the contracts they have with those who were induced to breed and register foals with the promise of 20% awards on 1st through 4th place. A lawsuit would be our opportunity to look at the Board's finances and business decisions in detail, through discovery. If anyone is interested in joining with me, or knows someone who has already started a lawsuit, please contact me at
Friday December 11, 2009 11:58:53 PM EDT

Comment by southbelle
For the sake of fairness and transparency, I am following up on my previous comments made on this blog, to inform readers that the Executive Director of the NYTB, did in fact finally return my call (after my comments were posted), to discuss what I wrote as well as to talk about the poll and some of the other comments posted on

Mr Cannizzo, Executive Director - NYTB, expressed his concerns relative to the purpose of my comments as he thought that they may have been designed to give him a "black eye" in an open forum. I assured Mr. Cannizzo, that this was not the case and this is not about him, and there is no personal animus from my perspective towards the NYTB, its board members or the organization. Frankly, I have been unhappy with the efforts of the NYTB for several years and have openly questioned their motives, questionable leadership, and organizational goals long before Mr. Cannizzo arrived at the helm.

Whilst, I found Mr. Cannizzo genuinely interested in what I had to say, he had made it clear to me, that there is very little the NYTB can do when it comes to the rules, regulations and decisions made by the people running the fund itself.

I informed Mr. Cannizzo of the overall discontent of a great many of the breeders in the State as evidenced in a Thoroughlybred Com study done several years ago entitled "What's wrong with NY Breds" and subsequent polls and blog. Mr. Cannizzo was cordial and once we had gotten past the personal animus issue, we talked openly and productively for quite awhile. I think he is sincere in his quest to try and better his organization by making it more transparent and open to ideas.

Now we hear, much to the delight of the majority of breeders and stallion owners that due to the ground swell of breeders protesting the proposed changes, the proposal will be scrapped and the elimination of breeders and stallion awards in claiming races is now off the table! The outstanding work done by many non NYTB members by getting involved and e mailing and telephoning key decision makers of the fund, is what saved us all from a bad decision made by the fund out of complete desperation. This change would have destroyed the program for the majority of the breeders who rely on the fund, and ironically, give back to the program. Eliminating breeders and stallion awards in claiming races, while paying money called "open company awards" to an owner who may not even reside or breed in the State for winning the same race, is just plain dumb. Especially if the purpose of the fund is to develop a breeding program to keep farms open for business with residents working on those farms in the State of New York

If the fund is so strapped for cash then it has mishandled the funds by not keeping their eye on the ball. If things are truly that bad where people are scrambling to make the" ends justify the means" then I propose the complete elimination of all non NY sired horses from being eligible to take any money out of the fund, period! Lets also mandate that to be eligible for awards from the program, the mare must be in the State for the entire gestation period. This would alleviate alot of the present problems while developing a breeders program for breeders to drink from the well before a non breeding race horse owner.

Drastic? Perhaps, but this will leave plenty of money in the fund to compensate breeders for breeding horses, and maybe even have a little left over to pay Stallion owners awards for out of State Stakes wins. That would actually be a better advertising campaign then using Funny Cide as the poster child for the program. All that ad campaign does is advertise the loopholes in the system while stating the obvious superiority of Kentucky stallions. Maybe it would be better to entice some out of State stallion owners to bring their stallions to NY rather than sending our mares there.

Any other monies left over should go to the TRF or any other horse rescue fund so that they can help horses that are being left behind. Horses are being abandoned due to the devaluation of NY breds because of the instability here. The failed VLT's program, the failed Sales Company, and the distrust in the breeding program is making small breeders uncomfortable to say the least. Making matters worse is the sentiment that the people representing the program has become an "old boy network" of elitists, with big ,self serving objectives.

Last year I heard that some of the board members were trying to eliminate stallion awards to stallion owners if the stallion was deceased. Now, that is equally as dumb, but the talk diminished as 2 NY stallions had a horrific accident that year. Maybe it was a just coincidence, but this caused many to question why such an idea would even be discussed. I also heard that it has been stated that eliminating claiming races from the awards program would be good for the program as people would stop running sore horses and sore horses don't deserve awards. Really? That's not only an elitist comment, its equally arrogant. The track vet and the gamblers get to decide that, not a guy with a stable full of high priced NY Breds by mainly out of State stallions. Besides, if those horses don't run to earn their keep, who is going to feed them?

Thus, before we send in the marching band, lets all take a pause and realize that nothing has really gotten better in this breeding program. Nobody saved the building from burning simply by not allowing another bucket of gasoline to be poured onto the flame.

I for one, still would like to see how much money is sent out of State from the fund and how much money is being paid to non breeders. The NYTB should understand this concept as there charter as well as their membership calls for members to meet the following criteria:
"To be eligible for membership in the NYTB, a person shall be currently engaged in the thoroughbred industry as a breeder or stallion owner in the State of New York, lessees and lessors of mares and stallions domiciled in New York, or own property in the State of New York which is utilized for breeding thoroughbreds specifically for the pari-mutuel racing industry and/or others who have demonstrated an interest in furthering the purposes of the NYTB." (From The NYTB Web site).

I hope that in some small way, this issue becomes the hot button that finally gets people motivated to demand the changes necessary to have the fund provide what it was intended to provide for, the development of a State breeding program.

Jim Vena
Thursday April 23, 2009 12:16:24 AM EDT

Comment by citation
Arrogance is a good word to describe just about all of the people that I have had to deal with from both NYbreds and the NYTB. They wouldn't let me publish a letter on this site where I named names and experiences as they said that it would not be suitable for the purpose of this blog. But, the nerve of all these people. And to the NYTB,who i called, your job is to represent all breeders, not just the ones on your board! And don't take credit for every little thing that happens that is good, but tell callers that they are just shooting the messenger when things go bad. do your job, and if you can't because you are too good to talk to us regular people, or you are an elitist with a conflict of interest, then just resign and go to a place like Kentucky where maybe they are as rich as you!
Tuesday April 21, 2009 7:41:50 AM EDT

Comment by fussyone
NY is simply not the best place to breed horses. Too many lawyers pretending to be horsesmen and what does one expect? Arrogance! Funny Cide was like an implant, not real and all about advertising the package. I agree with the other poster that thinks Funny Cide and the NYBSC ruined the prices of NY Breds. Aren't they all related these people and have an ear of the nY breds fund?
Tuesday April 21, 2009 7:31:04 AM EDT

Comment by joemarx
Who are these people running NYTB and the NYBSC. We need a concerted effort to have them removed. The proposed changes are an insult to New York Breeders. These proposals will eliminate any good stallions from standing in NY. They will totally reduce the value of claiming horses. They will take money and jobs out of NY. How do we get real leadership in place, people who have the true interests of the state in mind.
Monday April 20, 2009 7:32:09 AM EDT

Comment by badge
This day of doom has been coming for several years, and frankly I am a bit surprised that it took so long for the outrage to surface at the level it is now. For the sake of full disclosure, let me say that I am a stallion owner, breeder and was a successful owner on the NYRA racing circuit albeit, many years ago. A few years ago , facing financial hardship and health issues, I founded this web site and tried to become a little more involved in trying to protect what was left of my investment in horses.

It didn't take long to come to the realization that the NY bred program was not as good as it was advertised. Even more disconcerting was the way in which my questions were answered when I posed them to anyone at the NYTBRA and the NYTB. While the condescending nature of the conversations were always disturbing, it was even more unnerving to experience how defensive, the management would get at the simplest questions or the most basic suggestions to make things better.

During an e mail poll that was conducted by Thoroughlybred, we asked the breeders on our mailing list" What's wrong with the NY breeding program" as part of a study for a political campaign during the last Gubernatorial primary. Armed with over 200 suggestions and some very compelling negativity, I contacted both the NYTBRA and the NYTB. Both promised meetings and pretended to be interested. Unfortunately, no one was ever available to actually sit down in order to hear what the masses were saying. Oddly enough, the NYTB declined to meet with me stating that I was not a member and they would only consider a meeting, if I paid the dues. I didn't pay the dues and the meeting never took place. As recently as a few months ago, I contacted Jeff Canizzo to offer the services of Ads and the site itself to host an auction for the Thoropac. I also told him of the past conversations and recommended we talk. He stated he was busy but would phone me later that day. He didn't, and has not to date.

In conclusion, I can only assume that they are simply not interested with anything that a non club member has to say. Not me, nor the hundreds of others that sent us their comments and suggestions.

I have always been a believer that the program is not properly advertised, becoming elitist, and in dire need of a new direction with some new incentives to actually spend the fund in building a State breeding program. I recommended NY Stallion preferred maiden and allowance races, a 3 tier award scale, an updated farm friendly mare residency rule, and an advertising campaign that shows the program as it should be, and not highlight the loopholes ala the Funny Cide campaign. Also a sales venue that is good for true NY Breds with incentives in the same fashion as the OBS races. I also suggested awards for stallion owners that have progeny win out of State. The abolishment of paying open company awards would more than cover these additional awards. At least the money would go to an in State address of someone that is generating jobs for the State. Paying an out of State party, or a racehorse owner that in many cases, aren't breeding in the State, is just plain idiotic and no longer necessary to lure buyers of NY Breds. If you look at the sales averages of the NYBSC, it is hard to make the argument that any value is added to NY Breds because of this outdated open award payment.

Taking the breeders awards away in claiming races, but still paying the open company award, will further bleed the fund from breeders. Just not logical, thus it must be someone's agenda, if you ask me.

Jim Vena

Monday April 20, 2009 12:34:25 AM EDT

Comment by citation
The new proposed changes must have been thought up in the back room of the new regime of the NYTB. They all seem to live in the same area of the State, which would lead one to believe that this NYTB is no longer representing the State breeders, only the ones near Saratoga.

Its not surprising to me though they want to take out the small breeder and keep the money for themselves. Most of the people that are for these changes breed horses to out of State stallions, so we know where their interest lies.

The disenfranchising of the small breeder is typical of the condesending attitude and elitist mannerisms of this new regime. Just take a look at how these same cast of charachters formed a sales company to destroy the value of home breds.

We must band together, fight the changes and get rid of anyone using this fund for their own agenda's. I like the idea of collectively suing to stop this from happening.

And to the writer who asked how much of this fund goes to an out of State address or to a non breeder, lets join together and find out the answers.
Sunday April 19, 2009 11:32:22 PM EDT

Comment by farmmgr
I have to agree that eliminating awards for claiming races and adding awards for shipping horses out of state is likely to be detrimental to the program. Isn't part of the purpose to attract better stallions to New York? The statement "The impetus for this proposal is not a desire to disenfranchise small breeders." is laughable. If the fund is suffering financially, why increase awards for certain categories, namely those categories dominated by the large and wealthy breeders?
Sunday April 19, 2009 9:26:12 PM EDT

Comment by fussyone
How can they do this witjout notifying anyone? This is not ethical and it is just not what this fund is chartered to do. I encourage everyone to contact your local politicians and send letters to the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding And Development Fund as well as to every board member of the NYTB. Flood Jeff Cannizzo and Martin Kinsella with calls and if that doesn't work, lets start a class action lawsuit against everyone involved and get this sorted out in court! The board members that are making decisions that are a conflict of interest should be held accountable.
Sunday April 19, 2009 8:15:38 PM EDT

Comment by wind
If they really want to promote the NYBred program then why are they giving more money to the horses bred out of state and foaled in NY? Not paying for NY Breds that compete in claiming races? What about the horses in the higher claiming races, like the 100k claimers?

I agree, NY needs new leadership. It used to be you wanted a NY bred with these new rule changes not so much.

Sunday April 19, 2009 7:25:20 PM EDT

Comment by marestation
If all of this is true, wonder why I only learned this here and now. Our program is good, the leadership is misguided and a little too into themselves. Its not really open to anything other than their own ideas. It's been like that for a long time. This will be the beginning of the end though and all of us who have money and sweat invested, will be looking for a new line of work. If the system falls apart, who will care for the horses that no one will be able to afford? Maybe we can ask the out of state award winners, and the non breeders of open company awards to make us a low interest loan.
Sunday April 19, 2009 1:02:39 PM EDT

Comment by horsetrader
As evidenced by the other blogs and polls on this site, the NY breeding program is too political and only rewards those who sit at the table despite the rewards being at the expense of the State breeders. The NYTB and the NYBSC are really the same cast of charachters and promoting the same legislation that suits there own needs. They are just making money off the less fortunate. New leadership is needed to move this program forward. The fact that slot machines are not yet a sure thing tells you all you need to know about the leadership at the top. Paying an out of State breeder, from the breeding fund, or worse, rewarding an owner of a horse running in open company, even if the owner doesn;t breed in the State, tells you all you need to know about the intelligence of the leadership. Imagine paying breeders funds to non breeders and then telling the local breeders that we are changing the rules because there is a lack of funds? I encourage you all to find a way to replace the present leadership with people who can save the breeders. They can't!
Saturday April 18, 2009 1:48:45 PM EDT

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