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Florida Owners and Breeders Applaud State Lawmakers

The Florida legislature passed March 8 a sweeping omnibus tax package that includes the extension of Florida’s all-time strongest Thoroughbred breeding and racing incentives and maintains state funding of Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority regulatory assessments. 

In 2023, the Florida legislature enacted a two-year breeding and racing stimulus package totaling more than $65 million. This year’s bill, HB 7073, removes a two-year statutory sunset and, if signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, extends critical industry funding that annually includes:

  • $15 million in purses and/or facility improvements at Gulfstream Park, with a similar $5 million going to Tampa Bay Downs.
  • $5 million for the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association breeding and racing incentives and/or promotions.
  • $2.5 million in additional Florida-bred racing incentives.

Coupled with more than $5 million in annual racetrack tax credits to offset HISA funding assessments, the recurring annual stimulus combines to about $32.5 million for Florida Thoroughbreds.

The extended annual funding provides long-term stability and enhances a Florida industry already on the upswing in 2024 thanks to new programs such as 20% statutory maximum breeder awards for Florida-breds in Florida races, $18,000 added for Florida-breds in maiden special weight and allowance races at Tampa Bay Downs, and all-time high FTBOA and Florida-bred incentive funds in Gulfstream Park races. Overall, breeder and stallion incentives increased more than 50% in 2024 while racing incentives gained 66%, combining for more than $15 million in FTBOA-backed incentives.

The FTBOA expresses its sincerest gratitude to the Florida legislature for its passage of HB 7073.

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“First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank stalwart industry supporters Senate president Kathleen Passidomo (a Naples Republican) and House Speaker Paul Renner (Palm Coast, Republican),” said FTBOA CEO and executive vice president Lonny Powell. “Without their leadership and commitment, the continuation of this economic development program would not be possible. I also give a huge salute to our Smith, Bryan and Myers lobby team, led by our rock stars Matt Bryan and Jon Rees. Florida is a rare jurisdiction in managing and navigating challenges and turning them into meaningful successes.”

“Once again, the legislative sponsors of last year’s breeding and racing development program stepped up in a big way,” said FTBOA president George Isaacs. “I’d like to personally thank Marion County’s very own Rep. Stan McClain (Ocala, Republican) and Sen. Blaise Ingoglia (Spring Hill, Republican) for continuing their support of this program. We have also enjoyed support from the state’s legislative and industry leaders, including Rep. Lawrence McClure (Dover, Republican).

“Led by CEO Lonny Powell, lobbyists Matt Bryan and Jon Rees, general counsel Warren Husband, and a very talented staff and dynamic board, we collectively are helping shape the vibrancy of the Florida breeding and racing industry through legislative efforts and good leadership decisions,” Isaacs added. “This will go a long way in ensuring a healthy industry for the future.”

FTBOA lobbyist Matt Bryan emphasized the leadership of Florida’s commissioner of agriculture Wilton Simpson in this effort.

“Commissioner Simpson’s support of the Florida Thoroughbred industry is unwavering. As commissioner of agriculture, he has reinforced the economic impact and contribution of our breeders in the state,” Bryan said. “Florida remains the third-largest equine state by population with 335,000 head creating more than 112,000 jobs and it’s clear that commissioner Simpson and our state elected leaders don’t intend to stop there. I am beyond thrilled that the House and Senate continue to invest in Thoroughbred breeding training and racing in this state.”

The Florida equine industry drives an estimated $12.8 billion contribution to the Florida economy, one quarter of which comes from the $3.24 billion economic impact generated by Florida Thoroughbreds—an impact larger than the total combined contribution from all of Florida’s collegiate athletics. Florida is a perennial top-three producer of Thoroughbred runners, second-ranked source of national stakes winners, and the global leader in racehorse training and juvenile sales.

HB 7073 now proceeds to Gov. DeSantis for his consideration. Upon receipt, he will have 14 days to take action on the bill, or, if he does not act within that time, HB 7073 would become law without his signature.

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.

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