News and Notes for December 22, 2017

The Texas Racing Commission voted Wednesday to approve 2018 and 2019 race date requests as follows:

Sam Houston Race Park, 2018: QH 20 days with projected purse per day of $65,000. 2019: TB 32 days (no change from current) with projected purse per day of $135,000. QH 20 days with projected purse per day of $65,000.

Lone Star Park, 2018: TB 44 days (loss of 6 days from 2017) running April 19 – July 22 with projected purse per day of $165,000. QH: 16 days with projected purse per day of $150,000.

Retama Park, 2018: 25 day mixed meet with 12 1/2 TB days and 12 1/2 QH days. TB days run July 31 – September 5, mainly on a T-W schedule with projected purse per day of $95,000.

Gillespie County Fair, 2018: Traditional 8-day mixed meet schedule July 6 – August 25.

The Commission does not have authority to require a track to run a certain number of days.

As always, the tracks may later request to add days or delete days from their approved schedule.

The Commission also took action to initiate the process for a third-party economy, efficiency and effectiveness audit. As part of that initiative, Commissioners voted to approve publication in the Texas Register of proposed new Rule 309.13 regarding funding of such an audit with a Supplemental Fee to be paid by each licensed racing association.

The Rule that would have significantly increased racetrack license fees was not on the agenda for this meeting. Since it was posted in the Texas Register earlier this fall, the Rule may be voted on at a subsequent TRC meeting.

ATB awards checks for the 2017 Retama Thoroughbred meet mailed earlier this week.

Awards were calculated based on the following percentages:

  • Breeders: 8.43184% of 1st/2nd/3rd purse money earned
  • Owners: 8.94384% of 1st/2nd/3rd purse money earned
  • Stallion Owners: 5.10108% of 1st/2nd/3rd purse money earned

Also, if your horse finished 1, 2 or 3 in an OPEN COMPANY race, you will receive an Owner Bonus Award totaling 10.56276% of purse money earned.

Ballots in the TTA Board of Directors Election have been tabulated and the results are as follows:

George Bryant of Arlington, Corey Johnsen of Grapevine, Susan Moulton of San Antonio and Doug Smith of Clarksville were elected to 3-year terms as at-large directors, along with returning director Brent Savage of Cypress.  Brant Schafer of Elgin was elected to represent the Central Region and incumbent Teo Mallet was re-elected to represent the East Region.

We would like to welcome our new directors and thank all the candidates.  We also extend special thanks and recognition to outgoing directors Tom Bradfield of Austin, Ed Few of Jasper, Danny Keene of Greenville, Wes Melcher of Sulphur Springs and Fred Taylor of Fort Worth.

The Jockey Club has announced that beginning with the 2018 breeding season, it will charge $35 for each mare reported bred by a stallion on the annual Report of Mares Bred form. The fee will supplement the industry support already provided by The Jockey Club for Thoroughbred aftercare initiatives, including the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA), and Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P.).

“The Jockey Club has examined its rate structure, and a fee for mares reported bred is consistent with fees required by other Thoroughbred breed registries worldwide,” said James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club. “We are pleased to announce that proceeds of this fee will be used to support a host of aftercare initiatives.”

“These funds will augment the great work already being done by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, which now accredits and grants funds to dozens of aftercare organizations each year,” said John Phillips, owner of Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, Ky., president of TAA, and a member of the board of stewards of The Jockey Club.

As reported by the American Horse Council, Congress has passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. While details related to the 1100-page conference report on the final legislation continue to emerge, please see the below highlights that will have the most direct impact on the horse industry:   

Business Provisions

Corporate Taxes: The new tax law reduces the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21% and takes effect January 1.  AHC members filing as “C corporations,” which are generally identified by the suffix, “Inc.,” will see an immediate reduction in their official, or statutory tax rate.  AHC members filing as “C corporations” would include racetracks, makers of pharmaceuticals and agricultural equipment, and large breeding operations governed by officers and a board of directors, among others.  While many policy experts believe that the new tax code will be easier to navigate from a business perspective, corporate taxpayers’ effective liability will vary to the extent they are able to utilize the new code’s remaining deductions, some of which are outlined below.

Small Business, “Pass-Through” Deduction: The Tax Cut and Jobs Act establishes a 20% deduction for the first $315,000 of joint income, or $157,500 for individual filers, from “pass-through” entities such as partnerships, sole proprietorships and S corporations.  This new provision could benefit small businesses that generally report incomes at or near the new threshold level.  While various types of “pass-throughs” constitute the fastest growing segment of AHC members, they also include the majority of U.S. farms.  According to Department of Agriculture data, 85% of domestic agriculture production comes from “pass through” entities.

Bonus Depreciation of Equipment:  The House and Senate conference report includes 100% bonus depreciation – an increase from the current 50% rate – through December 31, 2022, for property placed in service after September 27, 2017.  Beginning in 2023, bonus depreciation is reduced from 100%, to 80% in 2024, then falls by 20% increments each year through 2026.  Farm equipment used in a business operation, breeding stock and, according to a preliminary review of the final language, race horses will benefit from the robust deduction.

Losses at the Racetracks: The final law preserves the deduction of losses “sustained … on wagering transactions to the extent of the gains” realized “during the taxable year.”  However, the law clarifies that the “limitation on losses from wagering transactions applies not only to the actual costs of the wagers, but to other expenses incurred by the individual in connection with the conduct of that individual’s gambling activity.”  For example, the law subjects the deduction for travel expenses to and from a racetrack to the cap established by the amount of the gains.  Like many of the deductions in the bill, the provision sunsets after 2025.

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) – The new law repeals the corporate AMT, ending the need to calculate tax liability twice for a single filing.

NOTES:  Nice article on the Asmussen family in the Thoroughbred Daily News!  See it at…Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) broke ground Wednesday on its $60 million state-of-the-art historical racing machine (“HRM”) facility in Louisville. To be called Derby City Gaming, the 85,000-square-foot facility will open in fall 2018. The TTA office will close at noon today for the Christmas holiday and be open for business on Tuesday, December 26th.  We wish everyone a Merry Christmas!