The New York Racing Association announced today that it will continue its long-distance racing bonus program for the 2018 Belmont Spring/Summer meet that opens Friday.
All open maiden special weight and first- and second-level allowance races at distances of 1 1/4 miles (10 furlongs) and beyond will have a total purse of $90,000 when the bonuses are factored in.
With the enhanced purses, maiden special weights will now receive a $15,000 purse bonus in addition to the current $75,000, one-other-than allowance races will receive a $13,000 bonus from $77,000, while two-other-than allowance races will receive a $10,000 bonus from $80,000.
“NYRA is committed to writing long distance races to both grow interest in this style of racing and allow for longer distance turf runners to continue to develop,” said Martin Panza, senior director of racing operations for NYRA. “Owners and trainers are clearly interested in these races, and we’re pleased that the program has gained momentum over the last year. We continue to be one of the only circuits offering these races and we look forward to building the program even further.”
In 2017, 17 turf races were eligible to receive the purse bonus during the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park. Those races, contested at 1 ¼ miles or father, registered an average field size of 8.65, or an increase of nearly one horse over the 16 races run at the same distance during the 2016 Belmont spring/summer meet, when the bonus program was not in effect.
Saratoga enjoyed residual benefits from the long-distance bonus program despite not being directly part of it, recording an average field size of 8.15 in 2017; an increase of .49 from the previous year. The bonus program restarted during the 2017 Belmont Fall meet, resulting in 12 races with an average field size of 7.66. This expanded on the 2016 fall slate in which seven races, with an average size of 6.86, were run.
The long-distance turf bonus program follows the success of the 2-year-old incentive program initiated at Belmont during the 2015 spring/summer meet. This year, eight maiden races worth $100,000 each will be offered this spring as part of NYRA’s ongoing program for 2-year-olds leading up to the $150,000 Astoria on June 7 and $150,000 Tremont on June 8, part of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, and the first two juvenile stakes of the year.
Bonuses worth a total of $25,000 will be offered to the owners and trainers of New York-breds who finish first, second or third in any state-bred or open maiden juvenile race held during the spring/summer meet.
The bonus program, supported in partnership with the New York Breeding Fund, calls for owners to receive $9,000 for a first-place finish, $4,500 for second and $2,500 for third. Trainers would get a bonus of $4,000 for first, $3,000 for second and $2,000 for third.