The New York Racing Association announced today a long-distance turf bonus program for the upcoming 2017 Belmont Park Spring/Summer meet. The program will be applicable to all maiden and first-and-second-level allowance races at distances of 1 1/4 miles [10 furlongs] and beyond carrying a purse of $90,000.
With adjusted purses, turf maiden allowance races will receive a $15,000 bonus in addition to the current $75,000; one other than allowance races will receive a $13,000 bonus from $77,000; and two other allowance races will receive a $10,000 bonus from $80,000.
“Very few tracks are writing long-distance allowance races like we do in New York, and we’re trying to both attract the best long-distance turf runners possible while further encouraging development of horses for longer distance turf stakes,” said Martin Panza, senior director of racing operations for NYRA. “It will benefit the industry as a whole if can inspire confidence in owners and trainers that we’ll have a consistent long-distance allowance program. Between an influx of quality European runners and numerous farms now breeding these turf specialists, the future of turf racing in America is on the rise.
“We’ve had success using a similar model with our 2-year-old bonus program, and we look forward to improving the quality of racing and increasing overall field sizes,” Panza added. “NYRA is pleased to play a leadership role in this endeavor.”
In 2016, 15 races during the Belmont Spring/Summer meet would have qualified for the bonus. In the previous year, 12 races would have qualified for the bonus in that same span.
The long-distance turf bonus program follows the success of the 2-year-old bonus program initiated at Belmont during the 2016 spring/summer meet. The successful program and incentive structure has led to an increase in 2-year-old starters since it was launched.
Following the success of American-bred horses overseas, and with prominent breeding operations now standing significant turf stallions, there is rapidly growing interest and support for turf racing here in the United States.
This September, Fasig-Tipton will, for the first time, offer a “Turf Showcase” sale for yearlings suited for racing on the grass. The sale will take place on September 10 at Newtown Paddocks in Lexington, Kentucky
There are 188 graded stakes in the United States carded for turf, and the NYRA turf bonus program is geared towards benefiting horsemen and owners moving their horses through race conditions and attracting larger field sizes.
Additionally, if inventory allows, this bonus program will also apply to long-distance dirt races.