09/24/2011 1:57PM

Aqueduct purses get major boost from casino money


With Aqueduct’s casino expected to open in approximately five weeks, the New York Racing Association announced Saturday that purses for the 2012 Aqueduct winter and spring meets will increase by $8.6 million, or 36 percent, over 2011.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, daily average purses will increase to approximately $375,000 a day, or $100,000 more than what was distributed in 2011, according to a NYRA press release.

All categories will be affected with route races receiving larger increases than sprints. For example, overnight stakes in 2012 going long with be worth $80,000 while overnight sprint stakes will be worth $75,000. In 2011, all overnight stakes were worth $60,000.

Maiden special weight routes will be worth $65,000, compared to $43,000 in 2011, while maiden special sprints will be worth $60,000, up from $42,000. New York-bred maiden routes will be worth $55,000, compared to $39,000 last year, while sprints will be $50,000, up from $38,000.

A $10,000 claiming route race will have a purse of $31,000, compared to $21,000, while a $10,000 claiming sprint will be worth $30,000 compared to $20,000.

In the first year of operation, 6.5 percent of revenue from Aqueduct’s casino, to be known as Resorts World New York, operated by Genting, will go to purses.

“The 2012 Aqueduct winter/spring meet marks a new era for our purse structures,” said NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward. “The opening of Genting’s Resorts World New York Casino is a highly anticipated event that will benefit all of the stakeholders at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course. Increased purses will help bring more top owners, trainers, and horses to our tracks, create larger fields for our customers to wager on, and generate higher handle for our races.”

The casino is expected to open in by the last weekend in October, 10 years after legislation was first passed in New York State that permitted racetracks to open casinos.

“It’s a tangible beginning to what we hope will be continued prosperity,” said Rick Violette, a New York-based trainer who is also the president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “This is a good start, I don’t think it’s the end. I’d expect there be another bump when we go to Belmont and Saratoga.”

On several occasions, Hayward admitted that last year’s winter meet at Aqueduct was weak, with low-quality racing and an abundance of short fields. Hayward has mentioned the possibility of going to a four-day race week in early 2012 if the horse population doesn’t increase from the 1,500 to 1,600 horses that were stabled here last winter.

NYRA officials are hopeful that this purse increase will not only lure out-of-town trainers, but also induce local horsemen that usually go to Florida to keep horses in New York.

“Aqueduct’s winter/spring meet is very important for all of our year-round owners and trainers,” said P.J. Campo, a NYRA vice president and its director of racing. “We are hopeful that the substantial purse increases will result in increased participation from horsemen during the meet.”