10/10/2002 12:00AM

Belmont gets extra week in fall


The Board of Trustees of the New York Racing Association on Wednesday approved a schedule of 261 racing days for 2003 that includes a one-week extension of the Belmont fall meet.

Belmont's fall meet, which has been run at 5 1/2 weeks since 1996, will be extended to 6 1/2 weeks, or 38 days, in 2003. The meet will run from Sept. 5 through Oct. 26.

"We want to utilize our facilities more,'' NYRA president Terry Meyocks said. "We were here last year through October with the Breeders' Cup and it was fine. The last few years we've run 33 days. It's a great facility that we want to use more for our fans.''

Aqueduct's winter meet will run from Jan. 1-March 9 (50 days) and Aqueduct's spring meet will run from March 12 through May 4 (38 days). Racing switches to Belmont for a 55-day spring/summer meet from May 7 through July 20. Saratoga's 36-day meet will begin July 23 and run till Sept. 1. Following Belmont's fall meeting, Aqueduct's fall meet will run from Oct. 29 through Dec. 31 (44 days).

NYRA also plans to reinstate dark-day simulcasting on Mondays in January, February, and March, despite having pulled the plug on that last year. NYRA may re-evaluate that schedule if Gulfstream and Fair Grounds stick with their plan not to race on Mondays in January.