02/29/2012 2:42PM

Belmont, Saratoga purses skyrocket, thanks to casino cash

Tom Keyser
The Personal Ensign, won by Ask the Moon in 2011, will be worth $600,000 this season - a $300,000 increase.

Largely due to the casino at Aqueduct, horsemen who win races this summer at Belmont Park and Saratoga will feel like they hit the jackpot.

Dramatic purse increases are in the offing for both the Belmont spring/summer meet and Saratoga, according to the purse structure and stakes schedule released Wednesday by the New York Racing Association.

Average daily purses at the 58-day Belmont meet that begins April 27 will be $620,000, a 44-percent increase from the $430,000 daily average paid out last year. That includes 35 stakes worth a total of $9,050,000, up from $7,150,000 in 2011.

But, wait, there’s more.

At Saratoga, average daily purses will skyrocket to $930,000, a 39-percent increase from the $670,000 average paid out in 2011. Saratoga will offer 54 stakes worth $14,750,000 in purses, compared with 52 stakes worth $10,925,000 in 2011. Saratoga’s 40-day meet runs from July 20 through Sept. 3.

“The purse increases for overnight and stakes races for the upcoming Belmont Park and Saratoga meets confirm NYRA’s leadership position in Thoroughbred racing,’’ said P.J. Campo, NYRA’s vice president/director of racing. “The enhanced purses should result in larger field sizes, stimulate additional wagering activity, and increase profitability for NYRA.”

Campo said the purse structure is based on an average of $350 win per slot machine at Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct, which opened last October and resulted in a 36-percent increase in purses at Aqueduct.

At Belmont, a maiden special weight race going short will be worth $70,000, a $20,000 increase from 2011. A maiden route race will be worth $75,000, a $24,000 increase from last year. Allowance races will have their purses increased by $20,000 (short) and $24,000 (long). Statebred maiden and allowance races get purse bumps of $15,000 (short) and $19,000 (long). All claiming races will have their purses increased by $12,000.

At Saratoga, maiden sprints will be worth $80,000, compared with $50,000 in 2011, and routes will be worth $85,000, compared with $51,000. A first-level allowance race will be worth $82,000 (short) and $87,000 (long). Statebred maiden and allowance races will get increases of $20,000 (short) and $24,000 (long). Claiming pots will also go up by $12,000 in each category when compared with 2011 levels.

All but nine of the 35 stakes scheduled for Belmont received an increase, topped by the Metropolitan Handicap, which went from $500,000 to $750,000. The Met Mile is run on Memorial Day (May 28), a card that will now include the Grade 1 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies and Grade 1 Ogden Phipps for older fillies and mares.

The Phipps got a $150,000 increase to $400,000. The Woody Stephens and True North, both run on the Belmont Stakes (June 9) undercard, also got increased to $400,000 from $250,000. The Belmont Stakes purse remains at $1 million.

In 2011, NYRA moved the Futurity and Matron for 2-year-olds to the spring meet. This year, they will be run in the fall.

Thirty-four stakes at Saratoga received an increase and there have been several scheduling changes as well.

NYRA has eliminated the Ruffian, which lost its Grade 1 status, and supplemented the purse of the Personal Ensign (Aug. 26) to $600,000 from $300,000. Also, the Personal Ensign has been shortened from 1 1/4 miles to 1 1/8 miles. Combined with the elimination of the now Grade 3 Shuvee at Belmont, there are now just two route stakes for older fillies and mares on this circuit from April through August. There used to be four.

Campo explained that nationwide the last five years the average field size in filly and mare stakes as 6.2 horses. Campo said built the schedule somewhat around races such as the $300,000 La Troienne (May 4) at Churchill and $750,000 Delaware Handicap, typically run in mid-July.

“We’re changing some things to see what works,” said Campo, who said the Personal Ensign would be “the premier filly and mare race of the summer.”

Another significant change to the Saratoga stakes program is the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap (Aug. 11) will now be run at one mile and be worth $500,000. It had been run at 1 1/16 miles and worth $150,000.

The Sword Dancer, typically run on the second Saturday of August, has been moved to Aug. 18 and will share the spotlight with the Grade 1 Alabama. Both races got $100,000 purse increases to $600,000.

NYRA moved the Grade 1 Prioress from Belmont to Saratoga and it will serve as a prep for the Grade 1 Test, which has been moved to Travers Day, Aug. 25. The Victory Ride, previously run in Saratoga, has been moved to the Belmont meet. The Test and the King’s Bishop – also on Travers Day – and the Ballerina, run in the previous day, had their purses doubled to $500,000.

2012 Belmont stakes schedule

April 28 Westchester (G3) 150,000 3YO&UP, 1M
May 5 Beaugay (G3) 150,000 F&M 3YO&UP, 1 1/16M (T)
May 5 Fort Marcy (G3) 150,000 3Y0&up, 1 1/16M (T)
May 6 NY Stallion Stakes Park Avenue Division 100,000 F3YO, 6 1/2F
May 6 NY Stallion Stakes Times Square Division 100,000 3YO, 6 1/2F
May 12 Peter Pan (G2) 200,000 3YO, 1 1/8M
May 19 Affirmed Success 100,000 3YO&UP (NYB), 7F
May 26 Sheepshead Bay (G2) 200,000 F&M 3YO&UP, 1 3/8M (T)
May. 27 Kingston 125,000 3YO&UP (NYB), 1M (T)
May 27 Mount Vernon 125,000 F&M 3&UP (NYB), 1M (T)
May 28 Metropolitan (G1) 750,000 3&UP, 1M
May 28 Sands Point (G2) 200,000 F3YO, 1 1/16M (T)
May 28 Acorn (G1) 300,000 F3YO, 1M
May 28 Ogden Phipps (G1) 400,000 F&M 3YO&UP, 1 1/16M
June 2 Vagrancy (G2) 200,000 F&M 3&UP, 6 1/2F
June 3 NY Stallion Stakes (Cupecoys Joy) 75,000 F3YO, 7F (T)
June 3 New York Stallion Stakes (Spectacular Bid) 75,000 3YO, 7F (T)
June 8 Jaipur (G3) 150,000 3YO&UP, 7F (T)
June 8 Brooklyn (G2) 200,000 3YO&UP, 1 1/2M
June 9 Belmont Stakes (G1) 1,000,000 3YO, 1 1/2M
June 9 Manhattan Handicap (G1) 500,000 3YO&UP, 1 1/4M (T)
June 9 True North (G2) 400,000 3YO&UP, 7F
June 9 Woody Stephens (G2) 400,000 3YO, 7F
June 9 Just A Game (G1) 500,000 F&M3YO&UP, 1M (T)
June 16 Hill Prince (G3) 300,000 3YO, 1 1/16M
June 23 Mother Goose (G1) 125,000 F3YO, 7F
June 24 Bouwerie 125,000 F3YO (NYB), 7F
June 24 Mike Lee 200,000 3YO (NYB), 7F
June 30 New York (G2) 200,000 F&M3YO&UP, 1 1/4M (T)
June 30 Dwyer (G2) 200,000 3YO, 1 1/8M
July 1 Bed o' Roses (G3) 150,000 F&M3YO&UP, 7F
July 4 Poker (G3) 150,000 3YO&UP, 1M (T)
July 7 Suburban (G2) 350,000 3YO&UP, 1 1/8M
July 7 Victory Ride (G3) 150,000 F3YO, 6F
July 14 Man o'War (G1) 600,000 3YO&UP, 1 3/8M (T)


2012 Saratoga stakes schedule

July 20 Schuylerville (G3) 150,000 F2YO, 6F
July 20 James Marvin (G3) 100,000 3YO&UP, 7F
July 21 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) 300,000 F3YO, 1 1/8M
July 22 Sanford (G2) 200,000 2YO, 6F
July 23 Evan Shipman 100,000 3YO&UP (NYB), 1 1/8M
July 25 Lake George (G2) 200,000 F3YO, 1 1/16M (T)
July 26 Quick Call 100,000 3YO, 5 1/2F (T)
July 27 Curlin 100,000 3YO, 1 1/8M
July 28 Diana (G1) 600,000 F&M3YO&UP, 1 1/8M (T)
July 28 Jim Dandy (G2) 600,000 3YO, 1 1/8M
July 29 Amsterdam (G2) 200,000 3YO, 6 1/2F
July 30 Caress 200,000 F&M3YO&UP, 5 1/2F (T)
Aug. 1 John Morrissey 100,000 3YO&UP (NYB), 6 1/2F
Aug. 2 A.P. Smithwick Steeplechase (G1) 100,000 4YO&UP, 2 1/16M (T)
Aug. 3 Honorable Miss (G2) 200,000 F&M 3&UP, 6F
Aug. 3 John's Call 100,000 3YO&UP, 1 5/8M (T)
Aug. 4 Whitney (G1) 750,000 3YO&UP, 1 1/8M
Aug. 4 Prioress (G1) 300,000 F3YO, 6F
Aug. 4 De La Rose (G2) 100,000 F&M3YO&UP, 1M (T)
Aug. 5 Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) 400,000 3YO&UP, 6F
Aug. 6 Waya 100,000 F&M3YO&UP, 1 1/2M (T)
Aug. 8 New York Stallion Series (Cab Calloway) 100,000 3YO, 1M (T)
Aug. 9 New York Stallion Series (Statue of Liberty) 100,000 F3YO, 1M (T)
Aug. 10 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) 200,000 3YO, 1 1/16M (T)
Aug. 11 Fourstardave (G2) 500,000 3YO&UP, 1M (T)
Aug. 12 Adirondack (G2) 200,000 F2YO, 6 1/2F
Aug. 12 Saratoga Special (G2) 200,000 2YO, 6 1/2F
Aug. 13 Coronation Cup 100,000 F3YO, 5 1/2F
Aug. 15 Troy 100,000 3YO&UP, 5 1/2F
Aug. 16 West Point 150,000 3YO&UP (NYB), 1 1/16M (T)
Aug. 17 Yaddo 150,000 F&M3YO (NYB), 1 1/16M
Aug. 18 Alabama (G1) 600,000 F3YO, 1 1/4M
Aug. 18 Sword Dancer (G1) 600,000 3YO&UP, 1 1/2M (T)
Aug. 19 Lake Placid (G2) 200,000 F3YO, 1 1/8M (T)
Aug. 20 Union Avenue 100,000 F&M3YO&UP (NYB), 6F
Aug. 22 Albany 150,000 3YO, 1 1/8M
Aug. 23 New York Turf Writer's Steeplechase (G1) 150,000 4YO&UP, 2 /38M (T)
Aug. 24 Ballerina (G1) 500,000 F&M3YO&UP, 7F
Aug. 25 Ballston Spa (G2) 250,000 F&M3YO&UP, 1 1/16M (T)
Aug. 25 Travers (G1) 1,000,000 3YO, 1 1/4M
Aug. 25 Test (G1) 500,000 F3YO, 7F
Aug. 25 King's Bishop (G1) 500,000 3YO, 7F
Aug. 26 Personal Ensign (G1) 600,000 F&M3YO&UP, 1 1/8M
Aug. 27 Saratoga Dew 100,000 F&M3YO&UP (NYB), 1 1/8M
Aug. 29 P.G. Johnson 100,000 F2YO, 1 1/16M (T)
Aug. 30 With Anticipation (G2) 200,000 2YO, 1 1/16M (T)
Aug. 31 Riskaverse 100,000 F3YO, 1M (T)
Sep. 1 Forego (G1) 500,000 3YO&UP, 7F
Sep. 1 Woodward (G1) 750,000 3YO&UP (NYB), 1 1/8M
Sep. 1 Bernard Baruch (G2) 250,000 3YO&UP, 1 1/16M (T)
Sep. 2 Spinaway (G1) 300,000 F2YO, 7F
Sep. 2 Saranac (G3) 150,000 3YO, 1 1/8M (T)
Sep. 3 Hopeful (G2) 300,000 2YO, 7F
Sep. 3 Glens Falls (G3) 150,000 F&M3YO&UP, 1 3/8M (T)


Mick More than 1 year ago
Well there goes yet another of the remaining "Classic" distance races. Big mistake shortening the Personal Ensign. They may as well call 9f the Classic distance now.
DanTordjman More than 1 year ago
How casinos are saving horse racing...
Fred Reardon More than 1 year ago
If I might just add an opinion It would seem that all the purse increases going to Saratoga will mean that everybody that is anybody will be at Saratoga this summer. Perhaps as it should be. I would just echo the thought that the Ruffian seems an odd choice for removal. I like a good chicken sandwich, but when they run the Hattie Moseby, my thoughts will be elsewhere. But in the final analysis, Saratoga is where the emphasis should be, and now the saints can make the pilgrimage to the mountain. In every way.
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
Just my personal opinion, I think it's shortsighted to bolster the Saratoga meet way beyond the Belmont meets. Yes you want to have competative stakes purses but 90,0000 MSW races? You need big purses to fill other races such as high claimers, who wants to see 6 maiden races a day and try to handicap them? The big horse outfit are always going to come to Saratoga just like they're going to Florida in the winter ( as evidencs to what happened this winter) and Keenland for they're meets. Stop subsidizing these ultra big outfits who will leave you flat given the opportunity. Belmont is where you can gain back the most. I remember the days of 30,000 on a weekend. And NYRA as a staunch supporter who's losing confidence in you, remember as in any business you have to take care of the customer and you have to take care of the owners especially the middle class owners (who's going to invest if you can't make money even when they're winning races) without these two groups you have nothing.
Gary Sgroi More than 1 year ago
union labor (carpenters local291) has kept saratoga up and running ,with limited time and money being allocated by nyra in hard times .Now that things have loosened up a little there is talk of distrbuting the work elsewhere.Ithink its a mistake to yake the work away from trades people(carpenters)that have worked therefor years ,and there fathers before them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like much of the new schedule and purses, BUT Campo really needs to stop tinkering so badly with the stakes by eliminating one for a year. Was there really a need to eliminate the Ruffian when instead they could either reposition it, postpone it to the fall, or put in something else so that star fillies & mares will have something other than the La Troienne and DelCap to run in? Having nothing between Memorial Day and August 26 for routing older fillies & mares other than some lame overnight (purse hikes or not) just seems like you're under-serving a division because you think you can't compete. And the problem with that for NYRA is that the opposite is true at present. The big dog with the spending money should be dictating the terms, not kowtowing to other circuits.
Bill Opalka More than 1 year ago
Does this mean the end of five-horse fields in half of the graded stakes? Hope so. Also, the Belmont meet used to be a dog between the Belmont Stakes and the Spa opening. With fatter overnights, and Churchill and Monmouth standing pat, at best, there might actually be competitive racing in NY for an extra six weeks.
Richard More than 1 year ago
Purse increases at saratoga?Now the Travers will be worth how manymillion?Not hard to see why pletcher/castellano will wait/skip the spring?All in the best interest of the colt?Anyone remember Uncle Mo?
Bwell More than 1 year ago
Shortened the Personal Ensign? Geez is America interested in ANY stayers!