05/09/2002 11:00PM

Breeders will add spice to Showcase Day

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The New York Thoroughbred Breeders will hold a board meeting on Monday, the first since Dennis Brida became the organization's executive director last month.

Brida said among the items on the agenda to be discussed by the 11-member board is the creation of promotional events tied to New York Showcase Day, an afternoon of racing dedicated entirely to New York-breds on Oct. 19 at Belmont Park.

The New York Showcase, which features seven statebred stakes worth a total of $1 million, was held over a two-day period last year. The New York Racing Association decided to contain the Showcase to one day in 2002 to maximize awareness of the event.

Usually one of the strongest betting cards during the year in New York, the Showcase races traditionally draw full fields and generate large handle.

Brida said the NYTB has several ideas to enhance Showcase Day and hopes to work closely with NYRA and the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund in bringing the proposals to reality.

Among the NYTB's concepts are a permanent display at Belmont Park of the trophies for the seven Showcase stakes, a handicapping contest tied to the racing card, and a luncheon in Belmont's Marquee Tent for the breeders, owners, and trainers connected to the New York breeding program.

"We have big plans for Showcase Day; the breeders want to get involved in a big way and enhance the event," Brida said. "Of course, these ideas are all in the elementary stages and are pending approval, so it's a work in progress."

The Great State Challenge

Another topic slated for discussion at Monday's NYTB board meeting is the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Great State Challenge, a six-race event for statebreds from around the country.

The inaugural running of the NTRA Great State Challenge is scheduled for Dec. 7 at Sam Houston Race Park in Texas. Each of the six races will carry a $175,000 purse. Additionally, each race will offer $50,000 for Breeders' Cup-nominated horses and $50,000 from the participating state's breeding fund. The money provided by the Breeders' Cup and the state's breeding fund is restricted to first- through fifth-place finishes.

The current law in New York does not permit the state breeding fund to distribute money outside of the state, so the total purse money available per race to New York-breds will be $225,000, providing the runners are Breeders' Cup eligible.

The races are by invitation only. In the fall, the NYTB will supply the NTRA and Sam Houston with a preliminary list of no more than 10 horses for each of the races. At a later date, a selection committee, consisting of the racing secretary and stakes coordinator from Sam Houston, four regional racing secretaries, and a NTRA representative, will rank the horses for preference to start. No more than two horses from the same state will be allowed to compete in a single race.

A trophy will be presented to the state with the best overall performance in the Challenge races.

"This will be a lot of fun," Brida said. "New York could be pretty well represented."

Five statebred stakes at Belmont

Some of the participants in the Great State Challenge might earn their way to Texas with good performances in the five New York-bred stakes scheduled to be run during Belmont Park's 55-day meet, which began on Wednesday.

The first statebred stakes is the $75,000-added Bouwerie, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies, on May 19.

Next up is the $75,000-added Kingston Handicap for male turf runners on May 26. The $75,000-added Mount Vernon Handicap on June 23 features filly and mare grass runners.

The $100,000-added Mike Lee on June 29 begins the Big Apple Triple, three races for 3-year-old New York-breds. The Big Apple Triple will offer a $250,000 bonus to the owner of a horse that sweeps the series, which also consists of the $125,000-added New York Derby at Finger Lakes on July 27 and the $150,000-added Albany on Aug. 21 at Saratoga.

The $75,000-added Evan Shipman Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile dirt race for 3-year-olds and up, closes out the Belmont Park meet on July 21.

* Private Emblem's trainer, Steve Asmussen, said after his colt's 14th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, "New York-bred program, here we come." Private Emblem is a nominee to the Big Apple Triple.