03/15/2002 1:00AM

Brida to spread the word

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The New York Thoroughbred Breeders has hired trainer Dennis Brida, the former president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, as the organization's new executive director it was announced Friday.

Brida, 53, will begin his duties with the NYTB, which has offices in downtown Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on April 15.

The NYTB, a nonprofit association, represents the interests of more than 600 members who participate in New York's breeding and racing program. The NYTB, among other things, acts as a liaison with New York racetracks and the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund, the regulatory body of the breeding and racing program in the Empire State.

Brida, a native of New York, replaces Michael Flynn, who left the NYTB in February after five years as executive director for a similar position with the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.

More than 25 people applied for the executive director position, and Brida was the unanimous choice of the 11 NYTB board members.

Jerry Nielsen, the NYTB's president and a breeder and owner of New York-breds, said Brida was a natural for the job because of his knowledge of the state's racing and breeding industry and his people skills.

"Dennis has a great background and he mixes well with people, which is so important," Nielsen said. "The fact that Dennis ran the horsemen's organization and knows all the players in New York breeding and racing, we found very important. We need someone to be on the outside and meet with breeders and be on the road at the tracks and sales promoting New York-breds."

Brida, who has trained Thoroughbreds for more than 20 years at New York tracks, said he will give up training the 18 horses he has in his Belmont Park barn. Brida also will step down from the NYTHA, where he has served for nine years, first as a board member, then as president for three years, and currently as the first vice president.

"This is a full-time job; I can't do this and train," Brida said. "This is another page for me, and I hope it's a good one."

Brida's training career was highlighted by Dixie Brass, the winner of the Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile and Grade 2 Withers in 1992. Dixie Brass, who retired with $631,563 in earnings, was one of New York's most successful sires until his death earlier this year. Brida also trained Packett's Landing, a New York-bred champion with earnings of $799,769.

Brida, who holds a political science degree from SUNY-New Paltz, was extremely active in the NYTHA's legislative pursuits and said that experience will come in handy at the NYTB, where he will work closely with the group's lobbyist, who represents the organization's legislative interests in Albany.

Brida also will work closely with the state's Breeding and Development Fund, which distributes approximately $37 million annually in breeder awards, stallion owner awards, owner awards, and purse money for New York-breds.

The fund's chairman, William Levin, said he anticipates increased cooperation between the two organizations now that Brida is on board with the NYTB.

"Dennis knows the business and has the same aims and desires as we do," Levin said.

Brida said one of his first orders of business is to increase the membership of the NYTB, which he said would lead to improved benefits for members. Those benefits now include free admission to all Thoroughbred tracks in New York and access to special events, such as owner seminars and farm tours, and a reduction in advertisement rates in the state's stallion registry.

Brida said getting the word out about New York-breds will go a long way toward increasing the NYTB membership, and an obvious place to educate people about the benefits of New York's program is at sales where statebreds are part of the catalog.

"We need to let people know about the New York-bred program and what it is all about it," Brida said. "It's not just buying another racehorse, but a program to go along with the horse. People need to know about the rainbow. That information needs to go out to the whole world, not just in New York."