12/19/2003 12:00AM

Changes to stakes schedule benefit statebreds

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - When the New York Racing Association released its 2004 stakes schedule recently, it included significant and positive changes for New York-breds.

Three New York-bred stakes were added at the Saratoga meet, and purses for 11 New York-bred stakes at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga were increased.

The new stakes at Saratoga are the $65,000-added John Morrissey for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs on Aug. 19; the $65,000-added Union Avenue for fillies and mares at six furlongs on Aug. 26; and the $65,000-added Saratoga Dew for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on Sept. 1.

"There was a void for New York-breds up at Saratoga," said NYRA's racing secretary and handicapper, Mike Lakow. "This also provides a way for horsemen to move forward to the bigger races at Belmont in the fall."

Lakow was referring to New York Showcase Day, which will be held next year on Oct. 23 at Belmont. Showcase Day is the most important day of the year for New York-breds and features seven stakes worth a total of $1 million. The stakes are the $250,000 Empire Classic, $150,000 Mohawk, $150,000 Ticonderoga, $125,000 Iroquois, $125,000 Hudson, $100,000 Sleepy Hollow, and $100,000 Maid of the Mist.

The 11 restricted stakes bumped up from $75,000 to $100,000 in 2004 are the Bouwerie, Kingston, Mount Vernon, Evan Shipman, West Point, Yaddo, General Douglas MacArthur, Ashley T. Cole, Schenectady, Bertram F. Bongard, and Joseph A. Gimma.

The dates for a couple of important restricted stakes were changed. The $250,000 Cab Calloway and $250,000 Statue of Liberty, stakes for the progeny of New York stallions, will now be run in August at Saratoga rather than early June at Belmont Park.

Overall, there are 29 stakes, with purses totaling $2,995,000, designated for New York-breds at NYRA tracks in 2004. Additionally, eight stakes will offer $1.25 million in purses for the progeny of New York stallions.

Finger Lakes has yet to announce its 2004 stakes schedule for New York-breds, but it is anticipated that several races will undergo purse enhancements due to the imminent introduction of video-lottery terminals at the Farmington track. Recently, management at Finger Lakes set the opening of its $10.5 million gaming floor for Feb. 11 and revealed a new name for the facility, Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack.

Walnut Grove, Say Uncle to stand in N.Y.

Walnut Grove and Say Uncle are the newest stallions to arrive in New York for the 2004 breeding season. Walnut Grove, a son of Affirmed out of the Silent Screen mare Matinee Music, will stand at Centennial Farm in Sag Harbor for $1,000.

Say Uncle, a son of Pine Bluff out of the Silent Fox mare Suziqcute, will stand at Tomlin's farm in Palatine Bridge for a private fee.

New York-bred awards dinner set for April

The New York Thoroughbred Breeders organization has designated April 26, 2004, as the date for its annual awards dinner to announce the New York-bred champions of 2003. The dinner will be held at the Desmond Hotel in Albany. Dennis Brida, the executive director of the NYTB, and jockey Richard Migliore will be the emcees.

For further information, contact the NYTB offices at (518) 587-0777.

The NYTB will hold a board of directors organizational meeting in Fishkill on Jan. 5. It will be the first meeting of the new board following an election to fill six seats.

* Through Dec. 18, Regal Classic led New York sires in progeny earnings for the year with $3,618,364. Regal Classic stood the 2003 breeding season at Joe and Anne McMahon's McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs for a fee of $10,000.