12/29/2006 1:00AM

Even better year expected in 2007


Highlighted by Grade 1 victories on the racetrack, the New York breeding program enjoyed considerable success in 2006. The outlook for the coming years looks even brighter, according to Martin Kinsella, executive director of the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund.

"From the perspective of the breeding fund, it was a good year, with vibrant interest in New York-breds at the sales and among owners small and large," said Kinsella. "Eventually, video lottery terminals are coming, and purses are going to go way up at New York tracks. So if the number of New York-bred races continues at these levels, there are some people who are saying, 'I want some of these New York-breds.' "

Kinsella said independent gaming analysts have estimated that VLT's at Aqueduct could mean an additional $45 million in purses at NYRA tracks. The number of races restricted to New York-breds for 2006 will be near 800 at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga. Just five years ago, there were 504 such races at NYRA tracks.

Kinsella said he hopes the long-awaited VLT operation at Aqueduct will be launched in 2007, a year in which the state legislature is expected to address the racing franchise held by NYRA since 1955. The NYRA franchise is slated to expire on Dec. 31, 2007.

The Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of New York Racing, a nine-member advisory panel, recently gave a nonbinding recommendation that Excelsior Racing Associates be awarded the next franchise.

"I think the Ad Hoc Committee did a thorough job with its work," said Kinsella. "I would hope the legislative leaders do something for racing based upon what is good for all the component parts of the New York industry."

Kinsella added that he was concerned about the financial difficulties facing both NYRA, which recently filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, and the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation, which provides nearly 40 percent of the fund's revenue.

Fourth New York-bred champ expected

Fleet Indian, winner of the Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga Race Course and the Beldame Handicap at Belmont Park, is a leading candidate for an Eclipse Award as champion older female.

Only three New York-breds have won Eclipse Awards: Funny Cide, who was champion 3-year-old male in 2003; Saratoga Dew, who was champion

3-year-old filly in 1992; and Silent Screen, who was champion 2-year-old male in 1969.

Ruthless, a New York-bred filly, won the first Belmont Stakes in 1867 and was considered among the best of her generation.

Owned by Paul Saylor, Fleet Indian was bred by Becky Thomas and Lewis Lakin. Thomas and Lakin are also the breeders of the other New York-bred Grade 1 winner in 2006, Behaving Badly. Early in the season, she captured the Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita, the first of her four graded victories on the year. Behaving Badly is owned by Patti and Hal J. Earnhardt III.

As of Friday, Fleet Indian and Behaving Badly were two of 10 graded stakes winners bred in in 2006 New York.

Lawrence the Roman eyes Whirlaway

Lawrence the Roman, a New York-bred who won the Damon Runyon Stakes by 11 lengths in his last start Dec. 10, could be headed for open company as a 3-year-old.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Lawrence the Roman might try the Whirlaway on Feb. 10 at Aqueduct.

An unbeaten son of Point Given, Lawrence the Roman is owned by Lawrence P. Roman, who along with Edward English and Jeff Levine bred Lawrence the Roman.

Lawrence the Roman has won his three races, all in restricted company, by a combined margin of more than 25 lengths.

Lawrence the Roman's pedigree suggests he will have no trouble handling longer distances. His sire won the Belmont, the Travers, and the Preakness, and was Horse of the Year in 2001.

Lawrence the Roman is out of Carly Lee, a daughter of Santa Anita Handicap winner Broad Brush. Carly Lee descends from Bold Ruler mare Terentia, who placed in the Alabama Stakes and Coaching Club American Oaks, and whose family includes the sire Boundary.