04/29/2011 12:18PM

Finger Lakes cuts nine stakes from schedule


Faced with the loss of $700,000 in purse supplements from the New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund, Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack has slashed nine of 13 stakes from its 2011 schedule.

In making the announcement Friday, the track’s president and general manager, Chris Reigle, said Finger Lakes had a choice of eliminating stakes or severely reducing overnight purses for New York-bred races after the breeding development fund cut purse supplements awarded to the western New York track from $1.05 million to $280,000. The reduction was largely accountable to the demise of New York City’s Off-Track Betting Company late last year and a subsequent loss of more than $3 million in revenue to the breeders’ fund from wagers placed at New York City OTB.

“The loss of over $700,000 in purse supplements from the NYTBDF has necessitated this unfortunate step,” Reigle said. “While it is very disappointing to lose many of our stakes for 2011, we are pleased that we were able to find a way to keep our average daily purse distribution at the same level for now.

“The demise of New York City Off Track Betting late last year has already begun to have a dramatic negative impact on the landscape of Thoroughbred racing in New York State. First, by reducing Finger Lakes racing revenues by over $4 million annually, and now by severely impairing the ability of the Breeding Fund to promote the advantages of racing New York-breds.”

Despite the cuts, Finger Lakes has managed to retain its two signature races, the $150,000 New York Derby and the $200,000 New York Breeders’ Futurity, along with the Aspirant and Lady Fingers, both for 2-year-olds.

Gone are the $75,000 New York Oaks and eight $50,000 stakes: the George W. Barker Handicap (May 30), Susan B. Anthony Handicap (June 11), Niagara Stakes (July 4), Arctic Queen Handicap (July 16), Ontario County Stakes (July 30), Genesee Valley Breeders’ Handicap (Aug. 6), Leon Reed Memorial Handicap (Aug. 20), and the Jack Betta Be Rite Handicap (Sept. 17).

Finger Lakes officials indicated they are hopeful that once the the breeders’ fund begins receiving additional income later this year through revenue sharing of profits generated at the casino being built on the grounds of Aqueduct, funding will be restored to prior levels.

– Joe DeVivo