10/31/2005 12:00AM

Hayward hopeful of uninterrupted meet


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A highly successful Breeders' Cup Day was a nice distraction from the problems plaguing the cash-strapped New York Racing Association. But as the venue switches from Belmont Park to Aqueduct beginning Wednesday, the focus will once again be on the NYRA's ability to conduct racing uninterrupted through the winter.

Earlier this fall, NYRA president Charles Hayward warned legislators in Albany that if NYRA does not get an infusion of cash soon, it would be in jeopardy of being unable to conduct racing through the winter.

Hayward said that for NYRA to remain solvent through February it needs "somewhere between $750,000 and a little over $1 million a month." Hayward added that NYRA needs about $15 million to conduct racing through November 2006, when video-lottery terminals are expected to be up and running at Aqueduct. Construction on that project is scheduled as soon as state lottery officials give their approval. Hayward termed that as happening "momentarily."

Possible revenue sources for NYRA could be a combination of a sale of paintings next month at Sotheby's auction house, the potential sale of 80 land parcels on the Aqueduct grounds, or a subsidy from the state.

"There are a number of things that are under discussion," Hayward said. "One simple thing would be if the state would somehow be able to loan us the money and we could repay them with the proceeds of the sale. And we could write the sale such that it doesn't prejudice the opinion of the ownership."

There has been debate on who owns the property and whether NYRA has the right to sell it or if it is the state's property to sell.

Hayward said there are no plans to scale back the racing schedule or to cut purses, and that said there is "no financial gain to NYRA" to reduce the race week to four days. He added, however, that without any assistance, "I can't absolutely say" there won't be an interruption of the Aqueduct racing schedule.

Hayward said he has had "productive" meetings with the Finance Committee of the Oversight Committee that Gov. Pataki created to monitor NYRA a few months ago. Hayward said he believes legislators in Albany are hearing his message.

"The importance of racing continuing five days a week at the current purse levels in anticipation of getting [video lottery terminals], I think the state understands that it's not just in NYRA's interests to keep going, but it's in the state's interests," Hayward said Sunday morning at a post-Breeders' Cup press conference. "So I think that they understand that the problem is something they have some interest in addressing.

"I'm hoping the solvency issue of NYRA just does not drag out, because it doesn't serve anybody's purposes," Hayward said. "I'm hoping we can reach a pretty quick and good resolution with the state."

Hayward said NYRA has claimed back 550 parking spots from the Port Authority, which has roped off a good portion of the parking lot off the Lefferts Blvd. entrance. The Port Authority purchased that property over a decade ago.

Security barn still in place

As was the case during the Belmont spring and fall meets as well as Saratoga, all horses running at Aqueduct will be required to report to a security barn. Because post time is 12:30 p.m., and most horses have to be shipped from Belmont, the time that horses have to spend in the security barn has been cut from six hours to five.

Barns 12 and 12A will be used and can house as many as 93 horses.

"We cut the window from six hours to five hours so they don't have to be at the security barn until 7:30," Hayward said. "That still gives us plenty of time to do the Lasix."

Barn 12A is often used as a jogging barn where horses train when Aqueduct's track is closed for training. Hayward said that barn will be in use until 8:30 a.m.

Gotham to be run on inner track

Hayward did confirm that next year's Gotham Stakes, a key prep for the Wood Memorial, will be run on the inner track rather than the main track. The race will likely be run at 1 1/16 miles, thus becoming a two-turn race. It had been a one-turn mile run on the main track.

The inner-track meet will likely be extended by two weeks, till the end of March, Hayward said.

"That time of year the outer track is fragile with the change of temperatures," Hayward said. "Though it still needs board approval, management will recommend the Gotham be a two-turn race on the inner track.

* Trainer Todd Pletcher won the Belmont training title with 23 wins, one more than Richard Dutrow Jr. Bill Mott and Gary Contessa tied for third with 17 wins each.

Edgar Prado won the riding title with 47 wins, six more than John Velazquez. Jerry Bailey finished third with 34 wins.

* Badge of Silver, prepping for a start in the Cigar Mile, worked a strong five furlongs in 58.45 seconds over Belmont's main track on Sunday. The work was the fastest of 19 at the distance. Trained by Bobby Frankel, Badge of Silver finished second in last year's Cigar Mile.

The Frankel-trained Personal Legend, who is expected to try to defend her title in Saturday's Turnback the Alarm Handicap, worked five furlongs in 58.82 seconds Sunday.

At a glance: Aqueduct

RACING SCHEDULE: Wednesdays through Sundays, except Tuesday Nov. 8 (Election Day); dark Wednesday Nov. 9. Closed for Christmas break Dec. 19 through Dec. 27; racing switches to inner track Nov. 30

POST TIME: 12:30 p.m. except Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24), 11 a.m.; Nov. 25 and 26, noon.

ADMISSIONS: Clubhouse $1. Grandstand closed. Children 12 and under admitted free when accompanied by adult.

PARKING: General $1. Clubhouse preferred $4. Valet $4..


SaturdayLong Island Handicap (Gr. 2)$150,000
Nov. 12Red Smith Handicap (Gr. 2)150,000
Nov. 25Top Flight Handicap (Gr. 2)150,000
Nov. 26Cigar Mile (Gr. 1)350,000
Nov. 26Demoiselle (Gr. 2)200,000
Nov. 26Remsen (Gr. 2)200,000

LOCATION: Exits 18B or 19 off Belt Parkway

PHONE: (718) 641-6700

INTERNET: www.nyra.com