11/25/2011 7:11PM

Letters to the Editor Nov. 27


Fan baffled by money given statebred runners

Fact: On Sunday, Nov. 13, in the eighth race at Aqueduct, a 2-year-old New York-bred maiden colt with two New York-bred maiden claiming losses to his name won at 91-1 in a New York Stallion Stakes race with a purse valued at $100,000.

Question: In what way, shape, or form is the quality of the Thoroughbred sport enhanced when a racing institution such as the New York Racing Association writes these kinds of races with these kinds of purses for these kinds of animals?

Plea: I ask anyone who may have an answer to this question to please enlighten me in this forum.

Edward G. Calhoun - Jackson Heights, N.Y.

New York program seen as win for all

I very much appreciate the opportunity to clear up some, perhaps understandable, misconceptions about the New York Stallion Series and to make a case that, far from detracting from the quality of  the New York Racing Association's racing program, races like the Stallion Series are its life's blood, both for the racetrack operator and for horseplayers.

The New York Stallion Series has been in existence for nearly three decades to provide an incentive to stallion owners to stand their horses in the state, and almost every other regional breeding program in the country has such a series. It may not be common knowledge, however, that the Stallion Series is not funded the same way as "regular" races. Breeders themselves subsidize the program's purses through annual nomination fees for stallions and one-time nomination fees for eligible progeny.

From the racetrack's point of view, the Stallion Series and whole New York breeding program cannot help but be a bottom-line asset. Races carded for New York-breds and New York-sired horses simply attract more starters than open races. Take the most recent figures for starters per race for New York-bred maiden special weight fields versus open maiden special fields at the three NYRA tracks: Saratoga (9.4 starters in New York-bred races/8.5 in open), Belmont (9.0 N.Y./7.6 open), and Aqueduct (8.4 N.Y./6.9 open). Since every additional starter adds an average of $140,000 in handle for NYRA, clearly this is good business for the racetrack operator. At the very least you could argue that the New York-bred and Stallion Series programs enhance NYRA's program by funding the purse account for other races, but there's one more point.

The Stallion Series and New York racing program offer value to end-product users - race-goers and handicappers alike. I don't need to reel off a list of the top-shelf New York-breds in training (three Grade 1 winners this year) or talk about the way horses such as  Grade 1-winner Franny Freud participated in three Stallion Series races in 2009 and 2010. Would most horseplayers prefer to wager on a five-horse field with a 6-5 favorite, or a race like the one referenced, a wide-open 12-horse field where a very clever handicapper, taking into account the winner's show of speed in a previous start, improving form, and solid connections, could end up landing a 91-1 shot? For myself and most handicappers, I know the choice would be clear.

Value for breeders and owners, value for the racetrack, and value for the horseplayer. What's not to like?

Jeff Cannizzo, Executive Director, New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc.