Updated on 09/16/2011 7:43AM

New leader focuses on slots


Last week, the New York Thoroughbred Breeders board of directors elected Jerry Nielsen, the owner of Sunnyfield Farm in Bedford, N.Y., as the organization's president for a two-year term.

Nielsen, 67, has replaced Howard Nolan, who didn't seek re-election after serving consecutive two-year terms.

Nielsen brings a wealth of knowledge of the New York breeding industry to his new position. Since 1976, Nielsen and his wife, Joanne, have managed a successful commercial breeding operation in Westchester County at Sunnyfield Farm, where they currently have 13 broodmares.

Among the stakes winners bred by the Nielsens over the years are Capades, Roman Dancer, I'm All Yours, and Along Came Mary.

Nielsen also owns a commercial real estate business and a florist business in Darien, Conn.

Nielsen previously served as the NYTB's vice president and treasurer and is a past director for the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund.

The NYTB's newest president said one of his priorities during his tenure is to keep the lines of communications flowing between the NYTB, the Fund, horsemen, and the New York Racing Association. Nielsen, who said the four groups have enjoyed a good relationship in recent years, said functioning as a team is essential to getting video lottery terminals up and running at selected New York racetracks.

Legislation was passed last October permitting VLT's, which are similar to slot machines, at designated New York racetracks, including Aqueduct and Finger Lakes. The Fund will be entitled to a percentage of the revenue generated by the machines.

Racetrack executives are still hammering out business plans with the New York State Lottery and the earliest that the slots are expected to be in place is November, providing the machines can overcome anticipated constitutional challenges.

"The most important thing is that all four groups are working together to get VLT's," Nielsen said. "There needs to be some give and take and everybody has to support it to get it done.

"The numbers in the New York breeding program have started to come around with more mares and stallions coming into the state," Nielsen added, "and I think they are coming because VLT's will make the purses more attractive. Purses could grow by 50 percent or more in a three-year period."

Nielsen said Finger Lakes, in particular, is in desperate need of a purse boost.

"There is a real crying need for purse money at Finger Lakes," Nielsen said. "Purses are very, very low and it's nearly all New York-breds who are running there."

According to Fund statistics, statebred purses at Finger Lakes dropped by more than $1.3 million to $4,344,850 in 2001.

The 11-member NYTB board also elected attorney Barry R. Ostrager, a principal in Questroyal Stud, as the vice president. Barbara Brewer of Onteora Farm was re-elected secretary/treasurer.

More money available for statebreds

The New York-bred program, including purses, awards, and incentives, is worth $37 million this year, up from $35 million in 2001, according to Fund statistics.

Last year, NYRA ran 500 races for New York-breds, up from 452. Purses for statebreds in 2001 increased by more than $2.6 million to $23,293,000 at NYRA tracks.

Finger Lakes ran 282 races for New York-breds last year, down from 385.

Overall, there were 782 races designated for New York-breds, worth $27,637,850 in purses, at New York's Thoroughbred tracks last year.

Nunzio to stand at Dutchess Views

Nunzio, a son of Holy Bull, entered stud this week at Dutchess Views Farm in Pine Plains, N.Y. Nunzio's stud fee will be $1,500, live foal.

Nunzio will stand at Dutchess Views for his owner, Jane Griffin, who raced the 5-year-old in partnership before buying out her partners.

Nunzio was retired after finishing 10th in his last start on Dec. 15 at Aqueduct in a second-level allowance race. He ended his career with earnings of $117,188 from a record of 2-5-2 in 15 starts.

Griffin said she would support Nunzio, who is out of the Seeking the Gold mare, Paradisa, with 14 to 18 mares during his first year at stud.

* The NYTB is soliciting resumes to fill the position of executive director. Michael Flynn, the current executive director, will leave next month to take a position with the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. Resumes will be accepted until March 1 and should be directed to Patty Della Peruta at 425 Lexington Ave., New York., N.Y. 10017. The NYTB's offices are located in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

* The next breeders dinner meeting is scheduled for April 23. A topic and location will be announced shortly. Last week's dinner meeting in Coxsackie, N.Y. was attended by a record 58 breeders from around the state. Jim Scott, the owner of Liberty Stud, and Dr. Jerry Bilinski, a veterinarian and the proprietor of Waldorf Farm, discussed normal and abnormal foaling events.