03/17/2014 2:35PM

New York-bred stakes program enhanced

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With an emphasis on 2-year-olds and the first New York-bred Showcase Day at Saratoga, the stakes program for horses bred in New York has received significant purse enhancements for 2014, according to a release Monday from the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc.

Between the three New York Racing Association tracks – Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga – as well as Finger Lakes, a total of 69 New York-bred stakes worth $8.6 million will be run this year. The purses for New York-bred stakes run at NYRA tracks have been increased by $485,000 over 2013.

NYRA tracks will host 54 New York-bred stakes worth $7,475,000, while Finger Lakes will conduct 15 New York-bred stakes worth $1,125,000. With these increases in place, there will not be a Big Apple Triple bonus offered this year if a horse sweeps the Mike Lee, New York Derby, and Albany, a trio of races restricted to New York-bred 3-year-olds.

The New York Showcase Day program at Saratoga will be run Sunday, Aug. 24, the day after the Travers Stakes. There will be six stakes offered that day totaling $1.15 million in purse money, topped by the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds and the $200,000 Fleet Indian for 3-year-old fillies. The West Point and Yaddo, $150,000 turf stakes for males and females, respectively, and a pair of $200,000 stakes for 2-year-olds, the Funny Cide for males and the Seeking the Ante for females, each will be run that day. NYRA said it expects that some open-company races will be run on the Aug. 24 card.

The Aug. 24 card will be added to the two New York Showcase programs run at Belmont Park. The first one May 31 offers six stakes worth $900,000, while the Oct. 18 program will offer eight stakes worth $1.725 million, topped by the $300,000 Empire Classic and the inaugural running of the $250,000 Empire Distaff Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

There are five new races for 2-year-olds in 2014 to be hosted by NYRA, which has increased stakes purses for New York-bred 2-year-olds on its circuit by $1,050,000. There are now 19 stakes for New York-bred 2-year-olds run in the state, with purses totaling $2.65 million.

“This is the first step in what will likely be a multiyear process,” Martin Panza, NYRA’s senior vice president of racing operations, said in a press release. “This year, we focused on the races for 2-year-olds, which seemed like a logical place to start. In coming years, we hope to roll out similarly structured programs for 3-year-olds and for older horses of both sexes.”

Jeffrey Cannizzo, executive director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc., praised Panza and NYRA for enhancing the 2-year-old stakes program.

“More races and bigger purses will add to commercial appeal of New York-breds in the eyes of pinhookers and end users alike,” Cannizzo said. “Every breeder with a yearling for sale stands to benefit.”