10/09/2001 12:00AM

NTRA plans statebred day

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A new race card for top horses in National Thoroughbred Racing Association statebred programs will soon be inaugurated, according to a plan approved by the NTRA at a board meeting Tuesday in Lexington.

Details are being worked out, but the plan would call for six $250,000 races, held for the first time next year perhaps, NTRA spokesman Eric Wing said. The format likely would call for "no more than one horse from each statebred program" in each race, he added.

The idea of a racing card offering opportunities for second-tier horses across the country gained support earlier this year from officials at statebred programs. Roughly modeled on the World Thoroughbred Championships, the program would include a stakes for 2-year-old colts, 2-year-old fillies, turf horses, sprint horses, fillies and mares on the dirt, and colts and geldings on the dirt, Wing said.

Also at the board meeting, the NTRA approved a preliminary 2002 budget of $60 million. The 2001 budget was $57 million.

The NTRA also approved a $3 million "stimulus plan" to subsidize track promotional efforts next year, NTRA officials said. The officials said the NTRA was growing concerned that the downturn in the economy would negatively impact racetracks next year.