10/10/2002 11:00PM

N.Y. breeding: $1 million on offer for New York Showcase

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The biggest day of the year for the New York breeding program is Saturday, Oct. 19, on closing weekend of the Belmont Park fall meet.

The entire card is devoted to New York-breds, including seven stakes, worth a total of $1 million in purses.

The stakes lineup New York Showcase:

* $250,000 Classic: 3-year-olds and up; 1 1/8 miles on dirt

* $150,000 Ticonderoga: fillies and mares; 1 1/8 miles on turf

* $150,000 Mohawk: 3-year-olds and up; 1 1/8 miles on turf

* $125,000 Iroquois: fillies and mares; seven furlongs on dirt

* $125,000 Hudson: 3-year-olds; six furlongs on dirt

* $100,000 Sleepy Hollow: 2-year-olds; one mile on dirt

* $100,000 Maid of the Mist: 2-year-old fillies; one mile on dirt

Among the leading New York-breds nominated to Showcase races are Critical Eye (Ticonderoga), Gander (Classic), Funny Cide (Sleepy Hollow), Maddie May (Iroquois), Shopping for Love (Ticonderoga), and Whitmore's Conn (Mohawk).

As an experiment in 2001, the Showcase races were split over a two-day period. This year, the New York Racing Association decided to contain the seven stakes to one day to maximize awareness of the event.

"I think we learned that it is better to bundle up the Showcase and make it the focus of a big day," said Bill Nader, senior vice president at NYRA. "Spreading it over two days, especially during football season with the Jets and the Giants, diluted the opportunity to have a big day."

Usually one of the strongest betting cards during the year in New York, the Showcase races generally draw full fields and generate large handle. This year, the Showcase stakes will be part of a $500,000 guaranteed pick 4.

"The Showcase races tend to be pretty competitive," Nader said. "This day has come a long way since when we started. The quality has improved."

Over the last few years, the Showcase has evolved into more than a racing event, thanks in part to the efforts of NYRA, the New York breeders, horsemen, and New York's department of tourism and agriculture and markets. Several non racing activities, which are promotionally tied to the New York Showcase, will take place at Belmont during the course of the weekend.

The Harlem Jazz and Music Festival and a fashion show are scheduled for Saturday at 6 to 9 p.m. The event is free and is located in the Marquee Tent, behind the paddock.

On Saturday and Sunday, approximately 70 vendors will set up shop at the track, offering products indigenous to New York State, including crafts, flowers, food, and wines.

An emphasis will be placed on activities for children, with pony rides, hay rides, pumpkin decorating, and face painting in the backyard the entire weekend.

Other events include a display of approximately 30 vintage tractors in Belmont's backyard on Saturday and Sunday, sponsored by John Deere. On Saturday, performances by the Islip Drill Team, New York's mounted police, and aerialists are scheduled.

Also on Saturday, retired Hall of Fame riders, including Braulio Baeza and Angel Cordero Jr., will be on hand to meet with fans. Several popular retired New York-breds, including Fourstardave and Boom Towner, will be paraded.

As a special perk to owners, the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association is sponsoring owner's appreciation day on Saturday. All New York owners and their families are invited to a luncheon in the Marquee Tent.

New York-breds popular at Maryland sale

New York-bred yearlings sold for a total of $1,311,600 at Fasig-Tipton's recently concluded three-day sale in Timonium, Md.

Registered New York-breds made up nearly 23 percent of all yearlings sold at the Midlantic sale. In all, 121 New York-breds were sold, while another 43 failed to meet their reserve prices.

The highest-priced New York-bred - and tied for the highest-priced colt at the sale - was a $125,000 Boston Harbor yearling, consigned by Francis and Barbara Valangendonck's Summerfield, agent. Hip No. 596 was bought by Meg Levy's Bluewater Sales of Lexington, Ky., as agent for Gary Bisantz. The colt, who is out of the New York-bred stakes winner Strawberry Burrah, was bred by Sabine Stable and foaled at Silvernails Farm in Pine Plains, N.Y.

* Through Oct. 2, the total amount of money spent on New York-bred yearlings at public auctions is $11,227,600 for 289 sold. That figure is nearly $2 million higher than the comparable time period in 2001.

* New York-bred Perfectly Stunning, bought two years ago for $1.25 million at Saratoga's select sale of yearlings, won a maiden race at Keeneland on Sunday. The Silver Deputy filly is owned by Debby Oxley and trained by John Ward.