06/23/2010 11:00PM

NYRA approves uncoupling of entries


In a change that should give handle a significant boost, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board on Wednesday approved a rule that would uncouple same-trainer, different-owner entries in all races at state tracks.

The rule goes into effect on July 14, the date the next state registry is published. That should allow the New York Racing Association to uncouple entries as early as closing weekend of the Belmont meet. Certainly, the rule will be in place when Saratoga opens on July 23. Currently, multiple horses trained by the same trainer but owned by different parties must be coupled and run as one betting interest.

"Chairman John Sabini and board members Dan Hogan and Charles Diamond were eager to get this done," said Joe Mahoney, a spokesman for the racing and wagering board. "They think this will be a definite plus for the racing industry and they are particularly pleased to put this new rule on the books in advance of the Saratoga racing season. Chairman Sabini is very optimistic that this can help NYRA build handle during the upcoming meet."

NYRA first proposed the rule change in May 2006. NYRA officials estimate that from 2006 to 2009, an additional $556,407,606 in total handle which would have resulted in $20.7 million in net revenue to NYRA and $18.7 million to purses was lost because of the coupled-entry rule. New York rules do not allow for superfecta wagering to be offered in races with coupled entries, which has led to 1,246 scratches from 2006 to 2009.

"I think that's going to help tremendously," said P.J. Campo, NYRA's vice-president/director of racing.

Rick Violette, the president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said he thinks it will help some of the better allowance races fill.

"The two-other-thans, three-other-thans, where entries don't help the handle or make the race go may go from five to seven betting interests," Violette said. "Also, it brings us up to the standard of the rest of the country."