04/14/2006 12:00AM

NYRA boosts off-turf purses


In an effort to try and maintain field size when turf races are moved to the main track, the New York Racing Association plans to raise purses of off-the-turf races by 20 percent provided that at least eight betting interests remain in the field.

The plan, which goes into effect with the opening of the Belmont spring meet on May 3, does not apply to traditional or overnight stakes races.

"We feel that this will encourage more people to run their horses and reward the people who hang with us and try to make the races go," said P.J. Campo, the racing secretary for NYRA. "Now, you might have a maiden $44,000 going for $53,000. That will encourage horses to run, and make for better fields for the fans. To us, it looked like raising the purse on these races would pay for itself in handle. It seems there is no downside, so why not take a shot?"

In addition to running for higher purses, horses who don't scratch when a turf race is moved to the main track will be given an additional preference the next time that horse is entered for a turf race that overfills.