12/02/2015 11:22AM

NYRA to run 14 fewer days in 2016

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The New York Racing Association has scheduled a total of 237 days of racing at its three tracks in 2016, 14 fewer days (5.5 percent) than what was scheduled in 2015, the organization announced Wednesday.

A four-day race week during January, February and March along with the reinstatement of a Christmas break next December accounts for the bulk of the reduction. There will also be five fewer days of racing at Belmont Park’s spring-summer meet, owing in large part to NYRA building in dark days around Memorial Day and July 4th to avoid having six-day race weeks until Saratoga.

NYRA officials announced following an Oct. 21 Reorganization Board meeting that it was seeking fewer race days primarily in the winter and spring due to a reduction in the available horse population at those times and because the equine fatality rate has been higher in the winter than at other times of the year.

There will be 50 days of racing on Aqueduct’s inner track in the first three months of 2016. Starting Jan. 7, racing will be conducted on a Thursday-through-Sunday schedule through the end of the inner-track meet on March 26. Legislation recently signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will enable Aqueduct to be open Palm Sunday (March 20), but the track will be closed on Easter Sunday (March 27).

Aqueduct’s 19-day spring meet will run from March 31 through April 24. The Wood Memorial and four other graded stakes will be run on April 9. The combined 69 days of racing during the winter and spring at Aqueduct are only five fewer than what was scheduled – before cancellations – in 2015.

Belmont’s 54-day spring-summer meet opens April 29 and runs through July 17. Belmont Stakes Day is June 11 and Stars and Stripes Day is July 9. The remainder of the stakes schedule has yet to be announced.

The 40-day Saratoga meet runs from July 22 through Sept. 5, with racing conducted six days a week. Though the entire stakes schedule has not been released, NYRA announced that the Whitney will be Aug. 6 and the Travers Aug. 27.

Belmont’s 38-day fall meet runs from Sept. 9 through Oct. 30 before racing returns to Aqueduct on Nov. 4. NYRA has reinstated a holiday break in 2016, and the track will be dark from Dec. 19-28.