07/01/2010 11:00PM

Overnight stakes return at Saratoga


ELMONT, N.Y. - The purse structure for open company races for the upcoming Saratoga meet will mirror that of last year, while those for New York-breds will be slightly less than 2009, New York Racing Association officials said this week. The 40-day Saratoga meet opens July 23.

While the purses for New York-bred races will be down from last year's Saratoga meet, they will be up $4,000 when compared with the current Belmont spring/summer meet. A maiden New York-bred race that was $44,000 last year - and $36,000 at Belmont - will be $40,000 this summer at the Spa.

Also, NYRA will reinstitute the overnight stakes program at Saratoga, something that was scrapped during the Belmont spring/summer meet. In addition to some overnight stakes that are already on the calendar, the first condition book for Saratoga has eight additional overnight stakes, beginning with the James Marvin on opening day. Last year, Pyro finished second in the James Marvin, but came back to win the Grade 1 Forego later in the meet.

The traditional stakes program, announced earlier this year, will consist of 52 stakes worth $10.875 million, compared with 48 stakes worth $11.17 million in 2009.

P.J. Campo, NYRA's director of racing, said the purse incentive program that was extremely successful last year would not be brought back with the exception of off-the-turf races. If races that come off the turf leave the paddock with eight betting interests, the purse will increase by 20 percent. Last year, of 29 races taken off the turf, 13 were eligible for the 20-percent increase.

Last year, dirt races that left the paddock with more than eight betting interests were eligible to receive increases of 10 to 15 percent.

In another change, Campo said he will write three condition books for the 40-day meet, as opposed to two in previous years when the meet was 36 days long. The first book will encompass the first 16 days of the meet, while the remaining two books will be 12 days each.

"A lot of guys were asking me to write a shorter book,'' Campo said. "I tried to write two 20-day books when I first started writing it, but it just wasn't working. It gives me the opportunity to adjust from the first couple of days to the second book.''