04/21/2017 2:30PM

Purses bumped to $90,000 for turf marathons at Belmont


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Looking to take advantage of growing interest in turf racing and a lack of races run at marathon distances on that surface, the New York Racing Association will increase purses for turf races at 10 furlongs or longer to $90,000 at the Belmont spring-summer meet, which begins Friday.

The purse increase will impact maiden races and first- and second-level allowance races. Typically, maiden races at marathon distances were worth $75,000, a first-level allowance pot was $77,000, and a second-level allowance race was worth $85,000. At the 2016 Belmont spring-summer meet, there were 15 races run at 10 furlongs or longer.

Martin Panza, senior director of racing operations for NYRA, said there were a number of reasons for this move. First, he said, Kentucky farms have made a concerted effort to stand stallions who thrived at marathon distances, including Flintshire and Noble Mission.

:: Enjoy news and analysis from DRF? Get handicapping analysis, real-time coverage, special reports, and charts. Unlock access with DRF Plus.

Panza said that 40 percent of the stakes run in North America are on turf, and these maiden and allowance races could help bolster fields for some of those stakes. Panza noted that Fasig-Tipton recently announced a yearling sale this fall for turf-oriented horses.

“From a racing standpoint, very few tracks are writing these types of races we do in New York,” Panza said. “If we can help American racing by having longer-distance racing … we found with our 2-year-old bonus program, it certainly increased the starters and starts we had. Over a period of time, we’re hoping the same thing will happen in these longer maiden races and longer allowance races.”

In 2016, NYRA began offering $100,000 purses for a select number of 2-year-old maiden races. There were 166 2-year-olds who made 212 starts at the Belmont spring-summer meet.

Panza said he may also write one or two maiden dirt races at 1 1/4 miles, and the purse for those would also be $90,000.

Panza thanked the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and president Rick Violette “for giving us the opportunity to try this program.”