07/16/2008 11:00PM

Saratoga purse incentives added

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In an effort to increase field size, the New York Racing Association will increase purses for route races on turf and dirt at Saratoga based on number of starters per race.

NYRA will provide incremental increases for every betting interest over six that starts in dirt races at 1 1/8 miles or longer. For turf races longer than 1 1/8 miles, the increases take effect for every betting interest over eight that start.

Maiden special weight races would increase by $5,000 per qualifying betting interest per race while first-, second-, and third-level allowance races would increase by $8,000 per qualifying betting interest per race. Money allowance and overnight stakes races would increase by $10,000 per qualifying betting interest per race.

A second-level allowance race at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt carries a $70,000 purse. If 10 horses were to start, that purse would jump to $102,000. An open maiden special weight turf race at 1 3/8 miles with 11 betting interests would jump from $63,000 to $78,000.

"These purse increases provide a huge incentive for owners and trainers at NYRA tracks and across the country to run their horses at Saratoga and fill these distance races," said P.J. Campo, NYRA's vice president and director of racing.

Had this been in effect last year, Campo said, 17 dirt races and 10 turf races would have qualified for purse increases.

"It'll be interesting what the response will be," said Rick Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "We often get criticized for our reliance on speed. This is a way of rewarding breeders and owners and trainers for running two turns and bringing some endurance back to our game."