06/25/2006 11:00PM

Spa allows local simulcast


Simulcasts of the races from Saratoga Race Course during this summer's 36-day meet will be offered every racing day at the neighboring harness track, officials of the New York Racing Association, the operator of Saratoga, said Monday.

This will be the first time that NYRA has allowed its full race card to be shown at any location in Saratoga Springs during the race meet. The simulcasts will be offered at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, a casino and harness track that abuts Saratoga Race Course.

Saratoga's races will continue to be blacked out on the local cable system, with the exception of the last race of each day's card, according to Bill Nader, a NYRA senior vice president.

Saratoga opens on July 26 and will run six days a week for 36 days, on a Wednesday-through-Monday schedule. NYRA officials held a press conference on Monday to generate upstate publicity for the meet, as they do every year.

As part of the simulcasting agreement with Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, NYRA will be allowed to use 47 stalls at the harness track for Thoroughbred horses. NYRA recently converted 52 stalls on its backstretch for use in its race-day security program, which requires that all horses entered on a day's race card be isolated in a stall for at least six hours before race time.

NYRA officials also announced across-the-board purse increases for the Saratoga meet, with all classes of races receiving some type of increase. Nader said that NYRA typically increases purses every year at Saratoga, but for this year, "the increases are much more robust" than in the past.

As part of the increase, all overnight stakes will carry a purse of $70,000 this year, compared with $65,000 last year. New York-bred races will get sizable increases compared with NYRA's current Belmont meet, with purses in maiden special weight races rising from $41,000 to $47,000, and purses in first-level allowance races rising from $41,000 to $50,000.

NYRA will also continue to boost the purse of any race that is moved off the turf at Saratoga by 20 percent, in the hopes of keeping horses from scratching, a policy put in place this year at Belmont Park. The bonus applies only to races with at least eight horses.