04/24/2003 11:00PM

Stallion series provides big opportunities

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A major perk of New York's breeding and racing program is that it permits mares to be bred annually to out-of-state stallions.

Funny Cide and Carson Hollow, currently among the top horses in training, are New York-breds who were sired by leading Kentucky stallions.

There are also advantages to breeding to New York-based stallions and one of them is the New York Stallion Series, which features a race for 3-year-olds of each sex at Aqueduct on Sunday - the $150,000 Times Square and the $150,000 Park Avenue.

The Stallion Series, which for the first time this year offers two $100,000 owners' bonuses, is restricted to the progeny of New York stallions. A runner doesn't need to be a New York-bred to compete, but the great majority of the Stallion Series starters are foaled in the Empire State.

Stallion owners and foal owners must pay nomination fees to make a horse eligible to the series and stallion owners are rewarded with nominator awards if a sire has a runner who wins a Stallion Series race.

A total of eight Stallion Series races will be run at Aqueduct and Belmont this year. Two races for 3-year-olds were added this year - the $250,000 Cab Calloway for males and the $250,000 Statue of Liberty for fillies at Belmont on June 8. In the fall at Aqueduct, there are a pair of 2-year-old races, the Great White Way for males and the Fifth Avenue for fillies, worth $125,000 each, and a turf race for each sex, the Perfect Arc and Cormorant, worth $100,000 apiece.

The Great White Way and Fifth Avenue, the Times Square and Park Avenue, and the Cab Calloway and Statue of Liberty are tied to the $100,000 bonuses. If a horse sweeps the three races in its division, the winning owner earns the bonus.

Grey Comet, who will represent Star Track Farms in the Times Square, became eligible for the bonus by winning the Great White Way last fall. Beautiful America, the winner of the Fifth Avenue, will try to keep alive the bonus hopes of her owners, Chester and Mary Broman, in the Park Avenue. Grey Comet is by Distinctive Pro and Beautiful America is by the late Dixie Brass.

Dennis Brida, the executive director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, which previously handled the administration of the Stallion Series before the New York Racing Association took over several years ago, said nominations to the series have been increasing. "I think it is a dramatic improvement since NYRA took over its administration," Brida said. "It has a definite growth area, and this year we might have a horse that wins the bonus."

There are other incentives to breeding to New York stallions besides the Stallion Series. Breeders receive 20 percent of the purse for first- through fourth-place finishes in all New York races with horses they bred who are sired by New York stallions, versus 10 percent if the runner is by an out-of-state sire. The percentages are the same for owner awards in open races in New York.

o Brida said one of the items on his agenda this year is to lobby for the raising of purses for New York-bred stakes at NYRA tracks from $75,000 to $100,000 and to increase the total purse money for future runnings of New York Showcase Day from $1 million to $2 million. New York Showcase Day, which will be held on Oct. 18 at Belmont, features seven stakes for New York-breds.

Brida said upping the purses of 17 New York-bred stakes on the NYRA calendar from $75,000 to $100,000 could make the difference between a trainer running at home and shipping out of state for a bigger pot.

"It would keep horses around because there would be no choice but to stay in New York," said Brida, a former trainer.