08/29/2002 11:00PM

Statebred purses get $2,000 raise

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When Belmont Park's fall meet begins on Friday, purses for New York-bred allowance and maiden races will be raised by $2,000.

Earlier this year at Belmont's spring meet, open allowance and maiden races received a $2,000 boost, while statebred purses remained unchanged. The New York Racing Association again bumped up open purses by $2,000 for Saratoga's six-week meet, creating a $4,000 differential between open and New York-bred purses.

Because business has been good at NYRA tracks this year, purses for open races will remain at Saratoga levels during Belmont's fall meet, while New York-bred races will be on the receiving end of a $2,000 increase.

"We wanted to reward the owners and breeders of statebreds for their continued support of New York racing, especially in light of the fact that statebred races did not benefit from the $2,000 raises put into effect for the Belmont spring meet or here at Saratoga," said Mike Lakow, NYRA's racing secretary and handicapper.

The purse enhancement was good news for New York breeders, who feared the purse disparity between statebred and open races would continue to grow.

"The key is that purses aren't being taken away; [they] are increasing," said Dennis Brida, the executive director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. "There was no escalation of what had happened before. Getting this purse increase lessens the gap in a two-tier system."

Depending upon the distance, restricted maiden races at Belmont will be worth $43,000 or $44,000, compared with $45,000 or $46,000 for open maiden events.

Million-dollar Festival day

In addition to overnight statebred purses, more than $1.3 million in restricted stakes money will be up for grabs at Belmont's fall meet.

Twelve New York-bred stakes are scheduled during the 33-day meet. The biggest day of the year for New York-breds is Oct. 19 when the New York Showcase Fall Festival is held. The event, which offers $1 million in purses, features seven restricted stakes and is highlighted by the $250,000 Empire Classic Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.

The other stakes on the Fall Festival card are the $150,000 Mohawk Handicap for grass runners; the $150,000 Ticonderoga Handicap for filly and mare turf runners; the $125,000 Hudson for sprinters; the $125,000 Iroquois for female sprinters; the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow for2-year-olds; and the $100,000 Maid of the Mist for 2-year-old fillies.

MacArthur tops Belmont opener

The first restricted stakes on the Belmont schedule, the $75,000-added Gen. Douglas MacArthur Handicap, will be run on opening day, Friday. One of the nominees to the seven-furlong race is Say Florida Sandy, the all-time leading New York-bred in money won. Say Florida Sandy has won two runnings of the MacArthur.

Artax filly top New Yorker at Ocala

Thirty-eight New York-bred yearlings were sold for a total of $330,400 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company selected and open auction on Aug. 19-22 in Ocala, Fla.

The highest price for a New York-bred was $30,000 for an Artax filly offered at the select sale.

Including the OBS sale, the number of New York-bred yearlings sold this year at summer sales is 162. The final bids on the horses sold have brought a total of $8,462,900.

Great State Challenge talks

The NYTB will hold a preliminary meeting on Thursday at Belmont to discuss the selection process for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Great State Challenge, a six-race event for statebreds from around the country.

The inaugural Great State Challenge is scheduled for Dec. 7 at Sam Houston Race Park in Texas.

In the fall, the NYTB will supply the NTRA and Sam Houston with a preliminary list of no more than 10 horses for each of the races. At a later date, the horses will be ranked for preference to start. No more than two horses from the same state will be permitted to compete in a single race.

* Sixty-four yearlings foaled in New York are among the 4,367 horses consigned to Keeneland's 12-day sale, which begins on Sept. 9.