In keeping with a trend that began earlier this year, the New York Racing Association will again raises purses, this time for the 45-day Aqueduct fall meet that begins Oct. 24 and runs through Dec. 30. Projected purses will be the highest in recent memory for the fall meet.
Purses at Aqueduct will increase 12%, NYRA officials said in an Oct. 11 release. The projected purse hikes range from $10,000 for open allowance tests to $4,000 for claiming races.
Under the new pay scale, an open allowance event will be worth $56,000 and a maiden special weight test $52,000. Purses for comparable New York-bred races will be $50,000 and $46,000, respectively, NYRA officials said.
During the final three weeks of the Belmont Park spring meet, purses jumped 12%, and they increased more than 13% during the Saratoga meet. At the current Belmont fall meet, purses are up 12%, compared with last year.
“With this enriched purse structure in place, we look forward to an Aqueduct meet that should be more appealing than ever to both horseman and horseplayers alike,” NYRA racing secretary and handicapper P.J. Campo said in a statement.
Last fall, purses at Aqueduct averaged $366,056 a day for a 43-day meet, according to figures provided by the Jockey Club. With a 12% increase, purses this fall would average almost $410,000 per program, the highest figure in at least the last six years.
Aqueduct fall-meet purses averaged $402,368 in 2002 and $408,411 in 2005, according to Jockey Club statistics.
Alan Foreman, chief executive officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, whose New York affiliate represents horsemen at NYRA tracks, said the increase is an attempt to “get purses where they should be.” He said there has been a purse underpayment at all three NYRA tracks for some time.
“One of the problems NYRA has faced is an underpayment of purses,” Foreman said. “This has been a sore point with horsemen for a number of years. They are working (the underpayment) down. It has been a cooperative effort with the horsemen.”
The Aqueduct fall meet features 26 stakes highlighted by the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I) Nov. 24. That program also features the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II), Remsen Stakes (gr. II), and Discovery Handicap (gr. III). Four New York Stallion Series stakes will be offered Nov. 11.