Finger Lakes Believes Stakes Cuts Temporary

Finger Lakes has cut nine stakes but believes the move is temporary.

Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack in upstate New York has eliminated nine stakes this year because of reductions in purse supplements from the New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund.

Track officials said the loss of about $700,000 for New York-bred races stemmed largely from the closure of New York City Off-Track Betting Corp., a major revenue-producer for the breed development fund and an important outlet for the Finger Lakes racing signal.

“The loss of over $700,000 in purse supplements from the NYTBDF has necessitated this unfortunate step,” Finger Lakes president and general manager Chris Riegle said in a statement. “While it is very disappointing to lose many of our stakes for 2011, we are pleased that we were able to find a way to keep our average daily purse distribution at the same level for now.

“The demise of New York City Off-Track Betting late last year has already begun to have a dramatic negative impact on the landscape of Thoroughbred racing in New York State. First, by reducing Finger Lakes racing revenue by over $4 million annually, and now by severely impairing the ability of the breeding fund to promote the advantages of racing New York-breds.”

Through nine racing programs this year, Finger Lakes paid an average of $103,844 in purses. For a full 163-day meet in 2010, the average was $110,339, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems.

Track officials called the stakes cuts a “temporary setback.” The NYTBDF later this year will begin receiving revenue from a video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct.

In the first full year operation, VLTs are projected to provide about $4.9 million—1% of gross gaming revenue—to the NYTBDF. In year two the program gets 1.25%, and in years three and after, 1.5%.

The New York-bred program overall lost about 30% of its funding when NYCOTB closed. Increases in ontrack pari-mutuel handle and advance deposit wagering through the New York Racing Association, however, have helped recapture a third of that money.

Despite the cuts Finger Lakes will offer its marquee races: the $200,000 New York Breeders’ Futurity; $150,000 New York Derby; and the Aspirant and Lady Finger Stakes, 2-year-old events that can carry purses in excess of $100,000.

Eliminated for this year are the $75,000 New York Oaks and eight $50,000 events: the George W. Barker Handicap, Susan B. Anthony Handicap, Niagara Stakes, Arctic Queen Handicap, Ontario County Stakes, Genesee Valley Breeders’ Handicap, Leon Reed Memorial Handicap, and Jack Betta Be Rite Handicap.