(Edited NYRA release)
Purse hikes from the incentive program created to increase field size during the 2009 Saratoga Race Course meet totaled $553,990 through Week Five, a 19.5% advance over original purse values, according to The New York Racing Association. Purses have increased in 65 of the 302 races (21.5%) run through Monday, Aug. 31.
Nine races qualified during the fifth week, including two races which benefited from all three of the incentive program’s conditions, the meet’s first such instances. Purse increases from incentives during the week totaled $148,300, a 30.5% boost from original purse values.
The program employs several methods to increase purses based on the number of horses starting in a race. Dirt races with more than eight betting interests leaving the paddock receive 10 or 15% purse hikes, based on the conditions of the race. Races taken off the turf with eight or more betting interests leaving the paddock are boosted 20%. And, "per horse" increases are provided for dirt races at nine furlongs and longer (for each betting interest above six), and turf races longer than nine furlongs (for each betting interest above eight), with incremental values based on the class of the race.
For the first time during the meet, all three purse incentive conditions kicked in on a single race. The first race and race 13 on Saturday, Aug. 29 – both off-the-turf – qualified under the dirt race condition (15% for the first, an allowance, and 10% for race 13, a maiden special weight), then added an additional 20% (for off-turf with eight or more betting interests), and received the incremental "per horse" bonus for dirt races nine furlongs and longer.