In an effort to keep horses from being scratched in off-the-turf races, New York Racing Association will increase the purse in such events by 20% so long as there are eight betting interests.
The change, which will not apply to stakes races and overnight stakes events, becomes effective with the opening of Belmont Park's 59-day spring/summer meet May 3.
NYRA racing secretary/handicapper Paul J. Campo announced the innovation April 14.
Campo said he spoke to other NYRA officials, "and we felt this was worth taking a shot to help horsemen and customers get better value when the weather is not in our corner.
"We feel that this will encourage more people to run their horses and reward the people who hang with us and try to make the races go. Now, you might have a maiden $44,000 going for $53,000. That will encourage horses to run, and make for better fields for the fans. To us, it looked like raising the purse on these races would pay for itself in handle. It seems there is no downside, so why not take a shot?"