NYRA Signs on as Host for 'Tour' Races in 2006

The Thoroughbred Championship Tour has reached an agreement with the New York Racing Association for its participation as a host track in the TCT beginning in July 2006.

The deal with NYRA, announced June 8, is the first between the TCT and a racing association. The TCT is a proposed series of five big-event racing days leading up to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

Races from Belmont Park and Saratoga will be part of the TCT season, which is scheduled to begin in July and conclude in October. Participation by New York is key given the fact many of its graded stakes would be included in the TCT schedule.

"The TCT presents a unique opportunity to market our sport during the summer and fall seasons by showcasing the highest quality of racing to a wide audience," NYRA president and chief executive officer Charles Hayward said in a release. "This is an opportunity to build on a positive trend in racing by creating big days which provide great exposure for the sport and tangible economic benefits to industry stakeholders. We are delighted to take a leadership position as the first racing association to endorse this exciting initiative."

TCT investors would have equity in the series, which would rely on the cooperation of racetracks and horsemen's groups regarding stakes schedules, purses, and a revenue-through-handle formula. The races would have purses ranging from $500,000 to $1 million. Year-end bonuses would be paid based on a points system.

On June 7, the TCT announced it has signed a contract with Breeders' Cup, which would provide $3 million a year over five years to supplement the purses of races in the series. The TCT races will be part of the Breeders' Cup divisions for older horses on the dirt and turf; 2-year-old races aren't part of the series.

The TCT still must sign a contract with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which would handle the television and sponsorship aspects of the series.

"We are truly excited to have NYRA as a host track partner with the TCT," Robert McNair, chairman of the TCT, said in a statement. "Some of the most important and prestigious stakes races in our sport between the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships are run at Belmont and Saratoga, and we are thrilled to have those races and beautiful venues as the cornerstone of our program."