NYRA Widens Gap Between State-Bred, Open Races

Breaking a decades-old policy, the New York Racing Association has changed the purse levels for state-bred and open company maiden and allowance races.

Purses for open company races were raised by $2,000 in early May at the start of the current Belmont spring-summer meet. The gap will widen to $4,000 per race, approximately 10%, during the Saratoga meeting, July 24-Sept. 2, when NYRA raises the purses for open company races again.

Purses for the New York-bred restricted maiden races remain at $41,000 for sprints and $42,000 for routes, among the highest figures in the country.

As an incentive to compete in open races, New York-breds will receive a three-pound allowance. The New York-breds also are eligible for the state's Breeding and Development Fund bonuses for placing in open company races.

NYRA chairman and CEO Barry K. Schwartz, a prominent breeder whose entire stable is composed of New York-breds, said he made the decision on the purses.

"We have to breed better horses in the state and I think we are breeding a lot of good horses," Schwartz said. "If the trainers want the purses, let them run open. I run my horses open, when I can convince my trainer. It's a battle with him, also."

Schwartz said NYRA could not afford to increase purses in all races. He said association officials discussed but did not adopt a proposal to cut purses in races restricted to state-breds.

"I believe there should be a difference in the purse structure based on the quality of the races," Schwartz said. "If you want to run against lesser horses, you should run for lesser money

"We're not telling you where to run your horse. If you've got a maiden, run him open. Run for $45,000 at Saratoga. If you want to run with New York-breds you get $41,000. I think that's very fair.

"This is major league racing. This is supposed to be the best racing in the world. Why should we have a closed state-bred program on a par with the finest racing in the world?"

Dennis Brida, executive director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, said members of his organization were surprised by the change.

"The breeders were definitely disappointed that they created the two-tiered system and we voiced that concern to Barry," Brida said.

"His response was he had a limited amount of money. They've done some other things to help New York-breds, like drop the three pounds when you run in open company races. They've done a good job with Showcase Day and Stallion Stakes, certainly.

"It's something we wish that they would reconsider."