NYRA Floats Plan for Additional Barns at Spa

Trainer Bob Baffert won't have a string at Saratoga this summer as planned, but the New York Racing Association doesn't anticipate a problem filling those stalls. In fact, NYRA wants to build up to 10 more barns with a maximum of 500 stalls to accommodate demand during the meet.

NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz and president Terry Meyocks said a shortage of stalls -- there are 1,655 available -- has long been a problem at Saratoga. It has been at least 40 years since a new barn was built at the upstate track, said George Hathaway, the track's resident manager.

"Our guess was that we should be able to build a 50-stall barn for about $10,000 a stall, or $500,000," Schwartz said during a press conference Monday in Albany, N.Y. "That's 100 stalls for $1 million."

Before it can begin construction, NYRA must receive permission from the Capital Investment Fund, a public benefit corporation that monitors how NYRA racetracks spend money.

As for Baffert, he changed his mind about requesting stalls at the Spa.
"He requested 15, but he called me two weeks and said, 'Make it 10,' " racing secretary Mike Lakow said. "When I spoke with him about Point Given, he said, 'I don't want to hold you up, just leave me a few so I can ship in and out.' "

Baffert told Lakow he will again send his horses scheduled to race in New York to trainer John Terranova.

The $1-million Travers on Aug. 25 could be the fourth meeting between Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos and Point Given, winner of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Monarchos will be stabled at Saratoga with trainer John Ward and is scheduled to run again in the Jim Dandy Aug. 4.

"I spoke with Bob Baffert about Point Given," Lakow said. "His goal is the Travers, no doubt about it. He wants to talk to (owner Prince Ahmed Salman) because the prince makes the final decision. He may use the Haskell (at Monmouth Park) as a prep for the Travers."

New infield tote boards are part of the improvements at Saratoga for the 2001 season. In other changes, NYRA has reduced the number of steeplechase races from 12 to nine. There will be 10 races on opening day and Labor Day, nine races on the other weekdays of the meet, 10 races on weekends, and 11 on Travers Day.

Schwartz said the Saratoga season will remain at 36 days in the future.