NTRA Unveils New Race Series

A 2-year-old racing series tied to participation in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association through auction- or foal registration-related contributions was announced Monday by the NTRA.

The “NTRA Two-Year-Old Challenge,” a televised racing series and promotional program for 2-year-old colts and geldings, will debut this fall and carries a potential bonus of $1.3 million. The series will award $250,000 to the owner of an eligible horse that wins any of seven designated races plus the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

If the horse has been sold at public auction, the consignor will receive a $50,000 bonus. If that horse goes on to win the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) the following year, the owner will earn an additional $1 million bonus.

Bonuses for the series are linked to participation in the NTRA's voluntary 0.25% contribution program for horses purchased at auction (effective July 2000) or the foal program for homebreds, in which owners may elect to contribute $50 per foal to the NTRA as part of The Jockey Club foal registration process. All owners and consignors will be eligible for the bonus in 2000, but in subsequent years, only those who participate in NTRA voluntary auction programs or the foal registration program will be eligible for the bonus money.

The "Two-Year-Old Challenge" races (and television coverage) for this year are: Hopeful Stakes, Saratoga, Sept. 2 (TVG); Del Mar Futurity, Del Mar, Sept. 13 (TVG); Futurity Stakes, Belmont Park, Sept. 17 (TVG); Arlington-Washington Futurity, Arlington International, Sept. 23 (TVG); Lane's End Breeders' Futurity, Keeneland, Oct. 8 (ESPN); Norfolk Stakes, Oak Tree at Santa Anita, Oct. 7 (TVG); Champagne Stakes, Belmont Park, Oct. 14 (NBC); and Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Churchill Downs, Nov. 4 (NBC).

NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said the series is a way to reward owners and consignors who participate in NTRA funding programs.

"The NTRA Two-Year-Old Challenge offers owners and consignors who have voluntarily supported the NTRA the opportunity to achieve a substantial return on their investment," said NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith. "From a fan's perspective," Smith added, "it puts the spotlight on racing's popular young stars, the two-year-olds. Over time, it will also make it easier to track the hopefuls for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the following year's Triple Crown."

The Two-Year-Old Challenge is a great way to generate new fan interest in racing, a vision that we share with the NTRA, and to a reward owners and consignors, the backbone of our industry, for their support," said Mark Wilson, TVG's president and CEO. "We are pleased to be able to do our part to support the NTRA and our partner tracks by promoting the new series, running infomercials to create fan interest and providing national coverage of many of the races."

The NTRA's announcement of the program noted that Joseph LaCombe's Favorite Trick would have earned a $250,000 bonus in 1997 and Overbrook Farm's Boston Harbor would have collected a bonus in 1996 had the bonus scheme been in effect in those years.