Finger Lakes announces ‘stimulus’ plan for owners, trainers

Posted: April 21, 2020

The Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has arranged, in conjunction with racetrack management, to allocate more than $800,000 in what it calls stimulus checks for owners and trainers.

Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, owned by Delaware North, was expected to open for training March 15 and launch its 2020 race meet April 25. The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak kept the upstate New York facility from opening the barn area, and there is no date yet for live racing to commence.

The New York State Gaming Commission recently issued an order saying there would be no live racing in the state until at least May 15.

The Finger Lakes HBPA in an April 21 release said checks will be prepared based on the following formula: $25 for every start made by a trainer at the 2019 Finger Lakes meet and $100 for every start made by an owner. A trainer who owns the horse will get $125 per start.

The total cost is estimated to be $827,000, which will be funded through canceled race days and a reduced stakes program.

“Our board of directors felt it imperative to get some quick money to our horsemen to help with expenses, including feeding their horses, as everyone waits for racing to resume in New York,” Finger Lakes HBPA President Chris Vaccaro said in a release. “It’s designed to be a shot in the arm for our trainers and owners with horses at area farms, training centers or wintering out of state.

“The coronavirus has been a devastating health and economic crisis for millions of Americans. Our horsemen continue to feed and take care of their horses with no way to earn income to defray the cost, adding to their financial hardship.”

The release said horsemen and management are working with the NYSGC as well as state and local health officials on procedures and protocols for the the track to safely open for training and racing. Given the COVID-19 situation, Finger Lakes HBPA Executive Director Austin Reed said it is hoped the track can race 85 to 90 days this year; the 2020 racing schedule lists Nov. 25 as closing day of the meet.

(Finger Lakes photo courtesy of Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack)