NYRA to offer two new incentive programs for horsemen

Posted: March 16, 2018

The New York Racing Association will offer two new initiatives for horsemen: a starter loyalty program and a claiming challenge for modest-size stables.

The starter loyalty program is for owners and trainers of horses that make at least five starts on the NYRA circuit in a 12-month period beginning April 2. Under the new program, horses can earn Silver- through Diamond-level purse bonuses between 5% and 15% on money earned in a qualifying race based on their number of starts at NYRA tracks through April 1, 2019.

Awards will be offered in all races for winners and will be paid out on each first- through fifth-place finish. The bonuses are as follows:

NYRA Silver: Starts 5 and 6. Runners will compete for 5% more purse money.

NYRA Gold: Starts 7, 8, and 9. Runners will compete for 7.5% more purse money.

NYRA Platinum: Starts 10 and 11. Runners will compete for 12.5% more purse money.

NYRA Diamond: Starts 12 and higher. Runners will compete for 15% more purse money.

For example, for a $100,000 stakes this fall at Belmont Park, a NYRA Silver member could receive an additional $3,000 on top of the $60,000 winner’s share of the purse. For a stakes at the same level during the Aqueduct Racetrack winter meet, a NYRA Platinum member could earn an additional $7,500 above the $60,000 winner’s share.

The number of starts transfer with horses that are claimed or have undergone ownership changes.

“The horsemen are supportive of incentivized earnings programs, as it further aligns our collective interests,” said New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association President Joe Appelbaum. “The goal is to produce bigger fields and a better racing product, which in turn will encourage increased handle and have a virtuous effect on purse levels and the overall health of New York racing.”

“This loyalty program will provide direct rewards for trainers that run their horses at NYRA tracks throughout the year,” said Martin Panza, NYRA Senior Vice President for Racing Operations. “We’re proud to institute such a broad program to support horsemen and women no matter the number of horses in their barn.”

Qualifying starts for bonus money include any races for winners. Maiden races will not award purse bonuses, but will be counted as starts. For example, if a horse breaks his maiden on his fifth start of the season, his sixth start will be in a winners’ race and therefore he would be considered a Silver member.

Races that will not be counted as a start include any race in which a horse is beaten by 25 lengths or more, or any race in which a horse is placed on the vet’s list for lameness or unsoundness. The horse must be declared an official starter to get credit for the start.

Only two starts in a 30-day period will be counted toward the program. The third start during that period of time will not be eligible for program participation. Award money will not be paid on breeders’ purse supplements.

The “Under 20s Claiming Challenge” for modest-sized stables to compete for cash prizes will be offered during the 2018 Belmont spring/summer meet.

The Challenge is open to all trainers stabled at NYRA facilities with 20 or fewer horses in their care nationwide at the start of the contest on opening day, April 27. Contestants will earn points based on their horses’ performances in all claiming races for winners at Belmont through July 15.

At the end of the contest, the top eight trainers will share in a prize pool of $80,000, with $18,000 going to the winner. Standings will be updated on the overnight throughout the contest and records will be checked by Aug. 15, after which awards will be granted.

Stall allotments for the 2018 Belmont spring/summer meet will be used to determine eligible trainers. Those trainers must then fill out a contest application and turn it into the racing office by 3:30 p.m. EDT April 22. The application will contain the roster of horses that the trainer wishes to make eligible for the contest.

There can be no more than 20 horses on a trainer’s roster at any given time. A trainer’s stable may grow above 20 horses through claiming activity, but not all horses will be eligible for the contest and only roster horses can earn points.

A trainer may replace a claimed horse who was on their roster with another claimed horse. After a horse is claimed, it will be added to the trainer’s roster only at the trainer’s request.

Points will only be earned for top five finishes in claiming races for winners. Winners of a qualifying race will earn six points for a dirt race and five points for a turf race, regardless of claiming price. Horses in for a tag in an allowance/optional claiming race will qualify for contest points. Points are not earned in stakes or maiden, allowance, and starter allowance events.

A horse that ends up on the stewards’ list for poor performance will not earn contest points for that race and a horse may only earn points for two races within a given 30-day time span. A horse may enter in additional races within that timeframe but will not earn contest points for those additional races. Horses that are running for 50% or less of the claiming price from their most recent start will only be eligible to earn 50% of the typical points for that race.

The contest point structure is as follows:

Dirt Races

All claiming races for winners, including horses in for an optional tag: First place (6 points), second place (5 points), third place (4 points), and fifth place (2 points).

Turf Races

All claiming races for winners, including horses in for an optional tag: First place (5 points), second place (4 points), third place (3 points), fourth place (2 points), and fifth place (1 point).

Trainer Bonuses

The top eight trainers in the contest will share in a prize pool of $80,000: First place ($18,000), second place ($15,000), third place ($13,000), fourth place ($11,000), fifth place ($9,000), sixth place ($7,000), seventh place ($4,000), and eighth place ($3,000).

(Photo courtesy of NYTHA)