Posted: Dec. 30, 2016
The New York Racing Association this spring will offer eight $100,000 maiden races for 2-year-olds as lead-ins to the Astoria Stakes and Tremont Stakes to be run June 8-9, respectively, at Belmont Park.
NYRA expanded its 2-year-old program last year and experienced what it called a “significant increase” in the number of 2-year-old starters as a result of the incentive program. NYRA reported it held 26 races for 2-year-olds in the spring and summer, 10 more than in 2015.
Officials said the maiden races attracted 222 total starters in 2016, a 65.57% increase from 134 the previous year, and that average field size rose to 8.54.
For fillies, Astoria Trial A, at 4 1/2 furlongs, will be run April 19 at Aqueduct. Astoria Trial B and C at five furlongs will be run May 3 and May 17, respectively, at Belmont in preparation for the Astoria Stakes.
Tremont Trial A, at 4 1/2 furlongs, will be run April 20 at Aqueduct, with Tremont Trial B and C at five furlongs May 4 and May 18, respectively, at Belmont.
Last year the Astoria and Tremont were each worth $200,000. The Belmont stakes schedule has not yet been released.
In light of the positive response last year, NYRA has supplemented the program with a pair of turf trials for 2-year-olds at Belmont. For fillies, Astoria Trail D, at five furlongs on the turf, will be held May 25, while Tremont Trial D, also at five furlongs on the turf, will go May 26.
The fields for the trials are limited to 10 starters, with the winner to receive $50,000 and all runners to be paid. Should 10 horses start, the second- through sixth-place horses would receive $20,000, $10,000, $7,500, 5,000 and $4,000, respectively, with the remaining $3,500 divided among the seventh- through 10th-place finishers.
Bonuses worth $20,000 will be offered to the owner and trainer of New York-bred runners that finish first, second or third in any state-bred or open maiden 2-year-old race held during the Aqueduct spring and Belmont spring/summer meets.
The bonus program, supported in partnership with the New York Breeding Fund, calls for owners to receive $7,000 for a first-place finish, $4,500 for second and $2,500 for third. Trainers would get a bonus of $3,000 for first, $2,000 for second and $1,000 for third.
“A strong 2-year-old program is important to the Aqueduct and Belmont spring meets, and the high demand for the bonus program in 2016 shows us that we’re moving our racing program in the right direction,” NYRA Senior Vice President of Racing Operations said in a Dec. 30 release. “It’s one thing to offer races, but it’s another thing to make sure they go. We want our horsemen to feel confident when they send their 2-year-olds to New York in April, May, or June, that we will make every effort to be sure these races are used.”