By Sarah Mace
An attractive new incentive to invest in New York-breds sired by New York stallions was approved at a March 28 board meeting of the New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund (the Fund). In 2017, when a New York-bred by a New York-based stallion wins a maiden special weight race at Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack, the horse will earn an extra $7,000, or 37 percent additional money from Fund purse enrichment.
The added money raises the Finger Lakes purse for a New York-sired winner of state-bred maiden special weight from $23,000 to $30,000. In open maiden special weight races, the purse goes from $19,000 to $26,000. To be eligible, a horse must be registered with the Fund as a New York-bred and the sire must be registered in the state in the year of the foal’s conception.
Fund Executive Director Tracy Egan said, “Our hope is that the seven-grand boost in first-place money will help more of our breeders look to our registered New York stallions first when making breeding plans.”
The decision to earmark some purse enrichment money for New York-sired horses comes at the same time the Fund board approved the disbursement of approximately $1.5 million in purse enrichment money to the FLGR racing program overall for 2017.
According to a plan announced March 16 by the Governor’s office, losses to the FLGR horsemen’s purse account incurred by a decline of gaming revenue resulting from the new del Lago Resort and Casino will be offset for the next two years by per annum contributions of over $2.1 million from three groups: the Fund ($1.5 million, pending the board approval just granted), racetrack operator Delaware North ($1 million) and del Lago ($440,000).
Referring to the Fund’s contribution to this plan, Fund Chairman John Poklemba said, “We are proud to provide necessary support to help Finger Lakes Racetrack thrive as part of Governor Cuomo’s comprehensive plan to preserve racing. This action, along with the other components forged by the Governor’s office, ensures the track and horsemen maintain operations without spending a single taxpayer dollar.”
Jeffrey Cannizzo, Executive Director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. and ex officio member of the Fund Board, commented, “After a long period of uncertainty, we are stabilizing Finger Lakes for the short-term, and at the same time using the opportunity to make New York-sired New York-breds an even more valuable investment than they already are by placing the money in the condition that matters most.” New York-sired New York-breds already earn two times more in breeder’s and open owner’s program awards from the Fund than horses sired by stallions standing out of state.
Cannizzo explained further, “The New York breeding and racing programs absolutely depend on a healthy Finger Lakes. In 2016, New York-breds accounted for 73 percent of all Finger Lakes starts (6428 of the 8863) and earned 76 percent of all the purse money– about $13.4 million. The more that New York sired horses are involved in this, the more the whole program and its participants benefit.”
Cannizzo also points to the work still to be done:
We at NYTB look forward to continued dialog with Delaware North, the Finger Lakes Horsemen Benevolent Protective Association, the Gaming Commission and Governor’s Office on how to improve the long-term picture for racing at Finger Lakes.
It starts with field-size and ends with handle. We will also ensure that the dialog and a feasibility study for the development of a turf course does not disappear. It very well could be the spark to ignite real change for their racing product, and something that will benefit all stakeholders in New York.
Breeders, owners and horsemen do not need to wait long to see the New York-sired bonus at work first-hand: the very first race of the 2017 racing season in the FLGR condition book is a maiden special weight for New York-bred three-year-olds.