Once around the training track...

...At New York

The New York Racing Association is offering two programs aimed at more horses per race and more starts per horse.

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Owners and trainers will have an opportunity to compete for purse bonuses of 5% to 15% based on the number of starts each of their horses make between April 2, 2018 and April 1, 2019. Belmont's spring/summer meeting will offer an “Under 20's Claiming Challenge,” a program for owners and trainers in modest-sized stables to share in a prize pool of $80,000 with $18,000 ending up in the bank account of the winner.

The year-long loyalty program will allow a horse to compete for bonus purse money based on the following scale of starts:

NYRA Silver Level: 5% purse bonus for horses racing for the 5th and 6th times within the program's year.

NYRA Gold Level: 7.5% purse bonus for starts 7, 8 and 9.

NYRA Platinum Level: 12.5% purse bonus for starts 10 and 11.

NYRA Diamond Level: 15% purse bonus for starts 12 and up.

The NYRA Racing Office uses the following example to illustrate:

In a $100,000 stake at the Belmont fall meeting, a Silver Level winner would receive the normal $60,000 plus an additional $3,000 if the horse is making his or her 5th or 6th start at an NYRA track since April 2, 2018.

A stake of the same $100,000 value at Aqueduct's winter meeting would bring an NYRA Platinum Member a bonus of $7,500 above the race's normal $60,000 winner's purse.

There are some modifiers in the specifications.

Maiden races will not offer bonuses. But, starts in maiden races will count.

Thus, if a horse breaks his maiden on his fifth try, he will compete as a Silver Level participant in his next start.

A horse will not be credited with a start if he is beaten by 25 lengths of more.

Any horse placed on the vet's list for unsoundness will be denied credit for the start.

Horses will be credited for only two starts in a 30-day period. A third start within 30 days will not earn credit for the start or for bonus money.

Award monies will not be calculated to include any breeders' purse supplements (NY Breeders Funds).

New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association president Joe Applebaum welcomed the program saying, “The goal is to produce bigger fields and a better racing product, which will, in turn, encourage increased handle and have a virtuous effect on purse levels and the overall health of New York racing.”

Belmont's Under 20's Claiming Challenge is “open to trainers stabled at NYRA facilities with 20 or fewer horses in their care nationwide at the start of the contest on Friday, April 27.”

Those trainers will earn points based on how well their horses run in all claiming races for winners through Belmont's closing day on Sunday, July 15. (Maiden claiming races are excluded from the program.)

Eligibility for a trainer will be based on his or her stall application for the Belmont Spring/Summer 2018 meeting. Trainers are required to complete a contest application by Sunday, April 22 that names the animals to be eligible for the contest. If a horseman's stable grows above 20 through claims, only those named on the entry form will be considered for awards.

If a trainer loses a horse through the claim box, a substitute will be allowed.

Points will be awarded in dirt races with 6 for the win, 5 for the place, 4 for show, 3 for fourth place and 2 for finishing fifth. Turf races will be earn 5 for the win, 4 for the place, 3 for the show, 2 for fourth and 1 for fifth.

Horses may earn points for only two races within a 30-day period. Horses entered for more than two races in a month will receive points for only the first two.

Those racing for less than 50% of their last claiming price will receive only 50% of any points earned in that race. Horses entered for a claiming price in an allowance/optional claiming race are eligible for contest points.

Standings will be audited before Aug. 15 at which time prizes will be awarded as follows: First: $18,000; second, $15,000; third, $13,000; fourth, $11,000; fifth, $9,000; sixth, $7,000; seventh, $4,000, eighth, $3,000.

In the Breeders' Cup Boardroom...

The Breeders' Cup Board of Directors has decided to remove the word “bifurcate” from its corporate vocabulary.

Merriam-Webster defines bifurcate as “to cause to divide into two branches or parts.”

It seems some members of the organization's Innovation Committee were lobbying for splitting the two-day Breeders' Cup in one location to two days of Breeders' Cup in two locations.

They were proposing Day 1 of the Breeders' Cup be the first Saturday in November (now, the second day) stay on its date and move from track to track as it does now. On that day, some of the committee members wanted a new $3 million Breeders' Cup Derby for 3-year-olds be added to a program of 10 races.

They were proposing the Breeders' Cup Classic, Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, and Sprint (plus an under card) would then by moved to a date in December. The only major track that would be able to host the proposed Day 2 would be Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. — the only major track active at that time as the Thoroughbred calendar is now configured.

Opponents saw the writing on the wall and it said, 'You split the Breeders' Cup into two dates and you're going to thoroughly anger a whole bunch of racing fans who currently spend thousands of dollars to take a pleasure trip to the Breeders' Cup — and who bet a millions of dollars while they're there.'

The proponents of change claimed competition for television viewers from college football was eating into the ratings. Opponents of change reminded them the newly minted national collegiate football championship is held in January. And, they asked, 'If you hold Day 2 in December, aren't you going to run into college football on Saturday and the pro game on Sunday?

In what many perceived as a maneuver to help the Stronach Group gain an advantage over Churchill Downs as both lust to be the permanent home of the Breeders' Cup, the Breeders' Cup board met on March 15 and decided to drop the bifurcation of the event.

In a statement issued by the Board, the Breeders' Cup's official position is now: “While the Board determined not to proceed with the concept under consideration, we continue to welcome and encourage the consideration of new ideas and affirm that healthy debate on those ideas will be positive for both the Breeders' Cup and international racing. Breeders' Cup will have no further comment on this matter.”

At the Big A...

Sounds Delicious and jockey Angel Arroyo cruised to the easiest of wins when the filly went to the front in the first few jumps out of the starting gate and stayed on to win the $100,000-guaranteed Correction Handicap for fillies and mares at Aqueduct on March 17.

The win in the 78th running of the 6-furlong sprint was the 4-year-old's second straight, coming on the heels of an allowance win at the Big A two weeks ago.

Racing for the Iris Smith Stable, the Lady Sheila Stable and trainer Linda Rice, the daughter of Yes It's True from the Sweetsouthernsaint mare Dulce Realidad defeated seven rivals getting the six panels in 1:11.25 over a fast track.

After going to the lead, Arroyo kept his mount under a moderate hold through the first half mile before opening up a 6-1/2-length lead at the head of the lane. At the wire, she was eight lengths the best over long shot Spice Lady and Trevor McCarthy. Startwithsilver and Junior Alvarado, the 17 to 10 favorites, were a head back in third.

Sounds Delicious now sports a record of five wins from six starts with earnings of $192,750.

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