Eight maiden races worth $100,000 each will be offered this spring as part of the New York Racing Association's ongoing program for 2-year-olds leading up to the Astoria and Tremont, run on June 8 and 9 as the first two juvenile stakes of the year.
For fillies, Astoria Trial A, at 4 1/2 furlongs, will be run on April 19 at Aqueduct Racetrack. Astoria Trial B and C will be run on May 3 and May 17 at Belmont Park, both at five furlongs, all in preparation for the Astoria on Thursday, June 8.
Tremont Trial A, at 4 1/2 furlongs, will be run on April 20, with Tremont Trial B and C at five furlongs scheduled for May 4 and May 18 at Belmont. The Tremont will be held on Friday, June 9.
Bolstered by the positive response last year from horsemen and fans, the NYRA has supplemented the successful program with a pair of turf trials for juveniles at Belmont. For fillies, Astoria Trail D, at five furlongs on the turf, will be held May 25, while the Tremont Trial D, also at five furlongs on the turf, will run May 26.
The fields for the trials are limited to 10, 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.
Furthermore, bonuses worth a total of $20,000 will be offered to the owner and trainer of New York-breds who finish first, second or third in any state-bred or open maiden juvenile race held during the Aqueduct spring and Belmont spring-summer meet.
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.
In 2016, NYRA saw a significant increase in the number of 2-year-old starters as a direct result of its 2-year-old incentive programs. NYRA tracks ran 26 juvenile maiden races during the spring and summer in 2016, 10 more than in 2015. The maiden races attracted 222 total starters last year, a 65.57% increase over 2015's total of 134, with an increased average field size of 8.54.
“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,” said Martin Panza, NYRA's Senior Vice-President of Racing Operations. “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.”
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