Lucrative 2yo races not paying dividends for NYRA

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TwinSpires Staff

April 28th, 2016


“Money makes the world go around.” That line, from the movie, Cabaret, is the theory behind horse racing’s Field of Dreams-like “If we build big purses, you will come bet on those races.” 

Last week at Aqueduct, nothing could have been further from the truth.

NYRA made a big announcement a couple of months ago about putting more money in 2YO races early in the year. They now have $100K maiden races which will act as prep races for the Astoria Stakes (for 2YO fillies on June 8th) and Tremont Stakes (for 2YO males on June 9th). Last Wednesday and Thursday, the first ones were run. 

In today’s world, 2YO racing in April only seems to work at Keeneland, which runs 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight races for $50,000 purses. Here was NYRA doubling what Keeneland offers and New York-breds would run for even more.  

With months to recruit stables, the first 2YO maiden special weight race of the New York year was scheduled for last Wednesday at Aqueduct. Only five horses were entered and LADY STARDUST (Union Rags) won by 5 ½ lengths and paid $2.90. The rest were so bad, the fourth-place finisher was 19 ¾ lengths behind and the fifth-place finisher goes on the Steward’s List since she was beaten more than 26 lengths. One horse only had two published workouts, none from the starting gate and ran like it.

Thursday was the 2YO maiden special weight race for males and it came up even worse. With an early scratch, there were only four betting interests. JEGOS FIRE (Posse) unseated Manny Franco before the race and ran off down the backstretch into the one-mile chute.

 As part of the Kim Laudati-trained entry, if Jegos Fire was to be scratched the other part would run for purse money only, leaving only three betting interests. Instead, the horse was captured, jogged back under the control of the outrider, Manny Franco got back aboard and they were loaded into the starting gate.

Jegos Fire, an unraced 2YO first-time-starter, was allowed to start after running off for at least a half-mile before the race. How does this decision protect the safety of the horse and the betting public? He finished fourth of five, beating his stablemate by almost six lengths.

The winner, SILVER MISSION (Mission Impazible) won and paid $2.70 after surviving a claim of foul by Jevian Toledo who rode FURHLONG (Langfuhr) and was bumped through the stretch as both horses showed courage.

So here’s the scorecard. A pair of 2YO races with inflated purses of $100K each drew five and four betting interests. One winner paid $2.90, the other paid $2.70 and both races had horses that were not ready for racing.

Here is the betting on the races:

In the 1st race Wednesday, April 20, with five betting interests & $92,500 purse:




Daily Double:












In the 1st race Thursday, April 21, with four betting interests & $92,500 purse:




Daily Double:





n/a (not enough betting interests)







Total Betting for the pair of 2YO races: $319,084 

Last week, with normal everyday races:

1st race on Wednesday, April 13, five betting interests & $39,600 purse:




Daily Double:












1st race on Thursday, April 14, seven betting interests & $40,000 purse:




Daily Double:












Total Betting for the everyday races: $445,318 

So a big increase (239%) in purses results in a big decrease (29%) in betting. I understand that these races need to be run and the 2YO season begins slowly, but NYRA had months to recruit horses and this is all they came up with. I guess Jay Z was right: “Money Ain’t a Thang!”