OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- The New York Racing Association announced two bonus programs intended to boost field size for the Aqueduct and Belmont Park spring meets.
First, NYRA will offer a 30 percent winnings bonus and provide a $1,500 shipping stipend to the connections of a horse who starts at Aqueduct or Belmont after making its previous start at Oaklawn Park. The bonus is good for the horse's first start at either Aqueduct's spring meet, which runs April 6-22, or Belmont's spring/summer meet, which runs April 27 through July 15.
Second, NYRA is offering a $1,500 shipping subsidy to the connections of any horse who starts at Aqueduct's spring meet after making its previous start at Gulfstream Park or Tampa Bay Downs. This stipend excludes horses starting in Aqueduct stakes races.
First-time starters do not qualify for either bonus.
Martin Panza, NYRA's senior director of racing operations, said he is hoping these programs help increase field size for dirt races at Aqueduct and Belmont.
"We know our dirt fields are small," Panza said Friday. "If someone wants to come in from Oaklawn, we want to help. If they want to claim a horse for our meets, they can do that. We thought it was worth giving it a shot and see if it could help our field size."
Oaklawn's meet, which began Friday, ends April 14.
By offering a shipping stipend to Florida-based horses, Panza is hoping to give New York horsemen who winter in Florida an incentive to return a little sooner.
"If you come back two weeks early, we want to help your owners with $1,500 for shipping," Panza said. "If we can increase field size, it'll help make the races go in the [condition] book."