The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund Board, in conjunction with the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State, has approved significant changes to the 2012 New York Sire Stakes harness racing conditions and schedule that will provide owners of horses of varying ability more flexibility and opportunity to race in the state.
Beginning next year, Standardbred owners have an opportunity to make a choice to race in the Sire Stakes races or the new Excelsior Series, which is replacing the Late Closer program.
Sire Stakes and Excelsior Series races will occur on the same days, meaning owners with multiple horses of varying ability will not have to make multiple trips to and from the track on different days.
The Excelsior Series will have separate payments, and begin earlier in the year, providing a well-rounded, versatile program to fit all New York Sire Stakes horses and ensure equal racing opportunities for all.
The Excelsior Series, which will incorporate the State Fair races, provides Standardbred owners a chance to race developing 2- and 3-year-old horses without being subject to the earnings cap that existed in the Late Closer program.
"The Excelsior Series will provide a sense of convenience and fairness for Standardbred owners," said John D. Sabini, Chair of the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund Board. "Horses of similar ability will be in more consistent competition against each other, which makes for a better racing product in New York. The improvement will create a more defined racing program that will keep our Standardbred breeding program vibrant and productive."
"Horse breeding is an important part of New York's agricultural economy. These improvements will bolster the industry and harness racing in our state by making it more competitive and exciting," said Darrel J. Aubertine, New York State Agricultural Commissioner.
"These enhancements to the NY Sire Stakes program will help New York agriculture and our harness racing industry," said Tim Gordon, Executive Director of the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. "By providing the appropriate spots for owners to enter their horses, we are ensuring that races will continue to be competitive and exciting while bolstering horse breeding in New York."
The New York Sire Stakes is the state's premier harness racing program designed to promote the breeding, buying and racing of Standardbred horses in New York State. Administered by the Agriculture & New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund, the New York Sire Stakes is the nation's oldest harness racing program of its kind.
by Lee Park, director of communications, New York State Racing and Wagering Board