The New York Racing Association has decreed that juvenile maiden sprints at Saratoga will be limited to eight starters and longer maiden races may have up to 10 competitors.
P.J. Campo, NYRA vice president/director of racing, gave DRF two reasons for the change.
- Smaller fields will produce more cleanly run races that showcase the best horses.
- Allowance and stakes races will be strengthened by allowing horses to gain experience.
The decision is a bad one.
Who wants to watch Ramon Dominguez and John Velazquez trot even money shots across the wire in every maiden race? Trainers like Todd Pletcher are already formidable foes regardless of field size. Limiting their opponents makes them that much tougher.
Speaking of Pletcher, he does not agree with this call.
“At six and seven furlongs it’s very safe to run 10 2-year-olds or 10 horses of any age,” Pletcher said. “I can understand limiting it to eight at five or 5 1/2 furlongs.”
Campo’s second point about strengthening allowance and stakes races just doesn’t really make sense. Maybe I’m missing something, but I fail to see how short fields will bolster allowance and stakes races.
Field sizes across the country are down and a vast majority of races throughout America have seven or less horses. By asserting that in a best case scenario, a juvenile maiden sprint will have eight horses, the NYRA is hurting the most important person in racing; the bettor.
The difficulty of profiting well from a race with less than 10 horses makes even attempting to do so a task not worth trying. This declaration from the NYRA has failed to consider their patrons. In the end, it will only bastardize their product.