by Brian Bohl
Trainer Linda Rice posted two wins with horses who earned bonuses as part of the New York Racing Association's (NYRA) innovative Starter Loyalty Program during the week of racing from February 1-3 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Rice was one of seven conditioners to saddle a Starter Loyalty Program-winner last week and one of just two trainers who won multiple races, joining Rudy Rodriguez.
Implemented on April 2, 2018, the Starter Loyalty Program provides Silver- through Diamond-level purse bonuses between 5 and 15 percent on money earned in a qualifying race, based on their number of starts at NYRA tracks through April 1, 2019.
Over the past week, nine winning horses across three days of racing [encompassing 27 total races at the Big A] were members of the Starter Loyalty Program. Rice was victorious with T Loves a Fight on Saturday and New Year's Wish on Sunday's first race.
Rice and Rodriguez joined single-race winning trainers Raymond Handal, Michael Trombetta, Bruce Brown, Gary Sciacca and Patrick Quick.
Hoffman Thoroughbreds' T Loves a Fight, a Silver member formerly trained by Mike Hushion before he retired, used a ground-saving trip to win a $20,000 claiming race, registering his second win in his last three starts.
New Year's Wish, owned by Grey Fox Stable, won his third in a row, posting a half-length score in a $70,000 allowance race. In total, Rice's winners earned an additional $2,475 through the bonus program.
Rice, who is the First Vice President on the NYTHA Board of Directors, said the Starter Loyalty Program has helped promote racing in the Empire State.
"In conjunction with NYTHA and NYRA, we've been trying to encourage more participation in New York and encourage people to come race in New York," Rice said. "There's a lot of programs that we're trying to put in place to lessen the burden of the day-to-day cost of racing in New York, and the Starter Loyalty Program has been one of those. It's been well-received by the horsemen."
Other winning Starter Loyalty Program members last week included three winners on Friday in Still Krz, Truly a Moon Shot and Durkin's Call. Saturday's winners included Papa Shot and Thefinalcrazydude, and Sunday included Wicked Macho and Unsullied.
For more information on the Starter Loyalty Program, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/horsemen/2018-19-sta...
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NYRA 2018-19 Loyalty Program, at a glance:
From the period between April 2, 2018 through April 1, 2019
For example, for $100,000 stakes races this winter at Aqueduct, a NYRA Silver member could receive an additional $2,750 on top of the $55,000 winner's share of the purse. For a stakes at the same level, a NYRA Platinum member could earn an additional $6,875 above the $55,000 winner's share.
The number of starts transfer with horses that are claimed or have undergone ownership changes.
Qualifying starts for bonus money include any winners' races. Maiden races do not award purse bonuses but are counted as starts. For example, if a horse breaks his maiden on his fifth start of the season, his sixth start will be in a winners' race and therefore he would be considered a Silver member.
Races not counted as a qualifying start include any race in which a horse is beaten by 25 lengths or more, or any race in which a horse is placed on the vet's list for lameness or unsoundness. The horse must be declared an official starter to get credit for the start. Only two starts in a 30-day period are counted toward the program. The third start during that period of time is not eligible for program participation. Additionally, award money is not paid on breeders' purse supplements.