The New York Racing Association (NYRA) is offering a one million dollar bonus to any Japan-based Thoroughbred who wins the 149th Belmont Stakes (gr. I) on June 10. The $1 million bonus would be given to the connections of the winning horse in addition to the $800,000 that comes with winning the Belmont Stakes.
Last year was a good one for Japan-based horses, as Lani become the first to enter all three Triple Crown events (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes). He finished ninth in the Derby, fifth at the Preakness, and third in the Belmont.
A 2015 law that allowed Japan to simulcast a small number of international horse races has provided a boon to the Japanese wagering industry. The first race that allowed simulcast wagering was the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) and it brought in $7.68 million in bets.
“With Japan opening their simulcast markets to the world on a limited basis, we believe this has the potential for incredible growth for racing here in the U.S.,” said NYRA Senior Vice-President of Racing Operations Martin Panza. “In NYRA’s talks with Japanese officials, they have conveyed to us that races with Japanese horses would be preferred for simulcasting.
“Japan has some of the most enthusiastic racing fans in the world and we’ve been working on this with Churchill Downs officials, who have implemented the ‘Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby’ this year, as a way to help attract these horses to the United States, enhancing the entire Triple Crown program.”
Japan-based horses wanting to claim the Belmont bonus must have raced at least three times in Japan prior to the Belmont Stakes, as well as be nominated for the Triple Crown series.