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Updated: 4 days 16 hours ago

KTBIF Awards Over $16 Million to Kentucky Breeders for 2023

Fri, 2024-02-16 17:04

Edited Press Release

Awards are on the way to Kentucky's Thoroughbred breeders participating in the commonwealth's Thoroughbred Breeders' Incentive Fund (KTBIF) program. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) announces the release of $16.2 million through the KTBIF.

“Our horse farm families are the backbone of our racing industry, and I'm proud to support the Incentive Fund that keeps mares and foals in Kentucky,” said Gov. Andy Beshear.

According to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the Kentucky Equine industry generates $6.5 billion and supports more than 60,000 jobs.

In fact, 2023 was a good year for business. Highlights include:

  • Kentucky-bred horses won 63% of all graded stakes races in the U.S.
  • Kentucky-bred horses won 298 graded stakes races with 68 of them held at one of Kentucky's five Thoroughbred racetracks.
  • Kentucky-bred horses have won the last nine Kentucky Derbies and last seven Kentucky Oaks.
  • Kentucky-bred horses took home the hardware in all three legs of the Triple Crown: Mage (Good Magic) won the Kentucky Derby; National Treasure (Quality Road) won the Preakness and Arcangelo (Arrogate) won the Belmont S.
  • Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief) won the Kentucky Oaks.
  • Kentucky-bred Cody's Wish (Curlin) won the 2023 Horse of the Year Eclipse Award Winner.
  • Mage and Pretty Mischievous both will receive a $50,000 KTBIF bonus.

The KTBIF was implemented in 2005 to ensure the strength of Kentucky's equine industry by awarding funds to individuals who choose to breed a Thoroughbred mare in Kentucky. To qualify, the mare must be bred to a Kentucky registered stallion, remain in the state during her full gestation and foal in Kentucky.  Final award amounts are then based on the foal's eventual earnings at the racetrack.

The KTBIF is funded through a percentage of the sales tax paid when a stallion is bred to a mare in Kentucky. Since the fund's inception, more than $234 million has been distributed to Kentucky breeders for winning eligible races worldwide.

A list of the 2023 award winners, along with the amount awarded and other interesting statistics, can be found on the KHRC website by clicking here.

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Risen Star Kicks Off Derby Championship Series

Fri, 2024-02-16 14:59

The Road to the Kentucky Derby heats up further still on Saturday, as the $400,000 GII Risen Star S. is the first of six prep races that will offer the winner 50 points, virtually locking up a berth in the field for the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 4.

Track Phantom (Quality Road) will look to continue his domination among the local 3-year-olds as he looks to remain unbeaten around two turns in trying to add to his victories in the Dec. 23 Gun Runner S. and a front-running success in the GIII Lecomte S. Jan. 20. The $500,000 Keeneland September grad is one of two in the race for three-time Risen Star winner Steve Asmussen.

“It was great to see him win the race against a talented field, but especially with going as fast as they did early and showing enough quality to still respond,” the Hall of Famer commented. “I think the Lecomte was as easy on him as you could have wanted it to be, with him still getting something out of it.”

Joel Rosario will likely get after Track Phantom again from gate 11, but it was Asmussen's other winner on the Lecomte undercard who achieved the faster figure. Hall of Fame (Gun Runner) was trying a route of ground for the first time that afternoon and looked sensational doing it. His final time was 0.46 quicker than the Lecomte while his 94 Beyer was four points superior to Track Phantom en route to earning 'TDN Rising Star' honors.

“He was ridden much more aggressively (in his maiden win) because he's playing a little catch up on a horse like Track Phantom, but the ability is there,” Asmussen said of the $1.4-million Fasig-Tipton Saratoga graduate.

Sierra Leone (Gun Runner) topped the Saratoga Sale on a bid of $2.3 million and came running late to graduate by 1 1/4 lengths at first asking at Aqueduct Nov. 4, also earning the 'Rising Star' designation. When last seen, the dark bay rallied from last to lead into the final furlong of the GII Remsen S. Dec. 2, only to be outbattled to the wire by Dornoch (Good Magic).

“He was the only horse that day that made up any ground and that's an important thing to note,” trainer Chad Brown told Bill Finley earlier this week. “He had every chance to win. I was pleased with the effort, though disappointed by the outcome.”

Brad Cox has won the Risen Star three times in the last four years, including Angel of Empire (Classic Empire) last winter. Albaugh Family Stables' Catching Freedom (Constitution) flies the flag for the barn after posting a 2 1/2-length victory in the Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park Jan. 1.

“We're going to need to improve off the Smarty Jones,” Cox said. “Physically he looks great. He's had a good bit of time between races, he shipped back here and is moving well, so we'll see if he's up for it.”

Rachel Alexandra A Key Oaks Prep

The sophomore fillies' counterpart to the Risen Star is named in honor of the romping winner of the 2009 GI Kentucky Oaks and has been an exceptionally productive steppingstone to the first Friday in May. Dating back to 2014, no fewer than four winners of the Rachel Alexandra have gone on to success at Churchill Downs, including 'TDN Rising Star' Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief) last year.

Brad Cox saddled Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) to take the 2018 Rachel Alexandra and Kentucky Oaks, and the stable relies upon Alpine Princess (Classic Empire) in this spot. Beaten a long way from home when seventh in the GI Darley Alcibiades S. last October, the bay has since won two straight, both around two turns, including a two-length score over West Omaha (Omaha Beach) in the local Untapable S. Dec. 30. The latter flattered the form with a five-length romp over Perfect Shot (Gun Runner) in the Jan. 20 Silverbulletday S.

“She's always been a pretty good workhorse,” Cox said. “That's how she came to us back in the spring. She likes the track here. It's a step up. We'll give her another opportunity at the graded stakes level and hopefully she can get it done.”

'TDN Rising Star' V V's Dream (Mitole) lived up to that honor with a dominating victory in the GIII Pocahontas S. last September and a runner-up effort in the Alcibiades, but connections elected to pass the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She was never truly a factor when beaten 9 1/2 lengths into third as the heavy favorite in the Oct. 29 Rags To Riches S., but her trainer has not lost faith in her.

“We're really excited,” Ken McPeek said. “She's been working super. She's as strong as ever right now. [Assistant trainer] Greg Geier has got her here in good order. She's really a high-level filly, and I'd love to think this is just one stepping stone to getting her to the [Kentucky] Oaks.”

With Florent Geroux committed to Alpine Princess, fellow Frenchman Flavien Prat takes over for Cox on the rail-drawn 'Rising Star' Tarifa (Bernardini). A disappointing second in Churchill allowance company behind next-out SW Denim and Pearls (Into Mischief), the Godophin homebred set the record straight with a solid victory in her two-turn debut on the Lecomte undercard.

Stronghold Rates The Marquee In Sunland Derby

A little more than two weeks after opting out of what turned out to be a one-horse race in the GIII Robert B. Lewis S. at Santa Anita, Stronghold (Ghostzapper) ships into New Mexico to tackle Sunday's $800,000 GIII Sunland Derby for trainer Phil D'Amato. A second-out maiden winner over Churchill's one-turn mile, the homebred got a good look at the hind end of 'TDN Rising Star' Nysos (Nyquist) when a distant second in the GIII Bob Hope S. at Del Mar last November and was forced to settle for second in the GII Los Alamitos Futurity in his juvenile finale Dec. 16. Antonio Fresu flies in from California for the ride.

Informed Patriot (Hard Spun) has only a maiden win to his credit from five starts, but has acquitted himself well in stakes company, finishing third in the GIII Street Sense S. Oct. 29 before filling the same spot in the Smarty Jones.

Lucky Jeremy (Lookin At Lucky) won his maiden in a restricted event going a mile on the Street Sense undercard and came away late to best Alotluck (Sir Prancealot {Ire}) by two lengths in the local Riley Allison Derby Jan. 19. It was a large expanse back to Surroundedbyangels (Smiling Tiger) that afternoon.

The Sunland Derby is also a Derby points race, with 20 points going to the winner.

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Pletcher Unveils Plans For 3-Year-Old Stars

Fri, 2024-02-16 12:49

The road to the GI Kentucky Derby has been unkind to Todd Pletcher so far this year, but that may be about to change. The Hall of Fame trainer is ready to regroup and will look to win the March 30 GI Florida Derby with Fierceness (City of Light) and the March 2 GII Fountain of Youth with Locked (Gun Runner).

Locked, who is the 10-1 favorite beyond the “all others” option in the latest round of the Derby Future Wager, was originally scheduled to make his debut in the GIII Sam F. Davis S. but Pletcher withdrew him from the race after he spiked a temperature and missed a work. Pletcher had Locked back on the work tab Friday morning and said he was pleased with the move.

Locked won last year's GI Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland before finishing third in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Fierceness, last year's champion 2-year-old male, kicked off his 2024 campaign with a lackluster third-place finish in the Holy Bull S. in which he was beaten 3 1/2 lengths. Afterward, Pletcher said his next race was up in the air, but confirmed Friday that he will go next in the Florida Derby. Fierceness will have his first work since the Holy Bull next week.

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Kentucky Legislative Bill Supports New School Of Veterinary Medicine At Murray State

Fri, 2024-02-16 12:10

Progress towards a new School of Veterinary Medicine at Murray State University continues to be made, as the Kentucky House of Representatives passed House Bill 400 Feb. 15, the institution of higher learning said in a release late Thursday.

After advancing from the House Agriculture Committee Feb. 7, the bill, introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chair Richard Heath, would amend the existing state statute to allow Murray State to offer doctoral degrees required to become licensed in veterinary medicine.

A complementary piece of legislation, Senate Bill 189, was introduced by Senator Jason Howell.

“We are very grateful for the support of our legislators in working toward the development of a new School of Veterinary Medicine at Murray State University,” Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson said.

Kentucky is one of more than 20 states without a School of Veterinary Medicine. In the United States, there are only 33 veterinary colleges accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are 86,300 veterinarians in the United States and this occupation is expected to grow by over 19% by 2031. The BLS also reports a total of 122,800 veterinarian technologists/technicians are working today and the field is expected to grow by 20% by 2031.

Murray State's Hutson School of Agriculture has the largest estimated pre-veterinary medicine/veterinary technology enrollment of any university in Kentucky, and is just one of three programs in Kentucky that is fully accredited by the AVMA.

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Pair Of Woodbine Graded Stakes Downgraded By Canadian Jockey Club

Fri, 2024-02-16 09:17

Woodbine's GII Bessarabian S. and the GII Royal North S. will be downgraded to Grade III status, The Jockey Club of Canada's Graded Stakes Committee said via a press release early Friday.

After their annual review of the Graded and Listed Stakes slate, the organization added that all three of the top levels will remain at 42 races.

The Committee reviewed the North American Race Committee (NARC) figures and the Race Quality Scores (RQS) for all Graded, Listed, and potentially Listed races in Canada. Based on this data, they also determined that the Century Mile H., Hamilton S. and Speed to Spare Championship will be upgraded to Listed status.

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PA Horse Breeders Association To Host 23 State-Bred Stakes In 2024

Thu, 2024-02-15 20:30

Edited Press Release

The Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association will run 23 stakes at Pennsylvania tracks throughout 2024, including five for PA-Sired, PA-Bred runners.

2-year-olds will have added opportunities, as the PA-Sired, PA-Bred Stallion Series returns in its third year with four stakes worth $400,000. The Series will continue into 2025 with races for 3-year-olds, with a $50,000 breeder bonus paid out to the top three point-earning horses after the third leg.

The first of 23 stakes with purses of $100,000 will be run April 22 at Parx Racing: the Unique Bella for fillies and mares, and the Page McKenney H., each at seven furlongs for older horses.

Penn National will host two $100,000 stakes on its Penn Mile card Friday, May 31–on the turf for older horses.

State-bred stakes action continues at Parx and Presque Isle Downs throughout the summer, with the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association's signature event, Pennsylvania's Day at the Races, to be held Aug. 26 at Parx. Four $100,000 stakes are on the card that celebrates state-bred runners.

Kicking off the PA-Sired, PA-Bred Stallion Series are the Whistle Pig and Miss Blue Tye Dye (the latter for fillies), both worth $100,000 and run at a distance of six furlongs. They are among the four state-bred stakes offered on Pennsylvania Derby Day Sept. 21 at Parx.

Presque Isle Downs will host five $100,000 Pennsylvania-bred stakes starting in July and two for juveniles on back-to-back weeks in October. The $100,000 Shamrock Rose S. for juvenile fillies will once again be run on Thanksgiving Eve at Penn National in November, followed by the $100,000 Pennsylvania Nursery at Parx one week later.

Over a five-week span at the end of the year, $400,000 in purses for juveniles is up for grabs as the PA-Sired PA-Bred Stallion Series continues Dec. 30. The $100,000 Wait For It S. and $100,000 Miss Behaviour S. (for fillies) will be contested at seven furlongs.

View the complete list here.

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Resolute Bloodstock Purchases Caravel, To Visit Frankel in 2024

Thu, 2024-02-15 19:09

John Stewart's Resolute Bloodstock has purchased 2022 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint champion Caravel (Mizzen Mast) in a private sale conducted early in 2024. Resolute's breeding director Chelsey Stone said the 7-year-old mare will visit Juddmonte's champion sire Frankel (GB) in 2024.

Bred and initially campaigned and trained by Elizabeth Merryman, Caravel earned nearly $2 million and amassed 15 career victories. In addition to her Breeders' Cup score, she earned a second Grade I win in the 2023 Jaipur S. In her final career start at the 2023 Breeders' Cup, the mare was campaigned by the ownership group of Qatar Racing, Madaket Stables and Marc Detampel. She then RNA'd for $2.4 million at the Keeneland November Sale.

“Chelsey and I are were surprised to find out that both Puca (Big Brown) and Caravel had RNA'd,” Stewart said. “We ended up purchasing Puca that night and the idea of having Caravel too haunted me all year. After the first of the year when we heard Caravel was going to be at Fasig-Tipton in November of 2024, we reached out and were able to purchase her in a private sale. We couldn't be happier to have her joining the other mares on our farm.”

Stone said that Caravel will depart from Resolute Farm in early March to visit Frankel. She will be bred back to a stallion in Europe after she foals there and then return to Kentucky next year.

“John and I visited Frankel just last week at Juddmonte and we are very excited to send her to him,” said Stone. “He's big-boned and the shoulder and hip on him is just so impressive. He's every bit of what he's been hyped up to and we are more than thrilled.”

Resolute Farm has also been in the news as of late with the announcement of the retirement of champion female sprinter Goodnight Olive (Ghostzapper), who will visit Taylor Made's Not This Time in 2024.

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Horse Industry Drives Huge Economic Gains Across California

Thu, 2024-02-15 17:46

Edited Press Release

As California grapples with a budget deficit in the tens of billions of dollars, the horse industry has grown financially for the state over the last five years; responsible for billions of dollars in economic impact and tens of thousands of jobs, according to a report released by the American Horse Council.

In 2023, the equine ecosystem provided a total value of $11.6 billion to California's economy and a direct contribution of $6.5 billion to state GDP, according to the report. This marks a significant increase from the American Horse Council's previous report in 2018, which found a total value of $8.3 billion to the state economy and a direct contribution of $4.5 billion to state GDP.

Through the care of the state's near-500,000 horses, events and recreation, and the ripple effect on other sectors of the economy, the California equine industry generates 132,496 jobs across the state and directly employs 93,467 workers. Five years ago, those numbers were 115,474 and 77,703, respectively.

Horses remain incredibly popular in the state of California. In total, 30.48% of households – 4.1 million in California – have a “horse enthusiast” in their home. No fewer than 220,000 California residents volunteer their time to horses, and the industry generates $6.2 billion in tourism for California.

“The American Horse Council report confirms what those of us in the industry have always known: Horses hold a special place in the hearts and minds of Californians,” said Bill Nader, President and CEO of Thoroughbred Owners of California. “With over 4 million households participating in horse events and activities across the state – 38% of whom are under the age of 18 – it is clear that the equine industry is more than just an impressive economic driver for the state; it is an integral part of California's culture.”

Racing continues to be the greatest contributor to the state in the industry, with a total economic impact of $2.5 billion and a direct value of $1.5 billion to California GDP.

“These data points show that the horse industry's contributions to California are enormous – and growing,” said Amy Zimmerman, of the California Horse Power Coalition. “Our commitment to supporting California's economy and workforce, preserving our state's beautiful land, providing therapeutic services to Californians who need it, and caring for the horses we love has never been greater. We look forward to seeing our industry grow and evolve in the years to come.”

More information and the 2023 Economic Impact Study can be found on the American Horse Council website: https://horsecouncil.org/economic-impact-study/

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Saudi Cup Runners Arrive In Riyadh From Japan, U.S.

Thu, 2024-02-15 16:59

The plane carrying the Japanese contingent to Riyadh for next Saturday's Saudi Cup meeting touched down at King Khalid International Airport, and each of the nation's four entrants for the $20-million G1 Saudi Cup appear to have taken the flight in good order.

Looking to make it back-to-back successes in the world's richest horse race following the stunning all-the-way victory by Panthalassa (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) last February are Japan's champion dirt horse Lemon Pop (Lemon Drop Kid); reigning G1 Dubai World Cup winner Ushba Tesoro (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}); Derma Sotogake (Jpn) (Mind Your Biscuits), last year's G2 UAE Derby hero and runner-up to White Abarrio (Race Day) in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic; and the MGSW/MG1SP Meisho Hario (Jpn) (Pyro).

Lightly raced for a 6-year-old, with just 14 starts under his belt, Lemon Pop won last year's G1 February S. and ventured overseas for the first time for the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen. An outpaced 10th behind Sibelius (Not This Time), the chestnut successfully stepped up in trip and wired the G1 Champions Cup in his first try over nine furlongs last December. Connections have opted for the path of greater resistance for his seasonal debut a week from Saturday.

“There's going to be plenty of competition there and that nine furlongs will test him now because we're not absolutely sure that's his best distance,” Godolphin Japan President Harry Sweeney told the TDN's Emma Berry in a recent interview. “But anyway, the option really is either to stay at home in Japan and run in the February S….or to go abroad and run in the Saudi Cup. So that's what we're doing.”

 

 

Say hello to four of Team Japan's G1 Saudi Cup contenders!

LEMON POP #レモンポップ
DERMA SOTOGAKE #デルマソトガケ
USHBA TESORO #ウシュバテソーロ
MEISHO HARIO #メイショウハリオ#サウジカップ | #競馬 | @JRA_WorldRacing pic.twitter.com/iloUlALcVU

— The Saudi Cup (@thesaudicup) February 15, 2024

 

A field of 16 will be drawn Friday for Sunday's February S., a 'Win and You're In' challenge race that offers a berth in the field for the 2024 Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar. But while the February does not lack for quantity, the racing calendar dictates that the country's stars are elsewhere.

“In truth, [the Saudi Cup] hurts the February S. a little bit, which is only one of two Grade 1 races in the JRA calendar on dirt,” Sweeney opined. So you have horses like Lemon Pop, Ushba Tesoro, Derma Sotogake all going to Saudi. Whereas in a different era they would all run in the February S.”

The Japanese have been major players in the brief history of the Saudi Cup races, and their other main chances include defending champion Bathrat Leon (Jpn) (Kizuna {Jpn}) in the G2 1351 Turf Sprint; Forever Young (Jpn) (Real Steel {Jpn}) in the G3 Saudi Derby; and Remake (Jpn) (Lani), who will try to improve on his third-place effort in the G3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint.

The American representatives also touched down in Riyadh late Wednesday evening, including the Saudi Cup-bound White Abarrio, National Treasure (Quality Road) and Saudi Crown (Always Dreaming).

 

Three of Team USA's G1 Saudi Cup contenders arriving to quarantine at @JCSA_Racing.

SAUDI CROWN
WHITE ABARRIO
NATIONAL TREASURE #TheSaudiCup | – pic.twitter.com/XMtfiinzPl

— The Saudi Cup (@thesaudicup) February 15, 2024

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Lauren Robson Saddles First Winner Thursday at Gulfstream

Thu, 2024-02-15 16:47

Trainer Lauren Robson saddled her first career winner Thursday, bringing a rather extensive resume with her into the Gulfstream Park winner's circle.

“I came over from England in 2004. I worked for various, really good trainers. I was an assistant for Jonathan Sheppard, Wesley Ward and Jerry Hollendorfer,” Robson said. “I galloped for Todd Pletcher. I rode many good horses for him. There were other good trainers I worked for also, like Richard Mandella.”

Robson saddled Jabran to a 3 1/2-length victory under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in Race 2, a five-furlong maiden claiming event for 3-year-olds on Tapeta.

“I'm really happy Johnny rode him. He's been a longtime friend, he and his wife Leona,” Robson said. “It's great to get the first one under my name.”

A tragic accident that left her husband, former jockey Rudy Delguidice, paralyzed led Robson into training a small stable at Gulfstream.

“I was in Ocala. We were breaking and training horses, and my husband had an accident and broke his neck in July 2022,” Robson recalled. “So, we came down here for him to do his rehab, and I thought to myself, 'Well, since I have these couple horses, I just may as well train them myself.'”

Following her first training success on her own, Robson doesn't aspire to build a large stable in the future.

“This is fun for me and my husband. He comes out in the morning to watch the horses train. It keeps him involved,” she said. “I'm hoping to get a few more, but I'm not looking to have too many. I'd like to be kind of small and be hands-on, get on my own horses and just do good with what I've got. I'd like young horses. I've learned from some good people. It makes me happy to get the best out of each individual.”

Robson owns Jabran, a son of Munnings, and co-owns British Empress, a 4-year-old maiden daughter of Classic Empire. Jabran was only Robson's 10 starter dating back to Sept. 30.

“When you only have two horses, it seemed to take a while,” Robson said. “I guess if you had 20 horses, it would be a week's worth of runners.”

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Popular Cal-Bred Brickyard Ride Retired

Thu, 2024-02-15 15:42

Popular California-bred Brickyard Ride (h, 7, Clubhouse Ride–Brickyard Helen, by Southern Image) has been retired at age seven after suffering a minor injury in a workout at Santa Anita late last month, trainer Craig Lewis said.

“It was nothing serious,” Lewis said. “But Father Time is catching up with him.”

Brickyard Ride won 13-of-31 starts, including eight stakes, and banked $925,477 for owner-breeder Alfred A. “Sonny” Pais. His resume includes a trio of graded stakes victories–the 2021 GII San Carlos S. and the GIII Kona Gold S. in both 2022 and 2023.

Most recently, Brickyard Ride finished second to The Chosen Vron (Vronsky) in the California Cup Sprint Jan. 13.

“He was a fun horse. A fast horse that won a lot of races,” Lewis said. “All good things come to an end. It sure was fun while he was here.”

Brickyard Ride last week was sent to a farm in nearby Bradbury where he'll remain for the rest of the year.

“He's going to take the year off and then go to stud somewhere next season,” Lewis said.

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Santa Anita’s 54th Annual Charity Basketball Game Set for Monday, Feb. 26

Thu, 2024-02-15 14:54

A time honored tradition dating back more than five decades, the 54th annual Santa Anita Jockeys vs. Holy Angels Middle School Charity Basketball Game will be held Monday, Feb. 26 at La Salle High School in Pasadena, Ca.

The La Salle High gymnasium will open to the public at 6 p.m. and tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Admission tickets will be available on-site and a $5 donation will generate proceeds to the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund (PDJF) and Holy Angels athletics.

A distinguished group of Hall of Fame jockeys will be on-hand beginning at 6:30 p.m. to sign posters and other memorabilia courtside.

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Breeders’ Cup Tickets On Sale April 22

Thu, 2024-02-15 12:39

Tickets for this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships, held Nov. 1-2 at Del Mar, will go on sale April 22. Featuring 14 Grade I races and over $31m in purses, the 2024 World Championships bring together the world's best horses, jockeys and trainers over two days in Del Mar, CA. Fans can view ticket information here.

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Bidding Open For Fasig-Tipton Digital February Sale

Thu, 2024-02-15 12:29

Edited Press Release

Fasig-Tipton has catalogued 139 entries for its February Digital Sale, including phase one of the Ruis Racing LLC Dispersal. Entries may be viewed here and bidding is open now through Tuesday, Feb. 20, beginning at 2 PM ET.

“Fasig-Tipton Digital continues to gather momentum and traction with buyers and sellers, evidenced by the size and quality of this February Digital Sale catalogue,” said Leif Aaron, Fasig-Tipton Director of Digital Sales.

The catalogue includes horses of racing, breeding stock, a 2-year-old, and 22 yearlings.

Offerings include several recent winning and stakes-winning horses of racing age, a group of graded-stakes performing broodmare prospects and a current graded stakes producer in the dam of GIII Sam F. Davis winner No More Time (Not This Time).

Covering sires include Army Mule, Epicenter, Essential Quality, Flameaway, Golden Pal, Mitole, and Not This Time.

Also featured in the catalogue are breeding stock and yearlings from Phase One of the Dispersal of Ruis Racing LLC, which are consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency. The Ruis Racing LLC entries consist of breeding stock and yearlings and all are selling without reserve.

The dispersal features several mares in foal to Bolt d'Oro, as well as Hard Spun, Lexitonian, and Mystic Guide. Sires of broodmares and broodmare prospects include Bolt d'Oro, Elusive Quality, Harlan's Holiday, Into Mischief, and Kingman (GB).

“Phase One of the Ruis Racing LLC Dispersal adds significant interest to this catalogue,” added Aaron.  “His program is truly unique in that it is a family operation that bred and trained their own horses and has had tremendous results doing so. Horses were raised and developed with one goal–to win the sport's biggest races.”

Phase Two of Ruis Racing LLC's Dispersal will be conducted in Fasig-Tipton's April Digital Sale, and includes horses of racing age, two-year-olds, and additional yearlings.

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CTHS Alberta Offers New 2025 Foal Incentive And Open Mare Program

Thu, 2024-02-15 12:17

Current Alberta division members of the CTHS with mares that have not foaled in either 2023 or 2024 will be eligible for additional funding per a release from the CTHS. Members will receive $2,500 if the foal is sired by a stallion standing in Alberta and $1,500 if sired by an out-of-province stallion. Yearlings from the program will be eligible for the 2026 Alberta Thoroughbred Sale with the cost of sales entry fees covered by the CTHS. Members can visit the CTHS Alberta website for additional information.

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Keeneland Spring Meet Tickets On Sale Feb. 20

Thu, 2024-02-15 11:38

Tickets for Keeneland's 16-day Spring Meet, which runs April 5-26, go on sale Feb. 20. Headlined by the 100th running of the GI Toyota Blue Grass S., the meet will award more than $8.1m in purse money over 19 stakes races. Tickets can be purchased in advance here and fans are also welcome to tailgate on The Hill without a ticket or reservation. Keeneland will so also host fans for Kentucky Derby Day with general admission and Equestrian Room dining tickets available along with upgraded tailgate packages.

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2024 RRP Thoroughbred Makeover Welcomes 396 Trainers

Thu, 2024-02-15 10:54

396 trainers have been accepted to the 2024 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America. Announced in a release from the Retired Racehorse Project, the event, a retraining competition for recently-retired racehorses and broodmares, will be held Oct. 9-12 in Lexington, KY with over $100,000 in available prize money across 10 disciplines.

“We sincerely appreciate the time and dedication it takes to transition Thoroughbreds into their next careers,” said Executive Director of TCA Erin Halliwell. “We're looking forward to October where we'll see hundreds of Thoroughbreds demonstrating their new skills in many different disciplines.”

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Horse Racing Women’s Summit Returns To Santa Anita In 2024

Thu, 2024-02-15 10:42

The third annual Horse Racing Women's Summit will be held at Santa Anita Park Sept. 25-26 the group announced Thursday, with satellite events at Keeneland, Saratoga, Del Mar and the 2024 Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming. The HRWS, founded in 2022, brings speakers, networking opportunities and events together from across the horse racing industry.

“Our executive committee and volunteers are working hard to pull together another series of great events across the country in addition to growing the membership and tackling the other priorities identified at the 2023 Summit,” said HRWS Chair Stephanie Hronis. “We look forward to fostering opportunities to engage, elevate and invest in women to transform our sport of horse racing.”

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No Better Time To Buy A Derby Mare

Thu, 2024-02-15 10:33

Hemp Meats, a beef farm and butcher shop, is a family business now into its sixth generation. In fact, it's the oldest of its type not just in Maryland, but in the whole country. So you could say that Gary Hemp is accustomed to taking the long view. But something remarkable has just happened, really out of nowhere.

“About two weeks ago,” Hemp says. “That's when I got this call from Lexington, Kentucky, which is one I don't see too often.”

The voice on the other end of the line introduced itself as belonging to Steve Castagnola of Taylor Made Farm. He just wanted to draw Hemp's attention to the fact that a foal out of the Speightstown mare he had bought for only $7,000 at Keeneland a couple of winters ago had been given an entry in the GIII Holy Bull S.

Hemp told Castagnola apologetically that he simply hasn't the time to keep on top of all that stuff. Though in his late 70s, he's still working hard to ensure that the Hemp Meats legacy remains as venerable for the next generation as it had been for his own. It was founded way back in 1849, so 2024 brings up its 175th anniversary. A few years ago, another family of butchers made contact: they'd done the research, hoping to prove themselves the oldest in the game, only to discover this outfit in Jefferson that had been at it even longer.

For Hemp, moreover, there's also a sense of heritage about the small Thoroughbred breeding program—currently comprising six mares, and shared with his wife Robin—that has in modern times operated alongside the one raising beef cattle. Because this originated with his father, Bill.

“We bought and sold cattle down the East Coast, and used to have a trucking business too,” Hemp explains. “But we're just a small, family operation, and it got to be stressful. So the doctor said to my dad, 'Why don't you try something a little different?' Well, every so often he would go to the track, and he knew people from buying cattle that had horses, so he started out with two mares. I was the stable boy. That was back in the late '60s. And I'm still doing the same thing today.”

They launched their Thoroughbred stable with the help of family friend S.O. Graham in Virginia.

“He had a lot of horses,” Hemp explains. “So we got a good bloodline from him. My dad did very well. Mostly in Charles Town, but we also did Laurel, Pimlico, Penn National, Delaware. Didn't have any superstars, but he did win a couple of West Virginia Futurities. I'm still trying to catch him, as far as wins, don't know if I ever will or not. He didn't have computers, any of that. He did it all by going through the books. But he was pretty good at it, and he's the reason why I'm able to do it too.”

That said, when his father died in 2003, Hemp pretty well had to start over. The old man had been down to a last mare from the original Graham line: she'd won an allowance and was all set to win another when she broke down on the final turn. So Hemp found a couple of local mares, and started to build up again. Just as his father had been indebted to Graham, so Hemp speaks warmly of succeeding Virginian breeders: O'Sullivan Farm, Cyndy and John McKee, and above all James W. Casey.

“They all treated me so well,” he says. “Mr. Casey helped West Virginia racing like no person I ever knew. He was very kind: helped me out with some broodmares, really kept me going.”

A few years ago, Hemp bought a mare by Speightstown at Keeneland. She produced some good types until unfortunately coming up with a huge colt, and proving unable to survive the complications. So when he looked through the catalogue for the 2021 November Sale, back at Keeneland, his shortlist of replacements included another daughter of Speightstown. Baroness Juliette had only won a maiden claimer at Prairie Meadows, but she was out of a Medaglia d'Oro half-sister to Siphonic (Brz) and had youth on her side, six years old and carrying her third foal (by Mor Spirit).

“I liked that breeding on both ends,” said Hemp. “I work on pedigrees almost every day a little bit, always trying to learn a little more, and I'd picked out about eight or 10 altogether. And actually I didn't even go down there. With this family business, you can't just leave any time. So I was watching the sale online.”

“I was sure that I would get outbid on that mare. I was waiting for somebody to throw something up there [against his $7,000 bid], but they didn't. I thought, 'There's no way…' And then they called and said, 'You got her.' I really couldn't believe it. I guess Mor Spirit wasn't doing much. But I thought it was a deal, personally. I thought I got very lucky.”

Nor did he change his opinion when she stepped off the lorry.

“I loved her right off the bat,” he says. “I have mares from around here, and that's okay. But when you see these mares coming from Kentucky? She stood out straightaway, you could just see the class.”

Hemp liked the colt she delivered, too, and then bred her back locally. She has a yearling filly by Golden Years, and she's now pregnant by a son of Into Mischief named Cancun. That cover may not do a great deal for her value, as a late entry for Fasig-Tipton's current digital sale, where she sells as Hip 40 (click here) in the sale which runs through February 20. But here's where we need to rewind to that call from Lexington.

In fact, we need to go back a good bit farther than that. Because the team at Taylor Made have had a connection to this mare tracing back to 2020, when their young gun Not This Time was hitting that bump in the road nowadays faced by any stallion pending his first runners.

“Yes, he was in that tricky fourth year,” Castagnola explains. “Often we're having to cut deals on stallions even in their second and third years. So Not This Time didn't have a huge book of mares for his fourth.”

Not This Time | Jon Siegel

In the circumstances, then, everyone could be a winner when the Albaugh Family Stable–the Iowa-based program that had raced the horse–donated a Not This Time season to an auction for their home state's Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association. The successful bid of $6,850 was made by MAMAS Thoroughbreds, which included ITBOA president Steve Rentfle.

At the time this partnership had custody of Baroness Juliette. They'd bred her first foal, an Outwork colt that never made the track. But after Not This Time's debut crop made a flying start, they were able to sell his Iowa-bred son for $40,000 to Hartley/De Renzo at the 2022 Keeneland September Sale.

He was sent into training with Jose D'Angelo, and Castagnola monitored his progress with interest: second on debut at Gulfstream last September, he then stretched out to win by nearly seven lengths over a mile, earning a crack at the Mucho Macho Man S. on New Year's Day.

“He got a terrible trip, he was hard to handle, I just looked at it as possibly a throw-out race,” Castagnola says. “And so when he entered back in the Holy Bull, that's when I reached out to Gary and just made him aware that, 'Hey, you own the dam of this horse.'

“In the end he scratched that day, because the trainer felt he needed one more work, and kept him for the [GIII] Sam Davis. And he proved correct in making that move.”

Did he ever. For this colt is No More Time, who dominated the race throughout at Tampa Bay Downs last Saturday.

“Gary and I had stayed in touch through the week,” Castagnola says. “He and his wife were actually on vacation, and he literally walked in the door as they'd run the race. I called him up and told him, and he was almost in disbelief.”

Hemp candidly acknowledges his inexperience with this kind of opportunity, and he's grateful for the counsel he has received. Castagnola laid the options before him.

“You could cash in now,” he said. “I can get her supplemented to this Fasig-Tipton digital sale. We have the resources here to execute that late entry and get everything lined up. The second option is maybe to sell 50 percent of the mare, take some chips off the table and stay in for any upside. Or you can just ride it out, breed her back to Not This Time and then offer her in November.”

Hemp pondered for a couple of days and then decided to strike while the iron was hot. Because, actually, it's even hotter than most people will have realized. For Baroness Juliette's dam counts among her siblings not only the Grade I winner Siphonic but also his full-sister Lady Siphonica, who had surfaced just a week previously as second dam of Mystik Dan, winner of the GIII Southwest S.

“Obviously being by Speightstown out of a Medaglia d'Oro mare, this mare is herself extremely well-bred,” Castagnola notes. “But it's always nice to see new activity, and her son not only sits sixth on the Derby points list but is virtually tied with a horse right under her second dam. [Mystik Dan has one point extra, on 21, enough to put him third overall.] So that will give two rooting interests for the new owner of this mare.”

No More Time | SV Photography

Whoever that turns out to be, Castagnola is naturally hoping that Baroness Juliette might return to Not This Time this spring.

“And we hope that it turns out that she'd then be carrying a full sibling to a Kentucky Derby winner!” he says.

He emphasizes that Not This Time has elevated his fee tenfold to $150,000 without yet having launched a single runner conceived even at $40,000.

“This is the only active sire with an Eclipse champion on both dirt and turf,” he remarks. “Yet he's done it all from his first four crops, all bred at $15,000 or less. The thing is that he now has both volume and quality. His 2-year-old crop is a really big one, and every year the quality of his mares has just got better and better. Last breeding season, his comparative index was second only to Gun Runner. Having done so much with the sort of mares that we just took to try and fill his book, his future is certainly looking very bright.”

Obviously the Not This Time team are now in a position to pick and choose his partners.

“And we're fortunate that, having seen his first four or five crops, we know what kind of mare fits him physically and genetically,” Castagnola says. “Obviously we're overrun with applications, and we've really focused on getting mares that we think will fit him. Our guys do a lot of recruiting, reaching out to people that have the type of mare that we'd like to get him.”

Not This Time could scarcely have made a more auspicious start to the new season, welcoming none other than Goodnight Olive (Ghostzapper) for her maiden cover on his first day of trade.

He's certainly come a long way since the charity cover that has put an Iowa-bred on the Derby trail. Having stumbled into the slipstream of a stallion turning everything to gold, then, Hemp is feeling as dazed as he is blessed.

“Everybody's trying to help me out here, because nothing like this has ever happened to me,” he marvels. “There's always so much going on with our business here, and I'm getting older, so I can't keep up with everything. I knew she had an Outwork the first time, but when I found out that she had one in a prep race, wow. And then Steve called and said, 'Well, he not only just ran, he won it.' I know he's not mine, but I almost can't describe the feeling of watching that colt go wire to wire, how it gets your adrenaline going.”

Hemp will have another decision to make with the Mor Spirit colt he acquired in utero.

“I'm considering putting him in a 2-year-old sale,” he admits. “But then again, I raised him and I like the racing, too. I only have one other 2-year-old, a filly by a West Virginia sire called Redirect. And I do like this colt. You never know, he could do pretty well.”

But while Baroness Juliette has introduced him to exciting novelties, Hemp has always been at home with an environment that calls for the same instincts of stockmanship as those that underpin the long survival of the family farm.

“The genetics are a big part of both,” he says. “And you always have to upgrade. That's why I try to get these broodmares from Kentucky, when I can. You have to keep moving forward. You just sit in one spot, it'll be done. I'm the fifth generation in our business, and I've upped the level of what we sell.

“We don't gouge prices. We always try to treat customers like we'd want to be treated, and I'm very particular about quality. It's not like we're selling a TV or computer. Mother Nature has the last call in our business. The beef that we buy in, it's the best we can get, to the best of our knowledge; and what we raise on the farm, it's all choice to prime grade. I don't feed growth hormones or antibiotics. Everybody that knows me, knows that we try to do it right.”

Having put three daughters through college, Hemp concedes that “not many girls want to be meat carvers,” but his nephew represents a sixth generation in the business. Not that Hemp or his wife are anywhere near quitting, despite each experiencing significant health hurdles in recent times.

“All those years standing on concrete cutting meat, for six, eight hours, plus doing the cattle on the farm, it pretty much wears on you,” Hemp admits. “I got arthritis, and then I had a fall, broke my neck and back and hip. At the hospital they told my wife I would probably never walk again. I had to learn how to do everything. But I'm up and going, I'm lucky. The last time I had my hip done, they said I could go home next day. The guy looked at me and said, 'You some kind of a freak or something?' I said, 'No, I'm just doing what you told me to.' Because that's just kind of the way we were raised.”

If that ethic has underpinned half a century of working life, it has proved no less useful with the Thoroughbreds that have also been on the scene throughout.

“I was doing actually pretty well with them and then COVID came and, boy, I tell you, I came close to throwing the towel in a couple times,” he says. “I'm still struggling to get things turned around, but this mare now might help me pull it out. I don't know if I deserve it or not, but it's just really nice being able to experience something like this. It makes you feel like you've maybe done a little something correct. My dad was tough. They were all tough, they were hard, they pushed their butts. You didn't back talk or anything. But he would love this. He'd be very proud.”

Castagnola sums it up well. “There's nothing I love more than this kind of story,” he says. “First of all, the kind gesture of the Albaugh family in donating the season. As a result, an Iowa breeder made a $40,000 sale. And then, for Gary and his wife, things have been hard the past couple of years. The racing gods, the universe, however you want to describe the way some things happen in our world, that may not be by chance: I just think it's a beautiful thing. And it couldn't be happening to a nicer guy.”

“I'm just a small-town dude trying to do what I can,” Hemp says. “I do study the pedigrees a lot. And I'm still trying to learn. But this is all new to me. It's pretty overwhelming. She's a good-looking, well-bred mare. But I guess I just got lucky, if you want to know the truth.” He pauses and chuckles. “Some old farm boy got lucky.”

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Churchill Downs To Host 2024 Claiming Crown Event

Thu, 2024-02-15 09:34

Churchill Downs will host the 2024 Claiming Crown Nov. 16, the HBPA announced Thursday. The event, held at Fair Grounds last year, will return to Kentucky for the second time in three years. Created in 1999 by the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the Claiming Crown provides claiming horses with a multi-race program to spotlight their importance.

“In a year when Churchill Downs celebrates the 150th [GI] Kentucky Derby, we are honored to host the Claiming Crown on center stage in the same historic venue,” said TOBA president Dan Metzger.

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