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Updated: 20 hours 39 min ago

Commonwealth Polo Presents ‘Polo for the PDJF’

Wed, 2021-04-21 16:04

The first 'Polo for the PDJF' is set for this Friday, Apr. 23, at the Commonwealth Polo Coub, with all proceeds benefitting the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.'

The evening will include dinner, drinks, entertainment, a silent auction, with the main attraction being the retired and active jockeys who will be playing polo while riding retired race horses. Jockeys who will be playing include Chris McCarron, Rosie Napravnik, Patty Cooksey, Anthony Stephen, Michael Heath and many others. Additionally, the event will be emceed by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens and will be attended by Shane Sellers, Jean Cruget, Sandy Hawley, Mike Manganello, and Gary Birzer, along with other active and retired jockeys.

“We are really looking forward to the event,” said Susan Moulton, wife of Sellers, and member of Commonwealth Polo Club. “They are coming out to play to raise money and awareness for their fellow jockeys who have suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of an on-track accident. As there is no guaranteed funding for the PDJF, it is important that we come together as an industry to assist in providing for these jockeys who gave so much for the sport of horse racing.”

During a silent auction, guests will be given the opportunity to bid on a unique array of items including autographed racing memorabilia, artwork, jewelry, and equestrian items. Auction items of interest include halters worn by American Pharoah and Justify donated by Coolmore America, Tapit donated by Gainesway Farm, and Midnight Bisou donated by Bloom Racing Stables and Hill 'n' Dale Farm.
Sponsors of the polo teams include Gainesway Farm, Winstar Farm, Godolphin at Jonabell Farm, Mt. Brilliant Farm, Safari North Farm, Team Valor, Bowling Bloodstock, Vinery Sales, and Silver Springs Training.

Admission for the event is $10 per car load. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., with the polo match slated to begin at 7 p.m. The Commonwealth Polo Club is located at 2665 Bethlehem Road, Paris, KY.

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TCA To Host ‘Bid on the Bluegrass’ Auction

Wed, 2021-04-21 15:46

The Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) will conduct an online auction called 'Bid on the Bluegrass,' featuring unique, Kentucky Derby-themed items and experiences associated with several of the participants in the 2021 GI Kentucky Derby. All proceeds will benefit the TCA.

In addition to memorabilia from likely Kentucky Derby starters Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, Like the King, Hidden Stash and Mandaloun, to name a few, other items include a pair of two framed shoes worn by Alydar, a Secretariat print signed by Penny Tweedy and a framed print of Seattle Slew winning the Derby by Fred Stone.

Unique experiences include an exclusive meet and greet with American Pharoah and Justify at Coolmore America with halters for each horse followed by a bourbon tasting, a VIP meet and greet with Rachel Alexandra and a farm tour at Stonestreet Farm, a private tour at Claiborne Farm, a catered farm tour with a Pinhook Bourbon tasting at Margaux Farm, and the opportunity to join race caller Kurt Becker in the announcer's booth for one race during Keeneland's October 2021 race meet.

The auction also features bourbon-related items including twelve bottles of Bulleit Distilling Company spirits signed by Tom Bulleit, a Four Roses Bourbon gift basket, a Buffalo Trace Distillery gift basket, and a Town Branch Distilling barrel head.

“This online auction will feature a wide array of items with a Kentucky focus,” said Erin Crady executive director of TCA. “We have bourbon-themed items, racing memorabilia, one-of-a-kind experiences, farm tours and so much more. We are very grateful to all of our item donors for making this auction possible.”

Bidding begins Thursday, Apr. 29 at 9 a.m. ET and continues through Saturday, May 1 at 9 p.m. New items will be added until the start of the auction. Click here for a full list of items.

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Tuel New Track Announcer At Evangeline

Wed, 2021-04-21 14:44

Rob Tuel has been named the full-time track announcer at Evangeline Downs, officials at the track announced Wednesday. Tuel succeeds Michael Chamberlain, who spent six years behind the mic at the Opelousas, Louisiana, track.

Tuel's racecalling career began in 2004 at Eureka Downs in Kansas, describing both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse action. He has also called races in his home state of Nebraska at FairPlay Park, Lincoln Race Course and Atokad Park.

“I am honored and thrilled to be selected as the new track announcer at Evangeline Downs,” said Tuel. “It has been a lifelong dream to the announcer at such a prestigious racetrack and I cannot wait to begin.”

Tuel will also handicap each live racing program at Evangeline and will be the host of the track's daily simulcast show.

“We are very exciting to have Rob join our racing team here at Evangeline Downs,” said Carol Core, vice president and general manager. “He brings plenty of excitement and enthusiasm to the position of track announcer and I'm sure he will be well received by race fans both locally and across the nation via simulcast.”

Racing at Evangeline is scheduled Wednesday through Thursday from Apr. 28 through Sept. 18. First post each night is 5:30 p.m. Central time.

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Arrogate Filly to Yoshida

Wed, 2021-04-21 14:30

A filly from the first crop of champion Arrogate sold for $1-million to the internet bid of Katsumi Yoshida midway through Wednesday's second session of the OBS Spring Sale. The gray is out of multiple graded stakes winner Amen Hallelujah (Montbrook). She was consigned by Mayberry Farm on behalf of Steve Spielman's Nice Guys Stable, which purchased her for $150,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.

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Quality Road Colt First to Reach Seven Figures at OBS

Wed, 2021-04-21 12:24

A son of leading sire Quality Road was the first to hit the seven-figure mark at the OBS Spring Sale's second session Wednesday, bringing $1.5 million from Marette Farrell. Bred by Bart Evans and Stonehaven Steadings, the bay is a son of MGSW & MGISP Wasted Tears (Najran). Consigned by de Meric Sales, the :10 flat breeze RNA'd for $385,000 at KEESEP.

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‘Win and You’re In’ Television Schedule Announced

Wed, 2021-04-21 12:15

The 2021 “Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In–presented by America's Best Racing” television schedule, consisting of 12 live programs featuring more than 20 automatic qualifying races and other major stakes from six of the nation's premier racetracks on the road to the Breeders' Cup World Championships, was announced by the Breeders' Cup and NBC Sports Wednesday.

Now in its eighth year on NBC Sports, the series showcases the top horses as they vie for a coveted automatic berth, and free entry, into the 2021 Breeders' Cup World Championships, scheduled for Nov. 5-6 at Del Mar. The World Championships will be televised live on NBC and NBCSN.

The complete Challenge Series television schedule can be viewed here.

“The Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In – presented by America's Best Racing continues to be an excellent way for fans to stay connected to the top horses and races throughout the summer and fall leading up to the World Championships,” said Breeders' Cup President and CEO Drew Fleming. “We thank NBC Sports for their continued commitment to our sport and are grateful for the broadcasting excellence they deliver in their domestic and international Thoroughbred racing coverage. We also thank our Challenge Series partner racetracks around the world along with America's Best Racing for their presenting sponsorship and promotion of the series.”

“We are excited to showcase the world's top horses in the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series from Belmont Stakes Day throughout the summer and all the way to the Breeders' Cup World Championships in November,” said Justin Byczek, NBC Sports Senior Vice President of Programming and Rights Management.

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Wanamaker’s Releases April Catalogue

Wed, 2021-04-21 11:25

Wanamaker's has released the catalogue for its April online auction, which will take place Apr. 29. Highlights from the catalogue include the stakes winner Trixie Racer (Orb), offered as a broodmare prospect, along with yearlings, 2-year-olds, racehorses, and broodmares.

The entire catalogue can be found at www.wanamakers.com. Prospective buyers may browse the website to view pedigrees, pictures, and videos. In-person inspections may be scheduled by contacting sellers with the information provided in the catalogue.

Live bidding will open at 8:00 a.m. and the first listing will close at 5:00 p.m. ET with subsequent listings ending in three-minute increments. Detailed buying information can be found at www.wanamakers.com/buy.

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Jockeys Say They’ll Skip Monmouth Over Whip Rules

Wed, 2021-04-21 09:39

With a court having denied a motion to stay a New Jersey Racing Commission (NJRC) regulation banning the use of the whip, racing at Monmouth is set to get underway under the tightest rules in the nation regarding the crop. But whips may not be the only thing missing on opening day May 28.

At least three jockeys have said that, because of the whip ban, they will not ride at Monmouth this year. Jockeys across the country have come out against whip restrictions, saying that the crop is a necessary tool and that banning them outright would lead to dangerous conditions.

“Under these conditions, no, I don't think I can ride at Monmouth Park,” said Joe Bravo, who has been leading rider at Monmouth 13 times.

Jockeys Antonio Gallardo and Daniel Centeno took to Twitter to announce their decision to not ride at Monmouth this year.

“I have to say something important: I left Presque Isle a few years ago and went to Monmouth, I did very well,” Gallardo tweeted. “It's my second home after Tampa and it's so sad to change my plans just because they put a stupid rule into practice so I can't go back.”

Centento Tweeted: “I was so excited to go back to Monmouth but with that rule they put I can't GO!!! I have to change my plans!!!”

Bravo was third in the standings for the main Monmouth meet last year and Gallardo was fourth. Centeno has not ridden regularly at Monmouth since 2015.

Veteran rider Chris DeCarlo also took to Twitter to express his opinion, but did not say if he intended to ride at Monmouth this year or not.

“NJRC really trying to kill Horse Racing,” he wrote. “Jockeys can't fight and do this alone. Everyone that has a vested interest in racing in NJ should step up to the plate and voice their concern to get this overturned.”

In September, the New Jersey Racing Commission issued rules governing the use of the whip. To take effect with the opening of the 2021 Monmouth meet, jockeys will not be allowed to use their whip unless it is needed for safety reasons. The Jockeys' Guild took the issue to court, but it was announced earlier this week that their request for a stay had been turned down. The Guild plans to appeal that decision, but an appeal is not expected to be heard prior to opening day at Monmouth.

“When they first proposed this last year, I just couldn't fathom having races without any way to encourage the horse” Bravo said. “It passed and we appealed. I kept thinking there is no way they could put this in place. Monday, they denied our appeal. We're facing the fact that in a couple of weeks there is going to be an opening day at Monmouth Park and they will be expecting us to ride under these conditions.”

When announcing the rule change, the commission issued a statement saying the new rule was necessary because of public perception issues.

“The prohibition of the use of riding crops, except when necessary for the safety of horse or rider, will be perceived in a positive light by the general public,” said the statement. “The proposed repeal and new rules are of the utmost importance in adapting the industry to avoid the currently negative public perception of whipping a horse.”

Bravo said that after the court's decision was announced, the Board held a conference call in which the New Jersey riders were given an update.

“I'll put it this way, no one on that call said they were willing to rider there under these conditions,” Bravo said.

Bravo voiced a common theme among the Monmouth riders, that the NJRC took these measures without bothering to consult with the Guild or any of the local riders.

“They didn't even speak to any of the New Jersey jockeys and ask what are your thoughts?” Bravo said. “In today's era, yes, there should be riding crop restrictions. I understand that. They have them at Delaware, at Tampa and in California. We have no problem with that. But to take the whip away completely away…that's crazy. Show me another country in the world with major racing that has these conditions.”

Bravo did not say where he intended to ride this summer, but one option would be Gulfstream Park, where he is currently riding.

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Strong Trade at OBS Opener

Tue, 2021-04-20 19:39

By Christie DeBernardis & Jessica Martini

The four-day Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's Spring Sale got off to a strong start Tuesday. A colt from the first crop of Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Hip 118) was the day's hottest commodity, bringing $850,000 from Donato Lanni, acting on behalf of Michael Lund Petersen.

Hip 118 was one of 181 juveniles to sell for a gross of $17,829,500. The average was $98,506 and the median was $50,000. Of the 304 catalogued, 225 were offered with 44 horses leaving the ring unsold for a buy-back rate of 19.56%.

“I thought it was a good start to the sale,” said OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski. “The numbers looked good and a lot of horses got moved. Hopefully, that trend continues over the next three days.”

Last year's sale, which was delayed until June due to the pandemic, opened with 154 horses changing hands for $13,209,500 with an average of $85,776 and a median of $46,000. Of the 192 horses to go through the ring, 35 failed to sell at the close of business in the 2020 opener for a buy-back rate of 19.79%.

Given the huge economic and travel impacts caused by COVID-19, the 2019 Spring Sale numbers may be a more accurate comparison. During that renewal, 166 2-year-olds brought $15,346,000 with an average of $92,446 and a median of $55,000.

“It was a good step obviously beyond last year and we all know what we had to deal with last year,” Wojciechowski said. “But it is also an improvement over 2019.”

The session featured the usual strong competition for the top lots with 16 horses selling for $300,000 or more.

“There are a lot of horses here, but I think you see all of the right buyers,” said Spendthrift's Ned Toffey, who signed the ticket on the day's second highest-priced horse, a $550,000 son of Distorted Humor (Hip 185). “What I would expect to see is more of what we've seen. There is great activity for the top horses and if you are not one of those, it will be a little tougher sledding. People are being very selective, but it's a good, full parking lot out there and there has been plenty of activity.”

The auction saw a diverse buying bench Tuesday with 12 individual buyers accounting for the top 12 horses sold. The top dozen were also offered by 12 different consignors with Eisaman Equine accounting for the day's top lot.

“One of the great things about April is that buyers get to spread out over horses, so you don't see them concentrating on the same horses as much,” Wojciechowski said. “It is great to see that depth and to the see the activity in the barns.”

Freshman sires proved popular during day one. In addition to Gun Runner, Midnight Storm, Noble Bird, Valiant Minister, Lord Nelson, American Freedom and Klimt all had offspring sell for $250,000 or more.

Fireworks for Gun Runner Colt

The big sales results from the first crop of juveniles by champion Gun Runner (hip 118) continued Tuesday at OBS when a son of the Three Chimneys stallion sold for a session-topping $850,000 to the bid of bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, acting on behalf of Michael Lund Petersen. The gray juvenile will join the $1.7-million son of Gun Runner purchased by Amr Zedan at last month's Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale in the Southern California barn of trainer Bob Baffert.

“He's a beautiful horse,” Lanni said. “Just a cool horse. He did everything he was asked to do and came out of in really good shape. We are just happy to get him. He was the horse we wanted to go home with.”

Of the colt's final price tag, Lanni said, “It's the same thing every year. We all land on the same horses. There is no stealing. It's tough to buy them.”

The colt, who worked a furlong in :10 flat at last week's under-tack show, is out of graded placed Salamera (Successful Appeal) and was consigned by Barry and Shari Eisaman's Eisaman Equine and was bred by the couple's Eico Ventures.

“Barry does a great job,” Lanni said. “He's a good horseman and I'm happy they bred a nice horse.”

The sale was a highwater mark for an Eisaman homebred.

“He is a wonderful horse and we thought he was going to sell well,” Shari Eisaman said as the couple received congratulations out back. “I was going to be thrilled with $500,000. This is the most I've ever sold a homebred for–the homebreds have paid for the farm, they've paid for everything. Thank the Lord.”

The Eisamans purchased Salamera for $300,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. The 11-year-old mare, who was second in the 2012 GII Adirondack S., has an Uncle Mo yearling and she was bred back to Malibu Moon last year.

“Absolutely,” Eisaman said when asked if the result was extra gratifying with a homebred. “When you own the factory, your mares are working when you're sleeping.”

The Eisamans have cut back on their broodmare band in recent years.

“Right now we only have five,” Eisaman said. “Our broodmare band was up to about 30 and a few years ago, we decided we would cut back some. So we cut back a little.”

Asked if Tuesday's result may cause her to add some mares to the band, Eisaman hesitated before smiling and saying, “Maybe.” @JessMartiniTDN

Midnight Storm Colt to WinStar

WinStar Farm capped a big day in the sales ring for freshman sire Midnight Storm when Kenny Troutt's operation paid $550,000 for a son of the Taylor Made stallion late in Tuesday's opening session of the OBS Spring sale.

“We just loved him,” WinStar's Elliott Walden said of hip 297 after signing the ticket in the name of WinStar's racing division Maverick Racing/CMNWLTH. “He was a really nice colt who breezed great (:20 4/5). We felt like he looked a lot like his daddy. We have a few shares in his daddy and bought one at the yearling sale as well. We've been very impressed with the Midnight Storms. I think everybody is. He has had a good sales season.”

Consigned by Woodford Thoroughbreds, which purchased him for $180,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale, the dark bay colt is out of Tasunke (Indian Charlie) and his third dam is Grade I winner Tap to Music (Pleasant Tap).

“We've been waiting all afternoon for this colt to sell,” Woodford's Beth Bayer said. “He is a strong beautiful colt by a freshman sire. We really loved him. [Woodford General Manager] John [Gleason] loved him all season in training. He vetted well and was well received and we got rewarded.”

Midnight Storm, winner of the 2016 GI Shoemaker Mile, stands at Taylor Made Farm for $7,500. In addition to hip 297, the stallion was represented by a colt (hip 264) who worked a furlong in :9 4/5 last week and sold Tuesday for $310,000 to John P. Fort. The juvenile was consigned by G.W. Parrish's Parrish Farms, which purchased him for $34,000 at last year's Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Rounding out a trio of six-figure yearlings for Midnight Storm Tuesday in Ocala, Brick City Thoroughbreds sold a colt (hip 225) for $150,000 Maxis Stable. The youngster had been a $25,000 Keeneland November weanling purchase.

“It's hard to check every box at these sales because it's not just looks. They have to come out and work good and vet after,” said Taylor Made's Liam Benson. “The general feel is things look pretty good for the horse so far. They still have to get to the races, but at least it's a good start.”

At the OBS March sale, a Midnight Storm filly (hip 344) sold for $240,000 to D J Stable and trainer Linda Rice.

“They are all just pretty,” Benson said of the stallion's offspring. “They all have a gorgeous top line on them. They are just well-made horses. We've been very happy with what we've seen so far. I've bred a couple mares to him myself this year. I am drinking the Kool-Aid. Now we are just hoping it turns into Dom Perignon.” @JessMartiniTDN

Bromagen Hits a Home Run in Ocala

Bo Bromagen may have been having a bit of seller's remorse, but couldn't help but smile after a Distorted Humor colt (Hip 185) he purchased for $170,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Select Sale summoned $550,000 from Spendthrift Farm at OBS Tuesday.

“We knew he was a nice horse,” Bromagen said. “He has been a nice horse all along. If I am being 100% honest, I wanted to keep him. I wanted to keep him up until about two minutes before he went in the sales ring. April [Mayberry] does such a good job of keeping my expectations on a level that is reasonable. I love going to the racetrack. I would keep all of the horses if I could.”

He continued, “I'm not sure this horse wasn't the best one I've ever bought. He showed up and does everything the way you'd want him to do it. He's beautiful and he breezed amazing [:10 1/5]. I am really proud of the job that they did and the product we sold here today. Spendthrift got the right horse for the right price. I am happy for them. Good luck to them. I wish he was still mine.”

Bred by Sierra Farm, the bay is out of GISP Silverpocketsfull (Indian Charlie), who is a daughter of MSW & MGSP Unforgotten (Northern Afleet). Mayberry Farm consigned the colt.

“He is a fast, great-looking colt,” said Spendthrift's Ned Toffey. “He is not totally atypical of the Distorted Humors. He had some pedigree, being out of a Grade I-placed dam. He is a horse that hopefully, after a good racing career, will end up in the stallion barn at Spendthrift. That is the goal. We bought him with MyRacehorse. We are happy to go down that path again.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Munnings Filly Sets the Early Pace at OBS

A filly by Munnings (hip 44) jumpstarted Tuesday's first session of the OBS Spring sale when selling for $425,000 to the bid of bloodstock agent Gerard Butler, who was acting on behalf of Bahrain-based trainer Fawzi Nass.

“He's looking for some nice-pedigreed fillies and she's one,” Butler said after signing the ticket on the bay filly. “I don't know the plans yet. I would say she'd be here for a little bit and then we'll ship her wherever he wants her to go.”

Out of Private Feeling (Belong to Me), the filly is a half-sister to champion Lookin At Lucky (Smart Strike) and multiple graded winner Kensei (Mr. Greeley). She was consigned by Eddie Woods and worked a quarter-mile last week in :21 flat.

Asked about the filly's appeal, Butler ticked off, “Munnings, great page, a very nice filly, very well-produced by Eddie Woods, as always. She looked immaculate. She ticked all the boxes.”

The filly was bred by SF Bloodstock, which purchased Private Feeling with her in utero for $40,000 at the 2018 Keeneland November sale.

Of the filly's final price Tuesday, Butler said, “If you're going to buy anything nice now you're going to have to pay. You wouldn't get her for any less.” @JessMartiniTDN

Son of Noble Bird Flies High at OBS

A colt from the first crop of Florida-based stallion Noble Bird (Birdstone) was well liked at OBS Tuesday, bringing $400,000 from bloodstock agent Jacob West, who was acting on behalf of Robert and Lawana Low. Hip 104 will join the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher.

“Two years ago I bought a horse by a freshman sire [here] and he turned out to be [GISW] Colonel Liam (Liam's Map),” West said. “I gave $1.2 million for him. I think you have to buy those physicals, turn them over to Todd Pletcher and keep your fingers crossed. To me, he just looked like a big two-turn horse and that is what Mr. and Mrs. Low are looking for. When I ran it up the flag pole with them, they were just scratching their heads. But I just told them I loved the horse and they stood behind me.”

As for the price, West said, “That was my last bid to be quite honest. I heard Mark Casse was the underbidder which makes a lot of sense. He trained Noble Bird and would know one better than anybody else.”

He continued, “That is a lot of money for that horse, but there is a real pedigree underneath him with [MGSW & GISP] C Z Rocket (City Zip) and [MGSW] Giant Expectations (Frost Giant). He comes from a very good consignor in Ocala Stud. They raised him on the farm. They know him better than anybody else. They do a great job and they deserve it.”

Another part of Hip 104's allure was his quick breeze, covering a quarter mile in :20 4/5.

“He breezed incredibly well and galloped out big,” West said. “Our jobs as agents are to find horses that are fast and sound and come from good people.”

Bred in Florida by Herman Wilensky, Hip 104 is out of stakes winner Rosebud's Ridge (Tiger Ridge). Her GSP half-sister Successful Sarah (Successful Appeal) is the dam of C Z Rocket and another half-sister produced Giant Expectations.

“We did expect that from this horse,” said Ocala Stud's David O'Farrell. “He had a super breeze, showed himself extremely well and had all the right interest. He never turned a hair and never had a bad day. He is just a really special colt. You can't expect that figure, but it is not a surprise.”

He continued, “We trained the horse for a new client, Herman Wilensky, who is the breeder. He raised a really good horse and we are fortunate to be train and sell the colt for him.”

Ocala Stud also stands Noble Bird, winner of the 2015 GI Stephen Foster H., as well as two other graded events, for Casse and owner John Oxley.

“It is a great start for Noble Bird,” O'Farrell said. “He has gotten a lot of momentum as we have gotten into the 2-year-old sales. We are just thrilled with the result.” @CDeBernardisTDN

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Second Lawsuit Against HISA Seeking Supporters

Tue, 2021-04-20 17:48

A second and separate federal lawsuit that would attempt to keep the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) from being implemented on grounds of alleged unconstitutionally continues its way through the legal pipeline.

Different from the March complaint filed by various Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Associations against members who represent the HISA “Authority” and the Federal Trade Commission, this yet-to-be-filed lawsuit is being spearheaded by the Oklahoma Attorney General in conjunction with that state's racing commission.

Various other racing commissions are apparently being courted as co-plaintiffs, and on Apr. 20 the West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC) voted 2-1 to authorize the state's attorney general to represent the WVRC in that litigation.

Details about the exact method of legal attack have yet to be publicly disclosed, but David Tryon, a lawyer for the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General, gave a hint at the anti-HISA strategy when he briefed WVRC members prior to the vote at Tuesday's meeting.

The WVRC at first met in executive session to discuss the matter, but when the public portion of the meeting resumed Tryon said the AG's staff has reviewed a draft of the coming complaint and deemed it “constitutionally infirm” on various grounds, including with regard to the anti-commandeering doctrine and in matters related to ceding legislative and executive powers to a private entity.

On Apr. 16, the United States Trotting Association's board of directors voted 35-8 to join that same lawsuit.

“The AG's office is trying to not make representations based on the merits of the legislation so to speak, but rather spoke to the constitutionality,” of the powers granted by the new law to police the sport, commissioner J.B. Akers said.

Akers and chairman Ken Lowe Jr. voted to have the WVRC join the HISA fight. Commissioner Tony Figaretti cast the “no” vote.

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WVRC Chair Wants Charles Town to Switch to Synthetic

Tue, 2021-04-20 16:48

Although he stopped short of saying that a surface change at Charles Town Races might soon be mandated by state racing regulators, West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC) chairman Ken Lowe Jr. made it clear during Tuesday's meeting that he will be advocating for a synthetic surface to replace the traditional dirt that comprises the track's six-furlong oval.

Lowe's Apr. 20 comments came against the backdrop of 11 equine fatalities at Charles Town so far in 2021. The track is closed for racing Wednesday through Saturday this week to perform maintenance and a safety evaluation. Charles Town has also lost three programs this year because of bad weather, and one date because of a lack of entries.

“Let's truly think about working together to figure out a way that Charles Town can go to synthetic,” Lowe said. “I don't see an answer to this problem that we have every year here. I know [the track superintendent] is doing a great job. Management's trying…. But why go through this every year? Let's figure out a way to do it so there can possibly be a synthetic surface at Charles Town that solves most of the problems with a proper drainage system, et cetera. I think that's the solution.”

Lowe's comments were preceded by a general surfaces presentation by Mick Peterson, the director of the Racetrack Safety Program and a professor of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Kentucky. Peterson routinely advises the nation's top-tier tracks on equine safety and track composition.

While underscoring that synthetic tracks are not specifically his area of expertise, Peterson did note that Turfway Park in neighboring Kentucky has had an “incredibly successful” long-term safety profile while using Polytrack (2005-19) and (Tapeta (2020-21).

Peterson added that there are similarities between Turfway and Charles Town, in that both race at night and during winter months with a primarily a low-level horse population. He did not outright advocate for a switch at Charles Town, though.

“Probably at the next meeting, I'm going to suggest for the racing commission [to give] its approval that we come up with a date and begin the process of figuring out how to shift Charles Town to a synthetic surface, and what's involved,” Lowe said.

Erich Zimny, Charles Town's vice president of racing operations, thanked Peterson for his expertise while cautioning the WVRC not to rush to judgement on a synthetic surface mandate.

“The last time a commission made a mandate for a synthetic surface in a state in this country, that kind of went sideways,” Zimny said.

Zimny was referring to 2006, when the California Horse Racing Board ordered all major Thoroughbred tracks in the state to install synthetic surfaces in lieu of dirt. The tracks ended up being safer according to several studies, but there were problems with maintenance and complaints from some horse people and handicappers who preferred the traditional dirt. The California mandate was reversed within two years.

Lowe, a long-time West Virginia horse owner, has had an abrasive history with Charles Town management over various issues for the better part of a decade.

In 2011, when Lowe was president of the Charles Town Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, track management ejected him from the property for a violation of Charles Town's house rule against solicitation (authorizing the distribution of political flyers). He subsequently told TDN he won an undisclosed court judgment from track management when he challenged that ejection.

Lowe was appointed to the racing commission in 2017. Shortly thereafter, he led a failed bid to withhold commission approval for a fully-funded version of the GII Charles Town Classic, the track's signature race. That action almost scuttled the Classic for 2018, but the state's governor, in reaction to well-publicized backlash, vowed to have the WVRC's decision revered. The commission subsequently re-voted to approve funding for that stakes.

On Tuesday, when Lowe prompted Zimny for his reaction to switching to a synthetic surface, Zimny opted not to discuss the issue in public until he had time to talk about it privately with members of Charles Town's management team.

“It's certainly something that will have to be discussed internally here, and I would caution against anything rash as far as mandating anything,” Zimny said.

“Erich, you know me. I don't do anything rash. I always ask everybody. I'm smiling. Can you see it?” Lowe quipped.

“We'll be prepared to discuss it at the next meeting,” Zimny replied.

In a post-meeting follow-up email to TDN, Zimny declined further comment, but added that “Can also say that our rate of fatal musculoskeletal injuries during races had fallen each year from 2017 thru 2020. Was at 1.43 per 1,000 starters in 2020, including less than 1 per 1,000 from January thru March last year.”

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Aqueduct Spring Meet Generates All-Sources Handle of $85,419,050

Tue, 2021-04-20 16:35

The boutique 11-day Aqueduct spring meet generated all-sources handle of $85,419,050, a 2.2% increase over the 2019 Aqueduct spring meet, the New York Racing Association, Inc. announced Tuesday.

Average daily handle over the 11 days of live racing was $7,765,368, an 11.5% increase over 2019, when average daily handle over the 12 days of live racing was $6,964,947.

The 2020 spring meet at Aqueduct Racetrack was canceled in its entirety due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In accordance with New York State guidelines instituted to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the 2021 Aqueduct spring meet was conducted without spectators and with only a limited number of owners and essential employees in attendance.

On-track handle, which includes wagering from New York residents utilizing NYRA Bets, was $5,734,531 compared to $9,987,247 in 2019.

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Jockeys’ Guild Denied Stay of New Jersey Regulation

Tue, 2021-04-20 15:49

The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, denied Jockeys' Guild's motion to stay the New Jersey Racing Commission's Regulation on the use of the riding crop in Thoroughbred racing. Jockeys' Guild sought the stay of enforcement pending a decision on its appeal, which has not yet been decided.

“We are extremely disappointed in this decision on our motion for a stay of enforcement. This Regulation prohibits jockeys from using the riding crop as they have been trained, increasing the risk of injury to both the horse and rider,” said Terry Meyocks, President and CEO of Jockeys' Guild. “We hoped the Court would stay the Regulation while our appeal is being considered, particularly because a stay would have maintained the status quo. After all, the Commission enacted the Regulation this past fall but had not yet enforced it.” Meyocks added, “With the Court's decision that we learned of Monday, the Regulation is expected to be enforced in New Jersey beginning with the upcoming racing season in May.”

Jockeys' Guild filed an appeal of the Regulation in November. It first asked the Commission to stay enforcement pending a decision on that appeal. The Commission refused to stay enforcement, which lead Jockeys' Guild to seek a stay from the Court.

“Jockeys' Guild remains hopeful that the Court ultimately will grant its appeal,” said Meyocks.

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Charlatan, Gamine DQs Overturned

Tue, 2021-04-20 15:48

The disqualifications of Charlatan (Speightstown) and Gamine (Into Mischief) from May 2, 2020 wins at Oaklawn Park have been overturned, and Bob Baffert's 15-day suspension has been waived after a two-day hearing in front of the Arkansas Racing Commission.

Charlatan was the winner of the GI Arkansas Derby, while Gamine won an allowance race the same day. Oaklawn announced lidocaine positives for the pair, disqualified them from the victories, and redistributed purse money last year.

Tuesday, at the conclusion of the hearing, Baffert's attorney, W. Craig Robertson, said, “The ruling is that Charlatan and Gamine's wins are reinstated. There will be no suspension for Bob. There will be a $5,000 fine for Bob for each horse, for a total of a $10,000 fine.”

Robertson had argued that the positives were a result of Baffert's assistant, Jimmy Barnes, inadvertently contaminating the horses because he was wearing a Salonpas patch, and that the lidocaine was transferred from his hands to the horses. Moreover, he argued that the trace amounts of the drug were so low that they couldn't have been performance-enhancing.

Of the hearing, Robertson said, “There wasn't a whole lot of discussion. But basically, as I understood what they were saying, they felt like there were problems with the testing, and that it was clear that at these levels, there would have been no pharmacology in the horse, so no performance-enhancing effect on the outcome of the race.

“I told them that there were seven reasons why they needed to dismiss the matter,” Robertson continued. “In broad strokes: there were a lot of admitted errors in the testing and with the testing laboratory, and broadly, my argument was that you could not rely upon the test results given all the admitted errors and mistakes. An additional argument was that there was no pharmacology and so they needed to consider all the factors.”

Robertson said that he was relieved for Baffert, who lived with something of a cloud over his head in 2020 due to the disqualifications and to the revelation that Justify had incurred a scopolamine positive in the 2018 Santa Anita Derby. A complaint by trainer Mick Ruis in that case was dismissed by the CHRB.

“I'm elated,” said Robertson. “I'm mostly happy for Bob, because this has been hanging over his head, and I feel it's been hanging over his head unfairly. We felt all along if we could get in front of the commission and present all of the facts and all of the evidence, that we had a compelling case. Now that doesn't mean you're always going to get the result you want, but this time we did and I'm thrilled.”

Reached as he was boarding a plane to return to California, Baffert said, “I'm happy with the result and it has really been wearing on us–on Jimmy and us–and us and it's nice to see that the horses were rewarded for their performances. They need to have this conversation about the testing. They need to be more precise about it. I feel like trainers are sitting ducks. These contamination levels, they're testing at these levels, and it's tough. It's been a very demanding year.”

Baffert said that because the public only gets part of the story, there's often an immediate presumption of guilt when the initial story is published.

“We weren't at fault, but public perception doesn't know that because they don't know what's going on,” he said. “I don't want to be painted with that brush. You just have to be careful it doesn't happen again, but racing regulators need to figure out the science.”

He referenced Gamine's disqualification from the GI Kentucky Oaks after she tested positive for betamethasone, a permitted medication in Kentucky, but with a mandated two-week withdrawal time. Craig Robertson said she was given the drug 18 days before the race.

“With Gamine and the betamethasone, we did everything by the rules and we still got in trouble,” said Baffert.

Robertson said that he was relieved to put this behind them and move on.

“The two big issues that were hanging over him were Justify and Charlatan and he has been exonerated in both cases,” said Robertson. “It's the just result and I'm really just thrilled for him. I'm grateful that the Arkansas Racing Commission stewards took the time and carefully considered the evidence and rendered a fair decision.”

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2021 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Unveiled

Tue, 2021-04-20 15:01

The 2021 Breeders' Cup Challenge Series schedule will consist of 84 automatic qualifying stakes races into the Breeders' Cup World Championships, it was announced Tuesday. This year's series, which includes a record nine “Win and You're In” races for the $6-million GI Longines Breeders' Cup Classic division, will take place in 10 countries. 

The complete 2021 schedule can be viewed here.

Horses from around the globe will be qualifying through the Challenge Series for the 38th Breeders' Cup World Championships, which is scheduled to be held at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California, Nov. 5-6, and will be televised live on NBC and NBCSN.

The Challenge Series, now in its 15th year, will be hosted at many of the world's premier racetracks in Argentina, Canada, Chile, England, France, Ireland, Japan, Peru, South Africa and the United States.

As part of the benefits to horsemen, Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees and guarantee a starting position in a corresponding Championships race for all Challenge Series race winners. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders' Cup program by the Championships' pre-entry deadline of Oct. 25 to receive the rewards.

In addition, Breeders' Cup will provide a $40,000 travel allowance to the connections of all Championship starters from outside of North America and a $10,000 travel allowance for starters within North America that are stabled outside of California.

In support of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), which was signed into law in the U.S. last December, all Breeders' Cup Challenge races this year will not permit medications to be administered within 24 hours of race day.

“We look forward to the return of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series with horsemen from around the world participating in and taking advantage of the many incentives, such as automatic starting positions and paid entry fees, to qualify for the World Championships,” said Breeders' Cup President and CEO Drew Fleming. “We also thank our international and domestic racetrack partners for their important work and dedication to support the Challenge Series.”

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OBS Fireworks for Gun Runner Colt

Tue, 2021-04-20 14:04

The big sales results from the first crop of juveniles by champion Gun Runner (hip 118) continued Tuesday at OBS when a son of the Three Chimneys stallion sold for $850,000 to the bid of bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, acting on behalf of Michael Lund Petersen. The gray juvenile will join the $1.7-million son of Gun Runner purchased by Amr Zedan at last month's Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale in the Southern California barn of trainer Bob Baffert.
“He's a beautiful horse,” Lanni said. “Just a cool horse. He did everything he was asked to do and came out of in really good shape. We are just happy, happy, happy to get him. He was the horse we wanted to go home with.”
Of the colt's final price tag, Lanni said, “It's the same thing every year. We all land on the same horses. There is no stealing. It's tough to buy them.”
The colt, who worked a furlong in :10 flat at last week's under-tack show, is out of graded placed Salamera (Successful Appeal) and was consigned by Barry and Shari Eisaman's Eisaman Equine and was bred by the couple's Eico Ventures.
“Barry does a great job,” Lanni said. “He's a good horseman and I'm happy they bred a nice horse.”
The sale was a highwater mark for an Eisaman homebred.
“He is a wonderful horse and we thought he was going to sell well,” Shari Eisaman said as the couple received congratulations out back. “I was going to be thrilled with $500,000. This is the most I've ever sold a homebred for–the homebreds have paid for the farm, they've paid for everything. Thank the Lord.”
The Eisamans purchased Salamera for $300,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. The 11-year-old mare, who was second in the 2012 GII Adirondack S., has an Uncle Mo yearling and she was bred back to Malibu Moon last year.
“Absolutely,” Eisaman said when asked if the result was extra gratifying with a homebred. “When you own the factory, your mares are working when you're sleeping.”

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Caddo River Targeting Kentucky Derby

Tue, 2021-04-20 13:41

Trainer Brad Cox confirmed Tuesday morning that Shortleaf Stable's GI Arkansas Derby runner-up and 'TDN Rising Star' Caddo River (Hard Spun) is being aimed at a start in the GI Kentucky Derby.

“If all goes well after his work on Saturday, we'll run in the Derby,” Cox said. “He came out of the Arkansas Derby in great shape. He's a sound horse who is training well.”

The speedy Caddo River, a blowout front-running winner of the Smarty Jones S., was fifth as the favorite after conceding the early lead to Concert Tour in the GII Rebel S.

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Additional H-2B Visas Soon to be Available During Second Half of Federal Fiscal Year

Tue, 2021-04-20 13:26

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Labor have agreed to offer 22,000 additional H-2B visas to employers for the second half of the federal fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. These visas are used by employers, such as racehorse trainers, who seek seasonal guest workers. They are capped at 66,000 annually, with an even split of 33,000 available for each half of the federal government's fiscal year. The additional visas will be made available later this spring or early summer via a temporary final rule in the Federal Register.

“We are pleased to learn that additional H-2B visas will be available for trainers soon and applaud Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh for this action,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “At the same time, the NTRA supports relief from the burdensome annual H-2B visa cap through a permanent returning worker exemption and urges both departments to reform the program accordingly, enabling affected employers to stabilize their businesses.”

This past December, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 became law and included a provision that provides the DHS with the discretionary authority to release an additional 64,176 H-2B visas when significant need is demonstrated. The NTRA, through its involvement with the H-2B Workforce Coalition, supports all efforts to make additional visas available to seasonal businesses struggling with labor issues.

The H-2B visa guest worker program is a nonimmigrant visa program used by many industries that need temporary non-agricultural help when domestic workers are unavailable. For the horse racing industry, trainers rely heavily on the H-2B program to fill various backside positions.

Demand for H-2B visas often exceeds their availability and the cap level is quickly reached, leaving employers in need. For the second half of federal fiscal year 2021, DHS announced that by Feb. 12 it had received enough H-2B worker petitions to reach the congressionally mandated cap of 33,000 visas allotted.

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Live Racing Broadcast Daily Through Belmont Spring/Summer Meet

Tue, 2021-04-20 13:13

America's Day at the Races, produced by the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) in partnership with FOX Sports, will present live racing throughout the 48-day Belmont Park spring/summer meet that will run from Thursday, Apr. 22 through Sunday, July 11. The network will also feature live racing from the 38-day Churchill Downs spring meet that runs Apr. 24 to June 26, as well as continued coverage of the 57-day Oaklawn Park which runs through May 1.

Each live racing day at Belmont Park will feature coverage on FS2, which will also offer special preview shows for both the GI Kentucky Derby Friday, Apr. 30, and the GI Belmont S. Friday, June 4. In May, Belmont will offer a 1 p.m. post time with some exceptions. Thursday cards in May will begin at 3:05 p.m. America's Day at the Races will feature those cards as well as the Twilight Thursday program at Churchill Downs.

A complete schedule can be viewed at https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.

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Prairie Meadows Hosts Media ahead of New Season

Tue, 2021-04-20 12:56

Prairie Meadows will host media Monday, Apr. 26 at 9 a.m. in advance of the oval's opening day Apr. 30. The media will be provided with video footage, photos, and candid interviews with Prairie Meadows executives and racing personnel. To participate at Prairie Meadows' media conference, contact Hallie.Browne@prairiemeadows.com.

Opening day, with first post at 6 p.m., will be followed by the simulcast of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby Saturday, May 1. Races can be viewed from three locations on property, with the largest area outdoors near the track. Admission to the races and parking are free.

This season, Prairie Meadows will host its first “Running of the Bulls” Bulldog Races May 31 featuring British and English bulldogs. Wiener Dog Races will be held June 20 in honor of Father's Day and Camel, Zebra, & Ostrich Races take place July 18. Festival of Racing, Prairie Meadows' highest grade stakes races and the Iowa Classic, featuring all Iowa bred horses, are also returning this season. This year will be the second season that Prairie Meadows has featured a mixed meet format with both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses racing on the same day. The season kicks off with Thoroughbreds only through June 14 and the remainder of the season will feature both breeds.

To see the entire 2021 schedule, visit www.prairiemeadows.com/racing.

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