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Updated: 21 hours 13 min ago

Hammonds to Retire From BloodHorse

Thu, 2021-05-06 13:18

The BloodHorse has announced the retirement of Evan Hammonds, editorial director, effective Monday, May 17, 2021. He will continue with BloodHorse part-time.

“Evan's passion for horse racing, his talent as a writer and editor, and his dedication and compassion as a team leader have been instrumental to the success of BloodHorse,” said Carl Hamilton, chairman of BloodHorse. “We are very fortunate that he will still be available to our team as an invaluable resource, if only on a part-time basis.”

Hammonds's first stint with BloodHorse was in September 1977 when he was a senior in high school. His position continued through college at the University of Kentucky, and prior to graduation he was named production manager for the weekly publication, a position he held for several years. In June 1998, after stints with FIGS Form, a precursor to Racing Times, and Daily Racing Form, Hammonds returned to Central Kentucky and became managing editor of BloodHorse. He served as editor of and as executive editor before taking his role as editorial director in January 2020.

“After chronicling the sport–and business–of Thoroughbred breeding and racing for BloodHorse for nearly a quarter-century, I have decided to spend more time walking the shedrow,” Hammonds said. “I look forward to following the sport just as closely while, more importantly, having more time with my family. The cast of talented professionals I've worked with along the way is incredibly deep, and I've met a multitude of people who have dedicated their lives to the game and to the horse.”

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Buff Bradley, Local Hall of Famer

Thu, 2021-05-06 12:31

On the same day it was announced trainer Todd Pletcher had so deservedly been chosen as a member of racing's Hall of Fame, another conditioner confirmed to Daily Racing Form's Marty McGee that he was retiring at the conclusion of the Churchill Downs meeting next month.

This was the first year Pletcher was eligible and the announcement certainly came as a surprise to no one.

Pletcher is one of the most successful trainers of all time, having won more than 5,000 races and holding the earnings record (increasing every day) of more than $405 million.

Last Friday, he sent out Malathaat to win the grade I Kentucky Oaks, his fourth victory in that race. He has won the grade I Kentucky Derby twice and saddled the winners of 11 Breeders' Cup races.

Pletcher has trained 11 champions, won 166 grade I races and been the leader at the conclusion of 60 race meetings at various racetracks.

The 53-year-old has been voted the Eclipse Award as the sport's leading trainer seven times: 2004-07, 2010, 2013 and 2014.

Buff Bradley, on the other hand, will never be nominated for the Hall of Fame, located in the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, NY. But if his hometown of Frankfort, Ky, of which I am a native and resident, had a Hall of Fame, his inclusion would be a no-brainer.

Located between Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky's capital city is full of racing fans and, like many of the state's towns, after horses and bourbon, well, what else really matters.

Buff Bradley and I both grew up in Frankfort the sons of prominent attorneys who also had a penchant for politics.

My father, Herb Liebman, was in law school at the University of Kentucky when he met Fred Bradley, then an undergraduate student. They became close friends and would remain so for more than half a century. Fred Bradley and I had something in common, both of us earning our degrees in journalism.

Bradley took a short detour before law school. Having graduated from UK with designation as a Distinguished Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corp graduate, he headed off for military service before returning to UK to attend law school. Following active duty, he would spend 30 years in the Air National Guard, retiring as Gen. Bradley.

My dad was a police court judge, served four terms on the county school board, and worked tirelessly in state and local political races.

Bradley served as Franklin County Judge and for 18 years was a Kentucky State Senator. We joked about how he owned a small trucking company named “Fred's Fast Freight.”

Above all else, however, Fred Bradley loved his farm and his Thoroughbred horses. He bred on a small scale, never spending much on stud fees and foaling the mares himself.

That is until he had children and they could help with the farm chores.

Some wondered if young Buff Bradley could really train horses or if his father simply wanted him to head in that direction when he took out his license in 1993. Those who knew the family were not surprised when Buff quickly silenced the naysayers.

Many winners came over the years but in June, 2004 the first “big” score occurred, when homebred Brass Hat (Prized) took the Grade II Ohio Derby.

Brass Hat would become the family's first grade I winner when he won the 2006 Donn H. The gelding retired to live out his days at the Bradley's Indian Ridge Farm near Frankfort with 10 wins (nine stakes) in 40 starts, two track records, and $2,713,561 in earnings.

One of the proudest moments of my life was during Derby week 2010, when the city of Frankfort asked me to serve as emcee for Brass Hat Day. Fred Bradley was beaming, as he should have been. Brass Hat was there, too.

The very next year, the Bradley's newest star hit the racetrack. Groupie Doll (Bowman's Band), bred by Buff and Fred, was the champion sprinter in 2012 and 2013, years in which she won the grade I Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. For the father/son and longtime partners Carl Hurst and Brent Burns, she retired with 12 wins in 23 starts, two track records, and earnings of $2,648,850.

With Fred in failing health but seated on a bench outside the Keeneland sale pavilion, Groupie Doll was sold at the 2013 November sale for $3.1 million.

Proving he could win at the top level with a horse not bred by his family and raised at their farm, Buff guided Gunpower Farm's Divisidero (Kitten's Joy) to wins on three Kentucky Derby undercards. He won the grade II American Turf in 2015 and the next two years scored in the grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

And who could forget possibly Buff's favorite horse, The Player (by Street Hero), who in 2018 won the GIII Mineshaft S. and subsequently broke both sesamoids in the New Orleans Handicap. The Player, bred by Fred and Buff Bradley and Hurst, had also destroyed his suspensory apparatus. But because of the love between Buff and The Player, the trainer went to extreme lengths to save the horse nicknamed “Angus.”

Fred Bradley was 85 when he died May 20, 2016. He was happiest spending a sultry summer day not at Saratoga but at the “Pea Patch”–Ellis Park. He had 60 years of The Blood-Horse stacked on shelves in the upstairs of his home.

Buff Bradley's world changed when his father died. But with 575 wins to his credit and the aforementioned stars in the stable, he achieved much on the racetrack.

Now, because of various reasons, he has decided to call it a career.

At only 57, Bradley plans to remain a small owner and breeder and perhaps find someone willing to give him a job at a racetrack or within an industry organization.

To those in Frankfort, Ky., he doesn't have to achieve anything else. He's a Hall of Famer.


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Mystic Guide Targets Summer Campaign

Thu, 2021-05-06 11:46

Mystic Guide (Ghostzapper), who kick-started his career as a second-out 'TDN Rising Star' and most recently won the $12-million G1 Dubai World Cup at the end of March, is preparing for a late summer and fall campaign. After having spent the last few weeks at trainer Michael Stidham's Keeneland barn, he will ship to Maryland's Fair Hill Training Center this week to resume serious training.

“Since he's been back, I've been shocked and amazed with how well he's handled that whole experience, from all the traveling to the stress of the race,” said Stidham. “Maybe he lightened up a little bit, visibly, but we got back to the track and back in his regular routine, he fell right back into his old self. He thrived over there in Dubai and the whole thing didn't really affect him. I almost worked him this week, but there's really nothing for him race-wise until July, so we'll ship him back to Fair Hill and then put him back into a work pattern.”

Stidham indicated the Godolphin homebred may target Belmont's July 3 GII Suburban H. as a return engagement, but several other spots are under consideration as well. The major end-of-season goal is the Nov. 6 GI Breeders' Cup Classic.

“We're working backwards from the Breeders' Cup at this point and while the races leading up are important, the most important is the Classic,” continued Stidham. “That's where they crown the champion and that's our goal.”

In addition to the Dubai World Cup, Mystic Guide won the GIII Razorback H. in his 2021 debut. His sophomore campaign last year included a win in the GII Peter Pan S. and placings in both the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup and the GIII Peter Pan S. The lightly raced colt has never been off the board, with four wins from eight starts. The Dubai World Cup marked Stidham's first start outside the U.S.

“Personally, the biggest thing for me was how many people were truly and honestly happy for [assistant trainer] Hilary [Pridham] and I,” he said. “When you have so many peers who've watched you all along your career who truly wanted you to win such a big race–that just really made me feel good about the whole thing. Obviously, as I said when I was over there, finally getting my chance on the world stage and winning was just amazing.”

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New Format for Copa Bullrich Sale

Thu, 2021-05-06 11:14

Argentina's Copa Bullrich May Sale will feature a new pre-sale bidding opportunity ahead of the live sale, which will be held May 11-13 at 2 p.m. daily. An online sale for registered bidders will begin Saturday, May 8, at 8 p.m. and end at 10 a.m. on each live sale day. All times are local. Online bidding will be available for every horse listed in the catalogue, which features a select group of 2-year-olds.

Each sale day will then continue with a live auction streamed online from the sales pavillion at La Pasión Stud Farms. A a maximum of 120 invitation-only guests will be on site. The winning bid from the online auction will be announced, with bids in person, through the website, and over the phone then accepted as the horse is in the ring. A 5% discount will apply if the winning bid hails from the online auction.

For more information, visit

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TIF: Wagering Insecurity, Part 8–Damage

Thu, 2021-05-06 10:12

This is Part 8 of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation's (TIF) series “Wagering Insecurity.”

Faced with remarkable competitive pressure from the rise of legal sports betting, horse racing is at a crossroads. Confidence amongst horseplayers and horse owners is essential to the future sustainability of the sport. Efforts to improve the greater North American Thoroughbred industry will fall flat if its stakeholders fail to secure a foundation of integrity. Achieving this is growing increasingly difficult after the sport has neglected its core base–horseplayers–for decades.

“Wagering Insecurity” details some of that neglect, and the need to embrace serious reform. Fortunately, there are examples across the racing world to follow.

The Viking Hoard case was clear.

The horse was doped to lose–by whom remains unclear. Betting operators in another country noticed unusual activity and alerted regulators. Bettors, and confidence, were damaged.

“Significant actual damage flowed from the neglect of the trainer. The damage was financial in the case of affected punters, and reputational in the case of the racing industry.”

From 2009 to 2018, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) successfully prosecuted 82 individuals in betting corruption cases, including 12 jockeys. Bet monitoring and systems to flag suspicious bets have featured in many of them.

To what degree is North American racing wagering being monitored?

Australia, Great Britain and Hong Kong are taking this topic seriously.

They have dedicated betting analysis teams, supported by automated systems. They inform stewards of unusual betting patterns or outcomes and institute real time monitoring and share information with other licensed betting operators. These jurisdictions also share best practices with each other.

American oversight at such a level does not exist.

The opportunity for improvement in North America is significant. Until then, the damage imposed on customers will be far worse than nearly any other major racing jurisdiction, where such issues are taken seriously.

For the complete article, click here.


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Rosario To Ride Japan’s France Go de Ina In Preakness

Wed, 2021-05-05 16:55

Joel Rosario, who guided Japan's France Go de Ina (Will Take Charge) to a troubled sixth-place effort in the G2 UAE Derby when last seen Mar. 27, will retain the ride aboard the colt for the GI Preakness S. at Pimlico May 15, his agent Ron Anderson confirmed Wednesday. France Go de Ina landed at Los Angeles International Airport early Wednesday morning, the first leg of his journey to Old Hilltop for the second leg of the Triple Crown.

According to Kate Hunter, a Triple Crown recruiter who frequently accompanies Japanese horses on their international travels, the chestnut colt was quickly unloaded from his container and whisked off to the on-site USDA quarantine station, but appeared to take the trip from Japan well. Often times, foreign shippers do their quarantine in Chicago, but coronavirus-related restrictions would have added an extra stop, making that route unmanageable.

France Go De Ina has landed in LA! Travels to Pimlico on the 8th of May. #PreaknessStakes

— Kate Hunter • Marugai Racing • ケイト ハンター• まるがいレーシング (@KeibaKate) May 5, 2021

A $100,000 Keeneland September yearling, France Go de Ina was a debut fourth to Godolphin Japan's Lemon Pop (Lemon Drop Kid) on his six-furlong debut at Tokyo last November, but broke his maiden by four lengths going a mile and an eighth at Hanshin Nov. 28 and added an allowance tally over that course and trip Dec. 19. France Go de Ina had the services of Joel Rosario for the UAE Derby, but he was slowly into stride and raced far back early on. He made steady inside progress and ran on late to finish sixth, a bit more than 10 lengths behind Rebel's Romance (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) (video). Should all go according to plan, those two rivals could meet again in the GI Belmont S. June 5.

France Go de Ina will be the second Japanese-based horse to face the starter in the Preakness since 2016, when Lani (Tapit) was beaten five lengths into fifth behind Exaggerator (Curlin), having finished ninth in the GI Kentucky Derby. He was subsequently third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Creator (Tapit), in that year's GI Belmont S. Master Fencer (Jpn) (Just a Way {Jpn}) was seventh (placed sixth) in the 2019 Derby, but skipped the Preakness and was fifth, beaten under three lengths, in the GI Belmont S.

France Go de Ina is set to depart Los Angeles for Newark this Saturday, May 8, following which he will make the four-hour trip by van down Interstate 95 to Pimlico.


WATCH: France Go de Ina wins his maiden first time long in November

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Board and Standing Committee of HISA Announced

Wed, 2021-05-05 15:50

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's nominating committee announced its board of directors and standing committees. The process was led by Nancy Cox, University of Kentucky vice president for land-grant engagement and dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and Leonard Coleman, former president of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs.

The nine-person board includes five members from outside of the Thoroughbred industry and four industry representatives. The two chairs of the Authority's standing committees serve on the board of directors, and the board is expected to select the board chair at its first meeting. The board of directors includes:

  • Steve Beshear, Kentucky (independent director)
  • Leonard Coleman, Florida (independent director)
  • Ellen McClain, New York (independent director)
  • Charles Scheeler, Maryland (independent director)
  • Adolpho Birch, chair of the Anti-Doping and Medication Control standing committee, Tennessee (independent director)
  • Joseph De Francis, Maryland (industry director)
  • Susan Stover, chair of the Racetrack Safety standing committee, California (industry director)
  • Bill Thomason, Kentucky (industry director)
  • DG Van Clief, Virginia (industry director)

The members of the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Standing Committee are:

  • Adolpho Birch, chair (Tennessee, independent director)
  • Jeff Novitzky, Nevada (independent member)
  • Kathleen Stroia, Florida (independent member)
  • Jerry Yon, Florida (independent member)
  • Jeff Blea, California (industry member)
  • Mary Scollay, Kentucky (industry member)
  • Scott Stanley, Kentucky (industry member)

The members of the Racetrack Safety Standing Committee are:

  • Susan Stover, chair (California, industry director)
  • Lisa Fortier, New York (independent member)
  • Peter Hester, Kentucky (independent member)
  • Paul Lunn, North Carolina (independent member)
  • Carl Mattacola, North Carolina (independent member)
  • Glen Kozak, New York (industry member)
  • John Velazquez, New York (industry member)

The 2020 Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act created the Authority as the independent governing structure charged with proposing and enforcing health-and-safety standards subject to consideration and adoption by the Federal Trade Commission over Thoroughbred racing in the United States.

“The HISA Authority and standing committee appointments announced today include a diverse group of individuals with the right combination of independence and relevant experience necessary to establish uniform national anti-doping and racetrack safety standards as well as implement the tough but fair enforcement procedures essential to ensuring compliance with these standards,” said Alex Waldrop, CEO & President of the NTRA.

Under the authority and oversight of the Federal Trade Commission, the Authority board and standing committee members are responsible for developing, implementing and enforcing a series of uniform anti-doping, medication control, racetrack safety and operational rules to enhance equine safety and protect the integrity of the sport.

“The Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) is a monumental step forward that will help secure the future of thoroughbred racing in the United States,” said David O'Rourke, President & CEO of NYRA. “The appointment of the HISA Authority Board of Directors marks the next step in the implementation of this crucial legislation, and NYRA looks forward to working closely with the well qualified individuals announced today.”

Members of the board of directors and standing committees underwent a comprehensive screening process, and the members of the board of directors and any independent member of a standing committee are subject to HISA's strict conflict of interest restrictions to ensure the Authority's independence and integrity.

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Jackpocket Official Mobile Lottery Partner of NYRA

Wed, 2021-05-05 14:52

Jackpocket, the only licensed third-party lottery app in the United States, will become the official mobile lottery partner of the New York Racing Association and will become the title sponsor of the $400,000 GI Jackpocket Jaipur S. June 5, a six-furlong turf event that serves as a 'Win and You're In' qualifier for the GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. The announcement of the partnership comes on the heels of the company's New York launch this past January and more recently on the Google Play Store.

Jackpocket allows New York residence to order official state lottery tickets (Mega Millions, Powerball, Win 4) from their smartphones in an easy and secure fashion. In 2019, the New York Gaming Commission approved new regulations allowing digital lottery courier services to operate in New York. Jackpocket is the first and only officially-licensed New York courier service under the new regulatory framework.

“We're proud to partner with the New York Racing Association in what we believe will be the start of a long and fruitful relationship,” said Jackpocket CEO Peter Sullivan. “NYRA is a true New York institution, thanks in part to storied tracks like Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack, where the best in the sport have competed for decades.”

Jackpocket becomes a preferred partner of the Belmont S. and racing at Belmont and Saratoga as part of the agreement.

The company will also sponsor the Jackpocket Handicapping Challenges, a series of one-day handicapping contests at NYRA tracks with a $3,000 buy-in for the following programs:


  • The Stars & Stripes Challenge, presented by Jackpocket at Belmont July 3;


  • The Whitney Challenge, presented by Jackpocket at Saratoga Aug. 7;


  • The Jockey Club Gold Cup Challenge, presented by Jackpocket at Saratoga Sept. 4; and


  • The Cigar Mile Challenge, presented by Jackpocket at Aqueduct Dec. 4.

“NYRA is pleased to partner with Jackpocket, and we thank them for their support of thoroughbred racing at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course,” said Tony Allevato, NYRA Chief Revenue Officer & President of NYRA Bets. “Horseplayers should look forward to an exciting slate of one-day handicapping contests this spring and summer made possible by Jackpocket.”

Fans downloading the Jackpocket app can use the code 'PONIES' at checkout to receive a free lottery ticket.

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April U.S. Wagering Tops $1 Billion

Wed, 2021-05-05 13:02

As the Triple Crown trail came to an end, with many tracks hosting important Kentucky Derby preps, and with Keeneland staging its Spring meet in its regular spot on the calendar, wagering on U.S. races exceeded $1.1 billion, according to statistics released Wednesday by Equibase.

Year-over-year comparisons are largely irrelevant, as the effects of the coronavirus really made their presence felt in April 2020. Keeneland was left no choice but to postpone its meet to July, racing at Santa Anita was dark into late May and in New York, it remained shut down into early June.

However, a side-by-side analysis considering pre-pandemic numbers reveals some encouraging trends. The handle on U.S. racing in April 2019 was $850 million, meaning that this year's figure represents an impressive gain of 30.4% as compared to two years ago. While the raw number of live racing dates compared to April 2019 declined by 10.29$ and the average number of races (-7.16%) and starts (-8.56%) were also down, average daily wagering last month was $3,953,797, an improvement of 45.35% over 2019, while the average purses per race day of $321,005 represented a gain of 16.2%.

Year-to-date wagering of $3.87 billion is better by 14.44% over 2019, with average daily wagering ($3,702,589) increasing by 26.49% over 2019. Average purses per day were ahead by 7.54% at $291,446.

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NTRA Legislative Annual Report Released

Wed, 2021-05-05 12:31

Edited Press Release

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) 2020 Legislative Action Campaign (LAC) Annual Report is now available on the association's website and can be downloaded here.

The report reviews the NTRA's federal legislative activities in 2020 and the fundraising programs that support them. Specifically, the report includes:


  • A federal legislative summary of issues that are important to horse racing and breeding, including the latest on the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, Sports Betting, Three-year Racehorse Depreciation, Immigration and other legislation;


  • A list of 2020 contributors to the NTRA's Legislative Action Campaign through the 1/4% Check-Off Program and other related NTRA fundraising programs;


  • Sale company calendars; and


  • Member discount information from NTRA partners like John Deere, Sherwin-Williams, Office Depot and Big Ass Fans


“We thank the buyers, sellers and consignors who supported our federal legislative advocacy in 2020 by participating in the 1/4% Check-Off Program through sales hosted by our partners at Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton, Ocala Breeders Sales (OBS), the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (WTBOA) and the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association (CTBA),” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “We appreciate these sale companies for all they do to help facilitate the Check-Off Program and we also thank the farms, breeders and National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Tour members who contributed through other fundraising programs. It was a difficult year in many ways but, once again, the industry rallied in support of our efforts on Capitol Hill.”

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American Pharoah, Pletcher, Fisher To Be Enshrined in HOF

Wed, 2021-05-05 11:11

American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), who became racing's first Triple Crown winner in 37 years in 2015, and trainers Todd Pletcher and Jack Fisher are the 2021 inductees into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame. American Pharoah and Pletcher were elected in the contemporary category and each in their first year of eligibility. Fisher was chosen by the Museum's Steeplechase Review Committee, which convenes once every four years.

Bred and raced by Zayat Stables, American Pharoah was a $300,000 buyback at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale and broke his maiden at second asking in the GI Del Mar Futurity before adding the GI FrontRunner S. Named the Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male despite having to miss the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the son of Littleprincessemma (Yankee Gentleman) launched his assault on the Triple Crown with towering victories in the GII Rebel S. and GI Arkansas Derby before taking the GI Kentucky Derby by a length.

The seven-length winner of the GI Preakness S., he led throughout to win the GI Belmont S., becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. He added the GI Haskell Invitational S. and rebounded from a runner-up effort in the GI Travers S. to demolish his rivals by 6 1/2 lengths in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic, closing his career with a record of 11-9-1-0 and earnings of $8,650,300. American Pharoah is now a leading sire at Ashford Stud.

“He's certainly among the all-time greats. I don't think there is any question about that,” Baffert said. “He did everything so effortlessly and with such class. The way he moved, his mechanics were absolutely flawless. He also has such a wonderful personality. Pharoah is really a sweet and kind horse and he loves humans. I went and saw him the other day [at Ashford] and he looks as good as he's ever looked, if not better. Winning the Triple Crown with American Pharoah was the greatest sports moment of my life. It was so emotional and such a terrific thing for racing. He deserves all the accolades he gets.”


WATCH: American Pharoah wins the 2015 Belmont S. to secure the elusive Triple Crown


Pletcher Also a No-Brainer First-Ballot HOFer…

A native of Dallas, Texas, 53-year-old Todd Pletcher went out on his own in 1996 following a six-year stint as assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas. He won his first race 25 years ago and owns records for career earnings ($405.7 million) and Eclipse Awards (seven) and is the seventh winningest trainer of all time with 5,118 trips to the winner's circle. He has saddled two winners of the Kentucky Derby (Super Saver, 2010; Always Dreaming, 2017) and has won the Belmont S. on three occasions (Rags to Riches, 2007; Palace Malice, 2013; Tapwrit, 2017). Just last Friday, Malathaat (Curlin) became Pletcher's fourth GI Kentucky Oaks winner, joining Ashado (2004), Rags to Riches and Princess of Sylmar (2013).

Pletcher is responsible for 11 champions and has been leading trainer at 60 individual race meetings, including 17 at Gulfstream Park, 16 at Belmont and 14 at Saratoga. According to data from Equibase, Pletcher has saddled the winners of 708 graded events, including 166 Grade I races.

“I'm really humbled to be elected to the Hall of Fame. It's an incredible honor and something that doesn't happen without having great support around you,” Pletcher said. “I've been extremely fortunate to have a great team to work with and my family has been there every step of the way. There have been so many great owners who have trusted me with their horses and those horses have meant everything to me. Along with my family and team, I had amazing opportunities to learn from the likes of Wayne and Jeff Lukas and working winters alongside Kiaran McLaughlin, who taught me a lot about horses and also how to work with owners and communication skills. It really was a stroke of good fortune to come up with people like that around me.

“Training horses is all I ever wanted to do,” he added. “I remember being 11 or 12 and telling my mom I wanted to train and she said it was wonderful. From that point on with her endorsement I never thought of doing anything else.”

Fisher Also Gets the Nod…

Jack Fisher, 57, a native of Unionville, Pennsylvania, won his first race as a licensed trainer in 1988 at Middleburg and has been a perennial leader at the top of the National Steeplechase Association standings for two decades. He won his first trainers' premiership in 2003 and has since led the pack 12 other times. In 2004, he was the leading trainer by earnings for the first of nine times. Through May 4, Fisher has sent out the winners of 593 steeplechase races and ranks second in all-time earnings with more than $17.8 million (behind only Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard).

Fisher is the only trainer in steeplechase history to exceed $1 million in earnings in a single season, a feat he has accomplished five times. Among the horses he conditioned were Eclipse Award winner and Hall of Famer Good Night Shirt, a 10-time NSA graded winner, and additional Eclipse winners Scorpiancer and Moscato.

“I've always loved being around horses. It's been my life,” Fisher said. “I was terrible in school and didn't want to be there. I loved riding and I love training. I learned a lot from my father (trainer John Fisher) and from guys like (Hall of Fame trainers) Mikey Smithwick and Tommy Voss. They were examples to me of the work it takes to be successful and also how they built a good team. You can't do it alone.

The class of 2021 will be enshrined along with the 2020 inductees–trainer Mark Casse, jockey Darrel McHargue, horses Tom Bowling and Wise Dan, and Pillars of the Turf Alice Headley Chandler, J. Keene Daingerfield, Jr., and George D. Widener, Jr.–Friday, Aug. 6, at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony will be broadcast live on the Museum website at An announcement regarding public attendance at the ceremony will be made at a later date.

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Feds: HBPA ‘Jumped the Gun’ in HISA Lawsuit

Tue, 2021-05-04 16:49

Federal attorneys want the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA)'s anti-constitutionality lawsuit thrown out of court, arguing that the HBPA's allegations of injury regarding the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) “are entirely threadbare” because no rules, regulations or fees have been established by the not-yet-in-effect regulatory body.

“Plaintiffs jumped the gun bringing this constitutional challenge,” the federal government stated in an Apr. 30 motion to dismiss filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. “Their complaint questions the validity of a law that currently subjects them to no obligation or penalty.”

The filing continued: “Neither the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) nor the [HISA] Authority have even proposed rules that they could endeavor to enact. There has been no proposal for rules regarding permissible and impermissible drugs; no proposal for rules regarding racetrack safety; and no proposals for rules regarding enforcement procedures or penalties…There has not even been a rule crafted to govern how the Authority is to 'propose' any rules to the FTC–which is all fitting, given that HISA is only four months old.”

In March, the HBPA, with the support of 12 of its state chapters, sued 11 individuals in connection with their official capacities related to the FTC and HISA's not-yet-active Authority. The HBPA claimed that the law, “unconstitutionally delegates to a private entity the legislative authority to regulate” the sport, and asked the court to “declare HISA unconstitutional and preliminarily and permanently enjoin Defendants from implementing and enforcing the law.”

The feds have responded that the HBPA has it wrong: The bill that got signed into law in December “merely creates a framework for the FTC, with the subordinate aid of the 'private, independent, self-regulatory, nonprofit' HISA Authority to enact future standards and rules.

“Congress established this framework because it concluded that, in the absence of independent national oversight and uniform drug and safety standards, the horseracing industry was failing to adequately protect its participants,” the filing stated.

“But, recognizing that rulemaking in a new area should proceed carefully and with proper deliberation, Congress provided that no regulations governing the conduct of horseracing can take effect before July 1, 2022. Regulations the FTC enacts under HISA may (or may not) impact Plaintiffs in the future. But there is not even a proposed regulation for Plaintiffs to complain about today.”

The filing continued: “Plaintiffs thus fail the most basic requirement for invoking this Court's jurisdiction: they cannot establish that they have been harmed in any concrete way by the law they protest. Nor can Plaintiffs establish that their challenges to the statute are ripe for judicial review.

“Adjudicating the merits of Plaintiffs' legal claims now would require the Court to evaluate HISA's framework in the abstract, unaided by any concrete facts or history of agency action. There is no justification for the Court treading this path under any circumstances, and it is doubly improper when Plaintiffs are asking this Court to resolve constitutional claims.”

The federal attorneys also argued that the HBPA's suit fails to support its central claim that HISA unlawfully delegates legislative power to the FTC and the private Authority.

“HISA is far more detailed than the statutory schemes that the Supreme Court has sustained against delegation challenges over the past 80 years,” the filing stated. “And both the Supreme

Court and courts of appeals around the country have repeatedly confirmed that private entities can properly provide extensive assistance to federal agencies, so long as those agencies retain

final decision-making authority and control, as the FTC does here.”

The feds asked the judge to toss out the lawsuit, either on the grounds of the alleged lack of subject-matter jurisdiction or, in the alternative, for the HBPA's supposed failure to state a claim.

“At best, Plaintiffs' complaint could be read to suggest that the Plaintiffs might be subject to some rules they dislike in the future…The Plaintiffs' challenge at this point therefore amounts to nothing more than a request for an advisory opinion on the constitutionality of HISA. This Court is not empowered to provide that, “The Plaintiffs may be able to show a concrete injury from HISA on some future occasion when a specific rule affects their interests,” the filing summed up. “Until then, however, the Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain their claims.”

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Concert Tour Confirmed for Preakness

Tue, 2021-05-04 15:30

Bob Baffert confirmed to the Maryland Jockey Club press department Tuesday that 'TDN Rising Star' Concert Tour (Street Sense) will contest next Saturday's GI Preakness S., taking on GI Kentucky Derby-winning stablemate Medina Spirit (Protonico).

“We figure, this is the race,” Baffert said. “The Derby is run. A lot of horses, they went through a lot to get here. He's sort of a fresh horse. In the Rebel, he looked so good.”

Gary and Mary West homebred Concert Tour began his career three-for-three, taking Santa Anita's GII San Vicente S. Feb. 6 before stretching out effectively to romp in the GII Rebel S. at Oaklawn Mar. 13. One of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby after that, he disappointed at short odds when third in the GI Arkansas Derby Apr. 10 and was subsequently removed from Derby consideration.

Baffert said after taking Concert Tour off the Derby trail that the Preakness would likely be the target, and that decision was firmed up after the bay breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 (5/16) under the Twin Spires Sunday morning.

“[Gary West] asked me, 'Did he work well enough to run in the Preakness?'” Baffert said. “I said, 'Yes, he did. He worked well.'”

Baffert continued, “That's why they are in the business and that's why they want to try for it. If you can run in the Preakness and win the Preakness, it's a very exciting race.”

He added, “Let's see how good he is. Maybe he's good or maybe not as good as we thought he was. We're going to find out next week.”

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Belmont Festival Tickets on Sale May 6

Tue, 2021-05-04 14:38

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) announced Tuesday that a limited number of tickets for the 2021 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will go on sale to the public on Thursday, May 6 starting at 10 a.m. ET via The three-day festival kicks off Thursday, June 3 and is headlined, of course, by the GI Belmont S. June 5. NYRA will offer advance pre-sale opportunities to 2020 Belmont Stakes ticket buyers, along with NYRA Bets Elite, Preferred and Bronze members, beginning on Wednesday, May 5. Eligible groups will be notified via email. With New York State set to expand capacity for outdoor sports and entertainment venues to 33% starting May 19, Belmont Park will be able to accommodate approximately 11,000 ticketed spectators. Ticketed inventory will be limited to reserved seats and hospitality areas–there will be no general admission tickets sold at this time. All ticketed spectators will be required to submit proof of completed vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result in order to enter Belmont Park.

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Arlington Heights Trustees Take Steps That Could Impact Sale of Track

Tue, 2021-05-04 14:09

The Arlington Heights Board of Trustees has passed an ordinance that would prevent Churchill Downs from placing any restrictions on what a buyer of Arlington Park can and cannot do with the 326-acre property.

It is feared that Churchill will not sell the track to any individual or group that expresses an interest in opening a casino or even to anyone committed to maintaining racing at the historic Illinois track. Churchill may want to limit competition for the nearby Rivers casino that it co-owns in the town of Des Plaines.

There have been groups aligned with the horsemen that have come forward and said they were prepared to buy Arlington in order to keep it as a racetrack and were set to outbid all others for the property. Those same groups have expressed concerns that Churchill would not be willing to sell to anyone who intended to keep the track operating. The ordinance, which was passed unanimously at Monday night's meeting of the village's Board of Trustees, would prevent Churchill from attaching any conditions to the sale which would rule out a continuation of horse racing.

Throughout the meeting, trustees and other officials with the town made it clear that they would like to see racing at Arlington Park preserved.

“The track is so important to our village for many different reasons, including our identity, that I don't want to see the track go away,” said Trustee John Scaletta. “But it's not up to me. It's up to whoever purchases the property. But I think it's important to keep the door open so that it could possibly remain a track because there are so many people that want to see racing continue, not only in the state of Illinois but across the country. Hopefully, somebody will come to Arlington Heights with a desire to continue horse racing.”

Said Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes: “Everything remains on the table. We are taking these actions this evening to ensure that the possibility of horse racing remains on the table. Nothing is excluded, other than certain uses that we don't want to see.”

In a related development, the board took steps to redefine zoning restrictions for the property that would allow it to keep out certain businesses. The example of Amazon building a distribution center on the site was given as a development the town would block.

The Arlington site is also said to be on the radar of the Chicago Bears, which have been contemplating moving to a new stadium.

Churchill Downs is soliciting bids for the property through the commercial real estate firm CBRE Group, Inc. Bids are due by June 15.

According to Arlington Heights Village Manager Randall Recklaus, the nearby towns of Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg and Chicago have used similar procedures that have kept property owners from placing restrictive covenants limiting future uses for the land.

The problems for Arlington began when Churchill failed to apply for a casino license for the racetrack and then announced that racing would not continue after the end of the 2021 meet. Should Arlington, considered one of the most beautiful racetracks in the world, close, the Chicago area would be left with just one track, Hawthorne. Because Hawthorne is also required to run a harness racing meet, the amount of Thoroughbred racing that can be offered there is limited.

The Arlington meet is scheduled to conclude Sept. 25.

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Essential Quality to Bypass Preakness; Belmont Possible

Tue, 2021-05-04 13:28

Trainer Brad Cox told Steve Byk on At the Races Tuesday morning that champion Essential Quality (Tapit), fourth in the GI Kentucky Derby as the 29-10 favorite, will skip the GI Preakness S. May 15.

The grey could be considered for the GI Belmont S. June 5, with Godolphin's Jimmy Bell telling TVG's Alicia Hughes that the Belmont is “part of the conversation, but that's not definitive at all. We're skipping the Preakness, that's for sure. Our primary goal is to run in the [Aug. 28 GI] Travers and we'll work backwards from there. His next start may or may not be in the Belmont as all options are being considered.”

Cox told Byk that Triple Crown decisions on Derby runner-up Mandaloun (Into Mischief) and Smarty Jones S. winner Caddo River (Hard Spun) would be made in the coming days with their respective co-owners.

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Monmouth Kicks off New Season May 28

Tue, 2021-05-04 12:27

Monmouth Park will switch to a 12:15 p.m. post time during live racing on Saturdays and Sundays while continuing to offer free parking and admission when the track's 76th season gets underway Friday, May 28. Post time on Fridays throughout the 53-day meet will be 5 p.m. The lone exception to the new 12:15 post time, as well as to the free parking and admission policy, will be July 17, when the $1 million Haskell Stakes will be contested for the 54th time. Monmouth Park's live racing schedule runs through Sept. 26.

“With the overwhelming response from horsemen for stall space and fans able to return in greater numbers there's a renewed sense of optimism and excitement for this meet, especially after the challenges we faced a year ago due to COVID-19,” said Dennis Drazin, Chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth Park.

Opening weekend will feature four straight days of live racing from Friday through Monday over the Memorial Day weekend May 28. Starting in June, and running through the end of August, live racing will be conducted Friday through Sunday. In a continuation of the policy from a year ago, no outside food or drink will be permitted.

Monmouth Park will offer 46 stakes races worth $6.15 million this year, including 10 graded stakes. There are 10 stakes races restricted to New Jersey-bred horses, with the highlight for state-breds being the 19th annual New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival Aug. 29.

Haskell Day will again feature six stakes races, including the GI United Nations S., which will see a purse boost from $300,000 to $500,000.

For more information, visit

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Speakers Announced for Track Supers Field Day at Indiana

Tue, 2021-05-04 12:09

The lineup of speakers has been announced for the 20th annual Track Superintendents Field Day set for June 14-15 at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. Among the speakers on the agenda are Joe Morris, senior vice president of racing for Caesars; Mike Ziegler, senior vice president and general manager of Churchill Downs, Dr. Michael DePew, an agronomist/soil scientist and industry-leading leading soil expert; trainer Michael Dickinson, president of Tapeta Footings Inc.; Dr. William Farmer, equine medical director for Churchill Downs Inc.; and Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA. The meeting brings together track superintendents and staff to discuss best practices related to track maintenance, safety and operational issues for racing and training facilities.

“We encourage not only track supers to attend, but also those from training centers as well as farms with training surfaces,” said Roy Smith, founder of the event and track superintendent at Indiana Grand.

Registration, free to track supers and staff, is now open for the event. For more information, go to

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King Fury to Miss Preakness

Tue, 2021-05-04 11:55

King Fury (Curlin), who was forced to bypass last week's GI Kentucky Derby after spiking a temperature on the eve of the race, will also miss next weekend's GI Preakness S., trainer Ken McPeek confirmed Tuesday. After developing another temperature along with a cough Tuesday, the decision was made to reroute the GIII Lexington S. winner to this summer's GI Travers S.

“He's still not 100%,” said McPeek Tuesday.

Campaigned by Fern Circle Stables, Three Chimneys Farm and Magdalena Racing, the chestnut also won last season's Street Sense S. at Churchill.

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Copeland Named Woodbine CCO

Tue, 2021-05-04 11:26

Woodbine Entertainment has appointed experienced sports executive Michael Copeland as its Chief Commercial Officer. Copeland assumes his role with Woodbine Entertainment May 10. Copeland founded and led his own consulting business focused on issues of growth and transformation in sports and entertainment. Prior to that, Copeland was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Argonauts (2015 to 2018), who under his leadership won a Grey Cup championship in 2017. Before joining the Argos, Copeland was the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Canadian Football League for nearly 10 years (2006 to 2015).

“With a unique opportunity for substantial growth of our business on the horizon, we are excited to add Michael and his wealth of experience to our senior leadership team,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “In addition to his extensive background in sports and business, Michael is a strong, visionary leader, making him an ideal teammate to lead our commercial efforts as we look to realize those opportunities for growth in a rapidly changing sports marketplace in Canada.”

As Chief Commercial Officer, Copeland will oversee business development, digital strategy, marketing, sponsorships, broadcast and customer experience strategy. The Western University law and MBA graduate will also play a significant role as Woodbine Entertainment continues its efforts to participate in the emerging sports betting sector in Canada and embarks on the most exciting and ambitious real estate development project in the country.

Woodbine Entertainment also confirmed that Christina Litz, who held the position of Vice President, Media, Digital, Business and Revenue Development since December 2019, has departed the organization to join True North Sports and Entertainment in Winnipeg as its Chief Brand and Commercial Officer.

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