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Updated: 5 hours 55 min ago

Bourbon County Sheriff Investigating Horse Abuse Case

Thu, 2021-04-08 09:27

The Bourbon County Sheriff's Office has launched an investigation that involves dead and malnourished horses found March 19 at a Thoroughbred farm in Paris, Kentucky. According to the police report, that property was owned by Steve Johnson, who had leased it to Xavier McGrapth. According to his Facebook page, McGrapth is the owner of McGrapth Breaking and Training. The TDN was unsuccessful in its efforts to reach him.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Sheriff's office said that the investigation was ongoing and that a suspect had been identified and a criminal complaint had been issued. McGrapth was not named in the statement.

“On the Afternoon of March 19, 2021, the Bourbon County Sheriff's Office received a complaint of Equine Welfare at a farm on Brentsville Road here in Bourbon County,” said the press release from the Bourbon County Sheriff's Office. “Deputies responded to the scene and immediately started an investigation into the welfare of the equine present. The Bourbon County Sheriff's Office has received support from The Ky Department of Agriculture who assisted us with locating and contacting owners and started the process of relocating horses to a safe environment for care and treatment. They are also assisting with the investigation and have sent an investigator to work closely with us throughout this case. As of now all the horses have been identified and the process of relocating them to various locations is coming to an end. The Bourbon County Sheriff's Office has identified a suspect in the case and a criminal complaint has been issued. This investigation is still ongoing, and all authorities involved are actively working together to bring this to a close.”

According to a police report obtained by the TDN, the sheriff's office received a tip from horse owner Alyssa Evans, who had given McGrapth a mare to care for, that there were two dead horses in a paddock on the property. Upon investigating, they discovered the two dead horses and found additional horses that were malnourished. Veterinarian Dr. Zach Logan was brought in to evaluate 23 horses and he advised that 11 were malnourished or severely malnourished and that two dead horses likely starved to death. The two dead horses have yet to be identified.

“There's no doubt in my mind that he was starving them,” Evans said of McGrapth. “Never when I went out there did I see him feeding anybody.”

According to the police report, “(Evans) advised that she went into the barn to locate her horse and located another horse in the stall that hers was supposed to be (in). The horse in that stall was very malnourished and also had sores on its head and body. Deputies also were shown the two dead horses, one of which appeared to (be) recent and one that appeared to have been dead longer.”

The report says that police called in a veterinarian, Dr. Zach Logan, to assess the horses. “He looked at the 23 horses that were at the location, he advised that 11 were malnourished or severely malnourished, and the two that had died were likely to have been starved to death.”

Diana Winkelspecht, who had received a call from one of McGrapth's owners asking her to retrieve his horse, was among the first to arrive. She said she would eventually take in a number of ailing horses that had been on the property.

“We couldn't walk away from the situation,” she said. “After seeing this I had to see that something was done and that someone was held accountable for it. It looked like these horses had been abandoned. It didn't look like anybody had been on the part of the farm Xavier was leasing for a while. Weeks if not longer. There were two dead horses in the paddock and there were horses that were skin and bones. That's weeks and weeks of abuse.”

Amanda Scarsella said that she had turned over five horses to McGrapth. One, a 5-year-old broodmare named Fresh Face (Uncle Mo) has not been located and Scarsella said that she believed she may be one of the two dead horses.

The police report said that Johnson had offered to personally see that the horses would be taken care of, and he told TDN that he was unaware that there were any problems with the McGrapth horses.

“This was his operation,” he said. “I didn't feel it was necessary for me to go back and look over his shoulder at what he was doing. I would drive by the front of the part that he was leasing and I saw the horses in the paddock, I saw him out exercising, galloping the horses or whatever. I could see the shape of those horses and they were acceptable. There weren't any warning signs that I saw.”

Johnson said he looked into McGrapth's background before leasing him the stalls and received “glowing reports” on him. McGrapth had worked at Pin Oak Stud as a groom.

“I checked him out and his references were very strong,” Johnson said.

Bourbon County police said they plan to file a summons.

The post Bourbon County Sheriff Investigating Horse Abuse Case appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Tiznow Filly Tops Record-Setting TTA 2-Year-Old Sale

Wed, 2021-04-07 19:39

An Asmussen Horse Center-consigned daughter of Tiznow–Delta Weekend (A.P. Indy) realized a final bid of $240,000 to top Wednesday's Texas 2-Year-Olds In Training Sale at Lone Star Park.

The Virginia-bred filly was one of five six-figure transactions on an afternoon during which 89 horses changed hands for gross receipts of $2,910,000. The average was $32,697 and the median was $20,000, while the buyback rate was a low 14.4%. When compared to the last TTA sale–the 2020 renewal was canceled due to the coronavirus–the average price gained 40%, with the median ahead by 33%. The average and median were the highest since the Texas Thoroughbred Association and Lone Star Park took over operation of the auction in 2016.

Sales director Tim Boyce was duly pleased with the results and gave credit to the current state of the Thoroughbred industry in Texas for contributing to the positive results.

“I had high expectations coming in and I think it exceeded my high expectations,” Boyce said. “Racing has really been revived around here, with what the governor and the legislature did. You can see where purses are and how that is affecting things. It's a good example of how it's turned into a plus for racing and the Thoroughbred scene here in Texas. Guys have more money in their pockets because they're running for bigger purses.”

He continued, “We had some really nice horses. All week these horses were looking great out there and it was getting harder and harder to pick the good ones, to figure out which horse was going to top the sale. I thought any of the six-figure horses could have topped it. I told my consignors that it was going to be a good 2-year-old sale and they stepped up and brought nice horses. [Auctioneer] Danny [Green] said it was as strong as he could remember.”

Hip 85, a half-sister to Virginia-bred stakes winner Altamura (Artie Schiller) and hailing from the family of GIII Virginia Oaks winner Volcat (After Market), was acquired by Austin Gustafson, agent, for $37,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale. She was one of two horses of the 13-strong draft presented by Asmussen Horse Center to merely gallop during Monday's under-tack show. The consignment was also responsible for hip 68, a More Than Ready colt from the stakes-placed Bonita Cat (Tale of the Cat), the hammered for $100,000. The aforementioned Gustafson signed for both horses Wednesday.

Pike Racing consigned the Louisiana-bred $150,000 joint-second toppers. The first of those through the ring was hip 36, a colt by Overanalyze out of Smittystown (Speightstown), who was successfully pinhooked after Susan Moulton paid $33,000 for the half-brother to SW Mirabeau (Bind) at last year's Texas Summer Yearling Sale. Highlander Training Center was the successful bidder for the colt, who breezed an eighth of a mile in :10 2/5. Hip 57, a $13,000 ESLAUG yearling purchase, was a bit of a talking horse after the daughter of Bind–Anne Margaret (Songandaprayer) worked the bullet furlong in :10 flat Monday at Lone Star. A half-sister to a pair of stakes-placed runners, she was hammered down to the bid of prominent owners Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch.

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Toronto-Area Lockdown Forces Woodbine Postponement

Wed, 2021-04-07 18:50

With a government-enforced 28-day lockdown set to take effect in the province of Ontario Thursday, Apr. 8 at 12:01 a.m., officials at Woodbine Racetrack announced late Wednesday that the planned opening of the 2021 meet would be delayed.

Woodbine will continue to engage in dialogue with government officials and local health authorities in an effort to gain permission to operate a live meet during a lockdown situation in which they would try to begin operations once the stay-at-home order is lifted May 6.

“This is very difficult news to share with our horse people, horse players and fans throughout North America and the world,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “Since the beginning of the pandemic more than a year ago, we have supported the Government of Ontario every step of the way and will continue to do so.

“However, if we do not receive permission to safely operate live racing during a lockdown situation after the stay-at-home is lifted, our industry and business could be greatly impacted, as trainers will not bring their horses to Woodbine Racetrack and more horses will be shipped out to the United States where there are plenty of racing opportunities. This situation has the potential to have a devastating and long-lasting impact on the Thoroughbred industry in Ontario.”

The backstretch at Woodbine will continue to operate as an essential service for the stabling, training and care of the horses. Active training, including times workouts, will also be allowed to continue, but starting gate and receiving barn training operations will be suspended for 10 days.

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Todd Pletcher Talks Derby Contenders On Writers’ Room

Wed, 2021-04-07 18:34

At one point this spring, it was conceivable that soon-to-be Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher would be faced with the unusual situation of not having a GI Kentucky Derby starter. Things change quickly in racing though, as now the seven-time Eclipse Award winner is likely to have four horses in the gate in Louisville and Wednesday morning, he joined the TDN Writers' Room presented by Keeneland to talk about his sudden Derby quartet. Calling in via Zoom as the Green Group Guest of the Week, Pletcher also talked about what still motivates him to train, his early opinions on the Derby field and the progress racing has made on safety since his last appearance on the show following the 2019 Breeders' Cup.

Regarding his one-two finishers in Saturday's GII Wood Memorial S., 72-1 Bourbonic (Bernardini) and 15-1 Dynamic One (Union Rags), Pletcher said, “In Bourbonic's case, it was what I would describe as a pleasant surprise. He's a horse that's always trained well and we did think getting around two turns and up to a mile and an eighth was going to be to his benefit. I'd be lying if I said we expected him to win. The strategy was, let's let him fall back, make one run. He should get the distance and hopefully [be] picking up the pieces at the end, which he definitely was. I can't tell you I had a $40 win ticket on it.

“In Dynamic One's case, we were expecting him to run well. We've been a little disappointed in what he's done so far because he's always trained liked a good horse. I think he's still learning how to run and finish off a race. He got a little bit lost by himself [in the stretch of the Wood]. I think Bourbonic surprised him a bit. But that type of performance is what we've been seeing from him in the mornings to indicate he's of that quality.”

As for GI Curlin Florida Derby winner Known Agenda, likely to be the shortest price of the Pletcher four, he said, “He's a Curlin. He's bred to be better a little later. What surprised us about him was he was able to be competitive in his debut at 6 1/2 furlongs. Off that one race, he was able to beat Greatest Honour at a mile and an eighth, and they were 20 lengths clear of the third horse. In the Remsen, he was still green and was stuck inside on a sloppy track. Once he got clear late, he put in a good final sixteenth. He left himself too much to do. Same thing in the Sam Davis. So I think the blinkers have made a difference. The exciting thing about the group that we have is, I think they're all horses that are going to improve at a mile and a quarter. They're all horses that are truly looking for that distance.”

When Pletcher was last on the podcast, he spoke bluntly about the catastrophic situation racing found itself in after the spate of fatal breakdowns at Santa Anita. Wednesday, he was asked what progress he's seen since then in the sport and what still needs to be done.

“One breakdown is too many, but we also live in the real world where those things happen,” he said. “I think we've made a lot of improvements. The statistics are showing that the numbers are down. Like I said then, it's not a trainer thing, it's not a jockey thing, it's not a track veterinarian thing. It's an industry thing. We have to do better from the ground up. From the time these horses are born, to the way they're prepped for sales, the way they're treated the whole way. It's everyone's responsibility. Ultimately, it comes down to trainers making the decisions at entry time and race time. I think the industry has recognized as a whole that we all have to do better. That's why I think we're making improvements and hopefully are not going to rest on our laurels of doing better. We've got to keep getting better.”

Elsewhere on the show, the writers reacted to a huge weekend of racing, analyzed the prospective Derby picture and, in the West Point Thoroughbreds news segment, reported on an NFT-based virtual racing game that is rapidly growing in popularity. Click here to watch the podcast; click here for the audio-only version.

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Simply Ravishing Retired; Connections Contemplating Sale

Wed, 2021-04-07 17:57

Simply Ravishing (Laoban), the 6 1/4-length victress of the GI Alcibiades S. at Keeneland last year, has been retired to be bred, with an eye toward a possible sale at public auction this autumn. Trainer Ken McPeek confirmed the news via phone to TDN late Wednesday afternoon, shortly after TVG's Gabby Gaudet broke the story.

“She had a minor breathing issue that we were dealing with, and we decided that if she couldn't be as competitive in Grade I races as she was at age two, we were going to breed her,” McPeek told TDN.

“We're looking at several of the top stallions–Tapit, Into Mischief, Curlin,” McPeek continued. “And there's a more-than-likely chance that Harold Lerner and his partners [Magdalena Racing and Nehoc Stables] are going to contemplate selling her in the fall.”

Simply Ravishing, a $50,000 FTKOCT purchase, started her career with three straight wins, including a MSW and the off-turf P.G. Johnson S. at Saratoga prior to her Grade I win at Keeneland. She was fourth, beaten two lengths, in the

GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, then  fourth again in the GII Golden Rod S. to round out her 2020 campaign.

Her sophomore debut was last Saturday at Keeneland, where she started as the 3-2 co-favorite. Simply Ravishing set the pace for six furlongs, then backed off to finish sixth and last. McPeek had confirmed post-race via Twitter that she had cooled out sound.

Simply Ravishing was both the first stakes winner and then the first Grade I winner last year for then-freshman sire Laoban. Simply Ravishing was the first foal to race out of the More Than Ready mare Four Wishes, who was purchased by Meg Levy of Bluewater Sales for just $500 in 2017 after she had been abandoned at a boarding farm.

“She is as beautiful as filly as you'll ever lay eyes on,” McPeek said. “She obviously was exceptionally good at age two, and she's going to make a wonderful broodmare. She should have beautiful foals. It's unfortunate that she's not going to go on from age two to three, but it's not the first time this has ever happened. We're disappointed we can't race her, but we felt like that if she couldn't compete in Grade I company, then we're better off breeding her.”

The announcement comes one day prior to Simply Ravishing's third birthday.

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Hoyt Promoted To Director of Racing at Oaklawn

Wed, 2021-04-07 16:26

Jennifer Hoyt, who has served as the media relations manager at Oaklawn Park for the last 10 years, has been promoted to the position of Director of Racing, the track announced Wednesday. She will work closely with Vice President of Racing Jason Milligan and will be responsible for the promotion, planning and success of the track's live racing product.

“I couldn't have written up a more perfect role for myself,”  said Hoyt, whose husband Rollie Hoyt worked for many years in Thoroughbred racing and is now a reporter for CBS affiliate KTHV Channel 11 in Little Rock. “This really is my dream job. I'm excited to be even more involved with the racing program, while also continuing to promote Oaklawn's races to fans across the country.”

Hoyt is a veteran of nearly 25 years of experience in the industry, having held positions at Churchill Downs, Turfway Park, Gulfstream Park, Arlington and Lone Star Park. She is a longtime member of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup notes teams and has twice contributed to the collection of notes for the Dubai World Cup meeting. She is an avid supporter of Thoroughbred Aftercare and has been working closely with the Arkansas H.B.P.A. on a new program in 2021, which she hopes to grow in her new role.

Hoyt will continue to oversee Media Relations efforts during the live meets.

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CHRB Commissioner Mitchell Fails In Reappointment Bid

Wed, 2021-04-07 15:29

In a vote Monday, California State Senators decided against reappointing commissioner Wendy Mitchell to the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), as first reported in the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Times, Mitchell was headed for confirmation early on Monday afternoon, but after a period of extensive lobbying on the senate floor, she subsequently lost the vote on a 17-20 denial.

Mitchell has served on the CHRB since 2019 and has been principal of WM Consulting Inc. since 2006. Prior to her tenure on the CHRB, Mitchell served on the California Coastal Commission from 2011 to 2016 and the Los Angeles South Valley Area Planning Commission from 2009 to 2011.

The latest iteration of the board, which has undergone a drastic reshuffle in recent years, has been split on a number of controversial topics, including the issue of whether to grant Los Alamitos a truncated six-month license in response to recent scrutiny over its welfare record.

After an extended debate, the board granted the facility its typical 12-month operating license. Mitchell voted with commissioners Oscar Gonzalez and Brenda Washington Davis against issuing the facility a one-year license.

More recently, the panel was divided over the issue of whether to implement even tighter whip reforms than currently exist in California, with the board eventually voting 4-3 to table the motion for the time being.

Again, Mitchell voted with commissioners Gonzalez and Davis against tabling the motion.

In a statement, PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo wrote, “I've never had a conversation with Wendy Mitchell, nor has PETA ever contacted her directly, but it has become clear to us in the last several months that the California Horse Racing Board has failed to bring about the promised changes to protect horses. The board has reneged on the whipping ban, failed to suspend racing at Los Alamitos as promised–despite multiple deaths–and taken no action to boot crooked trainers from racing.”

Guillermo added: “The board and, apparently, the California legislature remain beholden to the old guard in racing that considers abuse and death to be normal business practices, rather than listening to the public that has demanded change. PETA won't sit by quietly while the body count mounts. Legislators can expect to hear from our 700,000 supporters in the state.”

According to the Times, Mitchell's case will be reconsidered and another vote taken at a time yet to be determined.

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Belmont Stakes For Rebel’s Romance

Wed, 2021-04-07 14:02

Godolphin's G2 UAE Derby winner Rebel's Romance (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) will bypass the May 1 GI Kentucky Derby and instead target the third leg of the U.S. Triple Crown, the GI Belmont S. on June 5. Rebel's Romance, who is ineligible for the European Classics as a gelding, had been assured a spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs after earning 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points for his 5 1/2-length UAE Derby win on Mar. 27.

Godolphin has two other colts in the current top 20 by Kentucky Derby points: the race favourite, 2-year-old champion Essential Quality (Tapit), the winner of last weekend's GII Blue Grass S.; and Proxy (Tapit), runner-up in the GII Lecomte S. and GII Risen Star S. and most recently fourth in the G2 Louisiana Derby.

A statement from trainer Charlie Appleby posted to Godolphin's Twitter on Wednesday read, “Having spoken to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, we feel he needs more time and he will now be aimed at the last leg of the U.S. Triple Crown, the GI Belmont S.”

Rebel's Romance won his first two starts last fall under William Buick going a mile on the all-weather at Newcastle and Kempton. He took to the dirt when beating Mouheeb (Flatter) in the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial on Jan. 14, and while Mouheeb went on to uphold that form when winning the G3 UAE 2000 Guineas, Rebel's Romance headed to the Saudi Derby, where he finished fourth five weeks prior to his UAE Derby romp.

In other Classic news, Godolphin and Charlie Appleby were responsible for four of the seven colts added to the June 5 G1 Cazoo Derby during Wednesday's second entry stage. They are Adayar (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), a nine-length winner on his second start at Nottingham; Hurricane Lane (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), who scored on debut at Newmarket; One Ruler (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), last seen finishing second in the G1 Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster; and Yibir (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), who has won his last two starts including the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Conditions Stakes at Newbury. One Ruler's Futurity Trophy conqueror Mac Swiney (Ire) (New Approach {Ire}) was also supplemented by owner/breeder/trainer Jim Bolger.

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Drumette Named Broodmare of the Year

Wed, 2021-04-07 13:37

Drumette (Henny Hughes), dam of last year's champion older mare Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) as well as GII Risen Star S. winner Mr. Monomoy (Palace Malice), has been named the 2020 Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Broodmare of the Year. Both Monomoy Girl and Mr. Monomoy were bred by Frankfort Park Farm and Michael Hernon's Highfield Ranch, who sold for $1.85 million in foal to Mastery to Bridlewood Farm at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton November sale.

GI Kentucky Derby and GI Longines Breeders' Cup Classic winner Authentic (Into Mischief) was named Kentucky-Bred Horse of the Year and Champion Three-Year-Old Male. For the complete list of 2020 KTOB award winners, their sires and breeders, see below:

  • Broodmare of the Year: Drumette (Henny Hughes, Bridlewood Farm)
  • Horse of the Year, Three-Year-Old Male: Authentic (Into Mischief, Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, LLC)
  • Two-Year-Old Male: Essential Quality (Tapit, Godolphin)
  • Two-Year-Old Filly: Vequist (Nyquist, Swilcan Stables)
  • Three-Year-Old Filly: Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil, WinStar Farm, LLC)
  • Older Dirt Male: Improbable (St. George Farm LLC & G. Watts Humphrey Jr.)
  • Older Dirt Female: Monomoy Girl (Tapizar, FPF LLC & Highfield Ranch)
  • Male Turf Horse: War of Will (War Front, Flaxman Holdings Limited)
  • Female Turf Horse: Rushing Fall (More Than Ready, Fred W. Hertrich III & John D. Fielding)
  • Male Sprinter: Whitmore (Pleasantly Perfect, John Liviakis)
  • Female Sprinter: Gamine (Into Mischief, Grace Thoroughbred Holdings)
  • Racing Abroad: Kameko (Kitten's Joy, Calumet Farm)
  • Steeplechase Horse: Snap Decision (Hard Spun, Phipps Stable)

Four 2020 Merit Awards will be presented at the KTOB luncheon:

  • P.A.B. Widener Trophy for KTOB Breeder of the Year: Godolphin
  • Hardboot Breeders' Award pays tribute to distinctive but unsung breeders that help make up the backbone of our industry: Beau Lane
  • Charles W. Engelhard Award acknowledges a member of the media for outstanding coverage of the Thoroughbred industry: Donna Barton Brothers
  • William T. Young Humanitarian Award distinguishes a person or organization in the Thoroughbred industry “who recognizes and promotes the human endeavor”: Blue Grass Farms Charities

The top Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) earners in five categories will also receive awards:

  • KTDF Sire of the Year: Into Mischief (Spendthrift Farm)
  • KTDF Earner of the Year: Arklow (Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger & Peter Coneway)
  • KTDF Owner of the Year: Kenneth L. & Sarah K. Ramsey
  • KTDF Trainer of the Year: Brad Cox
  • KTDF Breeder of the Year: Calumet Farm

Recipients of the 2020 KTOB Kentucky-Bred Champion awards were voted on by the full membership of KTA/KTOB while the KTDF category leaders were tabulated using purse money won at KY racetracks in 2020. KTOB merit award recipients were voted on by the KTA/KTOB Board of Directors.

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Keeneland Planning Improvements at TTC

Wed, 2021-04-07 12:40

Keeneland announced Wednesday that it will build six new barns and make other improvements at its year-round training facility, The Thoroughbred Center, located on Paris Pike on the Northeast side of Lexington. Two concrete barns will be demolished and replaced with six state-of-the-art barns–upgrades to walking rings, muck disposal and drainage, as well as landscaping and access to and from the track, are also in the works.

“Keeneland is excited to break ground on these significant improvements to the barn area at TTC for the benefit of our horses and horsemen, many of whom stable at the facility year-round,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing Gatewood Bell said. “This investment reflects the strength of the Kentucky racing circuit and Keeneland's confidence in the future of the Thoroughbred industry in Kentucky and throughout the world.”

TTC General Manager and Keeneland Director of Racing Surfaces Jim Pendergest added, “TTC is vital to the health of the Kentucky racing circuit, providing a home base for a number of trainers, and we are thrilled to make these enhancements for them. Horsemen are drawn to Kentucky by the strong purse structure now in place and expected to continue to improve, particularly with the support of historical horse racing.”

Work is expected to begin in May pending approval from local planning and zoning authorities, with completion by the Keeneland fall meet in October. Keeneland will work with trainers stabled at TTC to find alternate arrangements during construction.

“This project is an important aspect of Keeneland's ongoing efforts to accommodate our horse population with safe and quality facilities throughout the year,” Keeneland Equine Safety Director Dr. Stuart Brown said.

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Report: Greatest Honour Off Derby Trail

Wed, 2021-04-07 12:10

According to a report from Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman, leading GI Kentucky Derby contender Greatest Honour (Tapit) will be forced to miss the “Run for the Roses” and will instead get approximately 60 days off. Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey had the Courtlandt Farms homebred examined by Dr. Larry Bramlage after not being satisfied with how he came out of a somewhat disappointing third as the 4-5 favorite in the GI Curlin Florida Derby Mar. 27. The regally bred bay colt had taken each of his three starts prior to the Florida Derby, including the Jan. 30 GIII Holy Bull S. and Feb. 27 GII Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth S.

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Kentucky Derby Museum to Hold Annual Gala

Wed, 2021-04-07 11:54

The Kentucky Derby Museum is proceeding with arrangements for its annual gala, which raises funds for the non-profit organization and had to be canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Presented by Central Bank & Trust Co, the Friday, Apr. 23 event will feature an evening of dinner and dancing, all held safely under COVID-19 protocols.

This marks the 34th year for the event, which is the museum's largest annual fundraising effort.

“Kentucky Derby 147 is on, and so is our gala,” said Patrick Armstrong, president & CEO of the Derby Museum. “This decision was made carefully and with much discussion between museum staff and our Board of Directors. It has been a tough year financially for the museum, like many other non-profit organizations. But tourism is slowly bouncing back. We are seeing a nice flow of guests through the museum daily, and feel that people are ready to safely celebrate the Kentucky Derby.”

Money raised through ticket sales helps support the museum's curatorial and educational programs. Tickets, tables, and sponsorship packages are available at DerbyMuseum.org or by contacting Sheridan Gates at sgates@derbymuseum.org.

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TIF Launching “Wagering Insecurity” Series Beginning April 13

Wed, 2021-04-07 11:22

Editor's Note: The following is an edited press release from the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation, which is beginning a 12-part series on wagering insecurity next week. The series will be released in two installments per week, and the TDN will carry summaries and links to the 12 articles.

The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation (TIF) will launch “Wagering Insecurity,” a multi-part series which will examine the current state of oversight of North American Thoroughbred racing and wagering, beginning Tuesday, Apr. 13.

In the aftermath of the infamous “Fix Six” at the 2002 Breeders' Cup, the American racing industry pledged millions of dollars to improve the monitoring of pari-mutuel betting and create a central office to oversee wagering security. While plenty was spent, the oversight never materialized. Vulnerabilities still exist, late odds changes impact many races and transparency is nowhere to be found.

TIF believes improved measures of integrity will boost customer confidence, which will lead to increased participation and put racing on a path to a more sustainable future, particularly in light of the rapid expansion of legal sports betting across the continent.

Customer confidence is crucial to any business, especially gambling, but North America's racing industry has done little to instill it over the last two decades.

“Automated bingo card devices in church basements have more independent monitoring than the tote systems,” said Kevin Mullally, Vice President of Government Relations and General Counsel for Gaming Laboratories International.

Track operators seem indifferent. As one 25-year U.S. state racing regulator told TIF for this series:

“Most tracks, confronted with a wagering integrity issue, would either bury the information or bury their heads in the sand and it would never see the light of day. That's not every track across America, but the majority would not want to make public any information that would question the integrity of wagering on their product.”

In 2005, when speaking of the racing industry's post-“Fix Six” efforts to upgrade wagering oversight which eventually failed, then Del Mar Thoroughbred Club President Craig Fravel acknowledged the track operators might fall short of the mark.

“We [track operators] are a little suspect because we are maybe overly confident at times. I think to allow customers to have sufficient levels of confidence in us, we have to not only demonstrate we are capable of reviewing things, but that there is a sufficiently independent and authoritative organization out there than can be the ultimate arbiter of those kind of decisions.”

Such a group still does not exist.

 

The TRPB

The Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB) is North American racing's only provider of any wagering oversight, but the group has been defunded over years and is not independent. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of a consortium of North American racetracks.

The TRPB provides member tracks a platform to monitor wagering on their own races and assist them when needed. The tracks essentially monitor themselves.

Given the consolidation which has taken place in horse racing over the last 20 years, tracks control most of the levers of the greater business. They own most of the online betting platforms which process the majority of bets on North American racing, known as ADWs. They own two of the three main tote companies which handle most betting activity. One conglomerate even owns at least part of a major off-shore rebate shop whose few customers account for an enormous amount of total handle.

Tracks fund the TRPB, which was once called horse racing's own “little FBI,” but has seen its policing functions largely reduced. Horse racing may have been once described as “the best policed sport of all,” but that has changed.

“It was an erosion, over time,” Paul Berube told TIF of the TRPB which he ran for nearly two decades after working as an investigator with the group for another two decades before that.

“Today, there is no national unity, but in the heyday of the TRPB, that was our strength.”

Despite several attempts from TIF, the TRPB's Executive Vice President Curtis Linnell declined the opportunity to answer questions for this series.

 

Suspicious Betting

While the TRPB has taken on an almost invisible profile to most bettors, there is an unexpected group which has started paying more attention to North American racing,

Unbeknownst to most American horseplayers, a large bookmaking market has emerged in Europe offering fixed-odds bets on North American racing. Total handle is believed to exceed $1 billion annually. Contracts enabling these relationships are often facilitated by XB-Net, a subsidiary of 1/ST, formerly The Stronach Group.

Bookmakers have their own monitoring group which examines wagering on all sports, investigates suspicious wagers and raises alerts to regulatory authorities with whom they have information-sharing arrangements. For the first time ever, they identified suspicious wagering on U.S. races in the fourth quarter of 2020.

According to Matt Fowler, Director of Integrity at the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA), the recent alerts on U.S. races go “well beyond just an unusual betting pattern or unexpected price movements.”

European fixed-odds betting operators are identifying activity involving U.S. racing that should be concerning to all U.S. racing stakeholders. Where is the American oversight on American races?

At present, there is no reporting relationship between European bookmakers and any American counterparts, the TRPB, North American track operators or regulators. For now, the findings will inform bookmaking decisions but not the patrolling of American races, where pari-mutuel handle vastly exceeds bookmakers.

A world-wide market requires world-wide supervision. The TRPB is the closest thing North American racing has to self-regulation, which is fine…until it isn't.

What we have now is insufficient.

Racing on the continent in the 2020s is run with an integrity infrastructure better suited to the 1970s and a business model from the early 1990s. The oversight measures for the races themselves and their wagering systems have degraded over time. Racing's integrity infrastructure is falling farther behind that of the rest of the developed racing world, where more robust monitoring of all markets is far greater, transparent oversight is commonplace and customers are far better protected. Examples of these modern steps are plentiful throughout the series.

 

Opportunity

Improvements to racing's integrity infrastructure will improve customer confidence, increase participation in the sport and lead to a more sustainable future.

“Wagering Insecurity” provides several recommendations for North American racing to consider.

Notably, the new Horseracing Integrity & Safety Authority (HISA) must include elements of bet monitoring to its practices once launched.

Global sports and racing integrity expert Jack Anderson of the University of Melbourne, who was the keynote speaker at the University of Arizona's Global Symposium on Racing in 2018, highlights several key points throughout “Wagering Insecurity” which support this conclusion.

“Effective doping control is of course a vital element of the integrity objectives of a sport such as racing but it should not be the sole integrity concern and should not be seen in isolation. Doping in a sport such as racing is often intertwined with gambling interests,” Anderson said.

“The prevalence of doping in a racing jurisdiction may also be reflective of weaknesses in that racing organization's race day operations such as:

  • stewarding and standards of veterinarian oversight,
  • lack of capacity in intelligence gathering on and knowledge of industry participants,
  • vulnerabilities in the licensing and registration of industry participants,
  • and the ability of the racing organization or jurisdiction to punish misconduct by industry participants.”

The role of HISA can and should go farther than its more commonly understood functions which have dominated early dialogue around it–namely its racetrack safety and anti-doping and medication control programs.

The legislation which established HISA empowers much more, declaring that HISA shall “exercise independent and exclusive national authority over the safety, welfare and integrity of covered horses, covered persons, and covered horseraces.” The definition of covered horseraces includes those with interstate wagering and ADW account betting.

TIF makes several other recommendations in the series related to adopting modern, transparent best practices, many of which are in place in other racing jurisdictions and sports. Significant upgrades are possible and, fortunately, the proverbial wheel does not require reinvention.

The opportunity for significant reform is real, lifting the standards of North American racing like never previously considered and importantly, rebuilding confidence in racing's voluntary participants–horseplayers and horse owners.

“TIF's advocacy has focused on improving the business for horseplayers and horse owners as their participation in racing fuels everything,” said Craig Bernick, President and Chief Executive Officer of Glen Hill Farm and founder of TIF. “We need confidence in both groups to sustain the industry, and as the various installments of the series will reveal, it is frightening just how far behind we are in protecting customers.

“Industry consolidation of track operators, technology companies and other service providers has not improved the sport,” Bernick added. “As we move forward over the next two decades, racing needs to compete for customers. Meaningful integrity controls and better pricing are needed to meet the expectations of modern bettors. Right now, we are falling woefully short and present an increasingly uncompetitive wagering offering.”

TIF's Board of Directors established the Wagering & Integrity Issues Steering Committee in July 2020, which was instrumental in the development of this series.

Patrick Cummings, TIF's Executive Director, said: “We are incredibly appreciative of the dozens of current and former racing and gaming industry executives as well as regulators from North America and abroad who provided so much insight, both on the record and for background in this series.”

“This project pulled together many pieces that have not been connected previously, and I believe readers will walk away with a much greater understanding of what has happened for the last 20 years, the extent of the threats facing the business and the tremendous opportunity to bring about changes through HISA. We look forward to sharing the various installments in the coming weeks.”

The “Wagering Insecurity” series will be published free at RacingThinkTank.com, released to industry press, via Twitter and emailed to those on TIF's mailing list. Register to receive notifications here.

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Alice Headley Chandler: 1926-2021

Wed, 2021-04-07 11:08

A life as long and rich as that of Alice Headley Chandler, which drew to a peaceful close on Tuesday, April 6, at her home in Lexington, Kentucky, at the age of 95, is measured by four generations–from her surviving contemporaries to her great-grandchildren–for whom the black raiment of mourning will surely be brightened by cheerful scarves of pride.

And that's not just because of the consolations available in remembrance of a wonderful character or celebration of her wonderful achievements. For this iconic Kentucky horsewoman was always animated by a daily contribution, decade after decade, to a collective endeavor that transcends even lives as impressive in scope and achievement as the one that began in her hometown of Lexington Jan. 16, 1926. And if the Headley clan has resonated in the breeding of Thoroughbreds for nearly two centuries, few horsemen of any name or background will ever match the personal legacy she created within her allotted stewardship.

As long as the breed continues, Alice Headley Chandler will be honored: explicitly, among those curious to chart its long history; and vicariously, among the many more who will always recognize Sir Ivor as a transformative name in its genetic evolution.

For the two, opposing themes that were uniquely combined in Chandler–cherished simultaneously as a link in a venerable family chain, and as a pioneer for the whole industry–were aptly condensed by this horse. On the one hand, he represented personal legacy: Chandler famously bred Sir Ivor from a mare bequeathed by her father. At the same time, he became an immediate symbol for what a woman could achieve, given the opportunity, in a conservative and patriarchal walk of life. As though born as a pathfinder towards modernity, he became the first American-bred Epsom Derby winner bought at public auction. In the process, he launched the era of international commerce that has sustained the bloodstock industry ever since–a revolution in which Chandler and her family would continue to share, notably when selling a $9.7 million Storm Cat colt, later Group 2 winner Jalil, at Keeneland in 2005.

Lester Piggott on Sir Ivor, led by Princess Caroline Murat after winning the Epsom Derby at Epsom Downs Racecourse, UK, 4th June 1968 | Getty Images

Yet both Sir Ivor and his breeder were also a credit to continuity, to bloodlines and inherited lore that had been patiently cultivated to stand the test of time.

Chandler bred him from Attica, a daughter of Mahmoud's largely forgotten son Mr. Trouble. The stallion had himself been sold in 1962 as part of the dispersal of stock owned by her father Hal Price Headley, who had been a key figure in the foundation of Keeneland and served as its first president from 1936 to 1951. Attica was one of just four mares he had left her, along with a parcel of 268 acres down the road from Keeneland. This, remember, out of a Beaumont Farm estate that had extended past 4,000 acres by the time of his death. Yet this would become the nucleus of an international brand, and a recognized symbol for integrity, heritage and excellence: Mill Ridge Farm.

In 1964, Chandler sent Attica to Sir Gaylord at Claiborne, where Bull Hancock was proving a valuable source not only of sage counsel, but also of some early business, sending a few overflow mares to Mill Ridge. Chandler, to that extent, was certainly comfortable with the Bluegrass Establishment. But, arguably, her success duly made more substantial inroads on its misogynists than could more flagrant feminist campaigns of the 1960s. Because anyone, however set in their ways, could see that this woman owed her success to a tireless work ethic, elite standards of horsemanship, and a rare sensitivity to the rhythms of Nature.

Like the Hancocks, Chandler's father had played an important role in sowing the American breed with European Classic blood. In 1929, he had imported Pharamond II (GB) as a conduit for the core bloodlines of the breed-shaping stud assembled by the 17th Earl of Derby. At the time Pharamond began his Kentucky career, the star of Headley's stable was the champion filly Alcibiades. In 1934, he paired the two to produce Menow, the champion juvenile who later became sire of Tom Fool (and so grandsire of Buckpasser). Two years later, Alcibiades was sent to War Admiral and produced Salaminia, a high-class stayer. When herself mated with Pharamond, Salaminia produced Athenia, the dam of Attica.

In a way, then, the reverse passage of Sir Ivor was just another phase in the constant, mutual regeneration between the trans-Atlantic gene pools. As it happens, it was Bull Hancock who purchased Attica's Sir Gaylord yearling on behalf of Raymond Guest, American Ambassador to Ireland, for $42,000 at the Keeneland July Sale of 1966. “He was a May 5 foal, a tall horse, just a little bit slab-sided,” Chandler remembered later. The colt still had some growing to do, but was sent to Vincent O'Brien in Ireland.

And that was how O'Brien and his son-in-law John Magnier discovered in Sir Ivor a template for the commercial transfer of the speed-carrying dirt genes to the demands of Classic racing on turf. Shortly after Sir Ivor won the Derby, O'Brien came back to America and bought a Northern Dancer colt for $84,000. (His dam, incidentally, was out of a Menow mare.) Two years later, as Nijinsky, he became the last winner of the English Triple Crown.

Besides his role as a pathfinder, Sir Ivor would also have a great genetic influence–notably as a broodmare sire, just like his sire and also his sire's half-brother Secretariat. Daughters of Sir Ivor, for instance, produced Green Desert and El Prado (Ire) to become breed-shaping sires.

Mill Ridge | Eclipse Sportswire

Happily, Chandler was able to make the journey to Epsom, along with her mother Genevieve Molloy and her son Mike–who ended up dangling from a beam in Guest's box, to see over everyone's heads. After the race, no doubt, they must have remembered how Chandler's father had been forced to quit Princeton as a sophomore in 1908 when news came that his own father, Hal Pettit Headley, had suffered a stroke. Someone was needed to take over the farm, and he had shown a flair for horses even as a 14-year-old, when taking 1897 Kentucky Derby runner-up Ornament and 16 other Thoroughbreds to the World's Fair in St. Louis. He came back with a blue ribbon and $4,600 in prizes.

His, in turn, would eventually be an abrupt and premature departure, following a heart attack. But in the meantime, he left an indelible stamp on his daughter, who inherited his reverence for the land and for the nuances of all husbandry. He raised cattle and tobacco, as well as horses, and did so with a respect that has filtered through to his grandson and great-grandson, so pivotal to the development of Horse Country tours.

Chandler's father allowed her to embrace life on the farm to the full. On one occasion she was found asleep with a pony when still a toddler. “He never said 'don't do it, ”cause you might get hurt',” Chandler remembered once. If that meant shooting craps with the grooms on the tack room floor, that was fine–though she had to renounce her winnings when she came home at lunch and announced that she had just won $600 and an automobile from the jockey Smokey Saunders.

“I went with Daddy as much as I could because I loved doing all the things he loved to do,” Chandler recalled. “Herding cattle, and breaking yearlings, all that kind of stuff, checking the tobacco.” The staff connived with her sense of adventure, too. “They let me do anything I wanted, I tried it all,” she said. “We used to sneak onto yearlings before they got broken.”

She missed all that, when sent away to convent school in Cincinnati, and later to schools in Virginia and Connecticut. But for the same reason, she loved summers back on the farm; and hunting in winter; and, when Keeneland opened, she would go down there with Daddy at 4 a.m.

Chandler did have some time away from Lexington, raising four children—a daughter Patricia (“Tish”) plus three boys who all found careers in the Thoroughbred industry, in Mike, Headley and Reynolds Jr.–from her first marriages. (One evidently a rather callow wartime engagement; another to Reynolds Bell, himself from a family of horsemen but for a time then working in oil down in Texas.) But she had returned in 1959, and poor Mike was holding a shank when her father collapsed in front of him after breezing horses at Keeneland in 1962. He was 73. “But, boy!” Chandler would say. “A lot of miles! He didn't walk, he ran.”

Her marriage in 1970 to the South African-born veterinarian, Dr. John Chandler, would open up new horizons for Mill Ridge. Having arrived via Newmarket, and himself central to the development of Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte empire, he had an important role in developing an overseas client base. In time, Mill Ridge imported Diesis (GB) from Europe to become another important transatlantic influence (three daughters won the Epsom Oaks) alongside a significant indigenous stallion in Gone West.

Emulating her father, Chandler became a respected industry leader. She served on the Keeneland Board for 23 years, and was also a director of the Breeders' Cup and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association. She chaired the University of Kentucky Equine Research Foundation, and was president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, and also served stints with the Equine Drug Council and Gluck Research Center. In 2006, Chandler was recognized by the Kentucky State Senate for her lifelong dedication to the community and to the equine industry; and three years later received the Eclipse Award of Merit.

Chandler's son Headley Bell, and his son, Price, at Mill Ridge | Eclipse Sportswire

Chandler was inducted to the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Racing only last year, as a “Pillar of the Turf” alongside her father, who had preceded her by a couple of years. This distinction had by then become a little poignant, as Chandler had lately been suffering from dementia, though tended devotedly by her caregivers and a large and loving family circle. In the event, of course, the ceremony was postponed anyway because of the pandemic. But her delayed induction will now become a chance to honor one treasured by the whole Bluegrass community, during her long and illustrious prime, as one of the most vivid and accomplished horsewomen in the story of the Thoroughbred.

Breeders will be indebted to her for as long as they continue to puzzle over pedigrees. Remember that Attica's son was not just a mighty broodmare sire himself, but that his daughters appear to have passed a similar potency to their sons. Alzao and Shareef Dancer, for instance, have respectively given us the dams of Deep Impact and Dubai Millennium.

But Alice could be still prouder of her very own genetic bequest. Her son Headley took over the running of Mill Ridge in 2008, and grandson Price was last year named general manager. Adhering scrupulously to her one, non-negotiable axiom—”take care of the horse, and the horse will take care of you”—they have maintained the farm as a thriving presence in the modern industry: it has raised 36 Grade I winners since 2000, including Horses of the Year Point Given (Thunder Gulch) and Havre De Grace (Saint Liam). Headley and Price named their Nicoma Bloodstock for one of the first mares Alice purchased, while they have recently revived the farm's stallion story by launching Oscar Performance (Kitten's Joy). As a top-class turf miler, he has every right to write a new chapter in the farm's international story. Fittingly, he extends the El Prado line—and so the legacy of Sir Ivor as a broodmare sire.

When she handed over the Mill Ridge reins in 2008, Chandler declared: “I have lived a blessed life, doing just what I want to do: associate with the finest horses, clients, friends, and an industry that I love.” Thanks to her, however, countless others have shared that same sense of benediction.

No doubt these will now pay tributes of due eloquence. But it is comforting to recall that many such were offered when Alice could still be touched by them herself, as the honor guest of the Thoroughbred Club of America in 2005. Tellingly, she was only the third female to receive this distinction, at its 74th testimonial dinner, following Mrs. Payne Whitney in 1939 and Isabel Dodge Sloan in 1951. Earlier that year, John Shirreffs had saddled the Mill Ridge graduate Giacomo (Holy Bull) to win the Derby—108 years after Chandler's grandfather had been foiled by just a neck with Ornament. (“Daddy” had tried 13 times, to no avail.) So Shirreffs spoke for many in explaining why he was often seen wearing a Mill Ridge cap, and it feels fitting to leave the last word to one who operates in the same rarefied register of horsemanship.

“Alice Chandler does it right,” Shirreffs said. “Her standards and attention to detail are special. The cap symbolizes for me the finest quality of horsemanship: the price of being a craftsman, the patience of a shepherd, and the creativity of an artist.”

Chandler is survived by her husband of 49 years, Dr. John Chandler; her children Patricia, Mike, Reynolds and Headley; 8 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

The Industry Remembers Alice Headley Chandler

“Keeneland mourns the passing of Alice Headley Chandler, Racing Hall of Famer and owner of nearby Mill Ridge Farm, who served as a guiding light that helped shape the success of Keeneland. Mrs. Chandler was an exceptional horsewoman who devoted her talents to caring for her beloved Mill Ridge, its horses and clientele, and her dear friends and family. Respected by horsemen internationally, she was a tireless ambassador for the Thoroughbred industry and applied her leadership skills to make extraordinary contributions for the betterment of the sport. Keeneland extends its deepest condolences to Alice's husband, Dr. John Chandler; sons Headley Bell, Mike Bell and Reynolds Bell; daughter, Patricia “Tish” Bell; and her entire family.” –Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin

“Alice Chandler was one of the most remarkable people ever to work in the Thoroughbred industry. We cherished her outstanding achievements as an owner and breeder, and her service to a wide range of racing organizations over many decades, as well as her engaging personality and dynamic spirit. She established Mill Ridge Farm in the 1960s and made it one of the most influential farms in our sport. [The farm] also produced five Breeders' Cup winners in Artie Schiller, Sweet Catomine, Round Pond, Spain and Johar. Her lasting legacy and commitment to always putting the horse first live on as shining examples for our industry. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family and loved ones.” –Statement from Breeders' Cup

“Alice Chandler devoted nearly a century to the horse and epitomized all that has come to represent a National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Pillar of the Turf inductee (2020) and an Eclipse Award of Merit honoree (2009). She leaves behind a distinguished family that guarantees that her legacy and influence on the sport will continue for generations to come.” –NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop

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Breeders’ Cup Launches Horseplayers Happy Hour

Tue, 2021-04-06 16:55

The HorsePlayers Happy Hour Tour, hosted by In the Money Media, will begin Thursday, Apr. 8, at 3:00 p.m. ET, Breeders' Cup announced in a press release.

The HorsePlayers Tour will coincide with the HorsePlayers Happy Hour livestream, featuring ITMM's Matt Bernier, Peter Fornatale and Jonathon Kinchen. Each week fans at home can play along with the ITMM team for a chance to earn tour points and qualify for the season-ending playoffs. One $10,000 Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge seat will be awarded to the player that finishes first on the regular season leaderboard and another will be awarded to the winner of the playoffs.

Breeders' Cup will donate all proceeds from the HorsePlayers Tour online contests to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Thoroughbred Retirement Fund. In 2020, Breeders' Cup raised over $6,500 for its charity partners through the HorsePlayers Happy Hour program.

“HorsePlayers are the heartbeat of our sport and this exciting new format is a great way to keep them engaged all season long and reward them for playing in our online contests,” said Justin McDonald, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Breeders' Cup. “Being able to follow along and interact with the In the Money Media team during our weekly livestreams is a unique and fun component of the tour that new and avid fans will really enjoy.”

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MSW Purses to Top $100K During Derby Week and at KY Downs

Tue, 2021-04-06 16:33

Purse levels for maiden special weight (MSW) races on the Kentucky circuit are projected to push past the $100,000 mark both during GI Kentucky Derby week at Churchill Downs and in September at the Kentucky Downs all-turf meet.

In addition, Kentucky Downs plans to expand its stakes program to include two new $1 million races in 2021, giving the venue a total of three stakes at that level. (Read more details here).

Ben Huffman, the director of racing at Churchill Downs, confirmed during a video meeting of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) advisory committee Apr. 6 that MSW purses during Derby week will be $106,000, then $91,000 for the balance of the meet that runs through June 26.

Churchill had closed out its pandemic-affected 2020 spring/summer season at the $79,000 level for MSW races and had boosted those purses to $97,000 for the rescheduled Derby week in September. The balance of September had $75,000 MSW purses; that level rose to $85,000 for the late-autumn meet that ended in November.

Ted Nicholson, the senior vice president and general manager at Kentucky Downs, told the KTDF board that his track's MSW level will be $125,000 for the six-day meet Sep. 5-12. That's up from $90,000 last year.

As for Ellis Park, racing secretary Dan Bork said that “our maidens will probably be just north of $50,000 this year.”

The MSW purse levels for the state's remaining 2021 meets beyond September will be discussed by the KTDF at a later date.

The KTDF is funded by three-quarters of 1% of all money wagered on both live Thoroughbred races and HHR gaming, plus 2% of all money wagered on Thoroughbred races via inter-track wagering and whole-card simulcasting. The board approved recommending allotments to Churchill, Ellis and Kentucky Downs on Tuesday.

The Dirt on Turfway: Not Any Time Soon

Turfway Park's general manager, Chip Bach, updated the KTDF board on the near-term maintenance for the new Tapeta track that was unveiled in December. He also responded to a KTDF board member's question about the timeline for a proposed inner dirt track by saying it wasn't going to happen anytime soon.

“The opinion of the Tapeta surface has continued to be very positive,” Bach said. “There are some plans to do a tune-up, a little remediation. You know, when you're working with a synthetic racetrack, if you do too much too soon you can't undo it. And so they're typically conservative of the elements that they introduce into the surface; see how it responds to weather, see how it responds to the horses.

Bach described that process as a “tweak,” adding that the work is likely to be done before July, when horses resume training at Turfway.

As for the additional dirt surface inside the Tapeta course that was proposed as part of the ongoing Turfway rebuild, Bach said this:

“The project that's going on right now will contemplate the ability to put an inner dirt track within the synthetic oval. But that's not intended to happen the first or the second year [of the Turfway rebuild]. We'll have the ability to add that if we decide to. It's being designed with that in mind. But there are no plans for a dirt track in the near future.”

HBPA 'Concerned' About Ellis Twilight Posts

Jeff Inman, the general manager at Ellis Entertainment LLC, said his track is in the midst of a three-phase capital improvement plan.

Phase 1 work that is now underway prior to the track's June 27 opening includes drainage and safety improvements to the main track, a backstretch rebuild of the manure pit (required by environmental officials), a new restaurant and an additional bar on the frontside, plus high-definition camera and communication upgrades.

Bill Landes III, the chair of the KTDF advisory committee, wanted to know more about the list of long-term improvements Ellis has slated for the future.

“When do you think that schedule may be fleshed out?” Landes asked. “I love everything [listed]—turf widening, track lighting, grandstand improvements, new tote board—all of them long overdue, and everybody knows it.”

Inman replied that the turf course widening is likely to happen first, but not until after the 2021 meet.

“If we regain capital funding, we will start work after the horses leave, [by] late October, early November,” Inman said.

Landes underscored what a positive it would be to upgrade the grass course and to add lights at Ellis, because it would allow the track to card some twilight racing in a less-crowded simulcast time slot and feature more grass racing, which is popular with bettors because of the generally larger fields. Racing later in the day could also aid horse health by avoiding running during the searing late-afternoon temperatures that are routine at Ellis in the summer.

Landes said he believed Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association officials would agree with him that if “you get twilight racing at Ellis Park and some lights there, there ain't no telling” what might happen, handle-wise. “That would be super—I'm sorry we're not there yet,” he added.

KTDF member J. David Richardson concurred: “I do believe Ellis Park has enormous potential to do much, much better with at least some opportunity to run under lights and expand turf racing on a course that's not torn up because you have to overuse it.”

But when asked for his opinion, Rick Hiles, the president of the KHBPA (and also a KTDF advisory committee member), said he was “a little concerned” about the ramifications of moving to later post times at Ellis.

Hiles cited the long days that outfits shipping to Ellis from Lexington and Louisville would have to endure.

“Losing an hour in time zones, coming back late at night…I just don't know how [horsemen] are going to react to that,” Hiles said.

“Well, you have that issue to a certain extent at Turfway,” Landes replied, meaning the night racing. “And [at Ellis] it's either coming in at one or two o'clock in the morning or dealing with 108 or 110 degrees” while shipping before the sun goes down.

“I just don't know,” Hiles said. “School, for me, is still out on it.”

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Three $1-Million Races Head Record Kentucky Downs Stakes Schedule

Tue, 2021-04-06 14:22

For the first time in its 31-year history, Kentucky Downs is offering three $1-million races during its six-date 2021 meet. Added to the track's GII Calumet Turf Cup, Kentucky Downs' $1-million trio also will feature the GIII Turf Sprint and GIII WinStar Mint Million.

Kentucky Downs will stage 16 stakes worth a track-record total of $10 million, including $4.85 million in purse supplements for registered Kentucky-bred horses. The all-grass meet runs Sept. 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 12.

“Purses are the economic engine of the racing industry, and Kentucky Downs is proud to be a leader helping Kentucky stamp itself as the premier racing circuit in America,” said Ron Winchell, Kentucky Downs' co-owner and managing partner with Marc Falcone. “We're only six days, but winning one of our stakes–or even one of our overnight races–can make the entire year for an owner. Many horsemen tell us that money they earn at our meet gets promptly reinvested in the industry the next week at Keeneland's September Yearling sale. Such investment impacts countless small businesses that are part of Kentucky's equine agribusiness.”

A total of nine Kentucky Downs stakes received purse hikes. That includes the GIII Ladies Turf jumping from $500,000 to $750,000. The Music City for 3-year-old fillies and Untapable for 2-year-old fillies, worth $400,000 in their inaugural runnings last year, now enjoy $500,000 purses.

The Kentucky Downs' stakes purses reflect contributions of up to 50% from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) for horses born in and sired by stallions in the Commonwealth. The 2021 meet's Kentucky-bred stakes supplements were approved Tuesday by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's KTDF Advisory Committee.

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TRF to Open Chestnut Hall, a New Sanctuary Farm Near Louisville

Tue, 2021-04-06 09:34

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) will open a first-of-its kind farm designed to give the Louisville community and fans from around the world a direct connection to the horses at the heart of horse racing. The new TRF Sanctuary Farm at Chestnut Hall will be the permanent home of 11 horses from the organization's national herd of 500 retired Thoroughbred racehorses. These “herd ambassadors” will serve as educators to tell the story of the long life and diverse second careers that await these equine athletes when their racing days are done.

Located on nearly 30 acres of historic farmland in Oldham County and featuring a farmhouse restored to serve as an event venue, Chestnut Hall has been created for the express purpose of connecting Thoroughbred horses to the people of Louisville, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and beyond. Starting in mid-May, the farm will be open to the public for tours through Visit Horse Country and will be available as a unique venue for educational events and fundraisers for nonprofits across the Louisville community.

The TRF Sanctuary Farm at Chestnut Hall represents the realization of a dream of Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated. The new farm has been created as a gift to the horses of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and the citizens of Kentucky. On behalf of his family and community, Carstanjen was moved to purchase the property in Prospect to protect the historic farmhouse and pasture land from residential development. Over the course of the past year, Carstanjen has personally overseen the restoration of the 25+ acre property to its former beauty as an active horse farm.

“Thoroughbred horses have enriched the lives of countless citizens and visitors to Louisville throughout history, but very few opportunities exist for the community to experience and interact with these extraordinary animals,” said Kim Weir, the Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. “It is with this goal in mind that Mr. Carstanjen restored the horse farm and historic home at Chestnut Hall with the express intention of giving the gift of the horses to the community of Louisville. Together, it is our hope that the TRF Sanctuary Farm at Chestnut Hall will provide a venue for education, inspiration and imagination for many years to come.”

The post TRF to Open Chestnut Hall, a New Sanctuary Farm Near Louisville appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Derby, Oaks Infield Tickets on Sale Wednesday

Mon, 2021-04-05 17:39

A limited number of infield-only general admission tickets for the Apr. 30 GI Longines Kentucky Oaks and May 1 GI Kentucky Derby day cards at Churchill Downs will go on sale Wednesday at noon at kentuckyderby.com/tickets/2021-derby-week-tickets.

“The Kentucky Derby experience is synonymous with fun and excitement and we're thrilled to welcome fans back to our infield,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Mike Anderson. “We remain committed to relying on the most recent scientific evidence we have surrounding COVID-19, and with Kentucky Derby week three weeks away, we are encouraged by the favorable trajectory. In addition to a low positivity rate, Kentucky's vaccination efforts have reached approximately 40% of adult Kentuckians with every indication that those numbers will continue to rapidly increase over the coming weeks leading into this year's Derby.”

Derby Day Infield-only General Admission tickets, which will not have access to the Frontside of the venue, are $75 if purchased prior to Apr. 18; $80 if purchased between Apr. 19-30; and $85 if purchased on Derby Day. Oaks Day Infield-only General Admission tickets are $55 if purchased prior to Apr. 18; $60 if purchased between Apr. 19-29; and $65 if purchased on Oaks Day.

Two-day Infield-only General Admission tickets for both Oaks and Derby are $120 if purchased prior to Apr. 18 or $135 if purchased between Apr. 19-29.

The post Derby, Oaks Infield Tickets on Sale Wednesday appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Bind Filly Fastest at Texas Under-Tack Show

Mon, 2021-04-05 17:27

A Louisiana-bred filly by Bind (hip 57) turned in the fastest furlong work during Monday's under-tack preview of the Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale at Lone Star Park. Consigned by Pike Racing, agent, the filly is out of the Songandaprayer mare Anne Margaret and is a half-sister to stakes-placed Adrianne G (Indygo Shiner) and Victory Trip (Guilt Trip). She covered the furlong in :10 flat.

A single horse worked a quarter-mile Monday, with hip 113, an Ohio-bred colt by Midshipman, clocking the distance in :24 4/5. The juvenile is consigned by Bryan Ford Training Stable.

“We had a nice crowd on hand today with more people in attendance than I remember over the past several years,” said Tim Boyce, TTA sales director. “We had some very strong works on the track, despite a pretty solid headwind.”

The Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale will be held Wednesday, with bidding commencing at noon. Videos of the under tack show will be posted at www.ttasales.com.

The post Bind Filly Fastest at Texas Under-Tack Show appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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