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Updated: 7 hours 40 min ago

2021 Woodbine Stakes Schedule Released

Fri, 2021-01-29 12:20

Woodbine Entertainment unveiled its stakes schedule for the 2021 Thoroughbred racing season at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario, set to open Apr. 17 (subject to the latest Ontario Government COVID-19 protocols).

“Last year was obviously a challenging year for the industry due to COVID-19,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “While Woodbine Entertainment and the horse racing industry continue to be impacted, we are hopeful that the pandemic in Ontario improves in the coming months, allowing businesses and industries to safely re-open, including our ability to start our 2021 meet as planned on Saturday, Apr. 17.”

The 2021 Thoroughbred stakes program will offer more than $16.5 million in purses across 87 stakes and feature a pair of $1 million events, including the Aug. 22 Queen's Plate, as well as the Sept. 18 GI Ricoh Woodbine Mile, a Breeders' Cup “Win And You're In” race. The GI Pattison Canadian International, cancelled in 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, will be featured on the Woodbine Mile card along with the GII Canadian S. The GI Natalma S. and GI Summer S., both designated as Breeders' Cup “Win And You're In” races, have each received a purse hike in 2021 to $400,000 from $250,000. The Woodbine Cares and Ontario Racing Stakes, juvenile Inner Turf stakes introduced in 2019, will be contested on the same Sunday with purses of $125,000 each.

The GI Highlander S., with an increased purse of $350,000 (up from $300,000), also returns after a year hiatus due to the pandemic and will be featured on The Queen's Plate undercard.   The GI E.P. Taylor S. headlines the Oct. 17 card, serving as the final leg of Woodbine's Ladies of the Lawn Series, which offers $75,000 in bonuses to the top performers based on points accumulated in the designated graded turf routes for fillies and mares.

Purses for all Grade III Stakes races at Woodbine Racetrack will receive a 20% increase to $150,000 this season. Also of note for 2021, Listed races have increased purses to $125,000, boosted from $100,000.

“We are excited to bring back the Pattison Canadian International as part of our world-class stakes schedule for the 2021 Thoroughbred meet at Woodbine Racetrack,” said Lawson. “The 2021 stakes schedule includes several significant purse increases, including the G I Natalma S. and GI Summer S., as well as all Grade III stakes. These increases, along with a strong complement of stakes races for all ages, and robust Ontario-bred stakes offerings, will deliver exciting racing, competitive fields, and an abundance of wagering options available on Woodbine's outstanding live racing product.”

For the complete stakes schedule, visit

The post 2021 Woodbine Stakes Schedule Released appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Authentic Named 2020 Horse of the Year

Thu, 2021-01-28 21:46

We watched him grow up before our eyes.

Authentic (Into Mischief), freakishly talented, but prone to–well–mischievous behavior during the early part of 2020, was a finished product by year's end and his on-track accomplishments landed him Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old honors at Thursday's Eclipse Awards.

The ceremonies were held virtually, fittingly enough and among other locations, at Spendthrift Farm, who campaigned the Peter Blum-bred son of Flawless (Mr. Greeley) in partnership with the 5300-some micro-share holders of MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC and Starlight Racing. And Authentic was virtually perfect in 2020, sometimes almost in spite of himself. Sure, he was devastating in the GIII Sham S. in January, even as he negotiated the final furlong like a drunken soldier, and his talent was such that he overcame a stutter-step start to take the GII San Felipe S. in March. As the pandemic tightened its grip, California racing grinded to a halt, forcing connections to hit the pause button on Authentic's season. Honor A. P. (Honor Code) made him pay for a slow start in the GI Santa Anita Derby in June, but he atoned in the GI Haskell S. the following month, looking a winner every step until he returned to his single-minded ways late and barely scraped in.

The takeaway? Surely Authentic would find that 10th furlong of the GI Kentucky Derby a step too far, but, with Hall of Famer John Velazquez at the controls for the first time (Smith elected to stick with the Santa Anita Derby winner), Authentic took them every step at Churchill at juicy odds of 42-5, proving that his all-conquering sire's progeny could indeed stay a Classic distance.

It would be difficult to begrudge him his defeat at the hands of a refuse-to-lose champion Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) on the square in the GI Preakness S. in early October, but those that remained in his corner were rewarded with an overlaid 4.20-1 in the Nov. 7 GI Longines Breeders' Cup Classic, when Authentic treated a classy field including Eclipse Award winner Improbable (City Zip), former champion Maximum Security (New Year's Day) and GI Belmont S. and Eclipse Award runner-up Tiz the Law (Consititution) to a 2 1/4-length beating.

“This is a big deal for me. I wish all owners could have the same experience and I'm happy to be a part of this,” said Spendthrift owner B. Wayne Hughes. “I think his [stud] career is going to be great. But who knows, God's in charge of that.”

Authentic was one of two Eclipse winners Thursday evening for Into Mischief and becomes the third son of Into Mischief to stand at Spendthrift, joining Goldencents and Maximus Mischief. Authentic hails from the female family of Grade I winners Reynaldothewizard, Seventh Street, American Gal and is bred on a cross over Gone West-line mares responsible for Into Mischief's GISW Mia Mischief and other graded winners Engage, Mischievous Alex, Sombeyay and Strict Compliance.

Gamine Gives Sire A Second Winner…

Michael Lund's 'TDN Rising Star' Gamine (Into Mischief) was something of a lightning rod in 2020, but she possessed arguably the most raw ability of any horse in training and while she finished a distant runner-up to Swiss Skydiver in the 3-year-old filly category, she easily outdistanced Serengeti Empress (Alternation) to take home the Eclipse for champion female sprinter. The $220,000 Keeneland September yearling turned $1.8-million Fasig-Tipton Midlantic topper became the second straight daughter of Into Mischief to both win the GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint en route to a championship following on the exploits of Covfefe in 2019.

Trainer Bob Baffert had his hands on a third Eclipse winner for 2020 in the form of 'TDN Rising Star' Improbable (City Zip). Denied a potential Horse of the Year crown by his stablemate on the first Saturday in November, the burly chestnut had a phenomenal season of his own, with victories in the GI Gold Cup at Santa Anita, GI Whitney S. and GI Awesome Again S. Knicks Go (Paynter) also received a smattering of first-place votes and has since returned to win the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

'Quality', 'Monomoy' Aid Cox's Cause…

It was a banner season for trainer Brad Cox, whose four winners on Breeders' Cup weekend helped secure for him his first statuette as America's Outstanding Trainer.

'TDN Rising Star' Essential Quality (Tapit) did his part, ripping through his competition in three starts and clinching the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male with a sizzling finish in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) won her second Eclipse Award in the last three years, adding to her 3-year-old filly championship with the 2020 Eclipse as champion older female. Purchased by Spendthrift for $9.5 million at Fasig-Tipton November, the chestnut is nearing her 6-year-old debut.

Other Wide-Margin Winners…

Vequist (Nyquist) provided her sire a champion from his very first crop to the races, securing the Eclipse as champion 2-year-old filly on the strength of victories in the GI Spinaway S. in September before turning the tables on GI Frizette S. winner Dayoutoftheoffice (Into Mischief) in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Channel Maker (English Channel) capped a very productive season with a third in the GI Breeders' Cup Turf and proved a handy winner of the Eclipse Award as champion turf male. The soft-ground loving 6-year-old got underfoot conditions to suit when racing away to a 5 3/4-length victory in Saratoga's GI Sword Dancer Invitational S. in August, but the going was substantially quicker when he led past every pole to take out the GI Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational ahead of his Breeders' Cup effort. He is set to represent the U.S. in the $1-million Middle Distance Turf Cup in Saudi Arabia next month.

A Couple of Tighter Contests…

The male sprint category was expected to come down to a choice between the horse with the more complete campaign versus a more brilliant and statistically faster runner whose campaign was truncated. In the end, the veteran Whitmore (Pleasantly Perfect)–the GI Breeders' Cup Sprint winner–got the nod over Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}), the GI Carter H. and GI Met Mile hero who was forced to miss the second half of the season. Whitmore received 132 first-place votes to Vekoma's 83.

The evening's most hotly contested championship was the turf female division. For the third straight year and for the fourth time in six years, 'TDN Rising Star' Rushing Fall (More Than Ready) gave trainer Chad Brown another Eclipse Award winner in the category. But it was a razor-thin battle, as Rushing Fall–who sold for $5.5 million at FTKNOV–got just the better of GI Breeders' Cup Turf winner Tarnawa (Ire) (Shamardal). The final count of first-place votes was 115-106.

Moscato (GB) (Hernando {Fr}) took home the Eclipse for Champion Steeplechase horse.

Among the human categories, in addition to Cox, Irad Ortiz, Jr. was named outstanding jockey for the third year in a row; WinStar Farm received the Eclipse for champion breeder; and Godolphin was named outstanding owner.

Root, Root, Root for the Home Team…

Media Eclipse Awards were announced earlier this month. Among the winners were the TDN's Joe Bianca and Patty Wolfe in the 'Audio/Multimedia Internet' category for a piece written and narrated by Bianca and produced by Wolfe entitled “To Hell and Back: Belmont Marks a Deserved Triumph for New York City.”

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Godolphin Named Outstanding Owner

Thu, 2021-01-28 21:40

For the first time in nine years and for the third time overall, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum's Godolphin LLC was recognized at the Eclipse Award ceremonies as America's Outstanding Owner.

Horses carrying Godolphin's royal blue colors got their pictures taken 80 times in 2020, good for a remarkable strike rate of 22.2%. The operation was represented by no fewer than a joint-best eight winners at the graded stakes level (tied with Gary Barber) for a broad swath of conditioners, highlighted by the Brad Cox-trained champion Essential Quality (Tapit), who won the GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity and the GI TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile a handful of furlongs away from Darley America's base at Jonabell Farm. Another Godolphin homebred Fair Maiden (Street Boss), closed the season on a high note with an upset victory in Santa Anita's GI La Brea S. for trainer Eoin Harty. Godolphin's three top-level wins was good for a second-place tie behind Klaravich Stables' four Grade I tallies. 'TDN Rising Star' Mystic Guide (Ghostzapper) and Pixelate (City Zip) were trained by Mike Stidham to victories in the GII Jim Dandy S. and GII Del Mar Derby, respectively, while Brendan Walsh sent out the comebacking Maxfield (Street Sense) to win the GIII Matt Winn S. Darley America's aforementioned Eclipse Award-winning juvenile was also responsible for Shared Sense, who annexed the GIII Indiana and Oklahoma Derbys for Eclipse Award winner Cox.

Essential Quality is likely to begin his assault on this year's Triple Crown in the GIII Southwest S. at Oaklawn Feb. 15, while Maxfield has races like the $20-million Saudi Cup and G1 Dubai World Cup as potential targets.

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Rushing Fall and Channel Maker Win Eclipse Awards in Turf Divisions

Thu, 2021-01-28 21:30

Second in the balloting for champion 2-year-old filly of her generation in 2017, 'TDN Rising Star' Rushing Fall (More Than Ready) joined the likes of former Chad Brown stablemates Lady Eli (Divine Park, 2017), Sistercharlie (Ire) (Myboycharlie {Ire}), 2018) and Uni (GB) (More Than Ready) to become the stable's fourth Eclipse Award-winning turf female in a row and second in succession for her legendary sire. To do so, she outpointed GI Breeders' Cup Turf heroine Tarnawa (Ire) (Shamardal) and Audarya (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}), who defeated Rushing Fall by a neck in the GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Sportingly kept in training at five by Bob Edwards's e Five Thoroughbreds, the $320,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga steal got this year's delayed Belmont meet off to a rousing start, handily taking the GIIII Beaugay S. June 3 before becoming just the second horse to win consecutive runnings of the GI Coolmore Jenny Wiley S. at Keeneland. That victory made her a top-level scorer for the fourth year in a row and tied Rushing Fall with Take Charge Lady on four Keeneland stakes successes. The bay continued her winning ways in the GI Diana S. at Saratoga Aug. 23, just reeling in front-running Mean Mary (Scat Daddy) and only a letter-perfect steer Pierre-Charles Boudot atop Audarya cost her a perfect season.
Rushing Fall made the short drive from Keeneland to Fasig-Tipton for the 2020 Night of the Stars sale and sold for $5.5 million to Jamie McCalmont, agent for M.V. Magnier, from the Indian Creek draft. Rushing Fall is set to be covered by Galileo (Ire) in 2021.

It's not how you start. It's how you finish.

After a lackluster first half of 2020, Channel Maker (English Channel) ended the year in career form, posting back-to-back Grade I victories and a strong third–beaten only a length–in the GI Breeders' Cup Turf Nov. 7, good for three straight Beyer Speed Figures of 108 and the trophy for champion male turf horse.
Off the board in his first four starts of the season, including a fourth-place finish in the GI Manhattan S. July 4, he crossed the wire fourth once again in the GII Bowling Green S. Aug. 1, and was moved up to third via disqualification.

The chestnut continued his affinity for a soft going with a powerful, front-running score in the GI Sword Dancer S. at Saratoga Aug. 29, then added his second career victory in Belmont's GI Joe Hirsch Turf Classic S. Oct. 3, this time over firm turf.

He gave his backers a good run for their money at odds of 9-1 in the Championships at Keeneland, gamely leading the field of 10 into the final furlong after enjoying a clear advantage into the stretch. He just got nosed out for second by the classy, globe-trotting MG1SW Magical (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}).

Adam Wachtel and Gary Barber purchased Channel Maker privately as a 2-year-old prior to the 2016 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. R.A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing later joined the ownership line in the fall of 2018.

Channel Maker, Canada's champion 3-year-old colt and a full-brother to fellow Canadian champion Johnny Bear, has remained in training at Mott's Payson Park base for a 7-year-old campaign and is being aimed at the $1-million Middle Distance Turf Cup on the Saudi Cup undercard Feb. 20.

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Gamine Easily Tops Female Sprinters, Whitmore Rides BC Win to Eclipse

Thu, 2021-01-28 21:21

'TDN Rising Star' Gamine (Into Mischief) proved the fleetest of the fleet among female sprinters in 2020, becoming the second consecutive of her all-conquering sire's daughters to take home the hardware in the Female Sprinter division (Covfefe, 2019). The $1.8-million sales-topper at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale easily outdistanced the hard-knocking, dual-division finalist Serengeti Empress (Alternation) and GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint victress Glass Slippers (GB) (Dream Ahead). Gamine was second to Swiss Skydiver for the 3-year-old filly Eclipse.

A successful pinhook, having brought $220,000 as a Keeneland September yearling in 2018, Gamine joined stablemates Nadal (Blame) and Charlatan (Speightstown) as early-season 'Rising Stars' with a first-out romp Mar. 7, then crossed the line first in a two-turn Oaklawn allowance only to later be disqualified for a drug positive. She decimated her rivals in her next two starts, both around one turn, scoring by a Rachel Alexandra-like 18 3/4 lengths in the GI Longines Acorn S. going a mile at Belmont June 20 and again in the seven-furlong GI Longines Test S. at Saratoga Aug. 8, following in Covfefe's hoofprints.

Gamine failed to see out the nine-furlong trip in the postponed GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, finishing third to Eclipse finalist Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil) and champion Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil), but was back to her brilliant best in the F/M Sprint, sitting off the pace for the first time in her career before shooting past Serengeti Empress to take it by a record-setting margin of 6 1/4 lengths.

The hard-knocking Whitmore (Pleasantly Perfect) is a balm for the souls of all race fans who long for the good old days of fan-favorite war horses. The cantankerous gelding recorded the biggest victory of his career with a resounding late-running score in the GI Breeders' Cup Sprint. It was the then 7-year-old's fourth effort in the Breeders' Cup.

Whitmore's early 2020 campaign followed a familiar pattern, as the chestnut won a third renewal of the Hot Springs S. while making his fourth start in the six-furlong event at the Oaklawn Park winter base of trainer Ron Moquett. The following month, he earned his third win in the GIII Count Fleet H.

Whitmore was second behind fellow Eclipse sprint finalist Volatile (Violence) in the GI Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. in July and, after off-the-board finishes in the GI Forego S. and GII Phoenix S., the Breeders' Cup crowd dismissed the gritty gelding at 18-1 on championship weekend.

Well back behind a fast pace, Whitmore enjoyed a rail-skimming ride which put him in striking distance at the top of the lane. He tipped out for running room in upper stretch and the expectation of what was to come was palpable as track announcer Kurt Becker proclaimed, “Here's Whitmore. Here's Whitmore. Here's Whitmore,” with increasing urgency.

Here indeed was Whitmore, who strode to the lead with authority and kicked away to win by 3 1/4 lengths.

Neither of his fellow sprint finalists, two-time Grade I winner Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}) nor Volatile, raced beyond July and both made just three starts in 2020. Eclipse voters rewarded both Whitmore's flashy Breeders' Cup win and his longevity with a championship statue.

Whitmore is back in Arkansas and readying for another campaign.

The post Gamine Easily Tops Female Sprinters, Whitmore Rides BC Win to Eclipse appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Cox Earns First Eclipse Training Title

Thu, 2021-01-28 21:10

It's hard to believe that as of the morning of Apr. 7, 2018, Brad Cox had yet to garner his first Grade I win. Later that afternoon, the Cox-trained Monomoy Girl would win the GI Central Bank Ashland S., thus propelling her to wins in the GI Kentucky Oaks and GI Breeders' Cup Distaff, as well as a 3-year-old filly championship.

Fast forward to 2020, the stalwart tempo continued with yet another championship run by the chestnut, who spent the entire 2019 season on the sidelines before mounting her epic return during a season gripped by a pandemic. And while Monomoy Girl once again proved to be a force for Cox in 2020, she was far from the only horse propelling the Cox team.

The latest renewal of the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland, which punctuated an already impressive racing season for the 40-year-old, who tied Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella's record of four victories during one Breeders' Cup with victories by Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) (Longines Distaff), Knicks Go (Paynter) (Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile), Essential Quality (Tapit) (TVG Juvenile) and Aunt Pearl (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}) (Juvenile Fillies Turf). In addition to a sparkling performance at the Breeders' Cup, Cox earned his second Kentucky Oaks victory this season with Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil), who landed the blanket of lilies at odds of 15-1. Also among horses to win at the graded level for Cox in 2020: Arklow (Arch), Factor This (The Factor), Beau Recall (Sir Prancealot {Ire}), Juliet Foxtrot (GB) (Dansili {GB}), Blended Citizen (Proud Citizen), Shared Sense (Street Sense), Dot Matrix (Freud), Warrior's Charge (Munnings), Night Ops (Warrior's Reward), Mr. Monomoy (Palace Malice), Bonny South (Munnings) and Wells Bayou (lookin At Lucky).

Rounding out the year second in earnings behind Steve Asmussen ($20,162,064), who had over twice the number of starters and made half as much money per start ($8,851 vs. $21,023), Cox ended 2020 with a 24% strike rate, finishing in the money 55% of the time.

The post Cox Earns First Eclipse Training Title appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. Wins Third Straight Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey

Thu, 2021-01-28 21:05

It's Irad Ortiz, Jr.'s world and we're all just living in it. The 28-year-old from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico who has grown up into a superstar before the racing world's eyes continued his dominance in 2020, leading to a third consecutive Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey. While his total earnings dipped over $10 million from his 2020 sum, that can be almost entirely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the cancellation of much of the racing calendar through March and April and dramatic purse cuts that plagued the entire year, Ortiz was particularly cautious about the coronavirus, spending more than a month out of the saddle from Mar. 19 to Apr. 25. Nevertheless, he still paced all jockeys last year by banking over $23 million and once again proved his tireless work ethic by riding 1,271 horses despite his five-week break, a number that trailed just Tyler Gaffalione and Luis Saez among riders in the top 25 in earnings. Yet again leading the country in total wins, he also racked up 27 graded stakes wins–just one behind Flavien Prat for top billing–from 100 mounts and clearly led all jockeys with 52 stakes scores.

Following up on capturing his first GI Breeders' Cup Classic victory toward the end of 2019, Ortiz started 2020 off with a bang by piloting home Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man) in the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational S. He added top-level triumphs in the GI Whitney S. aboard Champion Older Dirt Male Improbable (City Zip), GI Jockey Club Gold Cup on Happy Saver (Super Saver), GI Breeders' Cup Sprint with Whitmore (Pleasantly Perfect) and GI Hollywood Derby on Domestic Spending (GB) (Kingman {GB}). In addition to Whitmore, he also scored with Golden Pal (Uncle Mo) in the GII Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint to bring his career World Championships wins to an even dozen.

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Crispin Awarded Eclipse for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey

Thu, 2021-01-28 21:02

Continuing the influx of Puerto Rican jockeys transferring their skills adroitly to racing in the mainland U.S., Alexander Crispin made a name for himself on the mid-Atlantic circuit in 2020. The 22-year-old, who studied at the famed Escuela Vocacional Hipica Agustin Mercado Reveron jockey school that produced John Velazquez, both Ortiz brothers, Manny Franco and myriad other successful Puerto Rican riders, Crispin first landed at Turfway Park in March and bounced around to Belterra Park and Indiana Grand before settling in the mid-Atlantic at Delaware Park in the summer. That's where he scored his first stakes victory aboard Singlino (Uncle Lino) in the $100,000 First State Dash Sept. 26, and he kept his momentum going at Laurel, finishing the year with over 100 total victories and more than $2 million in earnings, both second among all apprentices, while boasting a 19% strike rate.

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Vequist & Essential Quality Take Home Juvenile Championships

Thu, 2021-01-28 20:57

Vequist (Nyquist) cemented her status as the leader of what appeared to be an open division earlier in the fall with a decisive score in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Nov. 6.

The dark bay finished second in her July 29 debut at Parx, but her connections clearly had plenty of faith in her after that effort, sending her to Saratoga for the GI Spinaway S. Sept. 6. She demolished the field that day, earning her diploma by 9 1/2 lengths and becoming her freshman sire's first Grade I winner. Second to Dayoutoftheoffice (Into Mischief) as the favorite next out in Belmont's GI Frizette S. Oct. 10, Vequist turned the tables on that rival next out at the World Championships at Keeneland, winning by two lengths at odds of 6-1.

Essential Quality (Tapit) started on his path towards the roses and stamped himself as the top juvenile male of the year with a perfect 2020 season. Tabbed a 'TDN Rising Star' off a dominant graduation in his Sept. 5 unveiling at Churchill Downs, the Brad Cox trainee scored another good-looking win in Keeneland's GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity S. Oct. 3. The gray returned to that venue for the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Nov. 6, where he rallied from well back to register a 3/4-length victory.

Owned and bred by Godolphin, Essential Quality is out of GSP Delightful Quality (Elusive Quality), a half-sister to champion juvenile filly Folklore (Tiznow), whose own half-sister Rhodochrosite (Unbridled's Song) is the dam of 2020 Japanese Triple Crown hero Contrail (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}).

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Swiss Skydiver and Authentic Top Sophomore Divisions

Thu, 2021-01-28 20:42

Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) dominated the 3-year-old filly division in 2020 and even defeated some of the top older males of her generation, making her the clear-cut choice for this award. Kicking off her sophomore season with a third in the GII Rachel Alexandra S. at Fair Grounds in February, the $35,000 KEESEP buy rebounded with a trio of decisive victories in the Mar. 28 GII Gulfstream Park Oaks, May 1 GIII Fantasy S. and June 6 GII Santa Anita Oaks. Trainer Ken McPeek tried his charge against males for the first time in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. at Keeneland July 11, where she finished a valiant second to Art Collector (Bernardini).

Returning to winning ways with a facile victory in Saratoga's prestigious GI Alabama S. Aug. 15, Swiss Skydiver checked in second to Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil) next out in the delayed GI Longines Kentucky Oaks Sept. 4. Despite that loss, McPeek and owner Peter Callahan had enough faith in their star filly to take on males yet again, this time in the GI Preakness S. Oct. 3. Swiss Skydiver dueled stride-for-stride with fellow champion and GI Kentucky Derby winner Authentic (Into Mischief) in the lane, turning back that foe in the final strides for a gutsy victory. The chestnut is the sixth filly to win the Preakness and the first since Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d'Oro) in 2009. She was last seen finishing a disappointing seventh behind two-time Eclipse winner Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) after stumbling at the start of the GI Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff at Keeneland Nov. 7.

Over the summer many would have thought Tiz the Law (Constitution) would be taking home the award for top sophomore male, but Authentic (Into Mischief) seized the throne after a sensational fall campaign during which he took home the season's two biggest prizes. A good-looking debut winner at Del Mar in November of 2019, the leggy bay demolished the field in the GIII Sham S. at the start of 2020, despite ducking in harshly in the lane. Following suit with a game victory in the GII San Felipe S. at Santa Anita in March, the $350,000 KEESEP acquisition tasted defeat for the first time at the hooves of Honor A.P. (Honor Code), finishing second in the June 6 GI Santa Anita Derby after breaking a step slow, traveling wide and drifting in the stretch.

Off to a sharp start next out in the nine-furlong GI Haskell Invitational S. July 18, Authentic took the field wire-to-wire, holding off a determined Ny Traffic (Cross Traffic) by a nose. Many doubted his ability to see out the GI Kentucky Derby's 10-furlong distance after that effort, but the May foal silenced all doubters with a front-running victory over favored GI Belmont S. and GI Runhappy Travers S. victor Tiz the Law. The Bob Baffert pupil did not get his preferred position on the front end in the GI Preakness S. Oct. 3 and came up a neck short of champion filly Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) after a gritty stretch duel. Facing his elders for the first time including champion stablemates Improbable (City Zip) and Maximum Security (New Year's Day) in the Nov. 7 GI Longines Breeders' Cup Classic, Authentic went straight to the lead on a Keeneland oval favoring speed and ran his rivals off their feet for a 2 1/4-length score. Following that career-high, the colt was retired to the Spendthrift stallion barn, where he will stand alongside his red hot sire Into Mischief.

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WinStar Named Outstanding Breeder at Eclipse Awards

Thu, 2021-01-28 20:35

Leading the way with five Grade I victories in 2020, including a win in the second leg of the Triple Crown and a GI Kentucky Oaks exacta, WinStar Farm was recognized as Outstanding Breeder. It was the third Eclipse Award for Kenny Troutt's operation and second as Outstanding Breeder (2016).

WinStar ranked second overall via breeder earnings in 2020, trailing only Calumet Farm, capturing 148 victories from 1,106 starters, and $9,221,764 in earnings.

Top horses in 2020 bred by WinStar include: Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) (GI Preakness S. and GI Alabama S. heroine and GI Kentucky Oaks runner-up); Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil) (GI Kentucky Oaks); Global Campaign (Curlin) (GI Woodward H.); and Paris Lights (Curlin) (GI Coaching Club American Oaks).

Troutt and Bill Casner, founders of Excel Communications, started WinStar Farm after purchasing Prestonwood Farm in 2000. Troutt bought out Casner and became the sole owner 10 years later. WinStar is the home of leading sires such as Distorted Humor, More Than Ready, Speightstown and Constitution.

WinStar Farm, breeder of 2003 dual classic winner Funny Cide, received its first Eclipse Award as Outstanding Owner after capturing the 2010 GI Kentucky Derby with Super Saver and 2010 Belmont S. with Drosselmeyer. WinStar also campaigned 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify in partnership.

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Moscato Named Champion Steeplechaser

Thu, 2021-01-28 20:27

Moscato's perennial leading connections had a stranglehold on this year's steeplechase category, with Mike Hankin, Charlie Fenwick and Charlie Noell's Bruton Street-US owning all three finalists and Jack Fisher having also conditioned Rashaan (Ire) (Manduro {Ger}). Bruton Street and Fisher were also responsible for 2017 Eclipse winner Scorpiancer (Ire) (Scorpion {Ire}).

Finishing behind Scorpiancer in both the GI Calvin Houghland Iroquois Hurdle S. and GI Grand National Hurdle S. in 2019, Moscato kicked off his championship campaign during a compressed steeplechase season with a dominant title defense in the GIII Temple Gwathmey Hurdle H. in Middleburg. He added a highest-level win in the GI A. P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase S. at Saratoga July 23, but settled for third behind Rashaan in the GI New York Turf Writers Cup H. Aug. 20, reversing their finishes in the Temple Gwathmey.

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Monomoy Girl and Improbable Crowned Champion Older Dirt Horses

Thu, 2021-01-28 20:19

Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) came into 2020 toting lofty expectations on top of an already gaudy record. After enjoying a truly spectacular sophomore year, annexing six of seven starts–five of them at the Grade I level–including the Longines Kentucky Oaks, Acorn S. and Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff, she spent the entire 2019 season on the sidelines because of a mild case of colic followed by a hamstring injury. The half-sister to GII Risen Star S. winner Mr. Monomoy (Palace Malice) finally marked her long-awaited return in a May 16 optional claiming event at Churchill Downs, winning by 2 3/4 lengths. Heavily favored for the May 16 GII Ruffian S. at Belmont, the now 6-year-old edged away to a two-length score before adding a tally in Churchill's GI La Troienne S. Sept. 4. Doing exactly what she was expected to do in her seasonal finale in the GI Breeders' Cup Distaff at Churchill, she employed her customary off-the-pace style to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Valiance (Tapit). Offered at the Fasig-Tipton November sale by her connections, the one-time $100,000 Keeneland November yearling flourished into a $9.5 million broodmare prospect for her buyer Spendthrift Farm.

Improbable (City Zip) raced on the bubble of stardom throughout his career, but it was in his 4-year-old season that he truly ascended to the top levels of the sport. Tabbed a 'TDN Rising Star' when he won the Street Sense S. by a dominating 7 1/4 lengths as a 2-year-old in 2018, the handsome chestnut ended his juvenile campaign with a win in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity. He performed creditably at three, with runner-up efforts in the GII Rebel S. and GI Arkansas Derby leading to a fifth-place effort in the GI Kentucky Derby and a sixth in the GI Preakness S.

Improbable opened 2020 in similar fashion, finishing second behind Tom's d'Etat (Smart Strike) in the Oaklawn Mile in April, but it was all blue skies and rainbows after that. He returned to the West Coast to score a 3 1/4-length victory in the GI Hollywood Gold Cup S. in June, then ventured back East to win the GI Whitney S. in August.

While he uncharacteristically trailed the field for much of the GI Awesome Again S., Improbable uncorked a furious rally on the final bend, inhaling the field–including stablemate and fellow Eclipse finalist Maximum Security (New Year's Day)–at the top of the stretch and bounding clear to a geared-down 4 1/2-length victory.

Improbable attempted that same rally just over a month later in the GI Longines Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland, but was never able to reel in pacesetting stablemate Authentic (Into Mischief). His runner-up effort behind that champion 3-year-old was enough, however, to earn him the championship of his division.

Improbable was retired following the Classic and begins his stud career next month at WinStar Farm at a fee of $40,000 S&N.

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Yet Another Horse Racing Bill Filed in Georgia

Thu, 2021-01-28 17:33

In what has become a nearly annual long-shot endeavor in Georgia, legislation has been filed to legalize pari-mutuel horse racing.

The latest bill, SB30, was introduced Jan. 27 by Senator Brandon Beach, (R-Alpharetta). It shares the same title as the Rural Georgia Jobs and Growth Act that he filed during the 2019-20 legislative session.

The 51-page bill would create a state racing commission that would have the power to issue licenses for up to three racetracks situated at least 125 miles apart that would be required to host 60-date minimum race meets (unless the licensees can demonstrate via waiver application a need to reduce the dates requirement to 45).

The bill includes provisions for historical horse race (HHR) gaming, simulcasting, and advance-deposit wagering.

The initial 10-year licenses would be up for bid at $50 million each, and could be renewed thereafter for $250 million.

Another stipulation mandates that tracks within 50 miles of a major international airport would need to have a minimum initial investment of $250 million per facility. If further away from a major airport, the minimum investment would be $125 million.

Entrepreneurs who are entirely new to the racetrack business need not apply, as per a clause in the bill that states, “No application for the equestrian facility shall be considered unless the applicant, a majority of its owners who individually possess at least 5% of the applicant's stock or membership, or its management, can demonstrate a successful history of operating at least one horse racing track in one of the previous five years from the date of the application.”

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), two other pieces of gambling-related legislation have also been field recently. One would put a question on an upcoming ballot asking Georgia voters whether they support allowing casinos in the state. The other would legalize online sports betting.

The stumbling block to getting pari-mutuel laws enacted in Georgia–as it has been for the past three decades since Georgia's lottery became legal–has nothing to do with a lack of enthusiasm for horses. The difficulty has always been rounding up enough elected officials who are willing to support expanded gambling in a state where moral objections to it run high and religious conservatism carries considerable clout.

The AJC reported that “Adding casino gambling or horse racing would require Georgians to approve a constitutional amendment allowing the expansion…. Sports betting supporters said the resolution is not needed to allow sports betting. That difference is important. A bill only requires that more than half of each chamber support a measure to make it to the governor's desk. Constitutional amendments need two-thirds of each chamber to clear the General Assembly–a tall ask from the Legislature–and then a majority vote in an election.”

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Despite $20K Monthly Exterminator Bill, Rat Problem Persists in Laurel Stables

Thu, 2021-01-28 15:53

Despite paying more than $20,000 monthly to exterminators to try and quell an ongoing rat problem on the Laurel Park backstretch, the infestation has persisted, leading track management to seek additional professional help by soliciting new bids from additional companies.

Sal Sinatra, the president of the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC), which owns both Laurel and Pimlico Race Course, disclosed the plan of action during the Jan. 28 Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) meeting.

Sinatra has mentioned the track's efforts to control the rats at previous MJC meetings. But when he didn't bring up the subject during the MJC's monthly update that was on the agenda, commissioner Thomas Bowman asked him to detail a private discussion the two of them had recently about the rats, because Bowman said other commissioners should be aware of what is going on.

“We tried the experiment of emptying one barn out and letting the exterminators in there to do a 'full-court press,'” Sinatra explained. “It seemed to work for a couple of weeks. But after the horses and everybody were settled back in, they returned.”

As is the case in any rodent-control effort, educating the people who work in the stables about proper protocols and getting them to adhere to those guidelines is a key component of the plan.

“Right now it's a work in progress,” Sinatra said, adding that there will be a renewed focus to “clean up some bad practices that we all do back there that are actually keeping the rats, you know, healthy.”

Sinatra said that effort includes making sure horse feed is tightly secured in containers that are above ground level and taking care not to dump uneaten horse feed near the shed rows when meal buckets are cleaned out.

“We're currently paying well over $20,000 a month to these people [and] we need some extra expertise,” Sinatra said. “It's not that the company that were using isn't doing a good job and aren't responsive. But whatever they're doing, they're not getting ahead of the rat infestation.”

The commission's other business was brief on Thursday. The MJC voted by voice without objections to eliminate the allowable race-day threshold for clenbuterol that it proposed back on Oct. 22. No objections to the rule had been lodged during the rule's public commentary period. It takes effect Mar. 1.

J. Michael Hopkins, the MRC's executive director, said this time frame would “give all the horsemen ample time, if they are using clenbuterol, to cease using it for at least 30 days” before the rule takes effect.

The MJC also voted, without any voiced objections, to clarify, on an “emergency” basis, the language on its no-Lasix policy for 2-year-olds and in graded stakes races.

Other jurisdictions have recently enacted similar clarifications that led to unintended consequences when horses shipped from one racetrack to another and/or dropped out of stakes company back into a Lasix-allowed race.

Although the exact language of this new rule was not read into the record, Hopkins explained it is designed to prevent a horse from having to sit out for 60 days and then become recertified by a veterinarian as a bleeder to resume using Lasix, which unfairly penalizes those horses that participated in Lasix-free races.

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HHR Bill With Support of Kentucky Senate President to be Filed Feb. 2

Thu, 2021-01-28 14:17

A Kentucky State Senator whose district includes Turfway Park said Thursday that he intends to file legislation and hold a hearing next week to make historical horse race (HHR) gaming legal, “maintaining the status quo” for the revenue flow that annually contributes tens of millions of dollars to purses in the state.

“Next week, I will file legislation to keep historical horse racing operational in Kentucky,” Senator John Schickel (R-Union) stated in a Jan. 28 press release first published by “The bill, which I am pleased to say will be co-sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, will address the recent Kentucky Supreme Court decision on pari-mutuel wagering and ensure that historical horse racing facilities are able to continue operating, while employing Kentuckians, generating state tax revenue and strengthening our signature equine industry.

“This effort is about preserving a system of wagering we've known for live racing for decades and historical horse racing for the last 10 years. This is about maintaining the status quo. Our immediate action as legislators is critical to protecting current and future jobs and economic development across the Commonwealth.

“I have long supported Kentucky's equine industry and recognize the importance of historical horse racing to its continued success. This issue is of particular importance in my district with the future of Turfway Park potentially in the balance, but if left unaddressed, the negative consequences are sure to impact the entire state. I look forward to working with my colleagues in General Assembly to address the clear legislative direction provided by the Kentucky Supreme Court,” Schickel concluded.

Schickel's statement did not disclose any specifics of the bill.

According to, Schickel later added that he plans to file the bill Feb. 2, the first day lawmakers are back in session, and that it will have a hearing in the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee, of which he is the chairman, on Feb. 4.

In a Sept. 24, 2020, judgment, the Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that HHR machines made by Exacta Systems do not “create a wagering pool among patrons such that they are wagering among themselves as required for pari-mutuel wagering.” The ruling also told a lower court to re-examine the legality of the most crucial form of funding for purses in Kentucky.

Although the Supreme Court case only involves HHR machines made by Exacta Systems, whose machines are in use at the Red Mile, Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park, the gaming systems operate in broadly the same manner throughout Kentucky, meaning that a precedent established for one version is likely to affect all forms of HHR. Anti-gambling advocates in Kentucky have challenged the legality of HHR since the inception of that form of gaming.

On Jan. 21, the Kentucky Supreme Court denied a petition for rehearing its September judgment, creating an apparent dead-end to the case in the courts.

Three days later, on Jan. 24, Keeneland Association and Red Mile announced they would be shutting their joint historical horse racing (HHR) venture at the Lexington harness racino while imploring the Kentucky legislature to provide “more clarity” regarding the disputed legal status of HHR.

On Jan. 26, Vince Gabbert, Keeneland's vice president and chief operating officer, said that “the measures that we took over the weekend have helped bring the urgency even more to the forefront than what we had so that the legislature understands the impact that not only racing, but HHR has on the economy in the commonwealth.”

Gabbert termed the HHR closure a “conservative” decision. It stands out because HHR venues operated by other licensees have remained operational in Kentucky.

Also on Jan. 26, Ellis Park general manager Jeffery Inman warned in a statement that “Without the revenue associated with HHR, there is no realistic path forward for Ellis Park.”

Turfway Park is currently conducting spectator-free live racing with simulcasting and HHR gaming proceeding at its satellite facility 12 miles away in Newport. But back in October, Churchill Downs Inc., (CDI), the gaming corporation that owns the tracks and HHR licenses associated with Churchill Downs Racetrack and Turfway Park, halted reconstruction on the Turfway grandstand it demolished a year ago, vowing not to continue with the planned rebuild until HHR's legality gets sorted out.

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Report: Mutasaabeq Off Derby Trail

Thu, 2021-01-28 12:27

Mutasaabeq (Into Mischief), a stakes winner on both dirt and turf, will miss an expected start in Saturday's GIII Holy Bull S. at Gulfstream and is off the GI Kentucky Derby trail, according to a report by Daily Racing Form's Mike Welsch. The Shadwell Stable colorbearer and 'TDN Rising Star' annexed the Mucho Macho Man S. in Hallandale last out and also captured the GIII Bourbon S. on the Keeneland turf in October.

“The versatile Mutasaabeq, impressive winner of the Mucho Macho Man, who was pointing for Saturday's Holy Bull S., is off the Kentucky Derby trail after coming out of a recent work with a minor shin issue, per trainer Todd Pletcher,” the report said.

A $425,000 Keeneland November purchase, Mutasaabeq debuted a sharp 4 1/2-length winner Aug. 8 at Saratoga before finishing a distant third in the GI Runhappy Hopeful S. Uncorking a powerful last-to-first rally to take the Bourbon, he was 10th in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf before taking the Mucho Macho Man by 1 1/2 lengths in his return to the main track Jan. 2.

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Friday Racing Canceled at Aqueduct

Thu, 2021-01-28 11:02

Due to high winds and frigid temperatures, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) has canceled live racing Friday at Aqueduct Racetrack. The forecast, which calls for sustained high winds gusting as high as 39 mph, is expected to create wind chill factors as low as -5 degrees and will impact the New York metropolitan area. The conditions are considered dangerous and NYRA has canceled the entire eight-race Friday card in the interest of safety.

Live racing at Aqueduct–which was not impacted Thursday–is expected to resume Saturday, Jan. 30, with a nine-race card highlighted by the GIII Toboggan S. First post on Saturday is 12:20 p.m. ET.

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Authentic’s Derby Win Voted Moment of the Year

Thu, 2021-01-28 10:45

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) named Authentic (Into Mischief)'s victory in the Sep. 5 GI Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve as the 2020 FanDuel Racing/NTRA Moment of the Year. The result was based on 3,403 votes cast via Twitter and an online poll.

The winning moment was held under unusual circumstances, with the race delayed from its traditional first Saturday in May spot and held without fans due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Authentic gave Hall of Famer John Velazquez his 200th career Grade I win and trainer Bob Baffert his sixth Derby victory. In addition, it was the first Derby win for B. Wayne Hughes of Spendthrift Farm, whose partners included and over 5,000 microshare owners.

The FanDuel Racing/NTRA Moment of the Year is scheduled to be recognized at the 50th Annual Eclipse Awards presented by Spendthrift Farm Thursday evening. Authentic also accounted for second choice in voting for the Moment of the Year with his Nov. 7 GI Breeders' Cup Classic win. Third in the voting was Greg Harbut and Ray Daniels becoming the first Black owners in 13 years to have a Derby starter when Necker Island (Hard Spun) finished ninth.

An “NTRA Moment of the Year” has been recognized every year since 1999, when the late jockey Chris Antley held Charismatic (Summer Squall)'s leg while waiting for help to arrive following the GI Belmont S.

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Laoban Filly Tops OBS Wednesday

Wed, 2021-01-27 19:27

A filly by fast-starting young sire Laoban (Hip 805) topped Wednesday's open session and the entirety of the OBS Winter Mixed Sale, selling to Nick de Meric, who signed as Sand Hill Stables, for $175,000. Consigned by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, the bay was bred in New York by the late Kenny LeJeune.

A colt from the first crop of MGISW Mor Spirit (Eskendereya) (Hip 616) brought the day's second-highest price, hammering for $115,000 to bloodstock agent Donato Lanni. The bay was bred in Florida by Beth Bayer, who consigned the colt.

“He was a cool horse,” said Lanni. “When you lock onto a nice horse, you have to stretch a little bit more. He is just a good-looking, athletic racehorse. I just hope we get lucky.”

An $85,000 FTKOCT buy, Mor Spirit was picked out by Lanni on behalf of his owner for $650,000 at the FTFMAR sale the following year. He went on to win six of his 14 races, topped by a victory in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity S. and a dazzling score in the GI Met Mile.

“I was involved with the sire and he did remind me a lot of his sire,” Lanni said. “Overall, I thought the Mor Spirits looked really nice. He was just a tremendous racehorse, a really fast horse.”

A total of 231 head sold during Wednesday's open session for $2,054,800 with an average of $8,895 and median of $4,500. Throughout the two day sale, which included a consignor preferred and horses of racing age session Tuesday, 406 horses summoned $5,686,600 with an average of $14,006 and median of $6,000.

“There is a good turnout here,” said Lanni. “For a January sale, there are a lot of people here. I visited the training centers around town and there are a lot of people at the training centers, more than I've ever seen. I think people just want to get out. People just want to get on with their lives.”

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