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Updated: 5 hours 51 min ago

Laurel Moves Seven-Stakes Card Back a Week

Wed, 2021-03-31 13:02

As a result of the ongoing pause of live racing at Laurel Park through Sunday, Apr. 4, the Maryland Jockey Club has pushed its Spring Stakes Spectacular program back one week to Saturday, Apr. 24.

All seven stakes worth a total of $750,000 in purses originally scheduled for Saturday, Apr. 17 will be run on the new date with a similar 12:40 p.m. post time. Nominations for all stakes are due Saturday, Apr. 3.

The Spring Stakes Spectacular is led by the $125,000 Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles and the $125,000 Weber City Miss for 3-year-old fillies at about 1 1/16 miles. The Tesio is a 'Win and In' qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the 146th GI Preakness Stakes S. May 15, and the Weber City is a 'Win and In' event for the $250,000 GII Black-Eyed Susan S. May 14, both at Pimlico Race Course.

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Keeneland Launches ‘Celebrate Keeneland Your Way’ Campaign for Spring Meet

Wed, 2021-03-31 12:29

World-class Thoroughbred racing returns to Central Kentucky for Keeneland's 2021 Spring Meet, which opens Friday, Apr. 2 and covers 15 days through Apr. 23. Keeneland is welcoming back a limited number of fans to the track this spring while offering multiple opportunities for people to enjoy the meet remotely through its Celebrate Keeneland Presented by Central Bank campaign.

“There are many ways–big and small–for everyone to celebrate Keeneland and take part in the fanfare and traditions they love,” Keeneland Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Christa Marrillia said. “We encourage fans to make the Spring Meet a part of their lives even when they aren't going to the races. Everyone has their own Keeneland traditions: getting dressed up, making a favorite cocktail, planning a gathering with friends. We have all the tips and tools for you to celebrate Keeneland your way.”

Fans are encouraged to visit CelebrateKeeneland.com and share the creative ways they are celebrating Keeneland by tagging @Keeneland on social media and by using the hashtag #CelebrateKeeneland.

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Late Triple Crown Nominees Include Helium and Weyburn

Wed, 2021-03-31 11:02

Among the nine horses who are late nominees for the 2021 Triple Crown are D.J. Stable's GII Tampa Bay Derby winner Helium (Ironicus) and Chiefswood Stables' GIII Gotham S. upsetter Weyburn (Pioneerof the Nile). They were made eligible to compete in the Triple Crown with a $6,000 payment that was due Monday. The window for late nominations was Jan. 23-Mar. 29.

A total of 335 horses are now eligible to compete in the three-race series, which kicks off with the May 1 GI Kentucky Derby, continues with the May 15 GI Preakness S., and concludes with the June 5 GI Belmont S. Horses can still become eligible for the individual races through supplemental nominations of $200,000 (Derby), $100,000 (Preakness), or $50,000 (Belmont).

In addition to Helium and Weyburn, other late Triple Crown nominees are Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum's G2 UAE Derby runner-up Panadol (Flatter); Reddam Racing's GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks third-place finisher Hockey Dad (Nyquist); Larry Katz' Turf Paradise Derby winner It's My House (Anthony's Cross); Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables' three-time winner Maythehorsebwithu (Bullsbay); Phillip Ward's stakes-placed Tiz Mandate (Strong Mandate); MyRacehorse.com, Medallion Racing, Parkland Thoroughbreds, and Edward Kelly's European transfer Carrothers (Mshawish); and Clark M. Cooper Family Trust, Mia Familia Racing Stable, and Wade Jacobsen's two-time winner Back Ring Luck (Malibu Moon).

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TRF Recipient of 500 Equine Vaccines

Wed, 2021-03-31 10:24

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) has been gifted more than 500 essential equine vaccines from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health. The vaccines will be used to innoculate retired horses in the TRF's care.

“Helping organizations like the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation is at the core of what we do,” said Steve Boren, vice president of the U.S. livestock and equine businesses at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health. “We are honored to support an organization that makes a difference in the lives of horses.”

According to TRF board member Anita Motion, TRF is working with Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health to provide vaccines for thousands of other horses as well.

“Our goal was to ensure that as many horses as possible benefit from this donation,” said Motion. “We are so pleased to have played a part in extending Boehringer Ingelheim's gesture beyond our herd of 500 to thousands of other deserving horses in the care of charities across the United States.”

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Jockey Club Asks Judge to Dismiss ‘Scattershot’ and ‘Meritless’ Stallion Cap Lawsuit

Tue, 2021-03-30 17:40

Alleging that a lawsuit by three Kentucky stud farms over the 140-mare stallion cap is “based on groundless and contradictory fortune telling,” The Jockey Club (TJC) filed a motion in federal court Mar. 29 asking the judge to dismiss the complaint, which seeks to have the breeding limit repealed and to award an unspecified amount of damages that the plaintiffs want paid in triplicate.

According to Monday's filing in United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky (Central Division), Spendthrift Farm, Ashford Stud and Three Chimneys Farm are suing TJC and Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) officials Jonathan Rabinowitz and Marc Guilfoil “because they want the option to overbreed a hypothetical, wildly popular, future Thoroughbred stallion if they obtain one. And if that stallion covers over 140 mares in a given breeding season, they want this Court to force TJC to register each resulting foal as a Thoroughbred.”

The motion to dismiss continues: “Plaintiffs' Complaint is pure conjecture, alleging speculative and hypothetical theories as facts and conjuring injuries that may never come to be.

“Plaintiffs have not alleged a single actual or certainly impending injury. For example, Plaintiffs have not alleged that they have lost a dime because of TJC's decision.

“So despite throwing a pot with a melange of undercooked pasta varieties at the wall, none sticks.

“Moreover, Plaintiffs' hodgepodge of speculative claims lacks plausibility and suffers from Plaintiffs' fundamental misunderstanding of the facts, law, and relevant statutory regime.”

On May 7, 2020, TJC put into effect a new rule–known as 14C–that mandated for stallions born in 2020 and later, the maximum number of mares covered will now be 140.

TJC cited the significant, decades-long decline in the North American foal crop and concerns “with the narrowing of the diversity of the Thoroughbred gene pool,” in implementing this new policy, which was met with a hazy mixture of consternation and support within America's bloodstock community.

On Feb. 23, 2021, Spendthrift, Ashford and Three Chimneys Farm sued to keep the rule from going forward and to collect alleged damages. The complaint called 14C a “blatant abuse of power” that acts as an “anti-competitive restraint” and threatens to disrupt the free-market nature of the breeding business.

On Monday, TJC disagreed, calling the plaintiffs' allegations “scattershot.”

“Alleging these meritless claims, Plaintiffs seek a multitude of damages…for entirely speculative injuries and a series of injunctions whose scope bears no relation to those alleged injuries and could result in the cessation of Thoroughbred racing in Kentucky.”

In greater detail, the motion to dismiss explains that “First, the KHRC did not delegate power, constitutionally or otherwise, to TJC. The Kentucky General Assembly, not by the KHRC, decided in 1960 to statutorily reference TJC's Thoroughbred registry. And the statutory scheme delegates no power. It is well established that a state does not delegate legislative power by making a statutory reference to a private breed registry.

“Second, TJC's decision was not unconstitutional. Not only have Plaintiffs failed to allege that TJC, a private breed registry, is a state actor as would be required for TJC to deprive Plaintiffs of their constitutional rights, but there is no constitutionally protected 'right to race.'

“Third, TJC's decision by its governing Stewards' vote reflects neither an antitrust conspiracy nor harms competition. A basic tenet of antitrust law is that a single entity's decision, even one that results from its governing body's consensus, does not implicate the antitrust laws…

“Finally, the antitrust laws protect competition, not competitors. An antitrust plaintiff must demonstrate antitrust standing, which ensures that the purported injury is one that the antitrust laws are intended to redress. Plaintiffs cannot make any such showing as their speculative and theoretical injuries at best may reflect the potential for harm to themselves, but not to competition.”

According to The Jockey Club's Report of Mares Bred, 42 stallions bred over 140 mares in 2020. Of that total, 16 of those 42 stood at either Spendthrift, Three Chimneys or Coolmore/Ashford. Those 16 stallions bred a total of 1,088 mares over what will be the phased-in cap of 140: Spendthrift (576), Coolmore (429) and Three Chimneys (83).

“Plaintiffs brought this lawsuit alleging purely speculative economic hypotheses to maintain the option of overbreeding future stallions,” TJC contends in its filing. “Plaintiffs do not allege that they own a single stallion that has been prevented from covering a 141st mare, that they will own a stallion that will be prevented from covering a 141st mare, or that a future stallion could not travel overseas to continue covering mares in the Southern Hemisphere after covering its 140th U.S. mare.

“Nor could they; Rule 14C only applies prospectively in the United States and Canada to preserve the health of the Thoroughbred breed for the long term.”

In a separate filing, the two KHRC defendants filed an answer to the complaint requesting that it “be dismissed, with prejudice [and for the granting of] any and all other relief to which they may appear entitled.”

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Fasig-Tipton Gets Back to Business at Gulfstream

Tue, 2021-03-30 17:21

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A day after watching the horses perform on the racetrack, buyers were out in full force at the sales barns Tuesday in preparation for the return of the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale of Selected 2-Year-Olds in Training, which will be held in the track's paddock Wednesday. Under late-morning overcast skies and windy conditions, trainer Bob Baffert and bloodstock agent Donato Lanni were making the rounds at the sales barns, as were fellow Southern California conditioners Simon Callaghan and Paddy Gallagher. The local training bench was represented by Chad Brown, Graham Motion, Shug McGaughey and Todd Pletcher. Saudi businessman Amr Zedan, who will watch his Medina Spirit (Protonico) go postward in Saturday's GI Santa Anita Derby, hit the barns along with racing manager Gary Young, and Michael Tabor and the Coolmore team were among the throng of studious shoppers as well.

Consignors were kept busy showing the 136 horses expected to go through the ring Wednesday when bidding begins at 2 p.m.

“This is the first time I sat down since 8 a.m.,” Steve Venosa of SGV Thoroughbreds said shortly after noon Tuesday as his popular colt by Nyquist (hip 146) headed out for another showing. “That one horse there has probably been out all morning. They've all been out. It hasn't let up yet. Everybody is here.”

Fasig-Tipton was forced to cancel its 2020 renewal of the Gulfstream sale due to the pandemic and consignors and buyers both seemed pleased to be back in South Florida for the boutique auction.

“It is good to be back out here,” Venosa said. “Last year was an odd year for everyone. Just to get back here and see all of the activity, it's very refreshing. We are really looking forward to a good sale.”

A few consignments up the row, Dean de Renzo of Hartley/de Renzo Thoroughbreds was also taking advantage of a brief interlude between showings of the operation's popular Gun Runner colt (hip 181).

“We have one of the top horses in the sale, so they usually take a lot of time,” de Renzo said as the handsome chestnut once again headed out of the barn. “He's been out all day. But it feels good to be back here after missing last year.”

DeRenzo and partner Randy Hartley purchased hip 181 for $140,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton October sale and he worked a furlong in :10 1/5 during Monday's under-tack preview.

“We bought that horse kind of just on a gut feeling in the back ring,” de Renzo recalled. “We loved him then and thought we had bought a really nice horse. And he's had a great year for us training and here, under pretty tough conditions, he just came through it all. We knew it coming in that he would, but after seeing that first part of the racetrack, we thought maybe this isn't the place we should be. I guess good horses can get through things.”

De Renzo said holding the under-tack show over Gulfstream's dirt track allowed buyers to separate the talent on display.

“We only have three, but they all performed well considering the conditions we had with the heat, deep racetrack and wind,” de Renzo said. “But that's what I do like about the dirt and breezing on the dirt, when they do get through it, people know that's the horse and then it turns out to be the right horse. We like that because if we have a horse that really performs well, but he's not the right horse, it looks bad on us. We're happy to be here.”

Of expectations heading into the sale, de Renzo said, “I think the sale is going to be strong. I think there are a lot of really nice horses here. After a year off, I think people have settled down a little more about the pandemic, there is more of a comfort zone. So I have good expectations that the sale is going to be what it was two years ago.”

Eddie Woods was the leading consignor at the juvenile sales season's first auction, the OBS March Sale, and the Irishman was seeing similar action at the Gulfstream barns.

“It's been very busy,” Woods said. “It's just backing off a little now. But we've seen everyone and they've been working hard. It just has a good feel to the whole thing, a bit like the March sale. Maybe not as many people as in the March sale, but there aren't as many horses to go around either.”

Woods continued, “The expectations are high here. Fasig has been very high on how the sale has been received by their customers and I'm sure with the credit applications. And we will see what happens.”

Tristan de Meric of de Meric Sales admitted he was one of many consignors who had been surprised by the strength of the market last month in Ocala. He said he hopes the momentum only builds from there.

“I was definitely pleasantly surprised by the market at OBS,” de Meric said. “We sold 26 out of 26 horses that we led to the ring. It was a great sale. I can't complain about that. And if the year can build off of that, like it has historically, hopefully we are in for a fun season. For the right ones anyway.”

After a year of uncertainties and frustrations, buyers are ready to move forward, observed Clovis Crane of Crane Thoroughbred Services.

“All of the buyers are here, so all of the stars are aligned for a huge sale,” Crane said. “If you have good horses, they are going to buy them, it's pretty apparent.”

Crane continued, “I think there is still a lot of uncertainty, but I think there is also optimism. I think the election being over and the uncertainty of that and COVID–I hate to say under control– but there is light at the end of the tunnel, so I think that's a positive. And I think there is optimism. People want to move forward. People don't want to be held back and they are sick of the media telling them the sky is going to fall. We are going to move forward and people are excited to move forward. Racehorses are something to go do and have fun with. It's exciting, the racehorse business. That's what people need right now. They need something exciting and positive.”

When it was last held in 2019, 59 horses sold for $29,115,000 at the Gulfstream sale. The average was $493,475 and the median was $375,000. A colt by Curlin brought the auction's top price, selling for $3.65 million and that youngster was one of six to sell for seven figures at the sale.

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Godolphin Wields Rising Star Duo in Saturday’s Derby Preps

Tue, 2021-03-30 16:39

Godolphin has been riding a high since annexing last weekend's GI Dubai World Cup with homebred Mystic Guide (Ghostzapper) and the operation looks to assert its dominance in the sophomore division Saturday with a pair of TDN Rising Stars, defending juvenile champion Essential Quality (Tapit), slated to run in Keeneland's GII Toyota Blue Grass S. and Aqueduct's GII Wood Memorial contender Prevalence (Medaglia d'Oro).

Essential Quality earned his Rising Star status courtesy of a four-length victory sprinting six panels at Churchill Downs last September before handling his step up to graded company with aplomb, taking the 8 1/2-furlong GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity in October and tied up a championship with a win in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Keeneland Nov. 6.

“I think one of his better races might have been his maiden race,” said Godolphin USA President Jimmy Bell. “We needed a race just to get him started. [In his debut], he showed athleticism and speed going short and won by daylight. He then jumped right into the deep end and won the Futurity and Breeders' Cup. Not many can do that and that's really what sets him apart. He's quite versatile and athletic and with a very good mind. When you put all those things together, it can occasionally get you these kinds of results.”

Drawing post 4, the Feb. 27 GIII Southwest S. winner will be partnered by Luis Saez, aboard for his last three starts in addition to last weekend's World Cup winner Mystic Guide. Bell indicated that trainer Brad Cox outlined a 3-year-old pre-Derby campaign soon after the Breeders' Cup, and the Derby pre-amble would consist of only a pair of preps, including the Blue Grass, which was targeted largely because of its timing and the colt's obvious affinity for Keeneland.

Standing in stark contrast to Essential Quality, who has already cemented his spot in the May 1 GI Kentucky Derby, stablemate Prevalence will have to earn his stripes in top company to earn a ticket to Louisville. Earning Rising Star billing following a flashy 8 1/2-length win going seven panels at Gulfstream Jan. 23, the homebred followed-up with another victory while adding a furlong against optional claiming company at the Hallandale oval Mar. 11.

“A lot of time you get that 'wow' first performance and they go back over for the second race and it's not always the same result,” said Bell. “They are a little more tuned in to what it's all about. In fairness, it was his lifetime second start. That was one of the blessings we had coming back in an allowance race. He had good experiences in both races and he learned something in both races. That's what gives us a little more confidence about stepping into graded stakes and stepping up in distance. Both his races were learning experiences and progressive steps that served us well.”

Since his latest win, the Brendan Walsh trainee returned to work a bullet four furlongs, the fastest of 30 moves at the distance, at Palm Meadows Mar. 28.

“He came out of his last work with a bullet. He went in :47.60 and galloped out as easy as you can–it said it all right there,” explained Bell. “From Brendan's perspective, he's an easy horse to read, you know where he's at and what he's feeling. The timing of the Wood Memorial was good timing for him to make that next progressive step.”

Asked whether it might be too tall of an order for such an inexperienced horse, Bell added, “The hope is for the horse to tell us what we are going to do next and we felt this is the opportunity to do that. He's going to need to be able to travel and he's going to be facing stiffer competition. Certainly, he's been brilliant at the short distance races, but what does he look like going a mile and an eighth? When the race is over, he will have answered all of those questions which will point us in one direction or another. And that's really what we want to do. We want to let him show us what he is or isn't capable of at this stage. It's a progression.”

And what would it mean for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the entire Godolphin team to finally get the chance to hoist the blanket of roses on Derby day?

“It's hard to imagine because it's such an illusive place to get to,” said Bell. “It is one of the most prestigious races, or the most prestigious race, in the world in many people's minds. And it is what everyone who has a talented 3-year-old colt at this time of the year points toward. [Sheikh Mohammed] is so philosophical about these types of races and opportunities that, in time, patience will prevail and if it's meant to be, it will happen. The great news is that there has never been an ounce of pressure. It is just that everyone would like to see it happen. From His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, he is above all an astute horseman and understands probably better than we do. He is just excited to have opportunities and even more excited that a couple of these are hombreds as well. He makes it very easy because he is very understanding and has a great outlook on things.”

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Aqueduct Winter Meet Generates $350 Million

Tue, 2021-03-30 16:29

Edited press release

The 2021 Aqueduct winter meet, which ran from December 10, 2020 through March 28, 2021, generated all-sources handle of $349,962,356 a 4.3 percent increase over the 2018-19 winter meet, The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced Tuesday.

Originally scheduled for 56 days of live racing, adverse weather conditions forced the cancellation of four cards during the 2021 winter meet. NYRA subsequently added two live race days to account for the cancellations, resulting in a 54-day meet.

Average daily handle over the 54 days of live racing was $6,480,784, a 15.9 percent increase over 2018-19, when the meet was contested over 60 days of live racing.

In accordance with New York State guidelines instituted to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the 2020-21 winter meet was conducted without spectators and with only a limited number of owners and essential employees in attendance.

On-track handle, which includes wagering from New York residents utilizing NYRA Bets, was $24,891,692.

The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the 2019-20 Aqueduct winter meet, forcing the cancellation of live racing from March 20-29. In addition, the 2020 Aqueduct spring meet was cancelled in its entirety due to the pandemic. Live racing on the NYRA circuit resumed at Belmont Park on June 3, 2020.

In January, the first floor of Aqueduct became a New York State vaccination center, where more than 100,000 doses have been distributed to New Yorkers to date.

The 11-day Aqueduct spring meet begins on Thursday, April 1, and continues through Sunday, April 18. The spring meet is highlighted by the 96th running of the GII $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on Saturday, April 3.

The Wood Memorial will air on NBSCN as part of a live national broadcast beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET and scheduled to include the GII $800,000 Toyota Blue Grass from Keeneland and the GI $750,000 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park.

Prior to the NBCSN broadcast, national television coverage of the Wood Memorial Day card from Aqueduct can be found on FS2 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

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Second Stride Ky Derby Fundraiser Set for Apr. 25

Tue, 2021-03-30 12:56

In tandem with this season's Kentucky Derby, Second Stride will host its annual fundraiser Sunday, Apr. 25 at 6:00p.m. EST.

Heading into this year's fundraiser, a silent auction will open Tuesday, Apr. 20. Silent auction items will include:

  • A day in the announcer's booth at iconic Churchill Downs
  • A round of golf at the historic Valhalla Golf Club
  • A halter worn by American Pharoah, winner of the 2015 Triple Crown and Breeder's Cup Classic
  • A VIP Tailgate at a University of Kentucky or University of Louisville football game
  • A tour of Spendthrift Farm and a stay at a B&B in the heart of horse countr

The Apr. 25 program will feature a livestream handicapping panel with two ways to join:

  • Virtually – Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Derby and handicapping this year's contenders. (Log-in details to come).
  • In Person – A “watch party” of the livestream event on the patios at Molly Malone's in the Highlands.

 

 

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MGSW Maraud to Stand in Puerto Rico

Tue, 2021-03-30 09:55

Maraud (Blame–Unbridled Empire, by Empire Maker), who won or placed in graded stakes from 2017-2020, has been retired from racing and will stand at Potrero Los Llanos in Coamo, Puerto Rico. Winner of the GII American Turf S. and the GIII Palm Beach S., he placed in an additional four graded events and last raced Mar. 11 at Fair Grounds for Collinsworth Thoroughbred Racing and trainer Bret Calhoun. He was a $375,000 Fasig-Tipton 2-year-old purchase in 2017.

A half-brother to GISW Arklow (Arch) from the family of champion Silverbulletday (Silver Deputy), Maraud retires with a 21-4-1-7 record and earnings of $506,510. He arrived in Puerto Rico Mar. 27.

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Nyquist Colt Fastest at Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Breeze Show

Mon, 2021-03-29 18:46

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – After a year's absence, 2-year-olds were once again breezing at Gulfstream Park Monday ahead of Wednesday's Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale. The auction's under-tack show began at 9 a.m. with sunny South Florida skies and temperatures in the upper 70s. It continued past 3 p.m. as the thermometer reached the mid-80's, and the winds picked up throughout the day, with a noticeable headwind in the later grouping of five sets. The bullet times for both the furlong and quarter-mile works were both recorded during the day's first set, with a colt by Nyquist (hip 28) blitzing the eighth-of-a-mile in :9 4/5 for Wavertree Stables and a filly by Arrogate (hip 113) going the quarter-mile in :21 1/5 for Tom McCrocklin.

“I thought we had a really outstanding display of talented racehorses on the racetrack today,” Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, Jr. said Monday afternoon. “Consignors have been very positive prior to the breeze show with how the horses had been training on the farms and how they prepped here and they sure showed up today. We were very encouraged by that and we expect the barn area to be very busy tomorrow and most of the day Wednesday before the sale starts.”

While Browning acknowledged conditions were more difficult as the day progressed, he said he would expect astute buyers to make allowances for horses who worked in the later sets.

“Weather is a variable that you can't control,” he said. “But the one thing I know is that buyers are smart enough to know which set horses worked in. The later sets worked into a little bit of a headwind. I wish we had a controlled environment, but we don't. All in all, I thought the track was pretty consistent. We saw some exceptional works even in the last set. I have a high level of confidence that the buyers take into consideration the various elements when they evaluate how horses work.”

The breeze show attracted a large number of onlookers to the Gulfstream Park grandstand. With trainers Steve Asmussen, Graham Motion, Mark Casse, Todd Pletcher, Dale Romans, Wesley Ward, Barclay Tagg, Saffie Joseph, Jr. and Mark Hennig all taking in the works trackside. Vinnie Viola, who celebrated a GI Curlin Florida Derby win with Known Agenda (Curlin) at the South Florida track Saturday, was back looking for his next star, as were Jeff Bloom, Terry Finley, Larry Best, Aron Wellman, Bill Parcells, Jack Knowlton, Billy Koch, and Kirk Wycoff. WinStar Farm's Elliott Walden was on hand, as was Spendthrift's Ned Toffey and Stonestreet's John Moynihan. Bloodstock agents in attendance included Donato Lanni, Tom Ryan, Conor Foley, David Ingordo, Deuce Greathouse, Jacob West, Jane Buchanan, Kerri Radcliffe, Patrick Lawley Wakelin, John Dowd and Mike Ryan.

“I think all of the right faces were here and apparently all of the suites were full upstairs too,” Browning said. “We had a ton of interest pre-sale. I think people are excited to be back into the sales process and a little bit more normal setting and environment. I know we missed being here last year and are thrilled to be back.”

Browning continued, “It was a spectacular day of racing here at Gulfstream Park on Saturday which certainly helps set a positive mood. And we are heading into Derby and Oaks Fever and I think people are generally excited about racing and the owners are happy to be able to go back to the racetrack and fans are almost able to go back. I think people are generally upbeat.”

The breeze show's fourth set was interrupted by a freak accident when a colt by American Pharoah (hip 47) scheduled to work over the inner turf course tossed his rider and turned and ran the wrong way up the course. The colt ran into the rail, injuring himself significantly before dazedly walking into the infield's lake.

“It was an unfortunate incident,” Browning said. “The incident occurred before the horse breezed. The horse dropped its rider and ran through the rail and suffered a catastrophic injury. We are highly committed to doing things in the safest manner possible to take care of both horses and humans. I don't know of anything that could have been done to prevent this accident. We give our deepest sympathy to the connections and for the horse and we are deeply sorry this occurred.”

The Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale will be held in the track paddock Wednesday with bidding scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

Nyquist Colt Sets Gulfstream Furlong Mark

A colt by GI Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist (hip 28) earned the fastest furlong time during Monday's under-tack show at Gulfstream when covering the distance in :9 4/5 early in the day's first set. Consigned by Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree Stables, the bay colt is the first foal out of Spinning Wheel (Smart Strike), a half-sister to multiple Grade I placed Ride on Curlin (Curlin). The juvenile was purchased by the Red Wings pinhooking partnership led by Paul Reddam–who campaigned the colt's 2011 Derby-winning sire–for $160,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Showcase.

“He's different,” Dunne said of the colt. “He's been a special horse from day one. Mentally, he's like a pony around the barn. He does everything right. Thankfully, it worked out for him today.”

Wavertree Stables was represented by 20 horses during the under-tack show.

“It was about like we expected,” Dunne said of the results. “The horses early on obviously had a distinct advantage. I would say the first two sets obviously got the best of the conditions. The track was a little faster and there was more moisture in it and there was no headwind. It got a little tougher as the day went on. I think anybody who was up there will realize that. Maybe we were disappointed with some of the horses who went in :10 3/5, but I think they are nice horses and when they come to the barn, they will pull them out because people will realize what the conditions were. The horses in the first two sets performed about like what we hoped–it's hard to say thought–they would. We thought they were a good group of horses coming in here and they showed up.”

In addition to the bullet furlong worker, Wavertree was also represented by a pair of juveniles sharing the second-fastest furlong time. A filly by American Freedom (hip 154) worked in :10 flat and a colt by Uncle Mo (hip 67) equaling that :10 flat time.

Dunne has already had Gulfstream sales success with the colt's family. Out of Afleet Maggi (Afleet Alex), hip 67 is a full-brother to Dream Tree, who sold through the Wavertree consignment for $750,000 at the 2017 auction and went on to win the GI Starlet S. and GII Prioress S.

“He's a special little horse,” said Dunne, who purchased the colt for $335,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale, said. “He was a beautiful yearling I couldn't believe they let us buy him.”

Asked if he saw similarities between the siblings, Dunne said, “Not a lot. They are both fast. That would be about the extent of it. He's a smoother horse than Dream Tree was. Dream Tree was a little heavier and maybe a little courser. He's a lot smoother horse. He's a prettier horse than she ever was. He's still just a baby. His ass is stuck up in the air and he has so much improvement left to do. There is no telling where he'll end up.”

The Wavertree consignment is centrally located in the Fasig sale barn tents at Gulfstream and Dunne admitted he has been impressed by the quality of juveniles walking through the shedrows.

“We stand on the end here and everyone is stabled basically in the same spot and you watch them walk around,” Dunne said. “Physically they are a beautiful bunch of horses. Fasig has done a great job gathering them up. I would have to think there is something here for everybody. The traffic was good earlier in the week. So I would expect the sale will be solid.”

Arrogate Filly Sets Quarter-Mile Bullet

Consignor Tom McCrocklin wasn't sure how fast his filly by Arrogate (hip 113) would work at Gulfstream Monday, but he knew she'd work well. The juvenile more than delivered with a bullet quarter-mile drill in :21 1/5.

“We loved the work,” McCrocklin said. “I thought it was beautiful. I try not to be a slave to the stopwatch, I like to look at the work and see how they move and switch their leads. Visually, I think it was very good. She breezed a quarter a week ago, and it was a very good work, so it didn't come as a big surprise. I don't clock horses–I never clock them at the farm and I don't clock them here–so when they breeze, I feel like I know who can run, but literally the time is always a surprise to me.”

Hip 113 is out of graded-placed Flatter Up (Flatter) and from the family of Grade I winner Midnight Storm.

“She is more compact than you'd picture coming from an Arrogate,” McCrocklin said of the gray filly, who was purchased for $260,000 at the Fasig showcase last September. “I have a colt at the farm that is a big, scopey, stretchy kind of horse. She probably has a lot of that Flatter in her.”

McCrocklin sent seven 2-year-olds out to work Monday and the Ocala horseman agreed conditions were more difficult later in the day.

“It was tough conditions today,” he said. “I am not a whiney-baby about the track, the wind, the sun, but it was tough out there today. Big-time headwind, they could not keep enough water on the track. I felt like we got through about five to 10 breezes in a set and it was back where it was before.”

McCrocklin is already looking beyond Wednesday's Gulfstream sale to a potentially exciting debut effort for a graduate Saturday at Santa Anita. McCrocklin consigned a colt by Speightster to last year's OBS Spring sale on behalf of Solana Beach Sales. The chestnut colt sold through the ring for $1.1-million, but was turned back. Retained by Solana Beach, he was sent to Bob Baffert and has been working lights out at Santa Anita, according to McCrocklin.

“He has been working freaky, it's scary how good he is working,” McCrocklin said of the 3-year-old now named Bobby Bo. “He is supposed to run Saturday on Santa Anita Derby day. I watch his breezes and the hair stands up on the back of my neck. He is phenomenally talented. He'll run in Solana Beach silks–we had an offer to sell him from Spendthrift, but at the end of the day opted to keep him and run him. It's like poker, sooner or later you have to turn your cards over. Bob Baffert is a pretty harsh judge of a horse and he sent me a one-word text that just said, 'Beast.'” We'll find out Saturday.”

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Hush of a Storm Works A Bullet for Blue Grass

Mon, 2021-03-29 15:40

John Battaglia Memorial S. hero Hush of a Storm (Creative Cause), scratched out of Saturday's GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks with this weekend's $800,000 GII Toyota Blue Grass S. in mind, worked five furlongs in :59.80 following the second renovation break at Keeneland Monday morning.

With jockey Santiago Gonzalez in the irons, the New York-bred broke off about five lengths behind his unraced workmate Poseidon Wrath (Super Saver) and was eight lengths clear of his company at the wire. The work went in splits of :24.40 and :36.40, with a six-furlong gallop out in 1:12.60.

“I thought he worked well,” said trainer Bill Morey.

Well-beaten when a seven-furlong main-track maiden claimer on Churchill debut Nov. 19, Hush of a Storm has since put together three in a row over the Turfway Tapeta track, including a 1 1/2-length defeat of Like the King (Palace Malice), who franked the form when taking out the Jeff Ruby.

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Faucheux, Graham, Godolphin Win Fair Grounds Titles

Mon, 2021-03-29 15:15

Racing at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans drew to a close Mar. 28, a meet which saw purses hiked no fewer than three times and featured a typically strong stakes and overnight program supported by a wide swath of horsepeople.

Ron Faucheux won his first training title at the Fair Grounds with 40 victories, three better than four-time defending champion trainer Brad Cox, whose successes at the meeting included the GII Risen Star S. with 'TDN Rising Star' Mandaloun (Into Mischief) and the GII Fair Grounds Oaks with 'Rising Star' Travel Column (Frosted). Tom Amoss held the premiership lead until deep into the final weeks of the season and ended on 35 wins, two clear of Steve Asmussen. Joe Sharp was third with 23 wins.

“It means the world,” Faucheux said. “Being here, being from New Orleans, and coming to this track since I was a child. This is what it's all about. We have so many people that put their faith in us. I have some great owners. I have the best help. This is my track; this is the best track in the country, as far as I'm concerned, and it's a privilege and an honor to be a part of it.”

James Graham saves his best for the Big Easy and took home his third riding title with 88 victories, some 25 better than his performance in 2019-2020. He was made to work for it, however, as Adam Beschizza rode 85 winners, with Mitchell Murrill on 73.

“It means everything,” Graham said. “We kept digging away and plowing through and doing what we had to do. My stock ran really good this year and everything ran accordingly. It's been a fantastic meet. You can't race anywhere better in the wintertime; Fair Grounds is the best. I'm over the moon and ecstatic.”

There was a three-way photo for leading owner, ultimately won by Godolphin, whose 13 wins–including wins from Maxfield (Street Sense) in the Tenacious S. in December and in the GIII Mineshaft S. Feb. 13–proved narrowly better than Chester Thomas's Allied Racing Stable (12) and End Zone Athletics (11).

Track officials reported strong handle and betting support and reasoned that the elimination of the Black Gold 5, a jackpot bet that was instead replaced by early and late conventional Pick 5s, contributed to that.

“It was a meet like no other but we are extremely proud of everyone who came together to put out a great product on a day-in, day-out basis,” Fair Grounds senior director of racing Jason Boulet said. “We are extremely grateful to the horseman and our fans and bettors for their continued support throughout the meet.”

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Rate of Fatal Injury Declines, Lowest Since Database Inception

Mon, 2021-03-29 14:30

The rate of fatal injury in Thoroughbreds (per 1000 starts) declined from 1.53 in 2019 to 1.41 in 2020, a decrease of 7.8% and a number which represents the lowest rate of equine fatalities since data has been collected in the Equine Injury Database (EID) in 2009. The rate of fatal injury, which was 2.0 per 1000 starts in that first year, has dropped by 29.5% during that 12 year period. Based on the data collected in 2020, fully 99.86% of racing on the flat from tracks that participate in the EID were completed without a fatality. Over the course of calendar year 2020, roughly 99.7% of all Thoroughbred starts were included in the EID.

“Overall, there was an 8% decrease in the risk of fatal injury from 2019 to 2020. Since 2009, risk has declined by 29.5% (P<0.001) or equivalent to 140 fewer horses sustaining a fatal injury while racing in 2020 than would have occurred had there been no change in risk since 2009,” said Dr. Tim Parkin, the veterinary epidemiologist who has consulted on the EID since its inception. “We will dig deeper into the numbers in the coming months to better understand trends in the 2020 data.”

Added Kristin Werner, senior counsel and administrator of the EID: “Although we are thrilled to see improvement in the numbers from 2020 and commend the racetracks and regulatory authorities in their efforts to reduce injuries, other areas require closer study. The recording of additional data through tools like the Electronic Treatment Records System and the Management Quality System of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory will give regulators, racetracks, and researchers a better understanding of horse health and racetrack safety, allowing for additional scrutiny and research aimed at preventing injuries.”

According to the stats from 2020, 2-year-old racing reported the highest incidence of fatality (1.69/1000), while the rate of fatality decreased markedly with an increase in race distance. Races contested at six furlongs or under recorded the largest occurrence of fatality (1.66/1000). Dirt tracks saw a fatality rate of 1.49/1000, with turf tracks (1.27) and synthetic tracks (1.02) significantly lower.

The 21 racetracks accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance reported 1.32 racing fatalities per 1,000 starts versus 1.48 for the 62 non-accredited tracks that raced in 2020 and reported to the EID.

This story will be updated…

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Arizona Downs Names Weiss General Manager

Mon, 2021-03-29 12:26

Michael Weiss, a longtime racing industry professional with deep ties to Arizona horse racing, has been named the new General Manager at Arizona Downs. Weiss will lead preparations to restore the track and operate the 2021 return of live racing to the Prescott Valley facility. He most recently served as General Manager of Rillito Park Racetrack in Tucson and is well-known for pioneering the PRISE educational program for the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program. He is also a former student in the RTIP and currently serves as a career advisor to program graduates.

“I am excited for the opportunity to contribute to efforts to save Arizona horse racing because I truly believe it is worth saving,” Weiss said. “I look forward to rebuilding the team at Arizona Downs and assembling a safe environment for horsemen and a memorable experience for fans.”

Weiss's hiring comes at a pivotal time for horse racing in the state, as the Arizona Senate is now considering a bill to modernize wagering at horse tracks and OTBs. Senate Bill 1794 would bring more than $300 million in capital investment to Arizona horse racing, including a new track at Arizona Downs, while generating more than $100 million in new state tax revenues.

Live racing returns to Arizona Downs June 1, with a 1:30 p.m. post time, and racing will take place every Tuesday and Wednesday through Sept. 15.

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Keeneland Maker’s Mark Bottle Fundraiser to Benefit LexArts, Isaac Murphy Memorial Garden

Mon, 2021-03-29 11:43

This year, the annual release of a commemorative Maker's Mark Bourbon bottle in partnership with Keeneland will benefit LexArts, greater Lexington's premier cultural development, advocacy, and fundraising organization, to support its initiatives at the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden in Lexington. Murphy was a Hall of Fame jockey who remains the only rider to win the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Clark H. in the same year (1884). The Art Garden is the first park in the U.S. to honor African American jockeys, who were the earliest Black professional athletes.

For the first time, the fundraiser will feature three distinct bottles, each with its own label featuring the work of artists Sandra Oppegard, Andre Pater, or Tyler Robertson. The bottles are all pre-signed by the artist who created each label along with Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin, Maker's Mark Managing Director Rob Samuels, and one of three active Hall of Fame jockeys who have won the GI Maker's Mark Mile S. at Keeneland multiple times: Javier Castellano, Edgar Prado, and John Velazquez.

The three bottles will go on sale Friday, Apr. 2. This begins a three-year series benefiting LexArts initiatives, with the same three artists creating new labels each year for the commemorative release.

“To have the immeasurable support of these two iconic brands, Keeneland and Maker's Mark, is meaningful in so many ways for LexArts and our entire arts community,” said Ame Sweetall, LexArts President and CEO. “The support of the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden this partnership will further engage and enrich the East End community and build upon the early work of those who made the art garden a reality more than ten years ago.”

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Pletcher Takes Home Another Gulfstream Title

Sun, 2021-03-28 19:20

After putting an exclamation point on his meet with a win in Saturday's GI Curlin Florida Derby, trainer Todd Pletcher was honored with his 17th Gulfstream Park Championship Meet training title Sunday. The 2021 Hall of Fame nominee and his team sent out 58 winners–eight more than Saffie Joseph, Jr.–for earnings of $3,536,482.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. took his third-straight meet title with a record 140 wins, 42 more than Paco Lopez in second.

The partnership of Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudecher edged out Arindel Farm 13-12 for leading owner. Repole Stable, which shared the Aqueduct winter meet title, had 11 wins in South Florida.

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Cancel Clinches First Meet Title After Six-Win Sunday at Big A

Sun, 2021-03-28 18:47

Jockey Eric Cancel tied a NYRA record with six wins Sunday to propel himself to a first riding title on closing day of Aqueduct's 2020-21 Aqueduct winter meet. The 24-year-old finished the meet with 78 winners–two ahead of Kendrick Carmouche.

“I've been trying to take everything in a good way and try to make every step better and better,” said Cancel, who was 2015's leading apprentice by earnings and a finalist for that year's Outstanding Apprentice Eclipse Award. “I think right now, I'm on my top game. I know the guys are coming back from Florida and it'll be a little tough because a lot of mounts will go back to them. But I'll just keep on grinding. Nothing is going to stop me and I'll just keep on doing my best.”

Rudy Rodriguez dominated the trainer standings with 36 wins, 10 ahead of Linda Rice.

“I'm just very happy for everyone in the barn,” Rodriguez said. “My brother, my whole family, all the grooms and hotwalkers; they all work so hard. It's a team effort. They all know what to do, and I'm very happy to have all of them around me and help me. We don't have too many stakes-winning horses, but we try to make the best of it and we had a solid meet. We'd like to get even better horses and hopefully one day we'll get there. We're trying to build on the success and keep working hard and hopefully the big owners will send us some new stock.”

New York and national fixtures Michael Dubb and Mike Repole's Repole Stables shared the owner title with 10 wins apiece.

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Medina Spirit Ready to Represent Baffert in Santa Anita Derby

Sun, 2021-03-28 16:54

Zedan Racing Stables, Inc.'s Medina Spirit (Protonico) breezed a half in :48 flat (13/64) Sunday morning at Santa Anita as he readies to represent trainer Bob Baffert in Saturday's GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby. The GIII Robert B. Lewis S. winner has twice finished second to unbeaten stablemate Life Is Good (Into Mischief), who was also pointing for the Santa Anita Derby before being sidelined with an ankle chip.

“He went very nice [under jockey Juan Ochoa],” Baffert said. “I also worked [GII Rebel S. runner-up] Hozier (Pioneerof the Nile, 5f, 1:00.80, 26/76); [GISW and Saudi Cup runner-up] Charlatan (Speightstown, 4f, :48 flat, 13/64); and [defending champion female sprinter] Gamine (Into Mischief, 5f, 59.60, 3/76).”

'TDN Rising Star' Life Is Good, meanwhile, underwent surgery by Dr. Larry Bramlage at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital on Friday to remove the chip.

“The surgery went well,” Baffert said. “I received great reports on it. It was minor, so that was good and he should be back a lot sooner than we thought he would.”

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Prevalence Preps for Wood

Sun, 2021-03-28 16:20

Godolphin's unbeaten 'TDN Rising Star' Prevalence (Medaglia d'Oro) recorded his final breeze ahead of Saturday's GII Wood Memorial S. presented by Resorts World Casino, covering a half mile in a best-of-30 :47.60 at Palm Meadows Sunday morning.

“He worked here this morning at Palm Meadows and it went very well and he's flying up there [to Aqueductus] on Wednesday,” said conditioner Brendan Walsh. “It looks like he's going into the race in good shape. It's another step now, so we'll find out if he can go the two turns as well. This will answer our questions and be a good test for him.”

A buzzed-about 8 1/2-length debut winner going seven panels at Gulfstream Jan. 23, the homebred annexed a one-mile optional claimer by three lengths Mar. 11.

“He's a very nice, quiet, easy-going horse and I don't think the travel will affect him at all,” Walsh said. “We'll see how he handles the track. He hits me as a horse who can handle any kind of surface.”

Others to work in Florida Sunday before shipping to New York included the Saffie Joseph, Jr.-trained pair of GI Carter H. contender Mischevious Alex (Into Mischief) (4f, :47.14, 2/70 at Gulfstream) and GIII Bay Shore S.-bound Drain the Clock (Maclean's Music) (4f, :47.72, 5/70). Joseph will have 12 stalls at Belmont Park this spring.

“We're coming in with good horses in 'Alex' and Drain the Clock and it would be nice to get off to a good start,” he said. “I think we have a very strong set of horses.”

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