Evan Hammonds

Trainer Robert Durso Dead at 68

Trainer Robert J. Durso passed away at his home in Hallandale, Fla., on Wednesday morning following a short illness. The trainer of multiple graded winner Frisk Me Now was 68 years old.

Not So Special

By Evan Hammonds - During this year's Preakness weekend at Pimlico, the "Magna Entertainment Experience" surrounding the second jewel of the Triple Crown will not be nearly as enriching. On Jan. 25, the Maryland Jockey Club stuck a fork in the Pimlico Special (gr. I) for 2007.

I Guarantee It

By Evan I. Hammonds - We're pretty sure there are no guarantees in Thoroughbred racing. However, let's step out for Breeders' Cup XXIII at Churchill Downs Nov. 4. There are a few "automatics." I guarantee it.

McCarthy Covers Pletcher's Churchill Base

The key to any Thoroughbred trainer's success is the quality of people around them. Trainer Todd Pletcher learned that from his mentor, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Pletcher, the two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer, is working with the same model. Holding down the Churchill Downs barn is assistant Mike McCarthy.

Churchill Unveils Statue of Pat Day

A bronze statue of Hall of Fame Jockey Pat Day, his arms raised in triumph, was unveiled during a noon ceremony Sunday at Churchill Downs. The sculpture, created by Louisville artist Raymond Graf, was inspired by Day's victory in the 1992 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) aboard Lil E. Tee.

Pletcher Ties Lukas' Graded Stakes Mark in Discovery

The hits just keep on coming for trainer Todd Pletcher. First, he tops his own single-season earnings mark; then he enters a record 18 horses for the upcoming Breeders' Cup World Championships; on Wednesday, he ties D. Wayne Lukas' single season mark for graded wins. It's only Oct. 25, folks.

O'Brien's Mile Team is Straight 'A's

Trainer Aidan O'Brien pre-entered five horses for the Breeders' Cup World Championships. Based at Ballydoyle in Ireland, O'Brien holds a strong pair for the NetJets Mile (gr. IT) despite the fact one of Europe's top milers, George Washington, has been entered to run in the $5-million Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at 10 furlongs.

Mile Preview: The Amazing Race

This year's 3-year-old crop can been dubbed the "Killer Bs" with the likes of Bernardini, Barbaro, Bluegrass Cat, and Brother Derek. After it is over, this year's cast for the Nov. 4 NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) might be called the "Amazing As" with a fearsome foursome of the pre-entered Ad Valorem, Araafa, Aragorn, and Aussie Rules.

September Sire Power: Young and Old Rule at Keeneland

While it was Sheikh Mohammed who drove the market during the two-day select sessions of Keeneland's September yearling sale Monday and Tuesday, it was powered by the sires of those yearlings. The leading sires from Book One are a heady mix of the old guard with a trio of young shooters making some interesting headway.

TOBA Survey Calls for More Disclosure

More than two-thirds of respondents to a Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association survey of auction buyers indicated they are less likely to purchase a horse that has undergone a surgical procedure prior to being sold.

Alfred G. Vanderbilt: Migliore Confident in Afrashad

Afrashad, unbeaten but untested against stakes company, faces a stern test Saturday at Saratoga in the six-furlong Alfred G. Vanderbilt Breeders' Cup (gr. II). Five battle-tested foes await in the $200,000 race, but jockey Richard Migliore is confident in Godolphin Racing's 4-year-old colt.

Without English Channel, Eight Enter Sword Dancer

With English Channel heading out of Saratoga for a trip to Chicago for the Arlington Million (gr. IT), eight older turf horses have been entered for Saturday's Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT). The 12-furlong Sword Dancer goes as the ninth race and is one of two graded stakes on the Saratoga program.

Empire Maker, Mineshaft Fillies Fetch Seven Figures at Saratoga

Relative newcomer Ahmed Zayat went to $1.6 million for an Empire Maker filly Wednesday night to top the 86th annual Fasig-Tipton selected yearling sale in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The historic sale, now with a two-day run, had yet another solid performance with the average virtually mirroring last year's figure and the gross increasing significantly.

Two Yearlings Hit $1M at Saratoga; Hot Market for Fillies

The opening session of the 86th annual Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale was one for the ladies, as a strong market for fillies led the way Tuesday evening in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Three of the eight highest-priced yearlings that sold for $500,000 or more were fillies, including the session topper -- a $1,150,000 daughter of first-year sire Sky Mesa. A colt by Distorted Humor later sold for $1 million.

Second Season

By Evan Hammonds - Major League Baseball just celebrated its All-Star Game last month in Pittsburgh, representing the traditional midpoint as "America's Pastime" heads into its second season and hits the turn on its run to the World Series in October. So, too, is Thoroughbred racing entering its second season.

Scat Daddy Nabs Teuflesberg at Wire of Sanford

Scat Daddy pushed his backers to the brink but delivered an impressive performance late to run down Teuflesberg in the final strides of the $147,000 Sanford Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga July 27. Scat Daddy was the 3-10 favorite in the five-horse field of 2-year-olds while Teuflesberg went off at 13-1 odds.

Author Peter Chew Dead at 82

Peter Thomas Chew, an author, journalist and former correspondent for The Blood-Horse died July 16 at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., of complications from a heart attack. He was 82.

Name Dropping

By Evan I. Hammonds - I don't recall the meeting when it was first discussed, but I remember volunteering. Looking for new avenues of coverage for racing's big events--the Triple Crown, the Breeders' Cup--on bloodhorse.com, the idea of a "blog" came up. "Blog," short for "Web log," is a relatively new concept and is still subject to debate for its actual purpose and application.

Cacique Holds on in Manhattan Squeaker

Juddmonte Farms' Cacique, who just missed by a half-length in his last start in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT), held off a hard-charging Relaxed Gesture to earn a head-bobbing victory in the $400,000 Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) Saturday at Belmont Park.

Maryland's Fastest? It's Friendly Island

Friendly Island attended the early pace, then took over in the stretch to win the $190,000 Emirates Airline Maryland Breeders' Cup Sprint Handicap (gr. III) at Pimlico Saturday by three-quarters of a length. It was the second stakes win in a row for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Garrett Gomez.

Invasor Pulls off Special Surprise

Making his first start in North America, Shadwell Stable's Invasor pulled off a mild upset over favorite Wanderin Boy in the $500,000 Pimlico Special (gr. I) May 19 before 24,429 at Old Hilltop. Invasor got the 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.40.

Happy Birthday! Foaling Dates of Derby Contenders

On Monday, did anybody wish Derby contender Seaside Retreat happy birthday? Someone should have, because May 1 was his foaling date. While all horses foaled in the Northern Hemisphere have the universal birth date of Jan. 1 as their official age of racing, not all of this year's contenders are actually 3-year-olds.

McLaughlin Returns With Late-Running Jazil

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is no stranger to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. The 45-year-old Lexington native was a long-time assistant to five-time Derby winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas and last year sent out 71-1 Closing Argument, a surprise runner-up behind Giacomo. This year, the laid-back Kentuckian hopefully has two horses for this year's Run for the Roses in Jazil and Flashy Bull.

Beacon Shine Dies After Bout of Colic

Beacon Shine, a 3-year-old son of Montbrook owned by Kinsman Stable, died April 8 after a bout of colic. The colt, trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, was based at Churchill Downs and was entered to run in last Sunday's $100,000 Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland.

RCI Integrity Services: Taking the Lead

The Racing Commissioners International (RCI) is taking an industry leading position with their subsidiary RCI Integrity Services. The push forward was made during the 72nd annual convention of the RCI that is taking place at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort near Albuquerque, N.M.

RCI Gets Call for a Wagering Clearinghouse

In order to help racing jurisdictions get a better grip on just exactly who is betting into their pools, a call was made out at the Association or Racing Commissioners International convention for the RCI to take the lead in forming a "wagering clearinghouse" for secondary betting entities.

Youbet Chairman Discusses Launch of Youbet.net

Chuck Champion, president and CEO of Youbet.com discussed the launch of a new Web site, Youbet.net, Wednesday afternoon during the annual convention of the Association of Racing Commissioners International. Youbet.net will be a learning site for new players to learn more about pari-mutuel wagering.

RCI Convention Addresses Federal Regulation

Racing is in need of some forms of additional federal regulation according to a panel of experts at the 72nd annual convention of the Association of Racing Commissioners International. The general consensus was reached Wednesday morning during a panel discussion titled, "Is Federal Regulation Necessary for Racing?"

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