Ray Paulick

Foal Losses 'Devastating' to Family-Run Jonabell Farm

John A. Bell III reached into his pocket and pulled out two sheets of paper with the cold, hard facts. "Well, here's the bad news," he said. Bad news, indeed, for the family-owned and operated Jonabell Farm that Bell founded in 1956. Of 76 mares previously checked and believed to be in foal for next year, 33 of them, 44%, are no longer pregnant. "Never seen anything like it," Bell said. His wife, Jessica, shook her head, adding, "It's just devastating."

Estimate: Foal Losses Could Have $150 Million Impact on Kentucky Economy

With Kentucky's share of the Thoroughbred foal crop in the United States at an all-time high of nearly 30%, the repercussions of the excessive foal loss that many Central Kentucky farms are experiencing may be felt for years to come. Based on figures compiled by The Blood-Horse, the economic impact of the problem could easily exceed $150 million, if foal losses amount to 20% of the anticipated 2002 crop. A 1997 national economic impact study conducted by Barents estimated the Kentucky breeding sector to be a $900 million industry annually.

Derby Dreams

By Ray Paulick -- John and Donna Ward's stable is thriving, in large part because of a team approach to their operation.

Point Given Gives Baffert a Scare Derby Morning

"Poor Pepe looked like a gerbil hanging on to a piece of PVC pipe," Bob Baffert said Saturday morning after Kentucky Derby favorite Point Given gave the trainer a scare following a routine gallop over the Churchill Downs surface. Baffert said Point Given came off the track, wheeled, and repeatedly reared straight up in the air, flailing his front legs, and causing exercise rider Pepe Aragon to hold on for dear life.

Chicago Icon Dave Feldman Remembered by Friends, Colleagues

Longtime Chicago Sun-Times Turf writer Dave Feldman was remembered by friends, colleagues and even some of his fellow Broken Down Horseplayers during memorial services in Chicago on Wednesday afternoon. Feldman died from heart failure on Monday night -- six days before the Kentucky Derby and decades after he began answering a "How you doin?" greeting from people with "I'm dyin!"

Dubai Tragedy

By Ray Paulick -- It's a safe assumption that Dubai Millennium has always gotten the best care money can buy, from his days as a foal and racehorse, and certainly in the early stages of his stallion career at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket, England. But that wasn't enough to prevent his death from grass sickness, an insidious disease.

Missing in Action?

The entry box at Churchill Downs doesn't close until 10 a.m. on May 2, but as this is written it appears the 127th Kentucky Derby (gr. I) will be renewed without an entry from the barn of D. Wayne Lukas.

Magical Ride

By Ray Paulick -- Fifteen years ago in the 112th running of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), a 73-year-old trainer put a 54-year-old jockey up on a 3-year-old colt named Ferdinand, and something magical happened. Now Laffit Pincay, like Shoemaker in 1986, is 54 years old, and standing in the twilight of a Hall of Fame career. Can he pull a rabbit out of his hat under the Twin Spires this May 5?

Dual Personality

By Ray Paulick -- Point Given first got my attention last year in the 1 1/16-mile Champagne Stakes (gr. I).

Rash of Positives for Human Drug Clonidine Reported in Nebraska

A human drug used to treat high blood pressure, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and addictive behavior has been detected in at least 10 post-race samples of horses racing in Nebraska recently, and sources say the number of positive tests could double in the coming weeks. Seven trainers have been notified by the Nebraska Racing Commission that their horses tested positive for Clonidine, which drug testing experts say can have both a calming and analgesic effect on horses and is closely related to Romifidine and Guanabenz, two drugs suspected by racing officials as being used illegally on horses.

The New Breed

By Ray Paulick -- By almost any measure, Thoroughbreds racing today are not much faster and certainly less durable than their ancestors.

Champion Chilukki Retired; Will Be Bred to Storm Cat

Chilukki, who won an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly of 1999 for Robert and Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable, has been retired and will be bred to leading sire Storm Cat. Trainer Bob Baffert said the decision to retire the daughter of Cherokee Run was made by the McNairs after some filling was detected in an ankle just before Baffert left for Dubai, where he captured the March 24 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) with Mike Pegram's Captain Steve.

Book Buzz

By Ray Paulick -- We have what should be a runaway winner in one of the divisions of the annual Eclipse Awards, which honor the equine and human champions of our sport. Whether it's an Award of Merit, which is given to a worthy individual nearly every year, or a Special Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement when warranted, Laura Hillenbrand is deserving.

Desormeaux to Ride in Japan for Three Months

Kent Desormeaux won the Kentucky Derby in 1998 and 2000, but in 2001 his best Derby hope may come on May 27 in the Japanese Derby at Tokyo racecourse. Desormeaux has agreed to ride in Japan on a three-month license from the Japan Racing Association, beginning on April 28, the date of a key trial race for the Japanese classic.

Memory Boost

By Ray Paulick -- In some ways, Maria's Mon was a forgotten champion when he arrived at Pin Oak Stud near Versailles, Ky., for the 1997 breeding season.

Asmussen Celebrates 39th Birthday in New Role Out of the Saddle

Cash Asmussen, who turned 39 years old on Thursday, isn't ready to announce his retirement, though for the first time since 1982 he won't be riding in France when the flat racing season there kicks into high gear. Instead, he'll tend to the Asmussen family business in Laredo, Texas, working with young horses, planning matings, and helping brother Steve turn an already successful public stable into what Cash hopes will be an operation capable of winning any race in the world.

Asmussen Celebrates 39th Birthday in New Role Out of the Saddle

Cash Asmussen, who turned 39 years old on Thursday, isn't ready to announce his retirement, though for the first time since 1982 he won't be riding in France when the flat racing season there kicks into high gear. Instead, he'll tend to the Asmussen family business in Laredo, Texas, working with young horses, planning matings, and helping brother Steve turn an already successful public stable into what Cash hopes will be an operation capable of winning any race in the world.

Ohio Lawmakers Look to Put VLTs at Tracks to Help Schools

Facing a state Supreme Court deadline of June 15 to deal with public school funding problems, Republican members of the Ohio House of Representatives apparently are behind a plan to install video lottery machines at racetracks to raise between $230 million to $930 million in revenue over the next two years.

Brothers in Arms

By Ray Paulick -- A recent legal challenge by a group of Quarter Horse breeders could weaken the AQHA's ability to enforce its rules and regulations, and it's conceivable an adverse court ruling eventually may impact The Jockey Club and other breed registries.

Captain Steve, Aptitude Have World Cup Preps; Frankel Names Stevens

Mike Pegram's Captain Steve and Juddmonte Farms' Aptitude, America's two entries in the $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on March 24, each worked in Southern California on Friday, one day before they are scheduled to leave on their long journey to the desert nation. Also on Friday, trainer Robert Frankel indicated that Gary Stevens will ride Aptitude for the first time in the World Cup.

Japanese Racing Suffers Business Declines Again in 2000

Like its ailing economy, racing in Japan is slumping. The Japan Racing Association reported a third consecutive year of declines in 2000 in both on-track attendance and total handle. With government-sanctioned wagering on soccer set to begin in Japan this year, 2001 promises to be a major challenge for the JRA.

A Sunday Drive

By Ray Paulick -- Some Western Hemisphere breeders worry about the heavy concentration of Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector blood in the modern-day Thoroughbred. They're not alone in their concerns over a limited gene pool. A similar predicament is developing in Japan, where Sunday Silence reigns supreme.

Horse Poor

By Ray Paulick -- If California Gov. Gray Davis would like to see what he's done for racing in the Golden State, he should take a trip to the racetrack--perhaps one in West Virginia or Delaware. That's where a number of horses from California are racing these days.

Corporate Exposure

by Ray Paulick-- Julius Boros led professional sports in a new direction in 1971 when he donned a hat bearing the logo of the Iowa appliance maker Amana during a televised tournament. He may have gotten nothing more than a Radar Range out of the deal, but Boros opened the doors to what is now a multimillion-dollar endorsement business for many professional athletes, including some jockeys.

A Taxing Year Ahead

By Ray Paulick -- People in the Thoroughbred industry might see some similarities between 1986 and 2001. And for that reason, they've got a right to be a little nervous about things.

Food for Thought

By Ray Paulick -- What if they gave a dinner and nobody ate? That question came to mind several hours after arriving at the beautiful Saenger Theater in New Orleans for the 30th annual Eclipse Awards Dinner on the evening of Jan. 30. Thirty years, and they still haven't got it right -- though they are getting closer.

Eclipse Awards: Tiznow and the Mayne Event

On a night of comedic one-liners, most of them from the hilarious emcee, Kenny Mayne, National Thoroughbred Racing Association commissioner Tim Smith said the single phrase most of the 500 people attending Tuesday's 30th annual Eclipse Awards dinner at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans, La., were waiting to hear. When he opened the envelope containing the name of the Horse of the Year for 2000, Smith said simply: "Congratulations California, it's Tiznow."

Eclipse Awards: Older Male: Lemon Drop Kid

It's difficult to imagine a colt that wins the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and Travers Stakes (gr. I) as a 3-year-old has much room to improve, but Lemon Drop Kid stepped up his performances to another level in 2000.

Sink or Swim

By Ray Paulick -- In its first three years, the NTRA has proven it can put out fires -- and there have been many. It's what happens next that is really important, because putting out fires was not what the NTRA's commissioner, Tim Smith, was hired to do. If Smith and his top aides no longer are required to spend most of their time and energy keeping the organization intact, we finally will be able to gauge how effective this national office for racing can be.

The Importance of TVG

By Ray Paulick -- Without question, the TV Games Network has fallen short of the mark in its first 18 months of existence.

Remembering Affirmed

By Ray Paulick -- News of Affirmed's death on Jan. 12 reminded me just how much one horse can elicit emotions that change your life.

Common Threads

By Ray Paulick -- Frank Stronach hasn't been happy with the status quo -- but neither are some of his critics.

Stronach Won't Change Plans for Gulfstream Forum

Magna Entertainment (MEC) chairman Frank Stronach said on Wednesday he has no plans to cancel the open forum he has scheduled at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 14, dismissing the suggestion made Tuesday night by breeder John Gaines in a speech at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club in Lexington, Ky.

A Dandy Mistake

By Ray Paulick -- In recent weeks, New Jersey racetrack executive Bruce Garland even suggested the Graded Stakes Committee is a puppet of the New York Racing Association and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Yesterday's Heroes

By Ray Paulick -- In much the same way that yesterday's news is pushed aside to make way for today's big story, many of us in the Thoroughbred industry have a tendency to forget yesterday's heroes too quickly.

Magna Gets Call-A-Bet System, Track in Ladbroke Deal

Magna Entertainment, the growing racetrack company run by Frank Stronach, has entered into an agreement with Ladbroke Racing and a subsidiary to purchase Ladbroke's Pennsylvania-based account wagering system ("Call-A-Bet"), the Meadows harness track, and four off-track betting facilities, plus an interest in the Racing Network satellite TV channel.

Sealing the Deal

By Ray Paulick -- Without Jay Hickey's tireless efforts to round up and coordinate support for horse racing, this industry might be as endangered as the sea lions off Alaska.

Bush's Texas Replacement Called 'Friend of Racing'

Between now and the time George W. Bush is sworn in as the 43rd president of the United States next month, Lt. Gov. Rick Perry will replace Bush as Texas governor. Perry is a Texas A&M University graduate who served as the Texas Agriculture Commissioner prior to being elected lieutenant governor in 1998. He is described by Robert Spellings, a lobbyist for the Texas Thoroughbred Association, as "genuinely and generally in favor of the horse industry. He's a friend."

Tuning Out

By Ray Paulick -- One of the most obvious shortcomings of the 2001 racing season promises to be the loss from the television broadcast schedule of a number of important Triple Crown prep races.

Curious Activities

By Ray Paulick -- Far be it for a country bumpkin in Kentucky to understand the politics of racing in a place like New Jersey, but I try, and there are some things going on there that just do not make sense to this simple mind.

Future Options

By Ray Paulick -- The Japan Racing Association, whose business and marketing acumen has been a role model for the rest of the racing world, is sputtering after more than a decade and a half of sensational growth.

Wing Arrow Takes Japan Cup Dirt; Lord Sterling Third

Former American claimer Lord Sterling gave his connections a thrill as he battled for the lead on the turn for home in the first running of the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) at Tokyo Race Course on Saturday, but Ron and Susie Anson's gutty Black Tie Affair gelding was overtaken in midstretch by a pair of Japanese runners, winding up third behind Wing Arrow and Sanford City in the 1 5/16-mile event.

Americans Stretch Legs for Japan Cup Dirt and Turf Races

American runners John's Call, Timboroa, Euchre, and Lord Sterling had their first serious exercise at Tokyo race course on Thursday in preparation for the Japan Racing Association's two major group I international races: the inaugural $2.4 million Japan Cup Dirt at 1 5/16 miles on Saturday and the $4.4 million Japan Cup run at a mile and a half over the turf on Sunday.

Coming Up Short

By Ray Paulick -- Magna and Churchill have a common problem with short fields in California.

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