Ray Paulick

21 Days and Counting

By Ray Paulick - If you didn't find something to like at Belmont Park, Keeneland, or the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita Park over the weekend of Oct. 7-8, you must not like horse racing.

All Out

By Ray Paulick - Reaction to the Congressional ban on Internet wagering was swift and severe -- at least from stock market investors who previously were bullish about online poker, sports and horse race betting, and casinos.

Sound Investment

By Ray Paulick - The political power the horse racing industry now enjoys in our nation's capital is a result of a strategy planned and executed by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and supported by knowledgeable individuals who understand that contributions to the NTRA's Legislative Action Campaign and Political Action Committee are an investment in their future.

Jockeys Insurance Bill Opposed by NTRA, Other Groups

Several horse industry groups took a strong stand against legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday that would divert revenue from simulcasting to state racing commissions to fund accident insurance for jockeys, exercise riders, and other racetrack workers.

Return for Deposit

By Ray Paulick - Increased distribution along with the convenience of telephone or Internet betting resulted in double-digit increases of advance deposit wagering handle in 2003-2005. Del Mar reported a 24% increase one year ago, which makes this year's 7% drop all the more puzzling -- and alarming.

Strange Bedfellows

By Ray Paulick - The median household income for a family living in the United States was $46,326 in 2005 -- about $1,000 less than what a bloodstock agent would make in the purchase of a $950,000 horse if the agent was working for a client who agreed to pay a 5% commission, considered a standard fee by many in the Thoroughbred industry.

Locks

By Ray Paulick - Last time I looked there were no sure things in racing. There are, however, some pretty safe bets. Here are a few I see.

A Trying Time

By Ray Paulick - There is profound sadness in the Bluegrass region as its residents and extended network of friends and family begin to deal with the tragedy of Comair flight 5191, which left 49 people dead when it crashed on takeoff at the end of Lexington's Blue Grass Airport Runway 26 in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 27.

Gone Tomorrow?

By Ray Paulick - At the 45th Annual Jockey Club Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Aug. 10, 1997, Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps, then and now chairman of The Jockey Club, proclaimed that the "National Thoroughbred Racing Association is an idea whose time has come."

Surgeries and Steroids

A survey of buyers of Thoroughbred weanlings, yearlings, and 2-year-olds discovered that surgeries to correct conformation defects have a significant influence on whether or not someone will buy a horse at public auction.

Surgeries and Steroids

By Ray Paulick - A survey of buyers of Thoroughbred weanlings, yearlings, and 2-year-olds discovered that surgeries to correct conformation defects have a significant influence on whether or not someone will buy a horse at public auction.

Queen of Saratoga

By Ray Paulick - In the few steps she took, in that brief appearance in the Saratoga winner's circle, fans and admirers of Marylou Whitney witnessed uncommon courage and the heart of a champion.

Franchise Fracas

By Ray Paulick - Over the next few weeks, the contenders and pretenders angling for the right to operate the New York Thoroughbred racing franchise at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga will be finalizing their paperwork in the request for proposal process developed by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing.

Eclipse Expansion

By Ray Paulick - Keeneland's director of racing, W.B. Rogers Beasley, earlier this year made an interesting case for expansion of the Eclipse Awards from 11 to 15 equine categories (including steeplechasers). Suggested additions were 3-year-old males and 3-year-old fillies on turf, filly and mare sprinters, and turf sprinters.

Cut Down to Size

By Ray Paulick - In light of the industry's reticence to hand over any real power to the NTRA, downsized expectations and downsized staffing make perfect sense.

Fool Me Twice

By Ray Paulick - The Guild officers, convinced this time by California-based jockey Alex Solis in the Chris McCarron role, are in the process of hiring two racing outsiders to direct them: sports agent Dwight Manley, who became a millionaire by acquiring rare coins, and civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose integrity and credibility have never fully recovered from a scandal involving a mistress, a child out of wedlock, and questionable payments.

Beneath the Surface

By Ray Paulick - In California, where the safety-conscious California Horse Racing Board has mandated synthetic surfaces by the end of 2007 for the state's major tracks, an opportunity arose for the various track operators to seek a common solution.

Triple Threat

By Ray Paulick - Beginning in 1985, when the three Triple Crown host racing associations--Churchill Downs, the Maryland Jockey Club, and the New York Racing Association--joined together to form Triple Crown Productions, the series clearly began to benefit and grow. But the alliance has cracked, resulting this past year in separate television contracts and the loss of a title sponsor.

Meet the New Boss

By Ray Paulick - Some people may have been surprised to see a relatively unknown 18-year-old jockey aboard Jazil in the June 10 Belmont Stakes (gr. I)-but they shouldn't have been.

Serve It Up

By Ray Paulick - Why has it been so difficult for the racing industry to put together a meaningful series of races leading up to the Breeders' Cup World Championships?

Hall Monitor

By Ray Paulick -- For the second consecutive year, no contemporary horses were elected to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame. That is astonishing, considering some of the champions named on the ballot.

Tuesday Update: Barbaro 'Doing Very Well,' Fund Established

"Barbaro is doing very well. He's actually better today than he was even yesterday, and he was pretty good yesterday," Dr. Dean Richardson reported in a Tuesday morning news briefing at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, where the classic winner was resting two days after surgery to repair multiple fractures in his right hind leg.

State Vet Says Barbaro Not Injured in Starting Gate

David G. Zipf, chief veterinarian for the Maryland State Racing Commission, is convinced classic winner Barbaro did not suffer his career-ending injury in the starting gate when he broke through the stalls prior to the start of Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico.

Grandmaster

By Ray Paulick - If Barbaro can safely pass his next test, in the 131st running of the Preakness May 20, Matz' strategy will have worked to perfection. It will then be up to Barbaro to prove his place in the annals of the Turf come Belmont day.

Jackson to Push for Licensing of Bloodstock Agents

Jess Jackson, the California winemaker who has been pushing for ethics reform in public and private horse sales since filing suit against three former advisers last September, should have felt right at home Wednesday while addressing a roomful of attorneys attending the University of Kentucky Equine Law Seminar in Lexington.

Steady Hand

By Ray Paulick - It's difficult to imagine a Breeders' Cup without D. G. Van Clief Jr. The gentleman from Virginia has been a steady, guiding influence on Thoroughbred racing's championship day since before the inaugural running in 1984 at Hollywood Park.

Rich in Spirit

By Ray Paulick - They may not be pleasant subjects -- death, a tragic plane crash, and a serious motorcycle accident -- but the story lines surrounding several of this year's leading Triple Crown contenders promise to add a measure of emotion and high drama to what is always a compelling afternoon.

Purse Strings

By Ray Paulick - It's time for Magna and Gulfstream executives to refocus their energies on the core business of selling pari-mutuel tickets on horse racing. Based on their seven-year track record, they have not been very successful.

Trainer Martin Pleads Guilty in Connection With Gambling Ring

Seven of the 17 men indicted in January 2005 for their roles in a multi-million dollar illegal gambling ring have pleaded guilty, including trainer Gregory Martin, who admitted in federal court March 22 that he affected the outcome of a race by illegally administering a baking soda, sugar, and water mix (commonly known as a milkshake) to the horse A One Rocket just prior to his 10-length victory in a Dec. 18, 2003, race at Aqueduct.

Time Tested

By Ray Paulick - Unlike human sports, Thoroughbred racing doesn't conduct surprise tests between starts in search of blood-doping drugs. By relying only on race-day tests, that leaves the regulators of our sport living in yesterday's world.

Credibility Gap

By Ray Paulick - Election of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club executive vice president Craig Fravel as the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's new board chairman was considered such a momentous occasion that it took 19 days for the NTRA to issue a press release on the subject--and only after receiving an inquisitive call from a reporter.

Agents for Change

By Ray Paulick - The movement for reform in the business of bloodstock sales began in earnest nearly two years ago when Florida Thoroughbred owner and breeder Satish Sanan rallied support for a code of ethics, elimination of dual agency, and increased transparency. Sanan, in a letter to this publication, said "kickbacks and other fraudulent behavior are something the industry professionals know about, participate in, and encourage, but turn a deaf ear to when someone brings it to their attention."

Jones Defends Payment of Commissions to Former Jackson Adviser

Airdrie Stud owner Brereton C. Jones said he paid consulting fees and commissions of at least $130,000 after two Keeneland sales to trainer Bruce Headley, one of six defendants in a lawsuit filed by California winemaker Jess Jackson for fraudulent misrepresentation in the purchase of horses and horse farm property.

Jackson Complaint Amended Concerning Alleged Role of Pessin

Attorneys for California winemaker Jess Jackson, who has sued five former bloodstock advisers and agents and the Buckram Oaks Holdings of the late Mahmoud Fustok for alleged fraud in bloodstock and farm purchases, have amended their complaint with regard to three paragraphs relating to Lexington veterinarian Arnold Pessin.

Attorneys Exchange Verbal Punches in Jackson Lawsuit

Attorneys for Emmanuel de Seroux and his Narvick International bloodstock agency issued a statement late Tuesday saying their client has done nothing wrong and, in fact, is owed money by Jess Jackson, the California winemaker who sued de Seroux and five others for alleged fraudulent misrepresentation in numerous bloodstock transactions from 2003-05.

New Defendants, Fraud Charges Added to Jackson Suit Against Ex-Advisers

Attorneys for Jess Jackson have named three additional defendants and new fraud charges involving the wine magnate's bloodstock acquisitions and purchase of the former Buckram Oak Farm in Kentucky in a motion for leave to file an amended complaint to the Superior Court of California in San Diego. The motion was filed March 9.

Taking Root

By Ray Paulick - Kentucky politicians need to understand the educational and lobbying efforts undertaken by the Kentucky Equine Education Project are not a one-and-out deal. The horse industry, which for too long was nonexistent in Kentucky politics, quickly became the state's No. 1 lobbying force. And that's exactly what Kentucky's top industry should be.

Going For Broke

By Ray Paulick - With extraordinary luck to go with soundness, speed, heart, and three full racing seasons, the Forestry colt bought by Coolmore and its partners for an all-time record price for a horse sold at public auction could dig nearly halfway out of that $16-million hole while racing.

Guild Forced to Cut Benefits, Increase Dues for Survival

The Jockeys' Guild on Tuesday made several changes in its dues, insurance, and disability policy designed to bring the organization back from the brink of bankruptcy at which it found itself following a management change in November that purged former president Wayne Gertmenian and his top assistants.

Race-Day Reckoning

By Ray Paulick - When will regulators or racetrack executives follow the lead of Woodbine in Canada and the New York Racing Association and stop allowing private practitioners to treat horses on the day of a race?

CHRB Chairman Shapiro: 'We Are Fighting for Our Lives'

California Horse Racing Board chairman Richard Shapiro, during a talk at the Jockeys' Guild annual assembly, welcomed the Guild back into the "racing family" and congratulated them for making a management change in November 2005 that ended Wayne Gertmenian's 4 1/2-year tenure as president.

Bob Lewis Remembered as the 'Real Thing'

Family and friends of Robert Lewis filled the Saint James Church to capacity Thursday morning to remember the highly successful Thoroughbred owner-breeder and businessman who died in his Newport Beach, Calif., home last Friday.

Pair of Aces

By Ray Paulick - Roy Chapman and Bob Lewis were members of a very select club in Thoroughbred racing. Both experienced what most owners involved in the sport would call the ultimate thrill: winning the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).

A Bluegrass Bonus

By Ray Paulick - The Kentucky Thoroughbred Breeders' Fund, signed into law in late December by Gov. Ernie Fletcher, kicks into high gear with the opening of the 2006 breeding season.

Declining Action

By Ray Paulick - Racing has a problem with declining economic indicators. But the real crisis is its inability to take action.

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