By Ray Paulick - Owners and breeders who have become increasingly critical of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association point to a funding imbalance that shows racetracks lagging behind in their financial contributions to the organization.
A bill designed to protect horse buyers from being defrauded has been introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives by Democratic Rep. Denver Butler of Louisville. The legislation has the backing of California vintner Jess Jackson, whose lawsuit against agents Emmanuel de Seroux and Brad Martin and trainer Bruce Headley alleged fraud in private and public auction purchases made on behalf of Jackson.
By Ray Paulick - The respected and beloved Penny Chenery, who brought the crowd to its feet when she was honored with an Eclipse Award of Merit, set the standard for class and elegance while reminiscing about her longtime love affair with horse racing and the life-changing experience of owning Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner and two-time Horse of the Year.
By Ray Paulick - The selection process for the Eclipse Awards has remained relatively unchanged since 1971, when the awards program and annual dinner were inaugurated by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations to singularly honor horse racing's champions.
By Ray Paulick - The Breeders' Cup is one of the greatest innovations in the history of horse racing in North America--perhaps throughout the world. It also is one of the industry's biggest shared assets, one that has enjoyed sustained growth.
Former National Thoroughbred Racing Association commissioner Tim Smith weighed in on Sunday's election of a new board of directors for Breeders' Cup Ltd., warning participants about the negative impact internal divisiveness could have on the sport.
The names of 19 Thoroughbred owners and breeders have been submitted and at least one more nomination is expected to be made from the floor when the 48 directors of Breeders' Cup Ltd. meet in Lexington Sunday to vote for a leaner board that will have just 13 members.
By Ray Paulick - This year's 60-day session of Kentucky's general assembly will be the first time KEEP--established in May 2004--has pushed for the "Keep It in Kentucky" constitutional amendment, so named because it is estimated that Kentuckians who crossed into Indiana and Illinois last year spent $671 million on casino gaming.
Ray Paulick - One year from now, when The Blood-Horse conducts its annual year in review, it's likely that Jan. 8 will stand out as one of the most important dates on the calendar. In fact, it could be one of the most critical days in the modern history of the Thoroughbred industry.
By Ray Paulick - On Dec. 9, Jeb Bush said he reluctantly would sign legislation authorizing slot machines at four Broward County pari-mutuel operations, including Gulfstream Park in Hallandale. The gambling machines were approved by a 57-43 margin of Broward County voters in a referendum in March.
By Ray Paulick - Horses today--for whatever reason--are racing fewer times during their careers. Trainers are handling them more carefully than ever before. Running a young horse through the obligatory Triple Crown prep races and then through the demanding series itself can take a toll--not just on the brave animals who try it but on a sport that suffers through the injuries of its best performers.
By Ray Paulick - Japanese horse racing has had something of a coming-out party in 2005. Earlier this year, Cesario invaded American shores from her Japanese homeland and overpowered a top-class field of fillies and mares in Hollywood Park's American Oaks (gr. IT). Reigning Japanese Horse of the Year Zenno Rob Roy was sent to England, where he was nailed on the finish line to narrowly lose the Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) to Electrocutionist.
Yoshino Matsumoto is willing to do just about anything to get a spot on the rail at the finish line for major races at Japan Racing Association tracks -- including camping out by the front gate for as long as a week.
Frankie Dettori needed every ounce of his riding skills to get Alkaased to the line first in the 25th running of the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) at Tokyo Race Course on Sunday, winning the 2,400 meter turf race by a nose over the fast-closing Japanese-bred runner Heart's Cry in world-record time of 2:22.10.
Heavily favored Japanese-bred Kane Hekili emerged from a three-horse, head-bobbing finish to narrowly win the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) over American-breds Seeking the Dia and Star King Man at Tokyo Race Course Saturday.
Racing officials from Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Japan unveiled plans for an expanded Asian Mile Challenge, a four-race series of turf fixtures that will offer prize money and bonuses totaling $12.6 million beginning in March 2006.
Though Japanese Triple Crown winner Deep Impact is sitting this one out, Sunday's 25th running of the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) boasts two Breeders' Cup winners, one winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Lucien Barriere (Fr-I), a two-time Vodafone Coronation Cup (Eng-I) winner, and the two previous winners of the Japan Cup.
By Ray Paulick - On Nov. 16, one day before a congressional subcommittee looked into the possible need for legislation to improve health insurance and safety issues for jockeys, the full U.S. House of Representatives said "no" to the creation of a federal commission to oversee professional boxing.
Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap (gr. I) winner Lava Man, who will try to give trainer Doug O'Neill his second victory in three years in the Japan Cup Dirt, worked six furlongs in 1:12 1/5 at Hollywood Park Saturday morning and is set to head to Japan on Tuesday.
By Ray Paulick - D.G. Van Clief Jr., commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and president of the Breeders' Cup, set a bullish target for the 2010 World Thoroughbred Championships: $200 million in pari-mutuel handle.
Keeneland president Nick Nicholson called Alice Headley Chandler "a leader in an industry that desperately needs leadership" in his introductory remarks describing the honor guest at the Thoroughbred Club of America's 74th annual testimonial dinner.
Mike Pegram's two-time grade II winner Woke Up Dreamin has been retired and arrived at Millennium Farms in Lexington, where he will stand the 2006 breeding season. His initial stud fee will be $7,500 live foal.
By Ray Paulick - The 2005 Horse of the Year vote figures to be a one-sided affair. Saint Liam raced strictly in grade I competition from early February until late November and won four of six races, including the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge in an impressive farewell performance.
Jockeys' Guild board chairman David Shepherd said he will bring a neutral position on the organization's leadership, specifically president and CEO Wayne Gertmenian, when the board conducts a teleconference meeting as early as Tuesday evening.
A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee looking at jockey health and welfare issues was sharply critical of current Jockeys' Guild management during a hearing on Tuesday that began with testimony from paralyzed rider Gary Birzer and ended with a comment calling Wayne Gertmenian's actions as Guild president and CEO an "absolute disgrace."
By Ray Paulick - Emotions have run high the three previous times Belmont Park has hosted the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. They have run the gamut, too, from the pain and sorrow experienced when three runners died in 1990, to the exhilaration of Cigar's captivating run down the stretch in 1995, to the enduring human spirit shown in 2001, when Americans were still reeling from the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Joseph Pons Sr. touched a lot of people in his life, from breeders and racetrackers to prisoners he helped rehabilitate at a nearby detention center. Hundreds of those people turned out Monday at the Pons family's Country Life Farm north of Baltimore to celebrate the life of the beloved Marylander who died last Wednesday at the age of 83.
By Ray Paulick - So far, so good. That's the early report card on Polytrack, the all-weather surface that was tested under American racing conditions for the first time at the recently concluded Turfway Park meeting in Northern Kentucky.
California wine magnate Jess Jackson has filed suit in California Superior Court in San Diego against three former advisors, charging them with fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment in the purchase of horses both privately and at public sales.
By Ray Paulick - Seldom do horses win a major stakes in a common gallop like Borrego won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Oct. 1. But you only have to go back three weeks, to Sept. 10, to see a similar romp, when Saint Liam won the Woodward (gr. I) in a laugher.
By Ray Paulick - The bidding duel between Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed and Ireland's John Magnier for the $9.7-million sale-topping Storm Cat--Tranquility Lake colt wasn't the only drama at Keeneland in the opening days of the annual September yearling auction.
By Ray Paulick - Horse racing people have heart. If that was ever in doubt, look no further than the extraordinary steps countless owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians, racing officials, fans, and others have taken in response to the terrible devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.
By Ray Paulick - Owner apathy. It's what Ed Friendly called the biggest obstacle to his successful effort a decade ago to overthrow the status quo and form the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the first and surprisingly only state organization to strictly represent horse owners in negotiations with racetracks on important matters such as purse contracts and simulcasting.
By Ray Paulick - Unbeaten Lost in the Fog, America's most popular racehorse, is now its best, according to the Aug. 29 poll of racing journalists conducted by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
By Ray Paulick - There is a very good reason people are suspicious about Tim Smith's motives in his role as president of Friends of New York Racing, the industry funded think tank and research group behind the proposal to change the business model under which racing in the Empire State is run.
Continuing on a theme he struck during the Jockey Club Round Table the previous morning, Tim Smith, the president of the Friends of New York Racing, outlined the research group's preliminary findings and recommendations during a public forum Monday at Fasig-Tipton's Humphrey S. Finney sale pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Despite overnight rains that left Saratoga's main track muddy for the second consecutive morning, some key workouts were recorded Sunday for two grade I stakes for 3-year-olds contested at the spa next Saturday, the 1 1/4-mile Travers and the seven-furlong King's Bishop.
What a Song, the $1.9-million Barretts March sale topper who won Sunday's Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis, was euthanized Friday after suffering a fractured sesamoid in his right front leg during a routine gallop a few hours earlier.
By Ray Paulick - The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium--RMTC for short--is one of the newer acronyms in horse racing's bountiful alphabet soup. Nevertheless, it is doing what many of its verb-challenged siblings are not: making progress on specific issues of concern within the industry.
Bill Casner of WinStar Farm has been elected chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, replacing Cobra Farm's Gary Biszantz, who was first elected to a one-year term in 2001 and re-elected three successive years.
By Ray Paulick - The stars were aligned at Saratoga last summer when Marylou Whitney's Birdstone was victorious in the Spa meeting's most prestigious race, the Travers (gr. I). No one personifies Saratoga Springs better than Whitney, whose tireless dedication to fund-raising for numerous charities reaches its zenith during the summer race meeting.
Saying racing is all about the fans and calling himself "the luckiest fan alive," Nick Zito entered the Hall of Fame Monday with the same humility and grace that has marked his life-long love affair with Thoroughbred racing.
By Ray Paulick - By year's end, betting on pari-mutuel races run in the United States could fall to its lowest point in five years. Compounding that sobering possibility is this: The percentage of revenue to purses from every dollar wagered is also heading in the wrong direction.
By Ray Paulick - Thoroughbred owners and breeders in California soon must come to grips with the fact two of the state's five major tracks are owned by a company whose primary business is land development, not racing.