News

Headlines and features from the Thoroughbred industry

Penn National Gaming Prez to Retire in May

Bill Bork, the longtime racetrack executive who spent much of his time in Pennsylvania, where he even helped get old Pitt Park off the ground, will retire as president of Penn National Gaming in May. Richard Orbann, president of soon-to-close Garden State Park and a top official with Pennwood Racing, will take over for Bork.

Hialeah Chief Offers Dates Solution; Questions Calder, Gulfstream

In the absence of a dates agreement between three Thoroughbred tracks in South Florida, Hialeah Park chairman John Brunetti has proposed a year-round, three-track schedule, and said Hialeah would allow Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park to have the first and second choices. There have been hints the current meet at historic Hialeah could be its last.

Storm Behavior

During thunderstorms, most horses show no noticeable response to either thunder or lightning independent of the severity of the rain and the wind.

Show Horse vs. Racehorse

By Joe Riddell -- Are Thoroughbreds more unsound today than 50, 100, or 150 years ago? Most trainers will agree they are. There are many reasons, but the number one cause for this unsoundness is the way we are raising our young Thoroughbred athlete.

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?

Unionization Bill Clears Hurdle in California

Introduced by Assemblyman Herb Wesson, AB856 establishes guidelines for unionizing backstretch workers and mandates better living and working conditions at the state's racetracks and training facilities. Wesson, who chairs the Assembly's Governmental Organization committee, brought the bill before that panel for its first public hearing. The bill passed on to the Assembly's Labor Committee.

Lake William, Maiden Filly Post Santa Anita Upsets

With odds-on favorite Malabar Gold fading to finish out of the money, there were some larger than usual show prices for Monday's San Simeon Handicap, the Santa Anita Park closing-day feature won by Lake William. In the other stakes on the program, Starrer posted her first career victory in the Santa Paula Stakes on the program.

Attendance, Betting Drop Slightly at Santa Anita

An abnormally large amount of rainfall for the second season in a row resulted in slight declines in attendance and wagering at Santa Anita Park. The Southern California track reported the meet that concluded Monday had average daily handle (all sources) of $11,101,384, down 3.2 percent from last year.

Express Tour Shakes Off Minor Injury

Godolphin Racing's Express Tour, winner of the UAE Derby, is shaking off the effects of a foot bruise that has hampered his training in recent days at Churchill Downs. Godolphin assistant trainer Eric Coatrieux said the colt was "off for a couple of days" after he bruised his left front foot in training. Coatrieux expects the colt to return to the track on Tuesday.

From Lexington to Louisville for Turnberry Isle?

He's the last chance for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas to participate in the 2001 Kentucky Derby, but his trainer says Turnberry Isle will have to earn his way into the starting gate on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs. Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier's Irish-bred son of Deputy Minister is scheduled to run in Saturday's $325,000 Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) at Keeneland and Lukas said Monday that a good performance by the colt in that 1 1/16-mile race could put him in the Kentucky Derby. If so, that would keep Lukas' record streak of Derby participation alive. The four-time Kentucky Derby winner has started at least one horse in every Derby since 1981.

Sexton Named Executive VP Of Arlington

Steve Sexton is the new executive vice president of Arlington Park. The announcement was made Monday by John Long, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Churchill Downs Incorporated ("CDI") (Nasdaq: CHDN). Sexton will report directly to Scott Mordell, Arlington's president and chief executive officer.

The Horse Hosts Free Foot and Mouth Seminar

The Horse magazine will conduct a free seminar for horse owners and industry professionals addressing EPM, West Nile, and Foot and Mouth disease concerns. The April 27 event at the Kentucky Horse Park Visitor's Information Center coincides with the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at the same location. Speakers will include Dr. Bill Saville, of The Ohio State University, and Dr. Peter Timoney, of the Gluck Equine Research Center, in Lexington.

Oaklawn On-Track Numbers Dip, Off-Track Gain Slightly

Arkansas' Oaklawn Park drew an average of 11,251 fans a day this season, down from last year's 12,428. Based on figures through the meet's April 14 close, wagering by Oaklawn patrons on races at the Hot Springs track was down 11.1%. But wagering on simulcast races was up 8%. Calvin Borel won the jockey title with 70 winners. Cole Norman won the training title by saddling 43 winners.

Point Given's Role as Derby Favorite Strengthened

Point Given didn't even run over the weekend, but English bookmaking firm William Hill dropped its Kentucky Derby (gr. I) price anyway, from 7-4 to 3-2. There certainly is no disputing Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Point Given is a deserved favorite for the May 5 Derby. Mike Battaglia, who has made Churchill Downs' Derby morning line since 1975, said if he had to make the line today, he would make Point Given 2-1.

New York Group to Fund VLT Study

A New York coalition has agreed to open up its wallet to fund a quick study of video lottery terminals in an effort to convince state lawmakers and the governor to permit their operation at racetracks. The legislative session is expected to extend into the summer.

Steve Haskin's Derby Dozen; Point Given Still on Top

Steve Haskin, the award-winning turf writer and senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, updates his top Kentucky Derby contenders weekly. During his 29 years with the Daily Racing Form, Haskin became known for his insightful coverage of the Triple Crown races. Haskin won the Red Smith Award for Kentucky Derby writing in 1997, 1999, and 2000.and received the David Woods Award for best Preakness story in 1997. In 1999, he co-authored "Baffert: Dirt Road to the Derby" with trainer Bob Baffert and wrote the book, "Dr. Fager" for Eclipse Press' "Thoroughbred Legends" series in 2000.

Ex-Claimer Upsets Steeplechase Champion All Gong

Electron, who began the year in a $20,000 claiming race, spoiled the seasonal debut of reigning steeplechase champion All Gong in Saturday's $100,000 Coca-Cola/UPS Atlanta Cup at Kingston Downs. An 8-year-old making his first National Steeplechase Association grade I start, Electron took the lead from Greek Hero after three fences and repulsed a strong bid from Eclipse Award winner All Gong (David Bentley) in the stretch to win by a half-length under jockey Craig Thornton. Masamadas (Cyril Murphy) was third. The winner covered the 2 3/8 miles in 4:41 2/5.

Ben L. Bear Dead

Veteran horseman Ben L. (Ted) Bear died April 10 at age 73. Bear, who served as trackside minister at Del Mar, campaigned graded stakes winner Pacificbounty in partnership.

Alannan's Victory Tribute to Late Trainer's Work

Eaglestone Farm's Alannan scored an impressive four-length victory in the $270,750 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup Stakes at odds of 17-1. The race marked the first time the 5-year-old Conquistador Cielo horse has started since being transferred from the barn of the late John Tammaro II to Carl Nafzger.

Santa Anita Race Report: Bienamado In Record Run

Bienamado leaned against the stall webbing, craning his neck down the shedrow. The sinews beneath his glowing coat were alluring, and there was no mistaking the urgent look cast by his white-rimmed eyes. As the stalwart colt strained for something to chow down on, nowhere were there signs that just an hour earlier he had been stretched to the limits of class and stamina. There was no trace of fatigue, no wrung-out guise you might expect from an animal who had not only pulled down the $400,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IT) at about 1 3/4 miles, but did it fast. Faster than Cougar II or Exceller. Faster than John Henry, Kotashaan, or even his very own sire, Bien Bien. The small crowd gathered near his stall was simply awed.

Hialeah Race Report: Champion Perfect Sting Victorious in Return

Like any worthwhile Broadway production, the 2001 version of "Perfect Sting: The Sequel" took its show on the road for tune-ups on April 14 in an effort to iron out any kinks in the act before hitting the Great White Way. And, somewhat to the surprise of the show's director -- trainer Joe Orseno -- the kinks were few.

Powerful Stretch Run Gives Astra Santa Barbara Victory

The Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's Astra unleashed a furious stretch run to defeat Beautiful Noise and five other older fillies and mares in Saturday's $250,000 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita. Kent Desormeaux booted home the 5-year-old Theatrical mare after running the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.33 on a firm turf course.

Oaklawn Park Report: Balto Star Repeats

Those who thought Balto Star's romping win in the March 24 Spiral Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park was a fluke better think again. It appears Balto Star is indeed a star. Under Mark Guidry, Balto Star danced away from what was thought to be a competitive field of 11 3-year-olds April 14 in the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (gr. II). Finely tuned by trainer Todd Pletcher, Balto Star went fast early and late and drew off to a 4 1/2-length win in the slop. He covered the nine furlongs in a solid 1:49.04.

Keeneland Report: Pincay, the Millennium Man

One week before the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), Laffit Pincay Jr. sat comfortably in a rocking chair half a continent away from Keeneland in the Santa Anita Park jocks' room. Asked to pick his biggest thrill in racing, Pincay could be forgiven if he tussled awhile with the question. After all, there have been 35 years of memories: the ascension to all-time leading rider; induction into the Hall of Fame; six Eclipse Awards; seven wins on one card; historic stakes wins on horses like Affirmed and John Henry. Yet his answer came before the question had time to dry--his win aboard Swale in the 1984 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).

Congaree Continues to Fight, From Birth to the Wood

Go ahead, tell Congaree he doesn't have the experience or seasoning to win the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). He'll laugh in your face, just as he did to those who questioned his ability to defeat the mighty Monarchos in the April 17 Wood Memorial (gr. II) off only three career starts. We're talking about a colt who literally was born a fighter, and who has been defying the odds ever since. When you have to fight to get born, there isn't a challenge life has to offer that you back away from. To Congaree, the $750,000 Wood was just another race at just another track against just another horse. And the result was just another of his resounding victories.

Say Florida Sandy Rebounds in Bold Ruler

Say Florida Sandy rebounded Saturday from a fifth-place finish in the Westchester Handicap (gr. III) last weekend to win Aqueduct's $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) by 1 1/2 lengths over a troubled Delaware Township. The win is the third from six starts on the current year for the 7-year-old New York-bred.

Lafayette Winner Griffinite Bound for Lexington

Paraneck Stable's recent Lafayette Stakes (gr. III) winner Griffinite will race next in the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) on April 21 at Keeneland, according to trainer Jennifer Pedersen. "He had been training awesomely," Pedersen said. "We were very happy for the win, but we knew that it was a just a prep for the Lexington. He came out of the race full of himself. He knows he won."

North East Bound Equals Stakes Record in Maker's Mark Mile

Julian DeMarco and Richard Disano's North East Bound won a duel with Strategic Mission and then held off the closing drive of favored Brahms to win the Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IIT) on Keeneland's Good Friday card. The winner, ridden by Jose Velez Jr. for trainer William Perry, equaled the stakes record of 1:34 2/5 and was just 1 1/5 seconds off the course standard of 1:33 3/5. A 5-year-old gelding by D'Accord, North East Bound paid $13.80, $4.80, and $4.00. Brahms paid $3.20 and $2.80 and Strategic Mission held on for third, returning $3.80. Quiet Resolve, Exchange Rate, Northcote Road, Inkatha (FR), and Morava completed the order of finish.

North East Bound Equals Stakes Record in Maker's Mark Mile

Julian DeMarco and Richard Disano's North East Bound won a duel with Strategic Mission and then held off the closing drive of favored Brahms to win the Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IIT) on Keeneland's Good Friday card. The winner, ridden by Jose Velez Jr. for trainer William Perry, equaled the stakes record of 1:34 2/5 and was just 1 1/5 seconds off the course standard of 1:33 3/5. A 5-year-old gelding by D'Accord, North East Bound paid $13.80, $4.80, and $4.00. Brahms paid $3.20 and $2.80 and Strategic Mission held on for third, returning $3.80.

Filly Favored in Jean Lafitte for Two-Year-Olds

Taylor's Queen, a Louisiana-bred filly owned by Eugene Chisum of Beaumont, Texas, is the 4-5 morning-line favorite for Friday night's Jean Lafitte Futurity, the first major stakes of the season for 2-year-old Thoroughbreds. A field of 10 -- one colt, four geldings, and five fillies -- will square off in the four-furlong test at Delta Downs in Vinton, La.

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