Monday's Memorial Day $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) kicks off Belmont Stakes week with an outstanding cast, including 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, last year's 3-year-old champion Funny Cide and Pico Central and Strong Hope, the 1-2 finishers of Aqueduct's Carter Handicap (gr. I).
Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Tapit will not run in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr.I), it was reported on trainer Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Farm web site Saturday. With Tapit's defection, as well as the defection of The Cliff's Edge, the connections of Purge and Master David are considering entering, although both are still doubtful starters.
The Fair Hill Races, the only National Steeplechase Association race meet with pari-mutuel wagering, brings out the horses and the fans for its annual Memorial Day meet Monday.
Nominations close June 4 for Del Mar's two premier stakes for 2-year-olds, the Aug. 28 Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) and the Sept. 8 Del Mar Futurity (gr. II).
Sweet Return, the winner of three consecutive graded stakes, attempts to extend his streak in the $350,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) Monday at Hollywood Park.
Megahertz and Dimitrova, winners of the first two American Oaks, will hook up in Monday's $350,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park.
Owner Sam-Son Farm, trainer Mark Frostad and jockey Todd Kabel team up once again Sunday to try for a third straight win in the $164,400 Connaught Cup Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine with Shoal Water.
The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Stellar Jayne can break back into the victory column when she heads a field of seven 3-year-old fillies in Sunday's $150,000-added Dogwood Breeders' Cup (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
Long-time equine practitioner Dr. Alex Harthill was hospitalized May 27 after experiencing stroke-like symptoms while working in his Louisville office. After undergoing a series of medical tests, Harthill, 78, is expected to be released from Jewish Hospital Saturday.
Trainer John Servis was the guest speaker and the theme was "Achieving in Spite of Adversity" as Faust Elementary School in Bensalem, Pa., located across the street from Philadelphia Park, celebrated "Smarty Jones Day" in high style.
Longtime farrier Clark Holden, who most recently worked in Dubai for Godolphin Racing, died Wednesday at his home in Oldsmar, Fl. He was 65.
The lone turf sprint stakes of the Belmont Park season will be run Sunday as a field of eight contest the seven furlong $100,000 Jaipur Handicap (gr. IIIT).
In his final workout in preparation for a sweep of the Visa Triple Crown Challenge in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Someday Farms' Smarty Jones breezed seven furlongs at Philadelphia Park on Friday.
Smarty Jones and just about anyone or anything connected to him have proven hot commodities in anticipation of a Visa Triple Crown Challenge bid June 5 at Belmont Park.
The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association has formed a committee that will study the use of jockey advertising in live races and try and come up with a plan "that benefits the entire sport."
- By Victor Ryan
Darby Dan Farm was left without power or telephone service Friday morning because of an overnight storm that ripped roofs off houses and damaged homes in Central Kentucky, but most Bluegrass horse farms appear to have emerged relatively unscathed.
California-based bloodstock agent Mike Loomer died May 25. Services will be held in Hemet, Calif., on June 2. He was 62.
As Someday Farm's Smarty Jones prepares to make a run at history to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner in next Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the race for his future career as a stallion is rolling like a :21 and change opening quarter. One thing for certain is that in any syndication deal for Smarty Jones will include a stipulation that he will race on after the Triple Crown and may compete as a 4-year-old.
The Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission has found the former executive director of the Kentucky Racing Commission violated state law when he accepted a job at Churchill Downs, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
If he stays healthy, Triple Crown hopeful Smarty Jones is likely to run as a 4-year-old, a Florida horseman who is handling stallion negotiations for the colt's owner says.
Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher issued an emergency regulation late Thursday changing the restrictions on Texas livestock entering Kentucky that were imposed because of a vesicular stomatitis (VS).
Del Mar Futurity champion Siphonizer, a breathing problem corrected by surgery, continues his comeback Saturday in Hollywood Park's $150,000 Lazaro S. Barrera Memorial Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.
Veteran jockey Patricia Cooksey, the all-time leading female jockey at Churchill Downs and second in wins by women in U.S. racing history, scored the first win of her latest comeback from adversity as she rode Donner Pass to victory in Thursday's third race at the Louisville track.
Buddy Gil, a sensation at Santa Anita in the winter and spring of 2003, will make his first start at Hollywood Park as the 122-pound high weight in the $75,000 Ack Ack Handicap at 7 1/2 furlongs on Monday.
Trainer Tony Reinstedler knows his talented filly Sand Springs has a stubborn streak, so her behavior since her last race tells him she's ready for a big effort in Saturday's $150,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs.
TVG will air Smarty Jones' final pre Belmont Stakes (gr. I) workout Friday from Philadelphia Park in Bensalem, Pa. The work will air at 1 p.m. EDT.
David L. Foley, executive director of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, was elected president of Blue Grass Farms Chaplaincy.
The connections of the three Triple Crown winners in the 1970s are all rooting for Smarty Jones to become the 12th winner of the Triple Crown in next Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I.).
Meridiana seeks her fourth consecutive victory when she faces seven foes in Saturday's $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. IIT) over Belmont Park's Widener Turf Course.
Apt to Be, who races in the colors of Arlington Park chairman Richard L. Duchossois, has accepted co-starting highweight of 119 pounds, along with Crafty Shaw, in defense of his title in the grade III Hanshin Cup Saturday at Arlington.
Willmott Stables' Eddington returned to the track for the first time since working a half-mile in :46 2/5 Monday. The son of 1990 Belmont Stakes favorite Unbridled will try to fare better than his sire did 14 years ago when he finished fourth behind Go And Go.
Smarty Jones, who stands on the threshold of Triple Crown immortality, will have his one and only all-important work for the mile and a half Belmont Stakes (gr. I) Friday morning at 5:30. Trainer John Servis said he's not looking for anything quick, and is anticipating the colt will go between 1:28 and 1:29.
- By Tom Precious
New York Gov. George Pataki May 27 proposed a complete overhaul of racing laws in the state, a move that would block the New York Racing Association's bid to get its racetrack franchise extended this year, and provide incentives to get video lottery terminals in operation at Aqueduct.
Colonial Downs will host the first-ever "Virginia Million" July 10, which is highlighted by a trio of turf stakes and will be the richest day of racing in the state's history.
The past performances certainly indicate that Smarty Jones should win the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and become racing 12th Triple Crown winner. But then there is the X-factor, Tapit, who looks to be the unknown quantity that could turn the past performances upside down.
Colonial Downs will host the first-ever "Virginia Million," highlighted by a trio of stakes on the Secretariat Turf Course, July 10. It will be the richest card in Virginia racing history.
Oaklawn Park is planning a full-blown 'Smarty Party' for June 5 when the track's adopted son, Smarty Jones, goes for the Visa Triple Crown and second $5-million bonus in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
With Rock Hard Ten having already been trounced by Smarty Jones in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), trainer Jason Orman can only hope that the mile and a half distance of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) will help bring the two colts closer together in the third leg of the Triple Crown.
Now that his veteran stakes winner Champali has returned to the winner's circle, trainer Greg Foley is looking toward a future on both the main track and the turf course for his 4-year-old star.
For the third time in his career, Jerry Hollendorfer equaled the Northern California record for most victories by a trainer on a single card when he saddled five winners Wednesday at Bay Meadows.
By all accounts, Barbara Dege was a quiet, private woman who lived a simple life. But she had one great passion, and it was horse racing and the animals who provided her with enjoyment on her trips to handicap and make small bets at Belmont, Aqueduct, and the Meadowlands.
Debbie Given, who managed Someday Farm when Smarty Jones was born, recalls the Triple Crown contender as "ornery" as a foal, a characteristic he shared with his dam, I'll Get Along.
An examination of 1,450 horses stabled at Lone Star Park revealed no evidence of vesicular stomititis, a contagious disease that was discovered in three horses in southwest Texas.
Monmouth Park, the resort racetrack located not far from the Atlantic Ocean in New Jersey, will kick off its 2004 meet May 29 with three stakes, including the featured $100,000 Red Bank Handicap (gr. IIIT), and a very healthy purse structure boosted by a casino subsidy.
If Smarty Jones wins the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and the Visa Triple Crown Challenge, it may be because he has had a little extra help from the "Man upstairs."
- By Tom LaMarra
In a strong display of solidarity, more than 600 members of the horse industry packed the visitors' center at the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington May 26 for the first town hall meeting held by the Kentucky Equine Education Project. Several participants said they were blown away by the turnout.
- By Tom LaMarra
As the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Wagering Systems Task Force prepares to hear recommendations on ways to address the "handle up, purses down" situation, operators of high-volume betting shops believe they might be a target and suggest that, as generators of up to 15% of annual handle in North America, they should be directly involved in the process.
The Ohio House of Representatives, by a slim margin, has defeated a proposal to allow video lottery terminals at the state's seven racetracks.
Darley Australia announced that Cape Cross will remain in Ireland rather than shuttle to Australia in 2004.
The 7-year-old gelding Peeping Tom heads a field of nine lined up for Saturday's $100,000 Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap (gr. III) as Philadelphia Park kicks off the 2004 stakes season.
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