News

Headlines and features from the Thoroughbred industry

A Look Ahead at the Illinois Derby, Lady Hallie

Dogwood Stable's Distilled, one of the leading candidates for this Saturday's $500,000 Illinois Derby, worked five-eighths of a mile on a fast track Monday morning at his Hialeah Park homebase. The chestnut son of Hennessy covered the distance in 1:02 1/5 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15. The drill was one-fifth of a second quicker than that of A. P. Valentine, who prepped Monday for the Grade III Flamingo in 1:02 2/5: The connections of Secret Romeo will decide Monday afternoon whether or not to start in the Illinois Derby. Entries for the Grade II, mile and an eighth race will be drawn Tuesday.

Preakness Winner Red Bullet on Comeback Trail

Red Bullet, winner of the Preakness Stakes last year, has started back in light training at owner Frank Stronach's Adena Springs Farm in Ocala, and could be ready to return to the races by August at Saratoga. Farm trainer Danny Vella said the son of Unbridled is coming along great after suffering what was believed to be a hairline fracture last summer.

Haskin's Derby Top 20 (April 2): A P Valentine 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.

Struggling Fairmount Waits on Legislature

Fairmount Park's live meet, delayed more than a month by a crippling purse dispute, is finally under way. But the future of the track, located just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Mo., is in the hands of the Illinois legislature.

Decker Resigns as President of WinStar Farm

Rich Decker has resigned his position as president of WinStar Farm, the Versailles, Ky., operation owned by telecommunications executives Kenny Troutt and Bill Casner, who purchased the former Prestonwood Farm from Jack, Art, and the recently deceased J.R. Preston in January 2000. Decker was manager of Prestonwood since 1988.

NYRA Chief Pushes Lawmakers for Lower Takeout

While pushing to take over the New York City Off Track Betting Corp., Barry Schwartz has been busily pressing top state lawmakers at the Capitol in Albany to back him on what has become his other chief lobbying mission this year: lowering the takeout at New York racetracks.

Haskin's Derby Report April 1: The Day of Godolphin

With the annual last weekend in March lull, the only news on the racing front was the impressive 3-year-old debut by Ommadon in an Aqueduct allowance race on March 28. This gives us an opportunity to sit back, take a deep breath, and reflect on...well, anything that will keep the Derby electrodes charged during this unwelcomed break in the action. With most of the horses here pretty much embedded in our minds already, we're going to concentrate a good deal on the two Godolphin horses, whom we feel will be legitimate threats, despite the questions surrounding them.

'Good, Bad, and Ugly' Of Maryland Horse Farm Shown in TV Series

The show opens with a drumbeat, a horse running, and the words: "In the world of the thoroughbred, one thing you can count on is the unexpected." The show is "Thoroughbred," a 13-part series about life at Bonita Farm, the Boniface family's pride and joy in Maryland -- home to Deputed Testamony, winner of the 1983 Preakness. The first 30-minute episode begins at 8 p.m. (ET) Tuesday (April 3) on the cable channel Animal Planet. Subsequent episodes will be televised Tuesdays at that hour through June 19 (and also at 7 p.m. Saturdays).

Marine Tops Frankel Stakes Sweep at Santa Anita

Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel saddled the winners of both stakes races Saturday at Santa Anita Park. Frankel sent out Juddmonte Farms' Marine for a half-length victory in the $83,475 La Puente Stakes for 3-year-olds. And in the $81,975 Providencia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Frankel-trained horses ran one-two as Dr. John Chandler's Dynamous held off stable mate and 4-to-5 favorite Heads Will Roll for a half-length victory.

Blade Prospector Wires Berkeley 'Cap

Raza Stable's Blade Prospector set the early fractions and drew away in the stretch when challenged by favored Dixie Dot Com to win the $100,000 Berkeley Handicap (gr. III) by 2 1/2 lengths on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields. Under Omar Berrio, the Brazilian-bred completed the one-mile race in 1:34.18 on a fast track.

Make No Mistake Upsets Bougainvillea

Despite a somewhat troubled trip, Moyglare Stud Farm's Make No Mistake rallied in the stretch to win Saturday's $100,000 Bougainvillea Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hialeah Park. Under jockey Jose Santos, Make No Mistake completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.10 on the turf course listed as "good."

Aqueduct Race Report: McGaughey Filly Steals Show

Shug McGaughey sure loves these dead weekends in early spring to showcase his fillies. Last year, on April 1, the trainer grabbed what little headlines there were available by sending out Finder's Fee to win the seven-furlong Cicada Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at Aqueduct. This year, on March 31, the Next Move Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, was one of only four $100,000 races run over the weekend. And once again, it was McGaughey stealing the headlines, saddling the 4-year-old Atelier to a thrilling nose victory for owners Helen C. and Helen K. Groves and Dorothy Matz.

California Grants Extended Health Benefits to Stable Workers

Stable area workers and their dependents will be eligible for extended health care under changes supported Friday by the California Horse Racing Board. The Board voted to begin the regulatory process for changes to rules governing operations of the California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation, a benevolent organization for backstretch employees who care for horses, such as grooms and hot walkers, providing them with medical and dental benefits.

New Maryland Track Granted Preliminary Approval

After the Maryland Jockey Club agreed to drop its opposition, the Maryland Racing Commission granted preliminary approval March 30 to William Rickman Jr.'s bid to build a horse track in Western Maryland. Representatives of the MJC stopped fighting the proposal after Rickman, owner of Delaware Park and Ocean Downs, secured a $20 million line of credit for Allegany Racing Association. That is the entity composed of Rickman and his father, William Rickman, that proposes to construct the track at the eastern edge of Allegany County.

Tornado Kills Stakes Winner in Ocala

Multiple stakes winner Lucky Lady Lauren was killed by a toppled tree when a thunderstorm and tornado blasted through the Ocala, Fla., area March 29, according to the Ocala Star-Banner. Four other horses were reported killed by the twister.

OBS March Select Sale: Ridin' High

Rubbing his eyes, Randy Hartley tried to stop the tears from flowing. His voice cracked with emotion as he described what it was like to sell a son of Dehere for $1,050,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's March select auction of 2-year-olds in training.

The Bottom Line: Slot Machine Gaming Boosts Purses

Slot machines and card tables had an undeniable influence on the 8% growth seen in North American purses in 2000. Out of the top 10 racetracks in the United States and Canada, ranked by growth in total purses, seven offer slot and/or video poker machines and one offers card games. Leading the list is Sunland Park, the New Mexico racetrack nestled against the Texas border town of El Paso. Gross purses at Sunland Park grew 160%, from $1.69 million in 1999 to $4.4 million last year.

Maryland Jockey Club Rejoins NTRA

With a Saturday deadline to land a seat on the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors fast approaching, the Maryland Jockey Club has rejoined the NTRA, and its president, Joe De Francis, will take a seat on the NTRA board.

Jersey Purse Supplements Await Signature

A bill that would pump $11.7 million into the New Jersey Thoroughbred racing industry passed the state Assembly Thursday by a vote of 70-3 and has gone to ccting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco's desk to be signed into law. The money would be used for purses at Monmouth Park and Meadowlands this year.

Street Cry: Pedigree Lacking in Stamina

Though the signals are mixed, on the face of pedigree alone it is hard to see many reasons why Street Cry should be able to handle 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May. His sire was a sprinter on grass, albeit a good one; his dam, though a group I winner in Ireland going 12 furlongs, has yet to pass that distance ability on to her offspring; he has a Dosage Index and profile slanted toward speed; and he has yet to win around two turns.

Indiana Riverboats Lose Effort to Get Dockside Gambling

Efforts by Indiana riverboat casino interests to get approval of dockside gambling fell short when the Senate Rules Committee voted 5-3 against the legislation. According to published reports, one factor in the bill's failure was an amendment that deleted authorization for pull-tab gaming at Churchill Downs-managed Hoosier Park and off-track betting sites in the state. The amendment also did away with a proposed OTB site in the resort area of French Lick.

Dollar Bill Bucks The Web

For those who want to get their information straight from the horse's mouth, Dollar Bill has started his own website. Well, maybe there was human intervention somewhere in there, but Mary and Gary West's 3-year-old classic contender writes in the first-person on the site, which is aimed at his fans, known as 'Billsters.'

Senate Researches Racetrack VLTs in Ohio

The Ohio Senate has begun research to see whether the question of racetrack video lottery terminals can be put on the ballot in the seven counties that have tracks. The state needs money to fund its education program and, as the newspaper reported Thursday, also needs revenue to offset a decline in tax receipts. Income from taxes is expected to be $850 million short of projections through early 2003.

Proposed Maryland Track Hits Another Snag

The Maryland Racing Commission on Thursday abruptly cut off testimony concerning construction of a racetrack in the western part of the state so opposing sides could work on an agreement to expedite the tedious process. William Rickman Jr., who wants to build the track in remote Allegany County, offered to write a letter of credit to guarantee its financial viability and stability. Rickman, who owns and Delaware Park and Ocean Downs, a Maryland harness track, is the only applicant for the license to construct the track.

Lights Out For Hollywood Park's Friday Night Racing

Hollywood Park plans to move its Friday night racing to the afternoons to cope with the state's ongoing power crisis. Post time for the first Friday night, April 20, will start at its traditional 7:15 p.m. But the post time for the remaining 12 Fridays during the track's spring meet will begin at 3:30 p.m.

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