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Headlines and features from the Thoroughbred industry

Hollywood Park Ready to Battle Energy Crisis

The three major tracks in Southern California have acknowledged a need for backup generators in light of the possibility of power blackouts, but Hollywood Park is prepared to invest $4 million in equipment to ensure the facility doesn't go dark. Rolling blackouts brought on the by the state's energy crisis forced Los Alamitos to switch to afternoon racing for a couple of programs last week.

Surfside Heads 10-Horse Field in Santa Monica

A field of 10 was entered Thursday morning for Saturday's 44th running of the $200,000 Santa Monica Handicap, a seven-furlong grade I main track event for older fillies and mares. Probable favorite, Breeders' Cup Distaff runnerup Surfside drew post No. 6 and will carry highweight of 121 pounds. "She's all set and in the box," said trainer D. Wayne Lukas Thursday morning.

As Expected, Keemoon Wins Reloy Handicap

Odds-on favorite Keemoon took control with five furlongs to run, then shook off a late bid from Juvenia to win the $75,725 Reloy Handicap for older fillies and mares Thursday at Santa Anita Park. Keemoon, under Gary Stevens at 121 pounds, completed the about 1 1/2 miles in 2:29 1/5 on a "yielding" turf course and returned $3.40, $2.60 and $2.10.

California Board Increases Jockeys' Mount Fees

The California Horse Racing Board approved a regulatory amendment Thursday increasing by $5 the minimum fee paid to jockeys on mounts that finish worse than third in a race, as requested by the Jockeys' Guild and supported by the horse-racing industry. The amendment also changes the timetable for when the fee is considered earned. Previously the fee was earned when the mount set foot on the racetrack to begin the parade to post. That meant that if a horse was injured in the saddling paddock and had to be scratched from the race, the rider did not earn a fee. Now jockeys will be entitled to the fee when they weigh out for the race with the clerk of scales before they go to the saddling paddock.

Hale Leaves Maryland Jockey Club Post

Veteran racing executive Leonard (Lenny) Hale has left his post as vice president of racing for the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel Park and Pimlico Racecourse. According to a statement from MJC, the organization reached an "amicable parting" as of last Saturday, Jan. 20.

City Zip, Daring Pegasus Ready for Hutcheson

City Zip, the speedy Carson City colt who vaulted to national prominence last summer by becoming the first horse in 40 years to sweep Saratoga's major 2-year-old stakes, arrived in South Florida last Sunday to prepare for Saturday's grade II Hutcheson Stakes. Meanwhile, Daring Pegasus will be seeking his second straight stakes victory when he starts in the Hutcheson, his first start outside the state of Kentucky.

Florida Derby Likely Next Star for Macho Uno, A P Valentine

After Saturday's seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes, just one more stakes preview will remain on the Gulfstream Park schedule for the March 10 Florida Derby. Likely to await the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) are the major 3-year-olds in Florida – Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Macho Uno, and Champagne Stakes (gr. I) winner A P Valentine. Another pointing directly to the mile and an eighth Florida Derby is Buckle Down Ben, winner of the Laurel Futurity (gr. III) last season and second in the Holy Bull.

Binalong to Michigan

Randy Russell has purchased stakes winner Binalong and will stand the 12-year-old stallion at his Randy Russell Racing Stable near Mt. Pleasant, Mich., for a fee of $3,000 live foal.

Ruling in Purse Dispute Proves Costly to Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park racetrack announced Wednesday that it will postpone the opening of its 2001 Thoroughbred race meeting originally scheduled for Feb. 6 until March 16 as a result of a ruling issued in the circuit court of Madison County (Illinois) that orders the payment of over $4 million in purse money earned in 2000-2001 by Fairmount Park to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. According to the ruling, the funds are to be used at state and county fairs.

Equine Health Issues Expressed to New Administration

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has encouraged Ann Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture within the Bush administration, to pay special attention to horses, characterizing them as "Kentucky's number one agriculture moneymaker." Recommending to Veneman that there be more research into causes and cures of equine diseases, McConnell noted that the health of domestic horses and the ability of Americans to import and export horses are vital to the industry.

Equine Health Issues Expressed to New Administration

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has encouraged Ann Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture within the Bush administration, to pay special attention to horses, characterizing them as "Kentucky's number one agriculture moneymaker." Recommending to Veneman that there be more research into causes and cures of equine diseases, McConnell noted that the health of domestic horses and the ability of Americans to import and export horses are vital to the industry.

A P Valentine Tops Haskin's Top Contenders List

Champagne Stakes winner A P Valentine, trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Nick Zito, tops Steve Haskin's first list of top 20 contenders for this year's Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown racxes. Haskin, The Blood-Horse magazine's senior correspondent and Triple Crown authority, will be updating the contenders list weekly between now and the Kentucky Derby.

Claiming Crown Hopes to Build on Foundation

Some changes have been made to this year's Claiming Crown, scheduled for Aug. 4 at Canterbury Park. There will be one less race, but the same amount of purse money, and a new eligibility requirement organizers hope will generate more nominations for the event.

TVG to Air "Viewer Choice Awards" Based on Fan Poll

Presentations of Horse of the Year, Trainer of the Year and Race of the Year highlight the inaugural TVG "Viewer Choice Awards" to be aired live on the TVG Network on Monday, January 29 from 9-10 PM EST (6-7 PM PST). Hosted by TVG anchors Caton Bredar and Greg Wolf, the ceremony will honor 14 categories of achievement in Thoroughbred, harness and quarter horse racing. The winners were selected through on on-line poll of TVG viewers, with over one million votes cast over a two-week period.

Weather Continues to Take Its Toll on Turfway

Mother Nature continues to impact American racing, with Turfway Park canceling its Wednesday night card. Rather than snow and cold temperatures that usually cause a cancellation, this time the culprit was warmer temperatures that caused thawing and uneven areas in the mostly frozen track, Turfway officials said.

TLC America Horses Boost Barretts Sale; Average Soars

Horses being sold on behalf of Ernest Frank Cossey's TLC America grossed more than $2-million to boost the Barretts Equine Ltd.'s January mixed sale that concluded Jan. 23. Based on the strength of the TLC horses and other major dispersals, Barretts reported 429 horses were sold for $6,026,200. The sale average of $14,047 represented a 149% gain over the 2000 sale average of $5,623 when 367 horses grossed $2,063,500. The 34 horses that did not sell represented 7.3% of the total through the ring. The buyback rate last year was 14%.

Gulfstream Back, But Horsemen Have Own Plans

With a strong racetrack event schedule already in place, and an establishment marketing plan to boot, the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association isn't expected to rejoin the National Thoroughbred Racing Association during the current meet at Gulfstream Park. The Hallandale track is owned by Magna Entertainment, which rejoined the NTRA in mid-January.

British Jockey Club Amends Whip Rules

The British Jockey Club has just amended its whip rules, recommending that jockeys, both in jump and Flat racing, carry whips that have shock-absorbing characteristics. The recommending of these whips is set to be the first step before it is made compulsory for jockeys to carry them as they do not mark horses. Leading jump jockeys are due to try out a new whip, modified by Robert Patton of Old Mill Saddlery, Northern Ireland, from the revolutionary Aircush whip which was launched in 1999,, within the next couple of weeks.

Safety First: Churchill Replaces Inner Rail

Fans attending upcoming Spring Meet races at Churchill Downs may not immediately notice a change, but the jockeys and horses that compete on the historic track will significantly benefit from a new safety rail that is currently being installed along the inside portion of the one-mile dirt oval.

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