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Headlines and features from the Thoroughbred industry

Researchers Zero In on Cyanide as Cause of Foal Loss Syndrome

Researchers at the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Center have made significant progress in their quest to find the cause of the Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome. According to reports presented Thursday during an informational forum at Keeneland, black cherry trees located in close proximity to horse pastures are the primary source of the cyanide that was detected in tests of dead foals and fetuses from mares that aborted.

Preakness Ratings Increase 56 Percent

The NBC coverage of the 126th Preakness Stakes on Saturday delivered a 5.6 national rating/16 share from 5:00-6:39 p.m. EST.

The 5.6 rating represents an impressive 56 percent increase over last year's 3.6/10 on ABC and ties 1992 as the highest rated telecast since 1990 when it earned a 7.2/21. NBC's broadcast peaked from 6:00 - 6:30 p.m. with a 7.2/19.

Traditionally, Pletcher Pair Work For Met Mile

The action picked up on the Metropolitan Handicap front Thursday morning, as Ogden Phipps' Traditionally breezed a half in :49 over the sloppy main track at Belmont, galloping out five furlongs in 1:02. Todd Pletcher's pair of Trippi and Left Bank also worked this morning, going five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 in company.

Youbet Notches Record Week

Youbet.com just completed its busiest week ever. The Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and a handicapping contest held in conjunction with the Daily Racing Form attracted $2.6 million in online wagers for the week ending May 19.

Tuesday May Have Been Hialeah's Swan Song

The doors closed Tuesday on Hialeah Park's 75th -- and possibly its last – live racing meet. With legislation set to take effect on June 30 that discontinues the historic track's exclusive hold on spring racing dates, even the normally optimistic chairman of the board John J. Brunetti was forced to admit the likelihood that Hialeah has hosted its last live race. "By now you have heard that Hialeah Park will probably end its racing career with our last racing day, May 22," he wrote in an open letter printed in the track program, "This is sad, but true."

Gross Revenue Increases At Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Juvenile Sale

The Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training ended its two-day stand on Tuesday in Timonium, Md., with mixed results. On the positive side, the number sold and gross revenue both increased while the buy-back rate declined. The average price, however, suffered a moderate setback, and the median price fell significantly.

Jockey Profile: Staying in Touch With the Common Man

He may ride for a Saudi Arabian prince, but Gary Stevens hasn't lost touch with the common man. As the 38-year-old native of Caldwell, Idaho, was leaving the winner's circle ceremonies following Point Given's redemptive victory in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Stevens spotted Gladys McHargue, a female outrider, perched on her pony, tears streaming down her cheeks. He turned to wife Nikki, who was carrying a bouquet of black-eyed Susans, plucked out a single flower, and handed it to McHargue, then reached up to give her a warm embrace and exchange a few private words.

Trainer Profile: Baffert Back on Top in Triple Crown

It's hard to enjoy a private and special moment with 100,000 screaming fans around you. But after Point Given rolled to a 2 1/4-length victory at Pimlico May 19, trainer Bob Baffert grabbed his cell phone and tuned out the roar of the Preakness (gr. I) crowd. While watching the big red colt jog toward the winner's circle, Baffert called his 78-year-old mother in Nogales, Ariz.

NTRA, Horse Council Continue Disaster Relief Meetings With Federal Officials

American Horse Council president Jay Hickey and National Thoroughbred Racing Association deputy commissioner Greg Avioli are meeting in Washington, D.C., Tuesday afternoon with Caroly Cooksie, deputy administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster relief loan programs. The meeting is a follow-up to talks held last week in Washington involving Hickey and NTRA commissioner Tim Smith and a number of federal legislators, including Rep. Larry Combest, an Amarillo, Texas, Republican who is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

Owner/Breeder Profile: Princely Pleasure

Prince Ahmed Salman likes quality, and he believed he had the goods in Point Given. He made the long trip from Saudi Arabia to Kentucky for the first Saturday in May to chase immortality. The Thoroughbred Corp., his racing and breeding operation, has been cranking out top racehorses for years. There have been three Breeders' Cup winners, owned exclusively or in partnership, but no classics trophies in the United States.

Analyzing NBC's Preakness: 90 Minutes is 30 Too Many

They have similar hair styles and both train good horses, so perhaps Bob Baffert was beginning to panic when Kentucky Derby winner John Ward got all the air time to launch one-liners on NBC's coverage of the Preakness. With Baffert's Point Given knotting the score with Ward's Monarchos, however, expect a tight battle of witticisms for the upcoming Belmont.

Sadler's Wells, Cozzene Reach Milestones

Don't blink now because Sadler's Wells might have caught Mr. Prospector as you are reading this. The Irish stallion chalked up stakes winner No. 171 on May 20, when his son Sligo Bay captured the Cinema Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park.

Many Kentucky Mares Now Holding Pregnancies at Normal Rate; Impact Seen at 21% of Crop

An informal survey of Central Kentucky farms on May 21 suggests the worst may be over as far as mare reproductive loss syndrome is concerned. While heavy losses already have been incurred, particularly involving maiden and barren mares bred in February, the good news is that mares bred from late March on appear to be holding their pregnancies at close to normal percentages. Based on the surveys and on the normal distribution of Kentucky foals born between January and June, The Blood-Horse estimates the 2002 Kentucky foal crop will decrease by no more than 21%.

Those Who Touch Horses

By Kimberly S. Graetz -- While we are extremely fortunate in Central Kentucky to have skilled and learned professors, veterinarians, researchers, nutritionists, agronomists, and all the other people with degrees, it's the people who touch the horse every day who have been the unsung heroes during this spring's equine health crisis.

Welcome Relief

By Ray Paulick -- An informal survey of Central Kentucky farms on May 21 suggests the worst may be over as far as mare reproductive loss syndrome is concerned.

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