News

Headlines and features from the Thoroughbred industry

Delaware Park: Improvements, Newcomers, and ... Money

New faces and capital improvements will be evident at Delaware Park when the Stanton racetrack kicks off its 140-day meet April 7. Lured by $38.5 million in stakes and overnight purses for a daily average of $260,000, trainer D. Wayne Lukas will send 40 horses to Delaware Park for the first time, while Northern California trainers Lonnie Arteburn and Brent Sumja will also make their first trip. Each trainer will be represented by 30 horses.

Average Up at Scaled-Back Texas Sale; Buy-Backs Stabilize

The Fasig-Tipton Texas 2-year-olds in training sale at Lone Star Park concluded Tuesday, with the sales company reporting a total of 193 horses sold for $4,494,900. The sale's average price of $23,290 represented a 3.8% gain over the $22,431 average the previous year when 262 horses grossed $5,876,800. After an opening-session buy-back rate of 50.6%, the percentage of horses not sold stabilized Tuesday. For the sale overall, FT reported a buy-back rate of 44.2%.

Eclipse Winner Chilukki Retired; To Be Bred to Storm Cat

Chilukki, who won an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly of 1999 for Robert and Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable, has been retired and will be bred to leading sire Storm Cat. Trainer Bob Baffert said the decision to retire the daughter of Cherokee Run was made by the McNairs after some filling was detected in an ankle just before Baffert left for Dubai, where he captured the March 24 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) with Mike Pegram's Captain Steve.

Point Given Sharp in Santa Anita Work

Point Given, who is expected to go off as the heavy favorite in the Apr. 7 Santa Anita Derby, breezed a sharp half in :47 1/5 at Santa Anita Tuesday. The son of Thunder Gulch captured the San Felipe Stakes in his only start this year.

Schwartz: Alliance 'Makes a Lot of Sense'

At the New York Capitol building Tuesday afternoon, legislative sources were already predicting the new partnership of the New York Racing Association, Churchill Downs Inc., and the TV Games Network has a strong edge over the group headed by Magna Entertainment in the bidding for New York City Off-Track Betting Corp.

Choke

Choke is the most common disorder involving the esophagus in horses. Horses can become choked on many different substances, most commonly grain or hay, but also beet pulp, corn cobs, and apples.

Churchill Joins NYRA, TVG in New York Bidding

Churchill Downs Inc. ended weeks of speculation Tuesday when it confirmed it has joined the New York Racing Association and the TV Games Network in a bid to purchase New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. The company has withdrawn the bid it previously submitted on its own behalf to the New York City Development Corp., which is overseeing the possible sale of New York City OTB.

Star Search

By John W. Russell -- Question: What sport advertises its product by focusing on frantic fans rather than prominent players? You've got it: Thoroughbred racing.

Book Buzz

By Ray Paulick -- We have what should be a runaway winner in one of the divisions of the annual Eclipse Awards, which honor the equine and human champions of our sport. Whether it's an Award of Merit, which is given to a worthy individual nearly every year, or a Special Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement when warranted, Laura Hillenbrand is deserving.

Laurel Will Try 'Dash' in Post-Breeders' Cup Spot

For the first time since its inception in Maryland in 1990, the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash will be run this year in the fall instead of the summer. The $300,000 race, one of only two grade I six-furlong events in the country, will headline a "fall festival day" of a half-dozen stakes Nov. 17 at Laurel Park, said Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club.

He'll Get the 'Call' Again at Age 10

John's Call, the venerable gelding who won two grade I turf stakes last year at age 9, will race again at 10, trainer Tom Voss said. A chestnut gelding by Lord at War, John's Call has won 15 of 36 career starts for earnings of $1,534,207.

Fair Grounds Wagering Up For Seventh Straight Year

A slight decline in on-track wagering was offset by simulcast business as overall handle increased for the seventh straight year during the 88-day Fair Grounds meet that concluded Monday. The New Orleans track reported a total of $430.2 million, or an average of $4.89 million per day, was wagered on Fair Grounds races, a 1.3 percent increase over the $424.9 million wagered last season.

Maryland Dates Meeting May Be 'Bloodbath'

On Wednesday, representatives of the Maryland Jockey Club will ask the state's racing commission for permission to cease racing at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park for parts of June and July so that Thoroughbreds can race at Colonial Downs. The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association doesn't support the plan.

Unreported Medications Found in Sale Horses

Tests conducted on juveniles that participated in under-tack shows prior to the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March select auction did not detect any performance enhancing-drugs, but therapeutic medications were found in blood samples from three horses whose consignors had not reported the treatments, said Tom Ventura, general manager and director of sales for OBS.

Steve Haskin's Kentucky Derby Top 20: March 26 Update

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.

Fair Grounds Racing Report: Tijiyr Posts Upset Victory

Big money. Big money. Six-hundred thousand dead presidents were on the line in the nine-furlong Explosive Bid Handicap (gr. IIT) on March 25 and there were plenty of takers. Top grass horses from each corner of the map swarmed into Fair Grounds like moths attracted to a porch light. Five invaders came from the East Coast and six shipped in from California. The biggest name on the marquee was Centennial Farms' King Cugat, a multiple graded stakes winner, who was making his 4-year-old debut. However, trainer Niall O'Callaghan came to bury Caesar, not to praise him, and he did it with Gary Tanaka's Tijiyr. The Irish-bred, under Robby Albarado, put in a determined finish to cap off a ground-saving trip and seal the upset ($21.40) victory.

Albert the Great Gives Zito Trainees Two Track Records on One Card

Sent off at odds of 1-20, Nick Zito trainee Albert the Great drew off in the final furlong to win Saturday's $200,000 Widener Handicap (gr. III) by 5 3/4 lengths at Hialeah Park, breaking the track record for 1 1/8 miles in the process. Albert the Great took over on the second turn and kicked clear in the stretch, running the final furlong in a quick :11.51. He completed the distance in 1:45.52 on a fast track. Earlier on the card, Zito-trained A P Valentine set a course record for 1 1/16 miles.

Aqueduct Racing Report: Big Win for 'The Boss'

George Steinbrenner has transcended the role of sports franchise owner. Through all the salary disputes, manager firings, front-page headlines, and, of course, the dynasties and World Series championships, Steinbrenner has become a living, breathing part of the "Big Apple" as owner of the New York Yankees. But when it comes to his involvement in the Sport of Kings, he still is powerless in his attempt to ascend the throne. Here, he has no visions of grandeur, just an admiration for athletes who still compete for the love of the game. To New York racing fans, "The Boss" is merely George, and the track is where he escapes to mingle with these athletes, who demand nothing in return for their heroic deeds. That is why you'll see Steinbrenner at The Big A on a cold, windy March afternoon beaming over his prized four-legged athlete Dream Supreme.

A P Valentine Breaks Track Record at Hialeah Park

Ol Memorial Stable and Michael Tabor's A P Valentine closed from eight lengths back after a half-mile run in :45.79 to earn a 3 3/4-length win in an optional claiming race for 3-year-olds and upwards Saturday at Hialeah Park. Ridden by Eibar Coa, the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) winner completed the 1 1/16 miles in track-record time of 1:40.39.

Turfway Park Racing Report: Balto Star Shines Bright

In the days, hours, and even minutes leading up to the March 24 Spiral Stakes (gr. II), there wasn't a clear-cut favorite -- much less a star -- among the nine 3-year-olds going to the starting gate. Six of the nine starters were between 3-1 and 6-1 in the wagering. But all that changed at 4:42 p.m. EST as a star did emerge coming down Turfway Park's stretch. His name: Balto Star. And the strapping dark bay gelding, in an effortless performance, ran off from his foes to a surprising 12 3/4-length romp in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep.

Geldings Battle to Wire in Dubai Duty Free

The older geldings Jim and Tonic and Fairy King Prawn ran by the great New Zealand mare Sunline and fought to the finish in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-II) on the World Cup card at Nad al Sheba racecourse. At the end, it was Jim and Tonic on top as the 7-year-old French-bred posted his 11th victory in his 30th career start. Previous to the Duty Free, the gelding trained by Francois Doumen was third in the Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) in Decembe

Dubai World Cup Report: Captain Steve Triumphs

Captain Steve's owner, Mike Pegram, stood 10 yards away as trainer Bob Baffert issued instructions to Jerry Bailey in the Nad al Sheba walking ring prior to the sixth Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on the evening of March 24. "I let them go to it," he said. "Those guys will be in the Hall of Fame one day (Bailey already is) and I'll be standing outside on the sidewalk. They know what they're doing." Asked the significance of running in his first $6-million race, the world's richest, Pegram reflected for a minute: "I never thought I'd be running for $6 million in my entire career. That's a lot of $10,000 claimers."

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