News

Headlines and features from the Thoroughbred industry

Resolution May Be Near in Magna-NTRA Conflict

A Sunday evening meeting between Magna chairman Frank Stronach and members of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors was called "constructive" and could lead to a resolution within two weeks, officials said in a joint statement released Monday. Magna's seven racetracks were among the 22 that defected from the NTRA in late October. "There was give and take on a number of topics," the statement said. "We did not agree on every issue, but...the participants confirmed their strong mutual commitment to advancing the interests of horseracing. We are optimistic about the prospects of working together in the future with Magna's racetracks as members of the NTRA."

Lewises Acquire Promising 3-Year-Old Global Gait

Global Gait, a multiple stakes winner in Maryland who has captured his last three starts at Laurel by a combined 22 1/2 lengths, has been sold to Robert and Beverly Lewis for an undisclosed sum and was scheduled to arrive at trainer Bob Baffert's barn Monday night, former trainer Anthony Dutrow said Monday morning.

Stronach All Alone At Top of Owners' List

Frank Stronach has been viewed as everything from a maverick to a bit of a tyrant in North American racing circles this past year. Just about the only place Stronach wasn't looked upon as a rogue was on the track, where even his harshest critics couldn't fault his success. From January to December, 764 starters wearing the familiar black silks with the red and gold Adena Springs Farm logo won 163 races and earned $11,198,225, giving him his third consecutive leading owner title by money won. Stronach topped the leading owner list in 1999 with $6,221,147. In 1998, he stopped a three-year streak by the late Allen Paulson with $7,221,416 in earnings.

Hospitalized Jerkens Gets First Gulfstream Victory

With family patriarch Allen Jerkens still in the intensive care unit across the street at Aventura Hospital, wife Elisabeth and son James saddled the Hall of Famer's first 2001 Gulfstream starter to a victory in the sixth race on Sunday Jan 7. Ridden by Julio Espinoza, Fiddle paid $48. "He'll be shaking his fist when he hears about this one," joked Elisabeth Jerkens, "He wanted to come here very much today."

Santa Anita Race Report: From Claimer to Grade II Winner

It was a priceless moment of ecstasy. Freedom Crest, the erstwhile claimer and pride of the six-horse Richard Baltas stable, had just wrestled the lead from Bosque Redondo in the $200,000 San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II). Now, with just over a furlong to run, the game was over. But the real action was in the stands. His composure long lost, Baltas had broken into a windsprint, a spirited dash down the aisle interrupted only by an occasional glance at the track, a check to make sure his dream hadn't ended.

Spook Express Rallies for Honey Fox Win

South African champion Spook Express closed from 11th-place in the 12-horse field to win Sunday's $100,000 Honey Fox Handicap (gr. IIIT), catching pacesetter Please Sign In near the wire of the one-mile turf race. Under jockey Mike Smith, the Thomas Skiffington-trained mare completed the Gulfstream Park feature in 1:35.60 on a firm course.

Xtra Heat Wins Ruthless Stakes

Xtra Heat, who capped her nearly perfect juvenile season with a stakes win at Laurel Park on Dec. 29, began her 3-year-old campaign on a similar note Sunday, winning the $80,575 Ruthless Stakes at Aqueduct. The win was the ninth in 10 career starts for Xtra Heat, whose only loss was a 10th-place finish in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).

Collect Call Wins Santa Ysabel

Collect Call rallied in the stretch to win the $109,300 Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) by 1 1/4 lengths over Irguns Angel Saturday at Santa Anita. Alex Solis booted the winner home, the pair crossed the wire after completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.69 on a fast track.

Band Is Passing's Repeat Bid Upset in Appleton

Associate took advantage of his inside post position, saving ground early before rallying to catch Band Is Passing in the final strides in Saturday's $150,000 Appleton Handicap (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park. Last year's Appleton winner Band Is Passing missed by a neck in his repeat bid, finishing second, a head in front of El Mirasol.

Longest Shot on Board Wins Count Fleet

Just Allen, the longest price on the board at 59-1, drew away to a two-length victory in Aqueduct's Saturday feature race, the Count Fleet Stakes. Second wagering choice Personable Pete, a New York-bred half-brother to Gazelle Handicap (gr. I) winner Critical Eye, finished second.

Council Members Meet with Stronach on Santa Anita Development

Two Arcadia city council members met with Santa Anita racetrack owner Frank Stronach this past week and shared their concerns about his expansion plans. Although only some specifics about the plan were discussed, Arcadia Mayor Gary Kovacic and Councilman Mickey Segal said the meeting couldn't have gone any better.

Tampa Horsemen Approve New Contract

Horsemen at Tampa Bay Downs gave their leaders a strong directive Friday morning to end a protracted contract dispute with track management. Members of the Tampa Bay Downs Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association vote 160-2 to accept a purses contract as proposed by racetrack management, according to John Grady, general manager of Tampa Bay Downs.

Breeder Hettinger to Receive Special Eclipse Award

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has announced that John Hettinger has been selected to receive a Special Eclipse Award for his humanitarian efforts to ensure the safety and well being of racehorses on-track and after their racing careers are over. In addition to supporting the Exceller Farm, a satellite site for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, the country's oldest retirement organization for racehorses, Hettinger was instrumental in the founding of the Racehorse Adoption Referral Program (RARP).

ABC's McKay Honored with Eclipse Award of Merit

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has announced that longtime ABC sportscaster and owner/breeder Jim McKay has been named the recipient of the Eclipse Award of Merit, presented in honor of an individual's lifetime achievements in Thoroughbred racing. A committee composed of representatives from the Eclipse Award-presenting organizations -- the NTRA, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association -- selected McKay by unanimous vote.

Leading Trainer of 2000: Baffert's Three-Peat

What a downer. He didn't saddle a winner of a Triple Crown race, and for the second year in a row he failed to find the winner's circle on Breeders' Cup Day. His total grade I win count for the year fell from a whopping 20 a year ago to a mere six in 2000. Prior to the Breeders' Cup, he was lambasted in the Louisville and Lexington newspapers as having a "wretched" year. One would think trainer Bob Baffert had fallen from his perch as top trainer. However, just the opposite was true, as his stable remained powerful enough, and deep enough, to lead all trainers in North America by money won for the third year in a row.

Leading Breeder of 2000: 'Going Out On Top'

If Harry T. Mangurian Jr. subscribes to the theory it's best to go out on top, he is a perfect illustration of those words in action. The leading breeder of 1999 repeated the feat in 2000. Ironically, in 2001 the last of Mangurian's breeding stock will be dispersed, a process he began in October of 1999. Mangurian, 73, put the liquidation in motion in part because he and his wife, Dottie, want to spend more time at their Ft. Lauderdale home, rather than at their Mockingbird Farm near Ocala, Fla.

Horse Race Wagering Soars in Ontario

The Ontario Jockey Club reported today that wagering continued its strong upward trend in 2000. A record $1,221,684,460 in wagers was handled by the company, up 11.6% from $1,094,511,000 in 1999. Total wagering at the two OJC tracks, Woodbine and Mohawk, at 27 off-track wagering sites in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and by telephone account bettors, totalled $854,866,100, an increase of 7.4% over the $795.8 million recorded in 1999. T

Hialeah's Brunetti Upset By Dates' Requests

Hialeah Park Chairman John J. Brunetti had some harsh words for rival tracks Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park in discussing recent filings with the State of Florida for operating dates in 2002. "The actions taken by the other tracks are contrary to their public fa├žade of cooperation," Brunetti said, upset that both Calder and Gulfstream have filed for expanded live racing dates that infringe on Hialeah's customary operating period of March 17-May 22.

Graded Winner Hurricane Bertie Euthanized

Richard, Bertram, and Elaine Klein's Hurricane Bertie, a multiple graded stakes-winning mare who was zeroing in on the million-dollar mark in career earnings, has been euthanized due to complications that developed from laminitis. Richard Klein said Hurricane Bertie (Storm Boot -- Clever Bertie, by Timeless Native) had developed colitis in Florida. Surgery was successful, but the mare then developed laminitis and foundered, he said.

Casino in 'Big Easy' Files for Bankruptcy Protection--Again

For the second time in the past five years, the first casino in New Orleans, La., has filed for protection under federal bankruptcy laws. Unlike the previous bankruptcy filing in 1995, however, the casino will continue to operate as it seeks to cut its indebtedness and tax burden to the state, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Maryland Horsemen: Maintain Current Schedule

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has recommended that Maryland's racetracks maintain a schedule whereby there is a shutdown in September. That throws the decision on Colonial Downs dates back to the Virginia Racing Commisssion.

North East Bound Breezes Toward Donn Start

Julian Demarco and Richard Disano's North East Bound worked three furlongs in :36 2/5 seconds on Thursday while breezing on a fast track at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old gelded son of D'Accord is preparing for his return to the races in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at the South Florida oval on Feb. 3.

Gaines Calls For Stronach to Terminate or Delay Forum

Magna chairman Frank Stronach's Jan. 14 open forum to discuss the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's future "should be terminated or at least delayed" if Stronach isn't willing to establish a structure and set an agenda for the session, John Gaines told the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Manager's Club Tuesday night in Lexington.

Melville Church Dead

Virginia horseman Melville (Chuck) Church III, who was a past president of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, died on Jan.1 while on a hunting trip in Essex County, Va.

Equine Art Magazine Acquired by The Blood-Horse

The Blood-Horse, Inc. has announced the acquisition of The Equine Image magazine, a publication serving equine art enthusiasts since its founding in 1986. The magazine was acquired for an undisclosed sum from its prior owner, Heartland Communications Group of Fort Dodge, IA.

Helicopter Crash Kills Top Breeder in India

One of the top horse breeders in India, Major Pradeep K. Mehra, his wife Mrs. Beena Mehra, and their daughter Radhika Mehra, died in a helicopter accident Tuesday. According to published reports, the helicopter took off from a helipad in the higher reaches of Mussoorie under foggy conditions, at 12:05 p.m. and was headed toward Jollygrant airport in Dehra Dun when it crashed into a hill.

Casino Proposals Intensify In Upper Midwest

Casino gaming is becoming a hot topic in the upper Midwest, with a privately-managed, state-owned facility being proposed in Minnesota and three Indian groups in Wisconsin joining forces with an ailing Greyhound track in a casino proposal.

Gulfstrem Park Race Report: Winds of Change, On and Off Track

With the winds of change swirling hard around the South Florida racing scene, Gulfstream Park opened for its 2001 meet on Jan. 3 with its usual accompaniment of the top horses and outfits from across the East Coast and Midwest. Perhaps appropriately, with a wrecking ball due to demolish the plant once the meet concludes as part of a Magna Entertainment major reconstruction, and a war over racing dates in the offing, the results of a trio of opening week stakes were as likely as Frank Stronach joining Tim Smith for a friendly round of golf.

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