By Ray Paulick - Over the next few weeks, the contenders and pretenders angling for the right to operate the New York Thoroughbred racing franchise at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga will be finalizing their paperwork in the request for proposal process developed by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing.
By Evan Hammonds - Major League Baseball just celebrated its All-Star Game last month in Pittsburgh, representing the traditional midpoint as "America's Pastime" heads into its second season and hits the turn on its run to the World Series in October. So, too, is Thoroughbred racing entering its second season.
By Dan Liebman - From the belt buckles to the Longhorns, things are big in Texas. How's this for big--one billion dollars. That's billion, with nine zeros.
By Morton Cathro - If recent action by the California Horse Racing Board should become permanent and be embraced by other states, racing might well see the return of the old, largely forgotten "declaring to win" rule invoked by the umbrella-wielding gentleman of yesteryear--with the unintended consequences it sometimes brings.
By Ray Paulick - Keeneland's director of racing, W.B. Rogers Beasley, earlier this year made an interesting case for expansion of the Eclipse Awards from 11 to 15 equine categories (including steeplechasers). Suggested additions were 3-year-old males and 3-year-old fillies on turf, filly and mare sprinters, and turf sprinters.
By Bill Shanklin - The train from London takes me to Sevenoaks Station in the gently rolling English countryside. At the nearby taxi rank, finely attired folks are about to embark for Royal Ascot and the afternoon races. My destination is different. I am here for a visit to the home of the most venerated racehorse owner and breeder of any era.
By Ray Paulick - In light of the industry's reticence to hand over any real power to the NTRA, downsized expectations and downsized staffing make perfect sense.
By Christine Janks - There is no mystery to me why we are having all these breakdowns. Even one is horrific, but when I see breakdowns occurring on almost a daily basis, I feel that finally the time is right to point the finger back where it belongs.
By Ray Paulick - The Guild officers, convinced this time by California-based jockey Alex Solis in the Chris McCarron role, are in the process of hiring two racing outsiders to direct them: sports agent Dwight Manley, who became a millionaire by acquiring rare coins, and civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose integrity and credibility have never fully recovered from a scandal involving a mistress, a child out of wedlock, and questionable payments.
By Richard B. Shapiro - A racetrack operator, who shall go unnamed, recently said to me, "It isn't that I don't like you personally, but frankly, I think you are dangerous for the sport." He went on to tell me that I talk too much at the California Horse Racing Board meetings and that I would be better off if I didn't push so hard and just backed off. His view is that I have ideas that won't work for the most part, and I am causing too much dissension in the industry.
By Ray Paulick - In California, where the safety-conscious California Horse Racing Board has mandated synthetic surfaces by the end of 2007 for the state's major tracks, an opportunity arose for the various track operators to seek a common solution.
By Vic Zast - It is wrong to believe that only devotees with a love of the Thoroughbred deserve a place in the Turf Club. Or that to be a genuine fan one must take racing seriously. Racing is best when it's democratic, not burdened by snobbery.
By Ray Paulick - Beginning in 1985, when the three Triple Crown host racing associations--Churchill Downs, the Maryland Jockey Club, and the New York Racing Association--joined together to form Triple Crown Productions, the series clearly began to benefit and grow. But the alliance has cracked, resulting this past year in separate television contracts and the loss of a title sponsor.
By Evan I. Hammonds - I don't recall the meeting when it was first discussed, but I remember volunteering. Looking for new avenues of coverage for racing's big events--the Triple Crown, the Breeders' Cup--on bloodhorse.com, the idea of a "blog" came up. "Blog," short for "Web log," is a relatively new concept and is still subject to debate for its actual purpose and application.
By Ray Paulick - Some people may have been surprised to see a relatively unknown 18-year-old jockey aboard Jazil in the June 10 Belmont Stakes (gr. I)-but they shouldn't have been.
By Dell Hancock - As with all accidents, racing's do happen. But we all need to make sure that, while they may never be totally eliminated, we are working hard to rid racing of as many as possible and deal successfully with those that cannot be avoided.
By Ray Paulick - Why has it been so difficult for the racing industry to put together a meaningful series of races leading up to the Breeders' Cup World Championships?
By Joe Clancy - Other sports hold more popularity than racing, but nobody ever stood on an overpass to wish a linebacker good luck in his surgery. The horses matter, and people care more than those of us in racing know.
By Ray Paulick -- For the second consecutive year, no contemporary horses were elected to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame. That is astonishing, considering some of the champions named on the ballot.
By Laura Hillenbrand -- In breakdowns, racing has a massive, deadly serious problem, and we all know it. The Thoroughbred industry has a moral obligation to horses and jockeys to pursue solutions on a grand scale and with the utmost urgency. We must summon the best minds, create a truly comprehensive, uniform injury reporting system, and fund a slew of controlled studies. Most importantly, we must be willing to make the difficult choices that follow.
By Ray Paulick - The mood could not have been darker when the horse ambulance left the Pimlico backstretch on the evening of May 20, its precious cargo the shattered dreams of racing fans and horse lovers everywhere.
By Dan Liebman - There has been a great deal of emotion lately at Hilary Boone Jr.'s Wimbledon Farm near Lexington--first with Barbaro, and now with both Barbaro and Bernardini.
By Ray Paulick - If Barbaro can safely pass his next test, in the 131st running of the Preakness May 20, Matz' strategy will have worked to perfection. It will then be up to Barbaro to prove his place in the annals of the Turf come Belmont day.
By Dan Liebman - Nathan Fox is looking for the next Karen and Mickey Taylor. He has a beautiful new seven-stall stallion barn and office to show them. But will he ever find them? He is optimistic. He is also realistic.
By Ray Paulick - It's difficult to imagine a Breeders' Cup without D. G. Van Clief Jr. The gentleman from Virginia has been a steady, guiding influence on Thoroughbred racing's championship day since before the inaugural running in 1984 at Hollywood Park.
By Neil V. Getnick - I have lost a friend. And New York Thoroughbred racing has lost a friend. He was Peter Karches, the former co-chairman of the New York Racing Association Board of Trustees.
By Ray Paulick - They may not be pleasant subjects -- death, a tragic plane crash, and a serious motorcycle accident -- but the story lines surrounding several of this year's leading Triple Crown contenders promise to add a measure of emotion and high drama to what is always a compelling afternoon.
By Melissa Radcliffe - When I was 12 years old, something extraordinary happened to me, something that helped shape the person I have become. I met Michael Matz.
By Ray Paulick - Hard evidence points to the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) as the most productive Triple Crown prep race in 2004 and '05, with Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex each going on to sweep two-thirds of the Triple Crown after taking Oaklawn Park's signature event.
By Tom LaMarra - Racetracks, like mountains, have an aura--almost a personality--for those who take the time to experience them. It is the horses, the people, the smells, the view, and, of course, the memories.
By Ray Paulick - It's time for Magna and Gulfstream executives to refocus their energies on the core business of selling pari-mutuel tickets on horse racing. Based on their seven-year track record, they have not been very successful.
By Byron Rogers - Of all the domesticated breeds, the Thoroughbred's lineage is by far the best recorded and most accurately detailed. It is a great testament to the American Stud Book, The Jockey Club, and the industry itself that we do have such records available to us to evaluate, purchase, and breed Thoroughbreds based on their pedigrees and the performance of their ancestors. It is something we have a right to be proud of.
By Ray Paulick - Unlike human sports, Thoroughbred racing doesn't conduct surprise tests between starts in search of blood-doping drugs. By relying only on race-day tests, that leaves the regulators of our sport living in yesterday's world.
Dual agency without disclosure is fraud and it is against the law! We would like to make it clear that the signers of this document do not tolerate this, and that we never have and never will participate in these activities.
By Ray Paulick - Election of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club executive vice president Craig Fravel as the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's new board chairman was considered such a momentous occasion that it took 19 days for the NTRA to issue a press release on the subject--and only after receiving an inquisitive call from a reporter.
By Victor Zast - Observers believe there are so many rich purses in America that traveling overseas is a needless risk. Still others blame the medication, quarantine rules, and a fear of the region by Americans for a reluctance to ship. Whatever the reason for some to stay put, people with a sense of adventure will travel.
By Ray Paulick - The movement for reform in the business of bloodstock sales began in earnest nearly two years ago when Florida Thoroughbred owner and breeder Satish Sanan rallied support for a code of ethics, elimination of dual agency, and increased transparency. Sanan, in a letter to this publication, said "kickbacks and other fraudulent behavior are something the industry professionals know about, participate in, and encourage, but turn a deaf ear to when someone brings it to their attention."
By Steve Haskin - Mom's Command has slipped through the cracks again. After having her name on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2005, the 1985 New York filly Triple Crown winner was conspicuous by her absence this year.
By Ray Paulick - Kentucky politicians need to understand the educational and lobbying efforts undertaken by the Kentucky Equine Education Project are not a one-and-out deal. The horse industry, which for too long was nonexistent in Kentucky politics, quickly became the state's No. 1 lobbying force. And that's exactly what Kentucky's top industry should be.
By Deirdre B. Biles - It's inevitable. Every year when the sales of 2-year-olds in training start revving up and the babies start working fast, The Blood-Horse receives a flurry of letters and e-mails. Angry writers, many of them breeders and owners, complain about how detrimental it is to the Thoroughbred breed to make young horses breeze at high speeds.
By Dan Liebman - You may think it is ludicrous to spend $16 million for an unraced horse--any unraced horse--and for 99.99% of the buyers in the world, you would probably be right. But for the buyer and underbidder on this colt, Coolmore and Darley, respectively, it can make sense.
By Ray Paulick - When will regulators or racetrack executives follow the lead of Woodbine in Canada and the New York Racing Association and stop allowing private practitioners to treat horses on the day of a race?
By T.D. Thorton - It was no surprise the Thoroughbred industry went into its well-practiced "wounded party" act when the Boston Globe and Washington Post both recently announced that statistical racing coverage--those several-inch squares of abbreviated agate type--would be slashed from each paper's sports section.
By Ray Paulick - Roy Chapman and Bob Lewis were members of a very select club in Thoroughbred racing. Both experienced what most owners involved in the sport would call the ultimate thrill: winning the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
By Ray Paulick - The Kentucky Thoroughbred Breeders' Fund, signed into law in late December by Gov. Ernie Fletcher, kicks into high gear with the opening of the 2006 breeding season.
By Eugene Levey - Change is inevitable and necessary, but it should be made for the right reasons. Unfortunately, most of the changes in recent years have robbed racing in general and racing fans in particular. I speak of the abbreviated careers of modern-day racehorses compared to their counterparts of yesteryear.
By Ray Paulick - Racing has a problem with declining economic indicators. But the real crisis is its inability to take action.
By Edward S. Bonnie - Why do I care what riders wear on their heads, whether jockeys, exercise riders, or just people who ride horses for pay or pleasure? I was, and am, one of them. And, it finally happened to me.
By Ray Paulick - Owners and breeders who have become increasingly critical of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association point to a funding imbalance that shows racetracks lagging behind in their financial contributions to the organization.
By Fred A. Pope - A number of us have tried to find a workable, national structure to package and present racing. Times change. Situations change. A situation analysis today reveals the Breeders' Cup is the right organization to execute a vision for racing's rebirth.