Two exhibition races for Standardbred pacers were held at Keeneland the afternoon of May 21 to give the principals in a racetrack under construction in Alberta, Canada, an idea as to whether a synthetic surface can be used for both breeds.
Trainer Todd Pletcher doesn't have the first, second, or third choice in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). In fact, his horses were assigned odds of 15-1 (Monba) and 20-1 (Cowboy Cal) on the morning line. So, after giving an update on the status of his runners, Pletcher was left to confirm Rick Dutrow Jr.'s confidence in Big Brown during a May 1 press conference at Churchill Downs.
For several 3-year-olds pointing toward the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland, the April 19 event offers a final chance at graded earnings and entry into the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). But the horse whose form points to a likely win in the 1 1/16-mile event has no aspirations of making the Derby -- and he could spoil the plans of those who do when a field of 11 goes postward in the final Derby prep of the season.
Well, should we talk about the vagaries of Polytrack form for the umpteenth time or concentrate on the weekend's racing?
The first new racecourse to open in Britain since 1928 is finally meant to stage a race meeting, April 20, over 18 months late.Great Leighs, which has a Polytrack surface, was meant to open in October 2006 but various delays, most involving planning and construction, have occurred
The number of catastrophic injuries on dirt tracks has gone up while the corresponding number on synthetic surfaces has gone down, according to a revision of a report first given at the March 17 Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit.
Pyro may be on fire going into the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland April 12, but 11 other runners will attempt to douse his Derby dreams in the 1 1/8-mile event.
Ventura proved her affinity for Polytrack and American stakes competition when she mowed down a field of experienced contenders at Keeneland in the $200,000 Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. II) April 9.
At The Moment Stables' Lady Belsara, the Keeneland track record-holder for 6 1/2 furlongs on Polytrack, has been retired, according to Steve Kintz, father of trainer Matt Kintz.
Ariege and Golden Doc A, the one-two finishers in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) March 8, will renew their rivalry in the Midwest in the $250,000 Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland.
Ike and Dawn Thrash's Dawn After Dawn was a solid performer in each of her four past starts, registering two wins -- one in the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) -- under jockey Garrett Gomez.
Darley Stabe's Little Belle battled back in the stretch to fend off Bsharpsonata to capture Saturday's Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland by a hard-fought neck.
Keeneland director of racing Rogers Beasley said the racetrack is ready to open its spring meeting April 4, despite the threat of heavy rain in the area beginning April 3 and continuing through opening day. Forecasts are calling for around three inches of rain in the Central Kentucky area.
Mid-morning on Turfway Park's backside March 21, Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) contenders were pulling at hay nets or dozing, blanketed against the morning chill. Horses and trainers alike are, as trainer Grant Hofmans said, "on cruise control" until March 22.
- By Dan Liebman
You can bet there are those pushing for a return to a dirt surface at Santa Anita
Experts from all avenues of the racing industry presented statistics and opinions on synthetic surfaces and Santa Anita track president Ron Charles said the track will replace its Cushion Track as a six-hour special meeting called by the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) concluded Feb. 20.
By Bill Casner - "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" -- No one understands this better than Mr. Richard Shapiro and his fellow California Horse Racing Board members in the wake of the problems with Cushion Track at Santa Anita.
Millennium Farms' Student Council, back-to-back winner of the Pacific Classic (gr. I) and the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) in 2007, looks to rebound from an eighth-place finish in the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) when he heads a field of nine in the $250,000 San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Feb. 9.
It used to be so simple. Every step horses took on the Kentucky Derby trail was on good old Mother Earth. Now, we have no idea what some horses are putting their feet into.
By Morton Cathro - Santa Anita's wet-weather woes flooding its synthetic track remind a dwindling number of oldtimers of the rain-soaked, not-so-grand opening a half-century ago of Golden Gate Fields and its clay-like racing surface that doomed the track to temporary oblivion.
Perhaps no other sport is as bound to tradition as racing Thoroughbreds. From the sheer length of its history, to the grand old venues in which it takes place, to the top-hatted and red-suited bugler calling the horses to post, racing loves its time-honored habits.
- By Dan Liebman
By - Dan Liebman - In 2007, at least one Thoroughbred flat race was run at 129 different racetracks in North America (another 24 ran steeplechase races only). Of those racetracks, nine now have a synthetic track surface.
Mary Delaney has not been in top form since April, but a return trip to her favorite racetrack might be just what the doctor ordered, as the 4-year-old Hennessy filly looks to get back to her winning ways Dec. 1 in the $50,000 Holiday Inaugural at Turfway Park.
True Metropolitan entered 2007 hard-pressed to repeat the successful campaign he had a year ago, when the Proud and True gelding took home Champion Older Horse of the Year honors in Canadia by winning seven stakes events.
Brass Hat and Go Between, both coming off of stakes victories, highlight a field of nine in the $150,000 Fayette Stakes (gr. III), the final race of Keenelands fall meet Oct. 27.
- By Claire Novak
Edmund Gann's Seaside Affair tops a full field of 14 fillies entered in the Oct. 20 Lexus Raven Run Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland. Going seven furlongs over the Polytrack, the John Sadler trainee is after her first graded win following a victory in Del Mar's Torry Pines Stakes Sept. 2.
At a program hosted by the University of Kentucky Horse Racing Club in Lexington, five prominent trainers gave attendees a glimpse of what life was like while walking in their shoes. Called "Inside Horse Racing: the Trainer's Point of View," the Oct. 8 event featured a question-and-answer session as well as a silent auction to benefit the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center.
She's gone head-to-head with the best fillies of her generation, and Baroness Thatcher may get her turn to reign in the $300,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland Oct. 6.
The $150,000 Sycamore Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland has drawn 10 older horses seeking redemption after recent performances.
Trainer Greg Foley will send graded stakes winner Pleasant Hill in search of her fourth career victory when 12 fillies and mares go postward in the Sept. 29 Kentucky Cup Distaff (gr. III) at Turfway.
Making final preparations for the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Monmouth Park, Jim Tafel's Street Sense and Rick Porter's Hard Spun will have a much-anticipated rematch in the Sept. 29 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) over Turfway Park's Polytrack.
Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Street Sense and Derby runner-up Hard Spun will meet for the third time in next Saturday's $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) at Turfway Park, it was announced Sept. 22.
Del Mar closed its 2007 meeting Sept. 5 - and its first with a synthetic surface - with its second-highest gross handle ever and a small increase in attendance, the Southern California track reported.
Opening night, Sept. 5, will mark the two-year anniversary of the debut of Polytrack at Turfway Park, officials of which continue to collect data on a daily basis to learn more about the surface.
Santa Anita Park, which has been closed for training and under major construction since July 5, will unveil its new Cushion Track surface for training on Sept. 4.
John Shirreffs, not comfortable running Tiago on the Del Mar Polytrack, has decided to scratch the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and Swaps (gr. II) winner from the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic (gr. I).
Emotions are sure to run high when Lava Man attempts to defend his title in the $1-million Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar Aug. 19.
Nearing the midpoint of its 43-day season with a new Polytrack racing surface in place, Del Mar officials reported increases Aug. 10 in handle and attendance -- and no catastrophic breakdowns on the synthetic main track.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick - The only master that should count is the horse and his safety.
Turfway Park has promoted longtime staff member Jeff Chapman to the position of track superintendent.
Trainer T.R. (Ray) Bell II and jockey Jon Court had never received so much attention for capturing a maiden event as they did when Special Smoke became the first horse to win a race over Del Mar's new Polytrack racing surface July 18.
The May 11 race card at Arlington Park will begin with the debut of the track's new alternate finish line for a race run at 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack.
Arlington Park reported a 25% increase in handle and a healthy jump in attendance for its opening weekend this year.
A year after an unprecedented string of catastrophic breakdowns left horsemen wondering what was wrong with the dirt track at Arlington Park, they were singing the praises of a new synthetic racing surface.
Martin Collins, creator of the Polytrack artificial surface, said the surface has encountered some problems in North America, but it's still much better than American dirt tracks, which tend to be inconsistent.
- By Mark Popham
Martin Collins, the creator of the Polytrack artificial surface, admitted to having faced problems in North America in an interview with a British monthly racing magazine.
Keeneland closed its 2007 spring season on Friday with record total wagering exceeding $158 million for the 15-day race meet held April 6 -27, but on-track attendance declined following a record-breaking season in 2006.
Great Hunter, Liquidity, and Cobalt Blue all worked sharply at Keeneland Friday in their last major preps for the May 5 Run for the Roses.
Trainer Larry Jones sent Kentucky Derby contender Hard Spun for a mile work over the Polytrack surface at Lexington's Keeneland Racecourse Monday, April 23.
Presque Isle Downs, the new Erie, Pa.-area racetrack that plans to open Sept. 1 for its inaugural Thoroughbred meet, will have a synthetic surface.
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