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.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick - Conventional wisdom suggests front-running horses have a huge advantage if they are allowed to set the tortoise-like fractions established in this year's Blue Grass. But Polytrack has thrown conventional wisdom out the window.
Keeneland pumped up the promotion of its April sale of 2-year-olds in training last year, and the effort paid off as the auction enjoyed increases in its gross revenue, average price, and median price, which set a sale record. But can Keeneland keep the momentum going Tuesday, when the latest edition of the sale will be held in Central Kentucky?
Offspring of Mineshaft, Grand Slam, and Distorted Humor are generating a buzz before the Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training.
A colt by Elusive Quality and fillies by Hennessy and Boundary were among the standouts Monday during the second and final under tack show for the Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training.
Street Sounds, making her first start for trainer Michael Matz since winning the Selima Stakes last November on the turf at Laurel, stayed well off the rail at Keeneland Thursday afternoon, scoring a neck victory over favorite Forever Together in the $250,000 Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II).
Three days after an under tack show that produced freakishly fast times, consignors had mostly positive reports about the condition of their horses entered in Keeneland's April sale of 2-year-olds in training.
Trainer Todd Pletcher was the featured speaker at the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club meeting April 11 where he discussed his early career, Polytrack, and the Triple Crown.
Synthetic surface specialist Mary Delaney took the lead shortly after the start and never looked back Wednesday to take Keeneland's Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. II) in impressive fashion.
Citing inclement weather that led to the full or partial cancellation of eight live racing cards, Turfway Park concluded its winter/spring meet with declines in overall and on-track wagering.
Woodbine in Canada will employ a two-step process beginning in May in an attempt to improve the Polytrack surface it installed last summer.
Arlington Park is in the final phase of installing an $11-million Polytrack surface that will debut when live racing begins May 4.
In an agreement with Lingfield Park Racecourse in Surrey, England, Hollywood Park will issue an invitation to the winner of the 2007 Winter Derby (Eng-III) to participate in the 68th running of the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) on June 30.
Following reports that Santa Anita might request more time before installing a synthetic main-track surface, Santa Anita President Ron Charles announced Feb. 21 that Magna Entertainment Corp. is committed to installing such a surface this year.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, using funds from the state equine drug council, hopes to hire an equine medical director.
Keeneland catalog for the April sale of 2-year-olds in training has 226 horses. This year's auction will be the first in North America to conduct under tack shows over Polytrack.
Though the evidence may be largely anecdotal, it appears swings in temperature can impact Polytrack and its consistency.
Arlington Park announced Feb. 6 it will install Polytrack for its meet that begins May 4.
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