By Ray Paulick - Concern was expressed in this space June 21 that Kentucky's newly created breeders' incentive program could become a divisive issue, one that might sidetrack far more important initiatives down the road than the one that has earmarked an estimated $12 million in annual stud fee taxes for a breeders' fund.
By Ray Paulick - In an industry where horse owners and racetrack management often find themselves on opposite sides of an issue, racetrack safety is something upon which both parties certainly can agree. A safe racetrack can help reduce the frequency of injuries to horses and riders and thereby provide long-term economic benefits to both owners and tracks.
By Ray Paulick - It is up to leaders within Kentucky's Thoroughbred industry to devise a program to distribute money for its incentive program, and an industry-imposed deadline of July 1 to finish the job is fast approaching.
By Ray Paulick - There have been a number of critics (notably in the media) who have said the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame needed a change in election procedures that each year designated inductees in jockey, trainer, male horse, and female horse categories. They wouldn't name names publicly, but these critics charged that the Hall of Fame was electing too many individuals who simply did not belong.
By Ray Paulick - Only a handful of people were watching on the morning of April 26 when Afleet Alex recorded his first workout over the Churchill Downs strip in preparation for this year's Kentucky Derby.
By Ray Paulick - A lot of grayhairs frowned initially when the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup signed an eight-year deal with ESPN, moving racing's championship day to a cable network beginning in 2006. NBC Sports has broadcast the event every year since its inception in 1984.
By Ray Paulick - Conglomerate ownership was designed to bring economies of scale to the racetrack segment of the industry. Statistical evidence, along with unconfirmed reports that Hollywood Park may be sold to developers, suggests it hasn't worked very well in Southern California.
By Ray Paulick - The road to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) changes from time to time, and so do the roadmaps printed by the racetracks and used by owners and trainers to get their horses to Churchill Downs in optimum condition on the first Saturday in May.
By Ray Paulick - Only one trainer in the modern era of Thoroughbred racing--D. Wayne Lukas--has started more horses in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) than Nick Zito. Beginning with Thirty Six Red in 1990, Zito has sent 14 horses postward in the Run for the Roses. Two of them have won: Strike the Gold in 1991 and Go for Gin in 1994. He's sitting in the catbird seat with as many as five potential contenders for the 2005 Kentucky Derby.
By Ray Paulick - Jess Jackson, the California vintner who is making headlines for his increasing involvement as a Thoroughbred owner and breeder, undoubtedly was more than a mildly interested spectator when the Supreme Court returned to work in Washington, D.C., the week of Feb. 21. So are many others in the racing industry.
By Evan Hammonds -- A pat on the back goes to all involved at the National Thoroughbred Racing Association for putting together a smooth and slick presentation of the 34th Eclipse Awards Jan. 24. A special nod should be given to Debbie Blair, the event coordinator and vice president of customer service at NTRA/Breeders' Cup.
By Ray Paulick -- Getting caught is no picnic, but occasional fines, suspensions, and hefty legal bills are included in the price some horsemen have been willing to pay to live on, or over, the edge of the game's rules and regulations.
By Ray Paulick - It is probably an understatement to say that 2005 is going to be a challenging year for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association/Breeders' Cup. The direction and mission of the organization could be subject to change as it navigates crossroads on the near horizon.
By Ray Paulick -- Racing will be saying farewell this year to a man who has had an enormous influence on the sport over the last decade, as Carl Pascarella retires as chief executive officer of Visa USA.
By Ray Paulick -- There was something a bit unsettling about how the California racing industry began a crackdown in February 2004 against the use of "milkshakes"--the loading of bicarbonates through a stomach tube as a performance-enhancing aid in Thoroughbreds.
By Ray Paulick - Some unsolicited advice for Cot Campbell, chairman of the Sales Integrity Task Force: Get an unlisted telephone number. Campbell's stewardship of this most difficult issue was inspiring, and his phone soon should be ringing off the hook with inquiries and job offers from scores of failed committees, task forces, and do-nothing organizations within the Thoroughbred world and beyond.
By Ray Paulick - In many ways, the Japan Racing Association is the envy of the racing world. As a branch of the national government's ministry of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, the JRA controls all facets of the industry, including racecourse management, scheduling, marketing, licensing, drug testing, and pari-mutuel operations.
By Ray Paulick - Though its brightest days may be in the past, the Japan Racing Association has decided to allow a little more sun to shine on a sport and industry that for the past 50 years has virtually been closed to outsiders.
Ray Paulick - David Guillory has never watched a replay of the race that ended his riding career. He's never wanted to. Guillory remembers turning into the stretch, seeing a horse just in front veering in on him, and yelling at the horse's rider. He doesn't recall what happened next, but he doesn't need to see a videotape to remind him.
By Ray Paulick - The Nov. 7 dispute between a group of riders and the management of Churchill Downs was not the first and surely will not be the last time jockeys have taken action to express displeasure with their plight.
By Ray Paulick -- Lone Star Park was a sight to behold Oct. 30 when the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships came to town. An enthusiastic crowd of 53,717 horse lovers from around the world was on hand to take part in the most important day in the history of the Texas racing industry.
By Ray Paulick -- Comedian George Carlin would have you believe that "paper or plastic" and "aisle or window" are the only real choices in America these days. With important national, state, and local elections coming up Nov. 2, I beg to differ.
By Dan Liebman -- In Florida for a few days this past winter, Gulfstream Park was an obvious place to spend a couple of hours. Keeping in mind Florida is a leading retirement center, it was no surprise that the average age of the patrons at the track that day was similar to that necessary to receive a "Here's Your Medicaid Card" welcome.
By Dan Liebman - For whatever reasons--there are surely many--this could be the first time in the history of the Breeders' Cup that no starter that last raced in England makes the trip for one of the event's turf races. If that is the case, it will be a shame.
by Dan Liebman -- In a feature story in last week's issue of The Blood-Horse, Airdrie Stud owner and former Kentucky governor Brereton C. Jones said he is personally against slot machines. If truth be told, there probably isn't a single horse breeder who actually hoped the day would come when slots would be necessary for the survival of racing.
By Dan Liebman - An article about Dubai published in the Chicago Tribune travel section July 4, 2004, states that the ruling Maktoum family's oil riches bring in about $250 million a day, or roughly $1 billion every four days.
By Dan Liebman - William S. Kilroy was racing a small, modest stable in Louisiana 30 years ago when he decided he wanted to enter the breeding side of the business. He approached a family friend with whom he had much in common, and the two hatched a plan to execute Kilroy's wishes.
By Dan Liebman - Journalists live for good stories. More so, good quotes. So, when British jockey Kieren Fallon said the following, it was like music to a columnist's tone-deaf ears: "We all know you can't fix races. It doesn't happen. It does in a fairy-tale world but not in the real world."
By Dan Liebman - If only the Aug. 21 ESPN telecast of the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), Alabama Stakes (gr. I), and Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) had followed the baseball game between Colorado and Montreal rather than Richmond and Redmond.
By Dan Liebman - In early September, the first meeting is scheduled to be held of the new task force examining the Thoroughbred sales arena. The group is being organized by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and is in response to the questions raised by the Alliance for Industry Reform (AIR) and its founder, Satish Sanan.
By Dan Liebman -- There are so many interest groups involved that this is probably not even a realistic vision. Sure, at such events as the Jockey Club Round Table and Arizona Symposium, many of racing's leaders do assemble. But after a few meetings, they return to their own little worlds.
By Dan Liebman -- Hall of Fame trainer P.G. Johnson recently died; his plaque doesn't mention he won the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) with Volponi. Johnson not only trained the colt, but he and his family owned and more importantly to many of us, bred him as well.
By Dan Liebman -- About 10 years ago, Robert A. "Cowboy" Jones quit keeping track. But it's safe to say the number is more than 50,000. While others spend billions each year on diet books, diet pills, diet fads, and diet programs, Cowboy Jones lost 50,000 pounds in a sweatbox. Didn't cost him a penny.
By Dan Liebman -- These days, the country's best older horses rarely line up and race against each other in handicaps. Trainers often decline to run if their charges are asked to carry weight, and racing secretaries know that. Since racing secretaries today aren't going to really weight horses, let's just do away with handicaps and move on.
By Dan Liebman -- Among the comments heard at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale were two that were neither profound nor lengthy, but nonetheless quite significant. From Patrick Lawley-Wakelin: "People were more prepared this year." From Walt Robertson: "It is a good time to own a horse."