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Commentary: Three Weeks of September

Commentary: Three Weeks of September

By Eric Mitchell - In many ways, Keeneland September has already established itself as an event. Why else would consignors continue to offer more horses there? They have to believe they are selling at the epicenter, and that there is no better place to be.

Commentary: Running Start

Commentary:  Running Start

By Dan Liebman - Thankfully, someone at the time did have an interest in standing Danzig, Storm Cat, and Mr. Prospector, respectively. And, our breed has been changed forever because of their decisions.

Commentary: Battle Lines

Commentary:  Battle Lines

By Evan I. Hammonds - Advance deposit wagering, which most sources agree accounts for about 10% of handle on Thoroughbred racing, is the sport's latest battleground.

Commentary: Scandalous

Commentary: Scandalous

By Ray Paulick - Racing has no commissioner, so when a substance, possibly cobra venom, was found in a trainer's barn a month ago, there is no swift and decisive action, only inaction.

Commentary: Now's The Time

Commentary: Now's The Time

By Ray Paulick - Unlike existing news products delivered once a day, BloodhorseNOW.com will be a vibrant, constantly updated online resource pulling in the latest information from racetracks, auction rings, and breeding sheds.

Commentary: Last Laugh

Commentary: Last Laugh

By Ray Paulick - Funny Cide was in more living rooms than any other person or animal leading up to the 2003 Belmont Stakes.

Commentary: Forked Tongue

Commentary:  Forked Tongue

By Ray Paulick - Included in that "it's not illegal if you can't test for it" category is cobra venom, the use of which has been rumored for years. The substance, believed to be 1,000 times more powerful than morphine, can help a horse run through pain by blocking impulses through the nervous system. Use of the substance in horse racing is illegal. Worse yet, it's cruel to the animal.

Commentary: Chip In

By Dan Liebman - Pre-sale surgeries didn't keep horses such as Real Quiet and Curlin from becoming classic winners. Disclosure wouldn't have, either.

Commentary: Follow That Car

By Dan Liebman - But just imagine if the owner of every racetrack in North America could agree to do what is best for the sport overall, realizing what is best for all is best for one. Think of one network carrying every race televised across the continent with a cohesive schedule understood by fans.

Commentary: Jewels Of The Triple Crown

By Ray Paulick - What fans got this year were three incredible horse races that ended with three very accomplished and deserving winners, punctuated by the history-making performance of Rags to Riches, the first filly winner of the Belmont since Tanya in 1905.

Commentary: Mother's Day

By Ray Paulick - There is a touch of irony that Mom's Command will be inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year as the trainer of Forward Pass, Henry Forrest, who was elected by the Historic Review Committee.

Commentary: Peak Preakness

By Ray Paulick - The fighting spirit shown by both Curlin and Street Sense in this terrific stretch battle epitomizes what breeding and racing Thoroughbreds is all about.

Bay Watch

By Ray Paulick - Racing has enough problems without a grandstanding politician using his position to wage a personal war with a state regulator.

High Jinx

By Ray Paulick - Finally, after 23 years, Breeders' Cup officials can let out a sigh of relief. James Tafel's Street Sense proved that life does exist for a horse after winning the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).

Word On The Street

By Ray Paulick - For some, just getting a horse to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May is the realization of a dream. For others who've been there before, it's about winning -- pure and simple.

Made To Be Broken

By Ray Paulick - This year brings us to a couple of tried and tested chapters from the unwritten trainers' manual regarding the Kentucky Derby: the "two-prep" and "unraced juvenile" rules.

Change of Speed

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.

Tune In

By Ray Paulick - Nobiz Like Shobiz and Tiago have a license to make beautiful music together on the first Saturday in May.

Putting Safety First

By Ray Paulick - The CHRB's mandate is not only the right thing to do for the safety of horses, it is a benefit to owners, too, and ultimately for the tracks. Fewer injuries ensures there will be more horses in training, which will lead to larger field sizes, which usually translates to increased pari-mutuel handle. Owners are always happier to have horses racing and training rather than convalescing or recovering.

Garden State

By Dan Liebman - New Jersey's Monmouth Park was formally announced as the host site in the fall of 2004, and from the look of the plant in mid-March, the first-time site will be ready to take racing's center stage, though much still remains to be done.

Hoosier Daddy

By Ray Paulick - Many state racing commissioners talk about cracking down on cheaters in our sport. Indiana regulators are taking serious action.

New York State of Mess

By Ray Paulick - If you're a little confused about the future of racing in New York, join the club. If you're not confused, you're probably not thinking clearly.

Turn Signal

By Ray Paulick -- Twenty years ago, in the infancy of whole-card simulcasting, there were fears that only the so-called "super tracks" would survive -- those offering the highest-quality racing signals to receiving sites around the country.

Fade to Black

By Ray Paulick -- One of the interesting things about Thoroughbred racing is the penchant so many people have of knocking something into oblivion, and later complaining about the fact it's gone. Take TVG, for example.

Won't Be Fueled Again

By Ray Paulick - Whether they race cars or horses, cheaters are getting more sophisticated today. Blood-doping agents or venom from exotic snakes and sea creatures are believed to be in use by some unscrupulous horsemen as performance-enhancing stimulants or painkillers. In a sense, it's the same kind of rocket fuel Waltrip's team was accused of putting into its Toyota.

Consistently Inconsistent

By Ray Paulick - I had to go all the way to Dubai to hear a panel discussion about how racing officials in various American jurisdictions have different interpretations about the most basic rules infraction.

A Life of Giving

By Ray Paulick - So many people owe thanks to Jonabell Farm founder John A. Bell III, who served on countless committees with numerous industry organizations for more than a half-century.

Unhappy Ending

By Steve Haskin - Fairy tales are not supposed to have unhappy endings. Barbaro was to leave New Bolton Medical Center, walking soundly with his head held high, and live happily ever after. But Thoroughbreds, despite the fairy tales they inspire, live in a different realm than Walt Disney.

In It To Win It

By Dan Liebman - On the night of the 36th Eclipse Awards Jan. 22 in Beverly Hills, Calif., every equine flat winner had one thing in common: all raced on Breeders' Cup World Championships day.

Going Forward

By Ray Paulick -- The Jan. 8 announcement of the expansion of the Breeders' Cup to two days, along with the addition of three new $1-million races is symbolic of the organization's dynamic new leadership, one that is willing to take some chances.

A Decade of Dawning

By Richard Zwirn -- A "city boy" and his wife adapt to an agrarian lifestyle as they run a farm in upstate New York.

Purses and Wallet

By Ray Paulick - The gap between purses in Thoroughbred races in the United States and money spent in the American Thoroughbred auction market widened in 2006. While total purses for the year aren't yet known, the projection is that they will be up by a couple of percentage points to just north of $1.1 billion, which would be an all-time record.

Beyond Barbaro

By Ray Paulick - Roy and Gretchen Jackson's beloved colt demonstrated other-worldly intelligence, matched only in size and scope by his courage and heart. Barbaro could play the role of the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man -- after they'd been to see the Wizard of Oz. Wouldn't it be nice if some of those attributes gravitated toward Thoroughbred industry leaders?

Stopping Steroids

By Ray Paulick - Steroids have been at the center of scandals in numerous sports, particularly track and field and baseball, but the only steroid scandal in racing is that they are legal.

Winning Rider

By Ray Paulick - Russell Baze, unlike former Major League baseball star Rickey Henderson, knows his place in history.

Spanning the Globe

Ray Paulick - It's difficult to get away from talk of synthetic surfaces, whether it concerns racing in North America, Asia, Europe, or Dubai.

Japan Part I

By Ray Paulick - The Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers is employing a classic carrot and stick approach with the Japan Racing Association, acknowledging through official recognition of 60 graded stakes that the JRA's racing quality is high, but warning the organization that no further advancements will be recognized until non-Japanese owners are licensed to compete in that country.

Helping the Horses

By Ray Paulick - The proposed strategic plan that came out of last month's Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit is one of those documents or white papers that most likely will land in one of two places: the Thoroughbred industry's dust-gathering burial ground of so many other good ideas; or the hands of a leader with the energy, influence, and personal commitment to make a difference.

Forward Progress

By Ray Paulick - After a rocky year of changes that touched both the board of directors and the organization's top executives, stakeholders in the Breeders' Cup should feel good about its new direction.

Less is More

By Ray Paulick - It's too late to change anything for 2007, but California racing will be better served by a serious reduction of racing in 2008 and beyond. It's up to the CHRB to convince the industry it's the right thing to do.

Thanks for the Memories

By Ray Paulick - This week's issue of The Blood-Horse takes a trip down memory lane for a look at favorite Breeders' Cup moments. Here are mine.

Broken Record

By Ray Paulick - For Thoroughbred trainers driven to succeed, it's all about numbers. That's the way it's been in the Hall of Fame career of D. Wayne Lukas, who virtually rewrote the record books in the 1980s, and that's how it is for his former assistant, Todd Pletcher, who Oct. 14 broke the single-season mark of 92 stakes victories established by Lukas in 1987.

21 Days and Counting

By Ray Paulick - If you didn't find something to like at Belmont Park, Keeneland, or the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita Park over the weekend of Oct. 7-8, you must not like horse racing.

All Out

By Ray Paulick - Reaction to the Congressional ban on Internet wagering was swift and severe -- at least from stock market investors who previously were bullish about online poker, sports and horse race betting, and casinos.

Sound Investment

By Ray Paulick - The political power the horse racing industry now enjoys in our nation's capital is a result of a strategy planned and executed by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and supported by knowledgeable individuals who understand that contributions to the NTRA's Legislative Action Campaign and Political Action Committee are an investment in their future.

Return for Deposit

By Ray Paulick - Increased distribution along with the convenience of telephone or Internet betting resulted in double-digit increases of advance deposit wagering handle in 2003-2005. Del Mar reported a 24% increase one year ago, which makes this year's 7% drop all the more puzzling -- and alarming.

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