Ray Paulick

Free Ride

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.

Bill Would Seek to Protect Kentucky Horse Buyers

A bill designed to protect horse buyers from being defrauded has been introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives by Democratic Rep. Denver Butler of Louisville. The legislation has the backing of California vintner Jess Jackson, whose lawsuit against agents Emmanuel de Seroux and Brad Martin and trainer Bruce Headley alleged fraud in private and public auction purchases made on behalf of Jackson.

Penny's Thoughts

By Ray Paulick - The respected and beloved Penny Chenery, who brought the crowd to its feet when she was honored with an Eclipse Award of Merit, set the standard for class and elegance while reminiscing about her longtime love affair with horse racing and the life-changing experience of owning Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner and two-time Horse of the Year.

Breeding Better Voters

By Ray Paulick - The selection process for the Eclipse Awards has remained relatively unchanged since 1971, when the awards program and annual dinner were inaugurated by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations to singularly honor horse racing's champions.

Forward Thinking

By Ray Paulick - The Breeders' Cup is one of the greatest innovations in the history of horse racing in North America--perhaps throughout the world. It also is one of the industry's biggest shared assets, one that has enjoyed sustained growth.

Right To Vote

By Ray Paulick - This year's 60-day session of Kentucky's general assembly will be the first time KEEP--established in May 2004--has pushed for the "Keep It in Kentucky" constitutional amendment, so named because it is estimated that Kentuckians who crossed into Indiana and Illinois last year spent $671 million on casino gaming.

Leaner Leadership

Ray Paulick - One year from now, when The Blood-Horse conducts its annual year in review, it's likely that Jan. 8 will stand out as one of the most important dates on the calendar. In fact, it could be one of the most critical days in the modern history of the Thoroughbred industry.

Taxing Times

By Ray Paulick - On Dec. 9, Jeb Bush said he reluctantly would sign legislation authorizing slot machines at four Broward County pari-mutuel operations, including Gulfstream Park in Hallandale. The gambling machines were approved by a 57-43 margin of Broward County voters in a referendum in March.

Series Shake Up

By Ray Paulick - Horses today--for whatever reason--are racing fewer times during their careers. Trainers are handling them more carefully than ever before. Running a young horse through the obligatory Triple Crown prep races and then through the demanding series itself can take a toll--not just on the brave animals who try it but on a sport that suffers through the injuries of its best performers.

Rising Runners

By Ray Paulick - Japanese horse racing has had something of a coming-out party in 2005. Earlier this year, Cesario invaded American shores from her Japanese homeland and overpowered a top-class field of fillies and mares in Hollywood Park's American Oaks (gr. IT). Reigning Japanese Horse of the Year Zenno Rob Roy was sent to England, where he was nailed on the finish line to narrowly lose the Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) to Electrocutionist.

Congress Calling

By Ray Paulick - On Nov. 16, one day before a congressional subcommittee looked into the possible need for legislation to improve health insurance and safety issues for jockeys, the full U.S. House of Representatives said "no" to the creation of a federal commission to oversee professional boxing.

Boom Town

By Ray Paulick - The boomers are coming! The boomers are coming! And that should be nothing but good news for Thoroughbred racing and breeding.

Betting on Growth

By Ray Paulick - D.G. Van Clief Jr., commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and president of the Breeders' Cup, set a bullish target for the 2010 World Thoroughbred Championships: $200 million in pari-mutuel handle.

Less is Less

By Ray Paulick - The 2005 Horse of the Year vote figures to be a one-sided affair. Saint Liam raced strictly in grade I competition from early February until late November and won four of six races, including the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge in an impressive farewell performance.

Ride to Nowhere

By Ray Paulick - Wayne Gertmenian, the president and CEO of the Jockeys' Guild, is a bully who finally met his match in the halls of Congress.

Guild's Gertmenian Called 'Absolute Disgrace' in House Hearing

A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee looking at jockey health and welfare issues was sharply critical of current Jockeys' Guild management during a hearing on Tuesday that began with testimony from paralyzed rider Gary Birzer and ended with a comment calling Wayne Gertmenian's actions as Guild president and CEO an "absolute disgrace."

New York, New York

By Ray Paulick - Emotions have run high the three previous times Belmont Park has hosted the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. They have run the gamut, too, from the pain and sorrow experienced when three runners died in 1990, to the exhilaration of Cigar's captivating run down the stretch in 1995, to the enduring human spirit shown in 2001, when Americans were still reeling from the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Life of Joseph Pons Remembered at Memorial

Joseph Pons Sr. touched a lot of people in his life, from breeders and racetrackers to prisoners he helped rehabilitate at a nearby detention center. Hundreds of those people turned out Monday at the Pons family's Country Life Farm north of Baltimore to celebrate the life of the beloved Marylander who died last Wednesday at the age of 83.

On Track

By Ray Paulick - So far, so good. That's the early report card on Polytrack, the all-weather surface that was tested under American racing conditions for the first time at the recently concluded Turfway Park meeting in Northern Kentucky.

Owner Jackson Files Suit Against Ex-Advisors

California wine magnate Jess Jackson has filed suit in California Superior Court in San Diego against three former advisors, charging them with fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment in the purchase of horses both privately and at public sales.

Classic Classic?

By Ray Paulick - Seldom do horses win a major stakes in a common gallop like Borrego won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Oct. 1. But you only have to go back three weeks, to Sept. 10, to see a similar romp, when Saint Liam won the Woodward (gr. I) in a laugher.

Greatness Affirmed

By Ray Paulick - Steve Wolfson was just a kid in 1963, but he has a clear recollection of the August morning his father, Louis, received a troubling phone call at his farm office in Ocala, Fla.

It's Just Business

By Ray Paulick - The bidding duel between Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed and Ireland's John Magnier for the $9.7-million sale-topping Storm Cat--Tranquility Lake colt wasn't the only drama at Keeneland in the opening days of the annual September yearling auction.

Shelter from the Storm

By Ray Paulick - Horse racing people have heart. If that was ever in doubt, look no further than the extraordinary steps countless owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians, racing officials, fans, and others have taken in response to the terrible devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

Owning Up

By Ray Paulick - Owner apathy. It's what Ed Friendly called the biggest obstacle to his successful effort a decade ago to overthrow the status quo and form the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the first and surprisingly only state organization to strictly represent horse owners in negotiations with racetracks on important matters such as purse contracts and simulcasting.

Rolling Along

By Ray Paulick - Unbeaten Lost in the Fog, America's most popular racehorse, is now its best, according to the Aug. 29 poll of racing journalists conducted by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Friends in Need

By Ray Paulick - There is a very good reason people are suspicious about Tim Smith's motives in his role as president of Friends of New York Racing, the industry funded think tank and research group behind the proposal to change the business model under which racing in the Empire State is run.

Smith: 'There's Good Consensus for Change' in New York Racing

Continuing on a theme he struck during the Jockey Club Round Table the previous morning, Tim Smith, the president of the Friends of New York Racing, outlined the research group's preliminary findings and recommendations during a public forum Monday at Fasig-Tipton's Humphrey S. Finney sale pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Bellamy Road, Others Drill at Muddy Saratoga

Despite overnight rains that left Saratoga's main track muddy for the second consecutive morning, some key workouts were recorded Sunday for two grade I stakes for 3-year-olds contested at the spa next Saturday, the 1 1/4-mile Travers and the seven-furlong King's Bishop.

Best Pal Winner What a Song Euthanized

What a Song, the $1.9-million Barretts March sale topper who won Sunday's Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis, was euthanized Friday after suffering a fractured sesamoid in his right front leg during a routine gallop a few hours earlier.

Just Say Yes

By Ray Paulick - The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium--RMTC for short--is one of the newer acronyms in horse racing's bountiful alphabet soup. Nevertheless, it is doing what many of its verb-challenged siblings are not: making progress on specific issues of concern within the industry.

Casner to Take Over as Chairman of TOBA

Bill Casner of WinStar Farm has been elected chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, replacing Cobra Farm's Gary Biszantz, who was first elected to a one-year term in 2001 and re-elected three successive years.

Dream Win

By Ray Paulick - The stars were aligned at Saratoga last summer when Marylou Whitney's Birdstone was victorious in the Spa meeting's most prestigious race, the Travers (gr. I). No one personifies Saratoga Springs better than Whitney, whose tireless dedication to fund-raising for numerous charities reaches its zenith during the summer race meeting.

Losing the Handle

By Ray Paulick - By year's end, betting on pari-mutuel races run in the United States could fall to its lowest point in five years. Compounding that sobering possibility is this: The percentage of revenue to purses from every dollar wagered is also heading in the wrong direction.

Land Wars

By Ray Paulick - Thoroughbred owners and breeders in California soon must come to grips with the fact two of the state's five major tracks are owned by a company whose primary business is land development, not racing.

War Weary

By Ray Paulick - The strange case of War Emblem, the 2002 Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old now at stud in Japan, keeps getting stranger.

The Big Chill

By Ray Paulick - Freezing samples puts cheaters on notice that they are not necessarily free and clear just because the initial drug screening detected no illegal substances.

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