Two jockeys suspended at Charles Town Races & Slots picked up mounts at the West Virginia track April 18 in the wake of a court order allowing them to access the grounds and to compete in races pending a hearing.
The accreditation of Churchill Downs by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance is being called a major accomplishment by the officials involved, but they also acknowledge it's just the beginning. Safety and integrity standards will change, and compliance will be reviewed at least every two years.
Calder Race Course begins its 39th season of Thoroughbred horse racing April 24 with a Thursday-through Sunday schedule.
Top horses from around the United States have been nominated to the inaugural Charles Town Classic, which could be worth up to $1 million depending on which horses start in the April 18 event.
Breeders' Cup is offering a $100 discount off the standard $500 nomination fee for all foals nominated to the Breeders' Cup program electronically by the close of business Aug. 1, the organization announced April 7.
The right of racetrack exclusion is being tested in West Virginia, where Charles Town Races & Slots is seeking to keep the state racing commission from holding hearings to consider granting three individuals reinstatement to the facility.
The president and two members of the Mountaineer Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association who were suspended March 17 have been reinstated pending an April 8 court hearing.
Thistledown, at the suggestion of the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, has suspended the $300,000 Ohio Derby (gr. II) for 3-year-olds. The race was to have its 75th running in 2009.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said he has been proactive in his support of expanded gambling to assist horse racing and breeding, and the "continued tough economy may further underscore that effort."
The Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association has released a 2009 stakes schedule of 27 events worth a total of $2.375 million.
Godolphin's Two Step Salsa, formerly based in the United States, broke sharply and made most of the pace en route to a comfortable victory in the $1-million Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) to kick off the Dubai World Cup program March 28 at Nad Al Sheba race course.
Mounting a defense for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course, the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore went to court March 27 to keep the second leg of the Triple Crown in the state because of uncertainties raised by the bankruptcy of Pimlico owner Magna Entertainment Corp.
Thistledown owner Magna Entertainment Corp. has met the deadline for payment of a $1-million bond to the Ohio State Racing Commission, which means the Cleveland-area racetrack will not have its operating permit suspended.
- By Tom LaMarra
The Ontario Racing Commission March 25 approved $47.1 million Canadian for the 2009 Horse Improvement Program, which funds stakes, breed development, and equine research for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing.
Youbet.com has signed three agreements that will enable its members to watch and wager on racing from South Africa, Sweden, additional tracks in the United Kingdom, and Puerto Rico, providing nearly 24-hour-a-day racing coverage.
Eastern tent caterpillars have begun hatching in Central Kentucky, and their population numbers are trending up, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture has reported.
Sam Gordon was elected March 24 to serve his fifth term as president of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.
The head of Delaware's gambling industry group said Democratic Gov. Jack Markell's proposed budget would be devastating to the state's three racetracks, including Delaware Park.
More competition for Kentucky racing will come April 20 when Indiana Downs begins a 62-day meet featuring purse increases for most overnight races and an expanded stakes schedule worth more than $1 million.
Saying five of the state's seven racetracks will close without assistance from the legislature, the Ohio State Racing Commission March 19 released a draft plan for 14,000 video lottery terminals that would be located at tracks.
The Ohio State Racing Commission ruled March 19 that Thistledown's racing permit will be suspended as of March 28 if parent company Magna Entertainment Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection March 5, fails to renew a $1-million bond.
The president and two members of the Mountaineer Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association board of directors have been suspended in what some members are calling a "hostile takeover" of the organization.
Charles Town Races & Slots and HRTV have reached an agreement to allow the West Virginia track's races to be shown live on the racing network beginning March 18. It's the first time racing from Charles Town will receive daily in-home television coverage.
The Maryland Jockey Club March 17 officially unveiled a 2009 spring stakes schedule at Pimlico Race Course that's down about $1 million from last year and doesn't include the grade I Pimlico Special.
Five people were elected to the 15-member Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association in the organization's 2009 election.
A field of at least 10, headed by Lori and George Hall's West Side Bernie, appears likely for the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes for 3-year-olds at Turfway Park March 21.
A 187-page bill that passed the Kentucky Senate March 13 includes provisions for a tax break for the Breeders' Cup World Championships if the event is held in Kentucky in 2011 or 2012, or 2011 and 2012.
Turfway Park has canceled its third consecutive Monday program because of a shortage of horses, officials said March 13.
- By Tom LaMarra
Fort Erie Race Track & Slots in Ontario, Canada, will offer live Thoroughbred racing this year, and the local horsemen's group is asking for support from owners and trainers.
With the Kentucky General Assembly seemingly headed for a special session this spring or summer to address a substantial revenue deficit, a legislative committee March 12 heard testimony on a bill that would authorize video lottery terminals at racetracks in the state.
In anticipation of a push by a consortium for casino gambling in Ohio's four largest cities, the Ohio State Racing Commission is formulating its own legislative proposal for video lottery terminals at the state's seven racetracks.
The New York Thoroughbred Breeders, disturbed by a delay in a plan for thousands of video lottery terminals at Aqueduct, called the situation "inexplicable" and said Gov. David Paterson should put the project on "war footing."
Delaware Park is the latest racetrack to seek accreditation in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance.
Pimlico Race Course has reduced its spring meet to 20 days and won't hold the Pimlico Special this year. The grade I race for older horses wasn't run in 2007 for financial reasons, but returned in 2008 with a reduced purse of $250,000.
The multi-year quest for a stable funding source for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission took another turn March 10 when legislation to increase the powers of the KHRC unanimously passed a Senate committee. Whether the bill is approved--and whether the commission gets a new funding source--could be determined on the Senate floor.
Hollywood Park has scheduled $8 million in stakes for its 2009 spring/summer meet. Three graded events have been cut from the schedule to help preserve overnight purses, officials said.
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine signed an executive order March 5 creating a commission to study the state's horse racing industry and develop solutions for its long-term viability. The casino industry, which for years has subsidized horse racing in the state, will be involved in preparing the blueprint.
For the first time, Washington-breds and British Columbia-breds will compete against each other in the BC Cup at Hastings Racecourse and the Washington Cup at Emerald Downs. Three races at each track have been opened to include horses bred in Washington and British Columbia, Canada.
- By Tom LaMarra
Wagering on United States races in February totaled $999,815,818, down 11.63% from $1,131,333,323 the same month a year earlier despite a 3.38% increase in the number of racing days.
The marquee race at River Downs in Ohio will now be titled the $200,000 Budweiser Select Cradle Stakes. Since 1977, the Miller Brewing Co. had sponsored Ohio's richest race for 2-year-olds.
Marble Cliff, the Ohio-bred turned Kentucky-bred stripped of stakes wins in 2008 after a racing commission investigation, finally got his first "official" victory--in West Virginia.
Turfway Park is having a tough time making up for programs canceled because of the weather during the current winter/spring meet.
The Thoroughbred Racing Associations has announced Saratoga Springs, N.Y., as the host city for the 18th International Simulcast Conference. The 2009 conference will be held Oct. 12-14 at the Saratoga Hilton.
- By Tom LaMarra
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has circulated a list of more than 15 compliance standards that could be finalized in early March and serve as the basis for accreditation in the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.
The Montana House of Representatives strongly endorsed a bill Feb. 24 that paves the way for construction of a horse slaughterhouse in Montana and aims to bring the industry back to the United States.
Some Texas lawmakers are trying again to establish Las Vegas-style casinos in the state, and they say now is the time to do it because the state needs the money. Racetracks would be included, according to legislation unveiled Feb. 24.
The 2009 Stimulus Act signed into law by President Barack Obama contains provisions that impact the horse industry, the American Horse Council said in a Feb. 24 memorandum to the industry.
A Kentucky lawmaker has introduced legislation that would impose a 3.5% tax on out-of-state advance deposit wagering companies that take bets from Kentucky residents.
- By Tom LaMarra
The head of a major racing partnership group acknowledged the difficulties faced by the Thoroughbred industry, but indicated the primary thing the industry has to fear is itself.
Ohio is among the weakest when it comes to Thoroughbred purses, but it's about to have the strongest rules governing registration of state-bred horses.
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