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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.

Rewarding Innovation

By T.D. Thornton -- North American racing has a widely acknowledged economics problem. Its chief funding mechanism, pari-mutuel wagering, is failing after serving the sport well for decades. What was once an efficient method of extruding profits is now an anachronism whose constraints are choking back betting growth.

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.

It's the Horse, Stupid

By Sarah Reschly - If racing learns one thing from the spectacular outpouring of public emotion during Barbaro's eight-month ordeal, it should be this -- it's the horse, stupid. Your fans love your horses. From a marketing standpoint, the horse is racing's greatest asset; however, the business does little to protect it, and in so doing, is risking everything.

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.

Exclusivity is Right

By David Nathanson - The question is not whether horse racing needs television (it clearly does), but rather how we can improve our television coverage while distributing it to the widest possible audience to attract new fans and incremental wagering revenue.

Derby Leaver

By John McEvoy -- Personal Seat License fees for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks is a "knockout punch" for veteran ticketholder.

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.

Seasons of 2006

By Patricia Ranft - It's been a tumultuous year in Thoroughbred racing, although most years have their share of turmoil in this sport. Emotions changed with the seasons, resulting in a 2006 that won't soon be forgotten.

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.

Not On the Level

By Barry Irwin - Our sport is not ready for prime-time exposure because it is corrupt at its very core. The essence of racing is handicapping a race and betting on it. If one cannot present a level playing field, what is there to promote?

Winning Rider

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

Tough Guy

By Ed Golden - Paul Kallai was a tough guy. At Garden State Park, which is now an elaborate shopping center in Cherry Hill, N.J., he once tried to scale a 12-foot wall to attack a fan who was criticizing him for his ride on a losing horse.

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.

Horses Need No Translation

By Vic Zast - Despite their abiding love for sumo wrestling, karaoke, pachinko, and baseball, the celebrants of bounty descended upon Tokyo Race Course, home of the world's third-richest horse race -- the Japan Cup (Jpn-I). Standing a foot taller in a shirt size I can't buy at the souvenir stands, and realizing I know nothing about which horses to bet on or how to even bet them, I am feeling like a gaijin among insiders.

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.

My Ears Are Bent

By Pete Pedersen - Today I'm beginning to forget yesterday, but as a retired racing official, I cannot forget the language of the racetrack through the ages.

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.

Phar Lap Redux

By Morton Cathro - News reports from Australia alleging that the country's legendary wonder horse, Phar Lap, died not of colic but of deliberate arsenic poisoning, has thrust affluent Atherton, a secluded enclave on the San Francisco peninsula, into the limelight once again.

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.

Worldly Feel

By Dan Liebman - Despite the fact they added "world" to the name of the event several years ago, most people still simply call it the Breeders' Cup. But the 23rd edition, run Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs for a record sixth time, had a worldly feel to it.

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.

I Guarantee It

By Evan I. Hammonds - We're pretty sure there are no guarantees in Thoroughbred racing. However, let's step out for Breeders' Cup XXIII at Churchill Downs Nov. 4. There are a few "automatics." I guarantee it.

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.

Hail to the Chief

By Andrew Rosen - Chief's Crown delivered some of the most thrilling victories and some of the most agonizing defeats. Even with all of the highs and lows, I feel honored to have been a part of Chief's Crown's legacy. His win in the first Breeders' Cup race ever run will always be remembered.

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.

Good Neighbors

By Michael Gobb - Despite Keeneland's importance to the global equine industry, its allure to tourists, and its numerous charitable contributions, many in Central Kentucky may not fully realize the value of having Keeneland as a neighbor and community partner. Blue Grass Airport experienced Keeneland's generosity firsthand Aug. 27.

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.

Remembering Fitz

By Jason Shandler - As I watched the crowd of several hundred pile into St. Paul's Church in Philadelphia, I found myself asking: I wonder just how many of these people Fitz Eugene Dixon Jr. actually helped? My guess was that the majority benefited in one form or another from Dixon's life.

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.

The Golden Boy

By Jack Shinar - California lost the golden boy of its golden age of horse racing Sept. 26 with the death of Precisionist at the age of 25. The champion was laid to rest at Old Friends retirement home near Georgetown, Ky., where he had spent his final months.

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.

Crystal Clear

By Davant Latham - He was not quite the fairy tale horse; he was too real for that. He was brilliant, vibrantly alive, and physically imposing, but has passed quietly into that soft, black night. He was Lost in the Fog.

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.

The Big Battles

By Dan Liebman - Many famous bidding wars have taken place at Keeneland, but never has the competition been as fierce as that between the ruler of Dubai, and the master of Ireland-based Coolmore Stud.

Strange Bedfellows

By Ray Paulick - The median household income for a family living in the United States was $46,326 in 2005 -- about $1,000 less than what a bloodstock agent would make in the purchase of a $950,000 horse if the agent was working for a client who agreed to pay a 5% commission, considered a standard fee by many in the Thoroughbred industry.

It's Common Sense

By John Oxley - I believe the vast majority of owners and trainers want a level playing field where horsemanship counts and the best horses win. I believe they also want to see the cheaters severely punished. Repeat offenders should be eliminated from our sport. These are the objectives of the RMTC.

Locks

By Ray Paulick - Last time I looked there were no sure things in racing. There are, however, some pretty safe bets. Here are a few I see.

A Real Bluegrass Man

By Jim Cullen - I first met Dan Mallory through an associate at work. I was a staff writer for an industry trade publication and wanted to breed a mare to a freshman stallion I thought would be popular. The only problem was I didn't own a mare.

A Trying Time

By Ray Paulick - There is profound sadness in the Bluegrass region as its residents and extended network of friends and family begin to deal with the tragedy of Comair flight 5191, which left 49 people dead when it crashed on takeoff at the end of Lexington's Blue Grass Airport Runway 26 in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 27.

Riding Out

By Wayne Sweezey - The boiling heat wave had recently passed through upstate New York and on this day temperatures were cooler and more tolerable. Saratoga's paddock was bright and colorful and crowded; a grade I was about to be run.

Gone Tomorrow?

By Ray Paulick - At the 45th Annual Jockey Club Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Aug. 10, 1997, Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps, then and now chairman of The Jockey Club, proclaimed that the "National Thoroughbred Racing Association is an idea whose time has come."

Track of Dreams

By Tammy Thomas Curlin - When I read about Churchill Downs' reluctance to re-open Fair Grounds in New Orleans for live racing this year I was reminded of that famous line "If you build it, he will come" from the wonderful movie Field of Dreams.

Surgeries and Steroids

By Ray Paulick - A survey of buyers of Thoroughbred weanlings, yearlings, and 2-year-olds discovered that surgeries to correct conformation defects have a significant influence on whether or not someone will buy a horse at public auction.

One Reason Why

By Dan Liebman - Even Carl Hanford, on the day of his induction into the Hall of Fame, said the reason he was selected for membership was because of one horse. He's right, but is that necessarily a bad thing?

Queen of Saratoga

By Ray Paulick - In the few steps she took, in that brief appearance in the Saratoga winner's circle, fans and admirers of Marylou Whitney witnessed uncommon courage and the heart of a champion.

Pilgrimage With The Past

By Sue Sefscik - The Central Florida day dawned clear, bright, and slightly windy with low humidity. It was the perfect day to take a 90-minute drive from my home on Florida's east coast to Ocala, located nearly halfway across the state.

Franchise Fracas

By Ray Paulick - Over the next few weeks, the contenders and pretenders angling for the right to operate the New York Thoroughbred racing franchise at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga will be finalizing their paperwork in the request for proposal process developed by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing.

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