NTRA Thoroughbred Notebook

News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.

ASMUSSEN SETS NORTH AMERICAN WIN RECORD
Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen broke his own record for number of North American wins in a single calendar year when Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Poppin won the 13th race at Canada’s Woodbine Race Course Sunday evening to give Asmussen his 623rd winner in 2009.Ridden by Chantal Sutherland, Poppin circled the leaders when set down for the drive and tallied by three-quarters of a length to break the record Asmussen established a year ago.

FANS AGAIN VOTING ON RACING’S “NTRA MOMENT OF THE YEAR”
Voting is underway at the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Web site, www.ntra.com, for the 11th annual “NTRA Moment of the Year.” Voters can choose from among 14 images, drawn from the year’s events. Those selecting the winning image automatically will be entered in a random drawing for a trip for two to the January 18, 2010, Eclipse Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, Calif., where the winning Moment will be recognized. The prize includes airfare, hotel accommodations and tickets to the Eclipse Awards.The Moments were selected to illustrate a wide range of human emotions and achievements as well as outstanding displays of equine athleticism.
Listed chronologically, the images and events that fans can choose from are:
• Well Armed blows away the field in the Dubai World Cup
• I Want Revenge overcomes a horrific start to capture the Wood Memorial
• Rachel Alexandra runs off with the Kentucky Oaks by more than 20 lengths
• Mine That Bird posts stunning, 50-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby
• Rachel Alexandra turns back the late charge of Mine That Bird in the Preakness
• Presious Passion fires out to a 20-length lead en route to course record win in the United Nations
• Rachel Alexandra toys with the boys in the Haskell Invitational
• Gio Ponti captures his fourth consecutive Grade I score in the Arlington Million
• Rachel Alexandra holds off her male elders in the Woodward Stakes
• Linda Rice becomes the first woman to win the Saratoga training title
• Summer Bird registers historic triumph in the Jockey Club Gold Cup
• Goldikova wins her second straight Breeders’ Cup Mile
• Conduit runs down the stubborn Presious Passion for a repeat score in the Breeders’ Cup Turf
• Zenyatta remains undefeated and becomes first female to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic

The first-ever “NTRA Moment of the Year” was the touching scene involving Charismatic and jockey Chris Antley following the 1999 Belmont Stakes. The following year’s winner was the stretch run of the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which saw Tiznow hold on for a dramatic victory against Giant’s Causeway. Tiznow won again the following year as fans selected his stirring repeat victory in the Classic over Sakhee. In 2002, fans cited the passing of the last living Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew. In 2003, the popular Kentucky Derby win by Funny Cide was selected. Birdstone’s upset win in the Belmont Stakes over Smarty Jones took down top honors for 2004. In 2005, fans selected Afleet Alex’s spectacular victory in the 2005 Preakness Stakes. Voters in 2006 chose Barbaro’s gallant struggle to recover from his Preakness injury while at the New Bolton Center. The 2007 Moment of the Year was Rags to Riches’ historic victory over Curlin in the Belmont Stakes. Last year, it was Zenyatta’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.”The NTRA Moment of the Year gives fans a voice and sense of ownership at the Eclipse Awards,” said Keith Chamblin, NTRA senior vice president of communications and industry relations. “It allows them to salute the people, horses and memories that make our sport so appealing. We look forward to seeing which one of the many outstanding moments from 2009 they select as this year’s winner.” Fans 18 years and older can register to vote online at www.ntra.com. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, January 2, 2010. Void where prohibited. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. A complete set of rules is available at www.ntra.com.

HORSE RACING PROMINENT IN YEAR-END LISTS OF TOP SPORTS STORIES

Though she is more accustomed to finishing first, three-year-old superfilly Rachel Alexandra checked in a plenty-respectable fifth in this year’s Time Magazine list of Top 10 Sports Moments of 2009. She earned the accolade for her victory in the Preakness Stakes. The Time story also notes that, remarkably, Rachel Alexandra is just one of the female favorites for Horse of the Year honors, along with Zenyatta. Finishing atop the Time list was Roger Federer’s five-set, tiebreaker victory in the Wimbledon finals over Andy Roddick.Thoroughbred racing also accounted for two of the top forty entries in ESPN The Magazine’s list of Top 100 Sports Stories for 2009. It was also the Preakness win that attracted the ESPN editors’ attention to Rachel Alexandra. But at number 36, America’s favorite sophomore filly finished 12 spots behind Amercia’s favorite gelding, Mine That Bird. His Kentucky Derby upset earned him position number 26. Topping the ESPN list was Usain Bolt’s record-breaking performances at the World Track and Field Championships in Berlin.And while Derek Jeter received Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year award for 2009, the magazine’s December 7, Sportsman of the Year double issue did feature “The Gossip Girl,” a six-page article by Tim Layden about Rachel Alexandra and her connections. The piece called Rachel Alexandra “the talk of the track in 2009”.

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