News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
CURLIN HEADLINES 180 PRE-ENTERED FOR NEXT WEEK’S BREEDERS’ CUP
Led by reigning Horse of the Year Curlin, Japanese sensation Casino Drive, the undefeated super filly Zenyatta, and Irish standout Duke of Marmalade, a record 180 horses, including stars from Ireland, Great Britain, France, United Arab Emirates, Japan and Argentina, have been pre-entered for the 25th Breeders’ Cup World Championships, to be held on Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25 at Santa Anita Park.
The 4-year-old Curlin will try to add to his legacy as one of the greatest horses of this generation by winning his second consecutive $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, at 1 ¼ miles on October 25. He will face some of the world’s best horses including Casino Drive from Japan, Duke of Marmalade and Henrythenavigator from Ireland, and Raven’s Pass from Great Britain. Curlin has won 11 of 15 lifetime starts, and is unbeaten this year on the main track, including victories in the Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup. A Classic victory would make Curlin the first back-to-back Classic winner since Tiznow in 2000-’01 and likely the first consecutive Horse of the Year winner since Cigar in 1995 and 1996.
Among Curlin’s challengers in this year’s Classic is the 3-year-old Casino Drive, who is undefeated in three starts, including the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park; Henrythenavigator, winner of four starts this year in England and Ireland; Duke of Marmalade (IRE), who captured five consecutive group 1 races in Europe this year; and the 3-year-old Raven’s Pass, who defeated Henry the Navigator in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in his most recent start.
The October 24 $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at 1 1/8 miles showcases the undefeated Zenyatta. The 4-year-old filly has won all eight of her career starts, including three grade 1 events: the Apple Blossom, Vanity and the Lady’s Secret three weeks ago at Santa Anita.
The Breeders’ Cup consists of 14 races held over two days, with purses totaling $25.5 million, making this year’s event the richest prize money event in sports worldwide. The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live with an unprecedented nine hours of live coverage on ABC and ESPN, and to more than 130 foreign countries.
NTRA ANNOUNCES SWEEPING REFORMS; THOMPSON TO BE INDEPENDENT MONITOR
National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) President and CEO Alex Waldrop and Thoroughbred racing industry leaders outlined a series of industry-wide safety and integrity reforms at a press conference in New York yesterday. The NTRA also announced the creation of a new Safety and Integrity Alliance, comprised of the largest tracks and horsemen’s groups in the U.S. and Canada, which will be responsible for implementing the reforms. Tommy Thompson, former four-term Governor of Wisconsin and Secretary of Health and Human Services, will serve as independent counsel for the new NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. Governor Thompson will conduct an ongoing review and provide an annual independent and public assessment to the Alliance.
The reform initiatives, the broadest and most comprehensive in the sport’s history, include:
* uniform medication rules for each racing state* ban of steroids from racing competition
* out-of-competition testing for blood and gene doping agents and pre-race testing
* uniform penalties for all medication infractions* mandatory on-track and non-racing injury reporting
* mandatory installation of protective inner safety rail
* mandatory pre- and post-race security* adoption of a placement program for Thoroughbreds no longer competing
“Our industry is taking strong, positive steps to ensure the safety and integrity of our sport,” said Waldrop. “Despite challenges and significant short-term and long-term costs, there is an unprecedented level of commitment among Thoroughbred racing’s leadership to see these measures through.”
“Our first priority is to insure the health and safety of the athletes and horses in the racing industry,” said Thompson. “On its own initiative, the NTRA has taken a great step forward in committing to reforms and the creation of an important new body to oversee implementation of the reforms. I will take my independent oversight role seriously and work to assure transparency in this process.”
RETIRED, HALL-OF-FAME JOCKS RACING FOR REAL SATURDAY AT SANTA ANITA
The Oak Tree Racing Association will play host to some of racing’s most storied riders in an unprecedented “Living Legends Race” this Saturday at Santa Anita Park.
The unique competition, which brings eight Hall of Famers out of retirement for a single pari-mutuel betting race, will be presented as the fourth race on a ten-race program that begins at 12:30 p.m. Taking part in the race, in post position order, will be Jerry Bailey (age: 45, lifetime wins: 5,893); Sandy Hawley (59, 6,449); Pat Day (55, 8,803); Jacinto Vasquez (64, 5,228); Gary Stevens (45, 4,888); Chris McCarron (53, 7,441): Julie Krone (45, 3,704); and Angel Cordero, Jr., (65, 7,057).
Unlike “Old Timer’s Day” attractions in other sports, this is not an exhibition, but an official race offering a broad range of wagering options.
Immediately after the preceding third race, the competitors will be joined in a winner’s circle salute by fellow Hall of Famers and Living Legends Ambassadors Laffit Pincay Jr., Eddie Delahoussaye and Jorge Velasquez. Among them, the assemblage will have accounted for earnings near $2 billion from 71,872 combined racing victories with yet one more to follow.
“This truly is an event that will be difficult to ever duplicate with such a distinguished, accomplished group of riders,” said Sherwood C. Chillingworth, Oak Tree’s executive vice president.
“The total number of our wins and purse money takes your breath away,” commented Bailey, now an accomplished racing analyst for ESPN.
Mounts were drawn by lot, and Bailey wound up on the race’s probable favorite, Dee Dee’s Legacy, in the judgment of Oak Tree oddsmaker Jeff Tufts. Dee’s Legacy just missed by a head in his last start when second. Waafi, the second favorite to be ridden by McCarron, finished sixth last time out, but against tougher company.
FREE, ONLINE “BREEDERS’ CUP PICK ALL CHALLENGE” TO OFFER NHC BERTH
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today that registration is open at www.ntra.com for the “Breeders’ Cup Pick All Challenge”, a free, online handicapping contest that offers a grand prize of an entry in the 2009 $1 million Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) to be held in January at Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas (airfare and accommodations included).
Contestants must place one hypothetical $2 win and place wager on each of the 14 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races to be held Friday and Saturday, October 24-25, at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park. The player amassing the highest total will win the grand prize. Second prize is a 31.5″ Toshiba flat screen television. Cash prizes of $250 for third, $100 for fourth, and $50 for fifth through 10th places will also be offered. Top finishers who are registered members of the NHC Tour will also receive Tour points based on their finish.
“The Breeders’ Cup Pick All Challenge is a fun and easy way for fans to compete for prizes as they follow the 2008 Cup races from Oak Tree,” said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president of communications and industry relations for the NTRA. “Not only does the contest encourage interest in the Breeders’ Cup, it will introduce many to the experience of tournament play, which has enjoyed explosive growth in recent years thanks to the popularity of the National Handicapping Championship and the NHC Tour.”
There is a limit of one entry per person. Contestants must enter their picks for all five Friday Breeders’ Cup races by 3:30 p.m. (ET) on October 24. Picks for all nine Saturday Breeders’ Cup races must be entered by 1:00 p.m. (ET) on October 25. Contest win payoffs will be capped at $42.00 (20-1) and place place payoffs will be capped at $22.00 (10-1). For complete contest rules or additional information on the NHC and NHC Tour, visit www.ntra.com .