NTRA Thoroughbred Notebook

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

ZENYATTA RUNNER UP AGAIN IN AP FEMALE ATHLETE OF YEAR VOTING
Zenyatta finished second this week to Olympic gold medal-winning American skier Lindsey Vonn as the Associated Press’s 2010 Female Athlete of the Year. It was the second consecutive year that Zenyatta was the runner-up for the award.

Breaking the modern-day mark for consecutive wins held by Citation and Cigar, Zenyatta won the first 19 races of her career before losing by a head to Blame in the final start of her career, the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Vonn, the first skier to win an AP Athlete of the Year honor since the Award’s inception in 1931, received 77 votes to Zenyatta’s 32 among the 150 cast.

The 6-year-old mare retired a North American earnings record for female horses of more than $7.3 million.

Zenyatta finished second to tennis star Serena Williams in the 2009 voting.

FAIR GROUNDS TO HOST CLAIMING CROWN FOR FIRST TIME IN 2011
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans will host the 13th running of the Claiming Crown on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Patterned after the Breeders’ Cup, Claiming Crown is designed to reward Thoroughbred racing’s “blue-collar” horses and will offer races at varying distances on both dirt and turf.

“Fair Grounds is proud to bring the Claiming Crown to New Orleans,” said Eric Halstrom, Vice President and General Manager of Racing for Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. “One of our stated goals has been to host top end national events at our racetrack, and the Claiming Crown certainly fits very well. We look forward to teaming with TOBA, the National HBPA and our local HBPA as we try to make the 2011 Claiming Crown a record-setting event.”

“The Louisiana HBPA is happy the National HBPA and TOBA are bringing the Claiming Crown to Louisiana. We feel the Fair Grounds is a great choice to host this prestigious event. Claiming Crown rewards the horses that are the backbone of racing,” stated Louisiana HBPA President Larry Robideaux.

This will mark the first time Fair Grounds has hosted the event, which debuted at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., in 1999. Canterbury has hosted 10 of the first 12 renewals of the event. The Claiming Crown was held at Philadelphia Park (now Parx Racing) in Bensalem, Pa., in 2002 and at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., in 2007.

Further details on the event’s race lineup, purse structure, nomination and entry deadline schedule, and eligibility dates will be released soon.

REGISTRATION OPEN FOR FREE NHC “ONLINE KICKOFF CHALLENGE” ON JANUARY 2
Signups are now being accepted at NTRA.com for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship “Online Kickoff Challenge” – a free, online handicapping tournament on Sunday, January 2. The five highest finishers among registered Daily Racing Form NHC Tour members will receive guaranteed berths in the $2 million (estimated) Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) in January 2012 in Las Vegas. The five qualifiers will also receive roundtrip air travel and hotel accommodations for their trip to the 2012 NHC.

The Online Kickoff Challenge requires contestants to place hypothetical $2 win and place wagers on 10 designated contest races on Sunday, January 2. The 10 contest races will be chosen by tournament officials on Friday, December 31, and are scheduled to be selected from the January 2 cards at Aqueduct, Fair Grounds and Santa Anita Park (contest tracks subject to change). Free DRF past performances for the tournament races will be available at the contest site. All selections must be made no later than one minute prior to the scheduled post time of each mandatory race. The five players amassing the highest number of points based on the players’ earnings (i.e. the highest final bankroll) from all $2 win and place wagers at the end of the competition will receive berths in the January 2012 NHC in Las Vegas, provided that they have registered for the 2011 NHC Tour prior to the start of the tournament.

To sign up for the 2011 Daily Racing Form NHC Tour, visit www.ntra.com/nhctour. The Daily Racing Form NHC Tour is a yearlong bonus series offering additional prize money and qualifying berths to the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship to be held in January 2012 in Las Vegas. Membership in the 2011 Daily Racing Form NHC Tour is open to adults 21 years of age or older and requires a one-time membership fee of $45. Membership in the 2011 Daily Racing Form NHC Tour is mandatory in order for top finishers of sanctioned NHC qualifying events to be eligible to compete in the January 2012 NHC Finals in Las Vegas. The NHC Tour membership must be in place prior to the start of any given qualifying tournament in order for one to qualify for the NHC Finals at that qualifying tournament.

Among the many benefits of 2011 Daily Racing Form NHC Tour membership are free, online qualifying tournaments that are restricted to NHC Tour members. The first of these free, online qualifying tournaments will take place on January 2, 2011 at NTRA.com, where qualifying berths to the January 2012 NHC Finals will be offered to the five top finishers. Additional free, online qualifying events – offering a total of 15 additional berths to the NHC Finals – will be held later in 2011.

‘LUCK’ PILOT, FIRST TWO EPISODES COMPLETE, DEBUT SET FOR FALL 2011
Production on the pilot and first two episodes of HBO’s upcoming series, “Luck,” is close to completion, and production and shooting for the series’s third episode will resume at Santa Anita Park on January 10.

“Luck,” which stars Dustin Hoffman, is the brainchild of renowned writer/producer David Milch, who has also created such hits as “Hill Street Blues,” “NYPD Blue,” and “Deadwood.” Among the other notable actors involved in the first two episodes are Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina and John Ortiz, plus retired jockey Gary Stevens and active jockey Chantal Sutherland.

“Their production crew completed two weeks of work on and around the racetrack last week,” said Santa Anita Community and Special Events Coordinator Pete Siberell.

Siberell noted that Milch is “excited” about the recently shot content.

“David said that everything went extremely well, and he was particularly happy with the racing action they were able to simulate,” said Siberell.

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