Now that winter is officially underway and the holidays will quickly come and go, horse players can turn their attention to the Kentucky Derby and the bevy of 3-year-old races that appear on the calendar beginning in January.
Before that however is opening day at Santa Anita (and Hialeah for the Q players) on Saturday, Dec. 26 and with it one final chance for 3-year-olds to run in a restricted race for big money in the $300,000 Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at The Great Race Place. Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and super-freak Runhappy takes on six others in the seven-furlong test which is the eighth race on a nine-race program.
That day is also the In The Money Handicapping Contest and a must-pay situation with an estimated $1,500 prize pool. Entry to the contest is $10. Entrants select one horse in each of the nine Santa Anita races and each selection must finish in the top three. If the selection runs out of the money, the player is out of the contest. In this final contest for the year, the winner of In The Money will be the player or players that survive the longest. Entry deadline is first post at Santa Anita at 2:00 p.m.
Beginning Jan. 16 is the annual Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest. Have a look at the schedule HERE.
Congratulations to the Dec. 19 Horse Player World Series Satellite winners, Lannette Sheldon and Pete Milinkovich. Both will be headed to The Orleans Hotel & Casino in late March to compete in the annual handicapping tournament . Sheldon hit a price in one of the final contest races of the day to not only win the satellite but also vault her to first place in the Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year standings, passing Ron White, who only the week before took the lead.
2015 NTRA MOMENT OF THE YEAR FAN VOTING NOW OPEN ON TWITTER
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) will conduct voting for the 2015 NTRA Moment of the Year via Twitter from now through January 3, 2016. Fans may cast their votes by tweeting at the NTRA’s official Twitter handle, @NTRA, using one of the designated hashtags listed below, or retweeting someone else’s vote.
Fans can choose from among 10 of most memorable, moving and significant events from Thoroughbred racing in 2015, four of which involve Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. The winning moment will be revealed January 15 at the annual ThoroFan Awards Breakfast at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla., and recognized at the following evening’s 45th Annual Eclipse Awards, also at Gulfstream Park.
The eligible 2015 moments were selected to illustrate a wide range of human emotions and achievements as well as outstanding displays of equine athleticism. The events that fans can choose from are listed chronologically as follows, along with the designated hashtag required to register a vote:
· #TheChief – Beloved Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens, known as “The Chief” and “Giant Killer” (for training the winners of major upsets over the likes of Secretariat and Kelso), dies in a south Florida hospital due to complications from an infection. He was 85. (March 18). To vote tweet @NTRA: #TheChief
· #APDerby – A record 170,513 fans at Churchill Downs watch favored American Pharoah and jockey Victor Espinoza grind out a win in Kentucky Derby 141 at Churchill Downs for owner Ahmed Zayat and trainer Bob Baffert. (May 2). To vote tweet @NTRA: #APDerby
· #BensCat – Venerable gelding Ben’s Cat, trained by 2015 Hall of Fame inductee King Leatherbury, reels in Bold Thunder in deep stretch to win the Jim McKay Turf Sprint on Preakness Day at Pimlico Race Course for the third straight year and fourth time overall. It is his 24th career stakes win. (May 15). To vote tweet @NTRA: #Ben’sCat
· #APTripleCrown – American Pharoah wins the Belmont Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner and the first in 37 years, igniting a raucous celebration and establishing the 3-year-old as an international celebrity. (June 6). To vote tweet @NTRA: #APTripleCrown
· #HonorCode – Closing from nearly 20 lengths back, Honor Code rallies to win the Whitney by a neck over Liam’s Map at Saratoga. It’s the second straight Grade I win for Honor Code, who also took the Met Mile in June for owners Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm, trainer Shug McGaughey and jockey Javier Castellano. (Aug. 8). To vote tweet @NTRA: #HonorCode
· #Beholder – Beholder becomes the first female to win Del Mar’s Pacific Classic in a dazzling performance, scoring by 8 1/4 lengths under jockey Gary Stevens for owner B. Wayne Hughes and trainer Richard Mandella. (Aug. 22). To vote tweet @NTRA: #Beholder
· #JesssDream – Jess’s Dream, the first foal out of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, wins his long-awaited career debut in dramatic fashion, making up nearly 20 lengths in a last-to-first effort at Saratoga. The 3-year-old was named for wine magnate Jess Jackson, who owned both Curlin and Rachel Alexandra and long anticipated their mating before his passing in 2011. (Aug. 24). To vote tweet @NTRA: #Jess’sDream
· #KeenIce – Keen Ice sweeps past Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the final strides of the Travers, delivering a stunning 16-1 upset in the “Midsummer Derby” at Saratoga. It is the only win of the year for Keen Ice and the only loss of the year for American Pharoah, over the track known as the “Graveyard of Champions.” (Aug. 29). To vote tweet @NTRA: #KeenIce
· #Found – Three-year-old filly Found wins America’s richest grass race, the Breeders’ Cup Turf, while besting a field that includes Arc de Triomphe and Irish Champion Stakes winner Golden Horn. (Oct. 31). To vote tweet @NTRA: #Found
· #APClassic – In his final start, American Pharoah runs away with the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, winning North America’s richest race by 6 ½ lengths at Keeneland. In the process American Pharoah becomes the first horse to complete what some refer to as racing’s “Grand Slam” – a Triple Crown topped by a Breeders’ Cup Classic win in the same season. (Oct. 31). To vote tweet @NTRA: #APClassic
Fans are permitted to vote for multiple moments but there is a limit of one vote per moment from every Twitter account. Subsequent votes from an account will be disqualified. Votes must be received by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, January 3, 2016.
“NTRA Moment of the Year voting is a natural for Twitter as it’s the home to many of the most passionate discussions on Thoroughbred racing,” said Keith Chamblin, NTRA Chief Operating Officer. “This is a vote for the fans and it’s time to take the process to where the conversation is already happening.”
The first-ever “NTRA Moment of the Year” was the touching scene between Charismatic and jockey Chris Antley following the 1999 Belmont Stakes. The next 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 a historic victory by filly Rags to Riches over Curlin in the Belmont Stakes. In 2008, it was Zenyatta’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Zenyatta “repeated” in 2009 as fans selected her triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In 2010, fans selected Blame’s narrow Breeders’ Cup Classic victory over Zenyatta. Drosselmeyer’s hard-fought win over Game on Dude in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was the public’s choice for 2011. For 2012, the recovery of Paynter from near-deadly battles with laminitis and colitis captured the hearts of voters like no other story. In 2013, fans recognized Mucho Macho Man’s nose victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic for his popular connections. Last year, the award went to California Chrome’s dominant win in Kentucky Derby 140.