News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
INTEREST, WAGERING, RATINGS, ATTENDANCE ALL UP FOR BREEDERS’ CUP
Riding a wave of interest powered by the story of Zenyatta and her near victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, Breeders’ Cup officials are reporting record levels of business results and across-the-board increases from the 2009 Championships for their two-day World Championships held this past weekend at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Both attendance and wagering handle for the 2010 Breeders’ Cup World Championships increased by double digits over the 2009 event at Santa Anita Park, Breeders’ Cup officials announced after the conclusion of Saturday’s races. The last hour of the ESPN broadcast of the Classic, from 6:15 p.m. Eastern until 7:15, garnered a 3.1 rating, up 182 percent compared to a 1.1 preliminary rating for the broadcast last year, and ratings were up in Canada and Europe as well.
“The Breeders’ Cup was created to showcase performances like those we witnessed from Zenyatta, Blame, Goldikova and Uncle Mo,” said Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Greg Avioli. “We experienced unprecedented levels of media coverage and are looking at record levels of revenue and our highest television rating in nearly 15 years thanks in large part to the phenomenon that is Zenyatta. We are grateful that we could provide the platform to help bring the amazing stories of some of the greatest horses in the world to a global audience of racing fans.”
The two-day handle on the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, including separate pools in other countries and exchange wagering in the UK, was $196,354,072. The two-day total, excluding exchange wagering, was $173,339,131, an increase of 13% over the $153, 271,776 wagered in 2009. The strong interest outside the U.S. was bolstered by a record number of 172 entries in the 14 Breeders’ Cup races, including European champions Goldikova (IRE), Midday (GB) and Japanese stars Espoir City (JPN) and Red Desire (JPN). While total international entries declined from a record 35 to 25, the two-day Championships attracted a record 143 horses from North America. In total, there were 163 starters in the 14 Championships races, which is also a Breeders’ Cup record.
Wagering on the 14 Championships races rose over $21 million (16%) to $157,878,232.Total attendance for the two days increased 18.5% from 96,496 in 2009 to 114,353 in 2010.
Meanwhile, the Breeders’ Cup iPhone and iPad apps, launched weeks before the event, were the fourth most downloaded free sports applications in the iTunes App Store on Saturday. The apps were downloaded by users in 86 countries.
FOUR HALL OF FAME TRAINERS COLLIDE IN HOLLYWOOD TURF CUP
Trainer Bill Mott, a member of racing’s Hall of Fame since 1998, will be seeking his second win in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup when the Grade I event is run for the 28th time Saturday at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif.
Mott, who won with Fraise for owner Madeleine Paulson in 1993, will be represented in the 1 ½ mile race by Treat Gently, who is owned by breeder Juddmonte Farms. A 5-year-old Cape Cross mare out of the In the Wings mare Kid Gloves, Treat Gently is hoping to become the second female to win the Turf Cup. The English bred would join Miss Alleged, who prevailed in 1991 en route to an Eclipse Award as the female turf champion. Treat Gently has won two of seven in 2010, earning a pair of Grade II wins in the Sheepshead Bay May 22 at Belmont Park and the Robert G. Dick Memorial July 17 at Delaware Park. The Hollywood Turf Cup will be her first start since her fourth place against males in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Oct. 2 at Belmont Park. Her owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms is aiming for a third Hollywood Turf Cup win and second in a row. Champs Elysees won as the favorite when the race was last run in 2008. Juddmonte’s other victory came with Alphabatim in 1984.
Another Hall of Fame trainer, Neil Drysdale, will be looking for his initial victory in the Turf Cup when he saddles Marlang. Drysdale was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. A 5-year-old Langfuhr horse and the Conquistador Cielo mare Marienburg, Marlang has a win over the Hollywood Park grass at the Turf Cup distance. The Canadian bred won the Sunset Handicap July 18 for owner-breeder Gustav Schickedanz.
Ron McAnally, a member of the Hall of Fame since 1990 and a winner of this event in 1983 with John Henry, will send out Buenos Dias. An Irish bred owned by Charles Cella, the 5-year-old Peinte Celebre horse and the Rainbow Quest mare Buenos Aires has won three of 22 and has banked $265,412.
Worth Repeating will try to give trainer Richard Mandella, who has been in the Hall of Fame since 2001, his fourth Turf Cup victory. The Giant’s Causeway colt, who has yet to win a graded stakes, has two wins in 15 attempts for Spendthrift Farm LLC. The 4-year-old is out of the A.P. Indy mare Lady Nichola. Mandella’s Turf Cup successes came with The Hague (1982), Lazy Lode (1999) and Boboman (2006).
From the rail out, the complete field for the Hollywood Turf Cup is as follows: Worth Repeating (jockey: Rafael Bejarano, weight: 126 pounds); Treat Gently (Patrick Valenzuela, 123); Unusual Suspect (Corey Nakatani, 126); Buenos Dias (Brice Blanc, 126); Where’s the Remote (Mike Smith, 126); Marlang (Joel Rosario, 126); Temple City (Joe Talamo, 126) and Big Shot Syd (David Flores, 126).
TVG POSTS RECORD BREEDERS’ CUP WAGERING
TVG processed $7,814,169 in wagers on Saturday, November 6, the second day of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs. The figure represented a 28 percent increase over the corresponding 2009 second-day figure of $6,110,995. Saturday also was the second highest day of wagering in the company’s history behind Kentucky Derby Day 2010.
For the two days of the Breeders’ Cup, the TV network and advance deposit wagering company processed $12,383,722 for the two days of the Breeders” Cup World Championships, a 25 percent increase over 2009’s two-day total of $9,875,316.
“The total wagering is evidence of the high levels of interest in Zenyatta and this year’s Breeders’ Cup and the enthusiastic response of our customers to the full competitive fields in these races,” said Stephen Burn, president of Betfair TVG.
REGISTRATION OPEN FOR SATURDAY’S FREE “TVG ONLINE CHALLENGE”
Signups are being accepted for the “TVG Online Challenge,” a free, online handicapping tournament that will take place this Saturday, November 13. The top three finishers will receive a guaranteed berth in the $1.1 million (estimated) Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) on January 28-29, 2011 in Las Vegas. The three winners will also receive roundtrip air travel and hotel accommodations at the Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa, site of the NHC. Prospective competitors do not need to be TVG account holders in order to register.
The TVG Online Challenge requires contestants to place hypothetical $2 win and place wagers on 10 designated contest races on Saturday. The 10 contest races will be chosen by tournament officials on Thursday, November 11, and are scheduled to be selected from the November 13 cards at Monmouth Park, Woodbine, Hawthorne and Hollywood Park (contest tracks subject to change). Free DRF past performances for the Challenge 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 three 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 Challenge will be declared the “Grand Prize Winners” and receive berths in the NHC in January in Las Vegas.
To register for this Saturday’s TVG Online Challenge, or to learn more about it, visit http://games.ntra.com/.
For more information about the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, visit www.ntra.com. For questions about this weekend’s tournament, contact Michele Ravencraft at (859) 422-2657.
HANSAN WINS BREEDERS’ CUP TWO-DAY BETTING HANDICAPPING CHALLENGE
Robert Hansan, a 46-year-old entrepreneur from Reston, Va., made the winning moves in capturing the second annual Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge last Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Hansan collected $137,000 for first place prize money, along with another $44,863 in winnings from his live betting bankroll — for a total of $181,863.
Hansan defeated a field of 95 of the country’s best horseplayers in the Betting Challenge that was conducted over the two days of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. James Henry of Torrance, Calif., finished second with $78,000 in prize money and cash winnings. Dennis Decauwer of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., finished third and collected over $48,000 in winnings.
“It was quite thrilling to be part of this, and I’m ecstatic about winning the event, which has become the most prestigious live-money tournament in the country,” said Hansan. “It’s wonderful to be able to take in the atmosphere surrounding the Breeders’ Cup and witness the Championships in person.”
Hansan went “all-in” on the Classic when he bet his entire remaining bankroll of $7,236 to win on Blame. That bet paid $44,863 in cash and earned him another $135,000 as a first place prize.
The second annual Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge required a $10,000 buy-in, of which $7,500 was each player’s betting bankroll for the two days. Players could bet Win, Place, Show, Exacta and Trifecta bets on any of the 21 races at Churchill Downs during the World Championships. Hansan turned his initial $7,500 bankroll into $44,863 in winning the title. Henry finished with $30,010 and Decauwer at $24,893. All players keep their cash winnings from the event.
A total of $267,000 in prize money was awarded to the top ten finishers. The 95 players in 2010 was a sizable increase from last year’s inaugural event at Santa Anita, which featured 75 players and $225,000 in prize money.
In addition to the prize money at stake, six players also qualified for the $1.1 million (estimated) Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship to be held January 29-30, 2011, at Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas.
Twenty-one of the 95 participants won their $10,000 entry fee from online qualifying events, including second place finisher James Henry who won his seat in a $100 qualifier at bcqualify.com. “After winning a seat for $100, this became the ultimate free roll for me and it turned out to be a tremendously successful weekend,” Henry stated.