News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
FIELDS SET FOR FRIDAY NIGHT’S DELTA JACKPOT AND DELTA PRINCESS STAKES
Friday is Delta Jackpot Night, the richest program of the year at Delta Downs in Vinton, La., where fans will be treated to two grade III stakes and six stakes races overall, with more than $1.5 million in total purse money on the line.
The headliner on Friday will be Boyd Gaming’s Grade III, $750,000 Delta Jackpot Stakes for 2-year-olds. The rich purse money, coupled with the race’s graded status, means that the Jackpot winner will likely be assured of a starting berth in next year’s Kentucky Derby. The 1 1/16-mile showdown drew a full field of 10 headed by 5-2 morning line favorite Terrain, who most recently finished fourth to Midshipman in the Grade I, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Oak Tree on October 25.
Another Jackpot horse coming out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is West Side Bernie, who was installed as the second choice in the morning line at 3-1. The son of Bernstein won the Grade III Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park before finishing sixth behind Jackpot rival Terrain in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Boyd Gaming’s Grade III, $500,000 Delta Princess Stakes also attracted a full field of 10.
C. S. Silk, winner of this year’s Grade III Arlington Washington Lassie Stakes, is the morning line favorite at odds of 2-1. The second choice in the morning line at 5-2 is Livin Lovin. The Steve Klesaris trainee recently took the Grade III Tempted Stakes at Aqueduct by a widening 4-1/4 lengths.
In addition to the Jackpot and Princess, Delta Downs will also host four other stakes races on Friday including the $100,000 Delta Mile; the $100,000 Treasure Chest; the $50,000 Sam’s Town; and the $50,000 Orleans.
Delta Downs will also offer a $100,000 guaranteed all-stakes Pick 4 wager on Friday night. The special wager will begin with the Sam’s Town in race five, continue with the Delta Princess and the Orleans in races six and seven, and end with the Jackpot in race eight.
PAIR OF FEMALES TO TAKE ON THE BOYS IN HOLLYWOOD TURF CUP
Black Mamba and High Heel Sneakers, a pair of 5-year-old mares who have both won turf stakes against females at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., will tangle with males Saturday in the Grade I, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup at 1 ½ miles.
Champion Miss Alleged is the only female to win the race in its 26-year history, scoring in 1991. Three other females have finished second: Queen to Conquer in 1981, Zalataia in 1983 and Megahertz in 2004.
“I know John has been dying to run Black Mamba a mile and a half,” said Larry Benavidez, assistant to Black Mamba’s trainer John Sadler.
Black Mamba rallied to win the Grade II Beverly Hills Handicap at 1 ¼ miles at Hollywood Park in June. Her biggest win in 2008 came in the Grade I John C. Mabee Handicap at Del Mar in August. Black Mamba has raced at 1 ½ miles only once in her career, finishing fifth in her native New Zealand on a soft course in the 2007 New Zealand Oaks. She raced four times against males there, with her only victory in a maiden race in 2006.
Ben Cecil, trainer of High Heel Sneakers, said he had limited options for a female running long on turf after his mare captured the Hermosa Beach Handicap at 1 1-2 miles on November 9 at Hollywood Park. High Heel Sneakers ran five times at 1 ½ miles in her native England, including a second-place effort against males in the Empire Property Group Conditions Stakes at Goodwood in June 2007.
FANS AGAIN VOTING ON RACING’S “MOMENT OF THE YEAR” AT NTRA.COM
Voting began today at the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Web site, www.ntra.com, to select the tenth annual “NTRA Moment of the Year.” Voters can choose from among 12 images, drawn from the year’s events. Those selecting the winning image automatically will be entered in a random drawing for a Toshiba flat-screen TV, courtesy of NTRA Advantage. The winning moment will be recognized at the January 26, 2009, Eclipse Awards ceremony in Miami.
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:
* Pyro charges past all 10 of his foes in the stretch to take the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds
* Reigning Horse of the Year Curlin dominates the Dubai World Cup
* Big Brown powers home from post 20 to take the Kentucky Derby
* Exhilaration turns to heartbreak as Eight Belles suffers a fatal injury following the Kentucky Derby
* Big Brown spurts away from his opponents in the Preakness Stakes
* Triple Crown hopeful Big Brown is eased as Da’ Tara wins the Belmont Stakes
* Red Rocks spoils Curlin’s grass debut in Belmont’s Man o’ War Stakes
* Curlin wins the Jockey Club Gold Cup to become North America’s first $10 million earner
* Peppers Pride stays perfect and sets a modern North American record with her 17th straight victory
* Zenyatta caps her undefeated season with a resounding, last-to-first win in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic
* Goldikova unleashes a powerful stretch burst to defeat defending champ Kip Deville in the Breeders’ Cup Mile
* Raven’s Pass culminates a big day for the Europeans, defeating Henrythenavigator and Curlin in 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. Last year’s Moment of the Year was Rags to Riches’ historic victory over Curlin in the Belmont Stakes.
“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 Moment they select as this year’s winner.”
REGISTRATION FOR 2009 NHC TOUR NOW OPEN
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) and Daily Racing Form (DRF) announced today that signups for the 2009 NHC Tour are now being accepted at at www.ntra.com/nhctour. The registration fee is $125. The NHC Tour is a yearlong bonus series offering additional prize money and qualifying berths to the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC). The NHC Tour is open only to officially registered contestants and will be based on performances at NHC qualifying events throughout the year.
NHC Tour members receive NHC Tour points for finishing in the top 10 percent of the field in NHC qualifying events held during the year. Final, end-of-year standings will be based only on a participant’s five best scores. At the end of the year’s qualifying events, the overall NHC Tour point leader will receive a bonus of $100,000. Should the overall NHC Tour winner go on to capture first place in the January 2010 NHC finals, he or she will receive a $2 million bonus.
In addition, the top five 2009 NHC Tour point scorers will receive automatic entry into NHC XII, which will be held in January 2011 in Las Vegas.
The official kick-off of the 2009 NHC Tour will be the inaugural Red Rock Shootout scheduled for Sunday, January 25, 2009, at Red Rock Resort, Casino and Spa in Las Vegas. The Red Rock Shootout will take place immediately following the 2009 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, which will be held January 23-24 at Red Rock.
All NHC Tour members will receive automatic membership in the NTRA Horseplayers Coalition, which supports federal lobbying on issues that affect the nation’s 30 million horseplayers and racing fans. All Tour members will also become eligible for the NTRA Advantage programs, featuring discounts on products from John Deere, Sherwin Williams, OfficeDepot, UPS, Toshiba, Equine Travel Advantage and Moxie Equestrian. In addition, those who register for the 2009 NHC Tour during the month of December 2008 will receive a free NHC Tour t-shirt.
“The 2008 NHC Tour year attracted more than 900 participants, one of whom will be playing for $2.5 million at the NHC in January,” said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president for the NTRA. “We anticipate a bigger and better year for the NHC Tour in 2009, and we believe the Tour’s new format for awarding NHC berths will do an even better job of rewarding our top finishers.”
In its tenth year, the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino race books, off-track betting facilities and horse racing and handicapping Web sites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals.