News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
CLAIMING CROWN RETURNS TO CANTERBURY IN 2008
Racing’s unique day for “blue collar runners”, Claiming Crown, will return to Minnesota next year on Saturday, August 2, when Canterbury Park, in the Minneapolis suburb of Shakopee, hosts the $600,000 event for the eighth time in 10 years. Last year’s renewal took place at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. In 2002, Claiming Crown was held at Philadelphia Park.
“Everyone connected with Canterbury Park is eagerly looking forward to hosting Claiming Crown in 2008,” said Randy Sampson, the track’s president and general manager.
Eligibility restrictions on prospective Claiming Crown horses have been relaxed somewhat for 2008. To be eligible for any of the seven 2008 Claiming Crown races, which will have purse values ranging from $50,000 to $150,000, a horse must have started for or below the specified claiming price in 2007 or 2008. Previously, a horse had been required to start for or below the specified claiming price within the 12-month period leading up to Claiming Crown day.
“This lengthening of the qualifying period was suggested by numerous owners and trainers who have participated in prior Claiming Crowns,” added Sampson. “It’s a good idea that will open the event to a larger population of Thoroughbreds each year.
The seven races are:
$50,000 Iron Horse, three-year-olds and up, starters for $7,500 or less, one mile and one-sixteenth.
$50,000 Express, three-year-olds and up, starters for $7,500 or less, six furlongs.
$75,000 Glass Slipper, fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, starters for $16,000 or less, six furlongs.
$75,000 Rapid Transit, three-year-olds and up, starters for $16,000 or less, six furlongs.
$100,000 Tiara, fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, starters for $25,000 or less, one mile and one-sixteenth on turf.
$100,000 Emerald, three-year-olds and up, starters for $25,000 or less, one mile and one-sixteenth on turf.
$150,000 Jewel, three-year-olds and up, starters for $35,000 or less, one and one-eighth miles.
THREE NEW RACES ADDED TO BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Breeders’ Cup Limited has announced the establishment of three new Breeders’ Cup World Championships races in 2008, increasing the event to a record 14 races and raising total purses to an all-time high of $25.5 million. The 25th Breeders Cup will be held on Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25 at the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
The new Breeders’ Cup World Championships races, which will be run on Breeders’ Cup Friday, are:
$1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint; 3-year-olds and up; 6 ½ furlongs (turf)$1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf; 2-year-old fillies; 1 mile (turf) $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Marathon; 3-year-olds and up; 1 ½ milesThe Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint will be contested on Santa Anita’s signature El Camino Real “down the hill” turf course, with a maximum of 14 starters. The Juvenile Fillies Turf will be limited to 12 starters. The institution of the $1 million Turf Sprint, the Dirt Marathon and the Juvenile Fillies Turf boosts total purses for the 14 Breeders’ Cup races to $25.5 million.
The addition of the Turf Sprint comes less than one year after the establishment of three new Breeders’ Cup $1 million races – the Filly and Mare Sprint, the Dirt Mile and the Juvenile Turf – which were all held for the first time at Monmouth Park at the 24th Breeders’ Cup in October. Next year, those three races and the new Turf Sprint, Juvenile Fillies Turf and Dirt Marathon will increase Breeders’ Cup Friday purses past $5 million.
Friday’s program of six Breeders’ Cup races will be followed on Saturday by eight more Breeders’ Cup races worth $20 million. The 2008 Breeders’ Cup will be the second consecutive year that the richest prize money event in sports will be conducted over a two-day format.
“The establishment of the three new races continues our aggressive expansion of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships as a preeminent international sports and entertainment property for our fans, sponsors and television viewers around the globe.” said Greg Avioli, Breeders’ Cup president and CEO. “These new races also continue our mission in providing more opportunities for horsemen to compete at the highest levels over the two days of the Championships.”
A committee of the nation’s racing secretaries, under the direction of Martin Panza of Hollywood Park, aided Breeders’ Cup Ltd., in making recommendations on the selection and conditions of the new races. Part of these recommendations included the creation of pattern of 12 furlong races to be run around the country as preps for the Dirt Marathon.
COUNTRY STAR HEADS NINE IN $421,500 HOLLYWOOD STARLET
Bobby Frankel often raved about the talent of Empire Maker, who gave the Hall of Fame trainer his first Triple Crown race victory in the 2003 Belmont Stakes. Frankel predicted great success for the horse as a stallion and hopes he begins making another empire in that capacity.
Frankel is optimistic his faith will be vindicated Saturday in the Grade I, $421,500 Hollywood Starlet Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Hollywood Park when he sends out Country Star, the most accomplished member of Empire Maker’s first crop.
“She looks a little like him,” said Frankel, confident the filly will handle the 1 1/16 miles distance on Cushion Track. “Empire Maker is going to throw classic horses. I have three good fillies by him here now.”
Country Star proved her routing ability by rallying eight-wide from eighth to win the Grade I Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland in her second start at Keeneland on Oct. 5, her last outing. The race was also at 1 1/16 miles on a synthetic surface under Rafael Bejarano, who retains the mount.
Country Star drew post six in a field of nine. She seeks to give Frankel his second Starlet victory. He won the 1992 race with Creaking Board. He has come close twice since, finishing second with You behind Habibiti in 2001 and third last year with Down, who rallied from 12th after a tardy start.
Grace Anatomy, who finished third in the Alcibiades after breaking slowly, hopes to avenge that defeat in the Starlet but trainer Doug O’Neill admitted it would not be easy.
“She never handled the going at Monmouth,” said O’Neill of a subsequent seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on October 27. “Let’s hope, but the Alcibiades winner looks tough.”
Grace and Power, another stakes-winning filly, is scheduled to be flown West today from her base in Fair Hill, Md., for trainer Steve Klesaris.
EQUINE EQUITY ACT INCLUDED IN FARM BILL TO BE VOTED ON BY SENATE
The U.S. Senate has voted to include the Equine Equity Act (EEA) as part of the 2007 Farm Bill that the Senate is expected to vote on and approve in the next few days. The EEA has two components: a reduction in the capital gains holding period for horses from two years to one, and a uniform three-year depreciation schedule for racehorses. The EEA is one of the top tax priorities of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who introduced the bill earlier this year.
“This crucial piece of legislation modernizes the tax code with respect to depreciation of racehorses and standardizes the capital gains treatment of horses so as to bring equine industry investments in line with those of other industries,” said Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA). “The EEA is essential to the financial health of equine agribusiness nationwide, including not only Thoroughbreds, but many other breeds of horses. I would like to thank Senator McConnell for his strong support of Kentucky’s signature industry.”
“The Senate adoption of the Equine Equity Act into the Farm Bill is a very significant development for Thoroughbred owners and breeders,” said Bill Farish, Chairman of the NTRA’s Horse PAC. “I salute Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) for their bipartisan support of the EEA.”
The Farm Bill is a large piece of legislation that includes farm subsidies, food and nutritional programs and energy and environmental issues. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the Farm Bill. After passage of the Farm Bill by the Senate, the two houses of Congress are expected to meet sometime in early 2008, after the holiday recess, to resolve any differences in the two bills.
RACING TO HISTORY
Dec. 13, 1986: Jockey Kent Desormeaux had his first career stakes win, aboard Godbey, in the Maryland City Handicap at Laurel.
Dec. 14, 1997: Maybe Jack drew off and won a match race against Pro on Ice at Suffolk Downs, making him the winningest horse of 1997 with 13 victories.
Dec. 15, 1973: Sandy Hawley became the first jockey in history to win 500 races in a single year when he rode Charlie Jr. to victory in the third race at Laurel.
Dec. 15, 2000: Congress passed a package of appropriations bills that included a clarification to the Interstate Horseracing Act (IHA). The amendment to IHA confirms that interstate simulcasting, commingling of pools and account wagering are, indeed, permitted under the IHA in all states that authorize these activities.
Dec. 17, 1936: Crooner Bing Crosby announced plans to construct a new racetrack, to be called the Del Mar Turf Club.
Dec. 17, 1993: Fire destroyed the grandstand of Fair Grounds, the nation’s third-oldest racetrack.
Dec. 18, 1983: Hollywood Park held the first $1 million race for two-year-old Thoroughbreds, the Hollywood Futurity, which was won by Fali Time, ridden by Sandy Hawley.
Dec. 20, 1987: D. Wayne Lukas-trained Tejano became the first juvenile millionaire when he won the Hollywood Futurity with Laffit Pincay Jr. aboard.
Dec. 22, 1991: Jockey Kent Desormeaux, at age 21, won his 2,000th race aboard Saron Lake, trained by Gary Jones, at Hollywood Park. He was the youngest jockey to reach that mark and did so faster than any other rider.
Dec. 23, 1944: James F. Byrnes, Director of War Mobilization and Reconversion, urged that all racing in the United States cease by Jan. 3 as a means of furthering the war effort.
Dec. 24, 2004: Azeri, North America’s all-time leading female money earner, was retired from racing with a career bankroll of $4,079,820.
Dec. 25, 1934: Santa Anita Park opened in Arcadia, Calif. A five-year-old mare, Las Palmas, won the inaugural race, the California-Bred Handicap, before a crowd of 30,777.
Dec. 26: 2002: Julie Krone became the first woman to ride the winner of a Grade I stakes race in the state of California when she piloted the reformed claimer Debonair Joe to victory in the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita.