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News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
The Turf Publicists of America (TPA) announced on Tuesday that trainer Carl Nafzger, whose Street Sense became the first horse to win both the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, has been chosen as the 2007 winner of the organization’s Big Sport of Turfdom award.
The award is presented annually to a person or group of people who enhances coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with the media and Thoroughbred racing publicists. Nafzger previously was honored with the Big Sport of Turfdom award for his media cooperation in 1990 with Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Unbridled. Nafzger joins Laffit Pincay Jr. as the only two-time recipients of the award.
“This wasn’t the first time that Carl Nafzger was thrust into the national spotlight, but he was just as gracious and generous with his time as he was when he won this award 17 years ago, and the turf publicists are proud to bestow this honor upon him once again,” said TPA president Eric Wing. “Carl always does whatever it takes to promote the sport, even taking part in an hour-long teleconference from a rural, roadside telephone booth, as he did one afternoon this past summer when his cell phone wouldn’t work.”
“This is tremendous honor,” Nafzger said. “I never expected to get this award twice. I don’t know what to say. I always do my best to cooperate with the media requests. I think we had a good time. I know I did.”
Nafzger will receive the award at the 42nd annual Big Sport of Turfdom luncheon, sponsored by Scientific Games, Inc., and the Keeneland Association, at Mastro’s Steakhouse in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Monday, January 21, a few hours before the Eclipse Awards.
Nafzger, who in January 2006 scaled back his training activities and turned over the day-to-day operation of his stable to longtime assistant Ian Wilkes, enjoyed a banner year in 2007. Through November 28, Nafzger-trained runners had earned $4,378,741, led by Street Sense, who provided the 66-year-old trainer with his second victory in the Kentucky Derby. Street Sense also added the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga while stablemate Lady Joanne captured Saratoga’s Grade 1 Alabama Stakes.
Raised on a farm in Olton, Texas, Nafzger was a successful bull rider on the national rodeo circuit, ranking number three in the world in 1963. He took out his Thoroughbred trainer’s license in 1968 and was honored with the Eclipse Award as the nation’s leading trainer in 1990 following Unbridled’s championship season that included victories in the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Among the other top horses he has trained over the years are champion Banshee Breeze and Grade 1 winners Fairway Phantom, Home at Last, Mayo on the Side, Super Abound, Unshaded and Vicar.
In October 2007, Nafzger was inducted into the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame. The following month, he was honored by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners with the Warner L. Jones Jr. Horseman of the Year Award.
The TPA is an organization consisting of approximately 200 publicity and marketing personnel from racetracks and racing organizations around the country and the Big Sport of Turfdom award has been presented every year since 1966.
Previous winners of the Big Sport of Turfdom include longtime Daily Racing Form columnist Joe Hirsch, Penny Chenery, Jack Klugman, Jim McKay, Tim Conway, Chris McCarron, Laura Hillenbrand, Sackatoga Stable, John Servis, Pat Day and, last year, Dr. Dean Richardson.
Additional information about the luncheon may be obtained by contacting Eric Wing, the TPA president, at (212) 230-9500.
Voting is underway at the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Web site,, for the ninth 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 grand prize of $1,000. The winning moment will be announced at the Jan. 21, 2008, Eclipse Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, Calif.
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:
Barbaro is euthanized at the New Bolton Center due to complications from laminitis
Reigning Horse of the Year Invasor defeats Premium Tap to take the Dubai World Cup
Street Sense ends “Juvenile Jinx”, wins Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands going away under the jubilant Calvin Borel
Curlin catches Street Sense in the stretch to capture the Preakness Stakes
Still going strong at age 9, The Tin Man wins the Shoemaker Mile off an eight-month layoff
Rags to Riches outduels Curlin and becomes first filly in 102 years to win the Belmont Stakes
With trainer Doug O’Neill listening to the race call from a pub in Ireland, Lava Man comes on again in deep stretch to win his third consecutive Hollywood Gold Cup
Lawyer Ron overcomes wide journey from post 10 to capture the Whitney Handicap and break the Saratoga track record for a mile and one eighth
Racing legend John Henry dies at the Kentucky Horse Farm at the age of 32
Midnight Lute unleashes stunning rally to blow away his rivals in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint
Ginger Punch bulls her way through on the inside to win the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Curlin runs down Lawyer Ron, Street Sense and Hard Spun en route to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge
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. Last year voters chose Barbaro’s gallant struggle to recover from his Preakness injury while at the New Bolton Center.
“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.”
Fans 18 years and older can register to vote online at Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday, January 14, 2008. Void where prohibited. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. A complete set of rules is available online or by contacting NTRA Communications.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today that Magna Entertainment Corporation (MEC), the New York Racing Association (NYRA), Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), the National HBPA, the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (THA), Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC), Keeneland, Breeders’ Cup, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) and The Jockey Club have each renewed its membership in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) for 2008.
“We are delighted and gratified that these key industry organizations have reaffirmed their strong commitment to the NTRA,” said Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the NTRA. “Given the many challenges the industry faces now and in the future, unity has never been more essential because together we can all accomplish so much more than is possible individually. I would like to specially thank the NTRA Board for approving a new dues structure that all parties have found fair and equitable. In the coming weeks, we will be communicating the new dues structure to each of our members, asking for three-year commitments.”
Dr. Angelo A. Chinnici, the director of medical services for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands, has coordinated expense-paid reconstructive surgery for horse trainer Elaine Ferri, (51) who was kicked in the face by a 3-year-old filly this past July when Ferri was teaching the filly to accept a halter.
Ferri lost her left eye in the accident, in which she sustained more than 100 facial fractures.
Chinnici said plastic surgeons Anthony Lombardi and Rudolph Thompson have donated their services for the reconstructive work, anticipated to take place after the new year. The surgery will be performed at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, an affiliate of the Meridian Health Care Network, in Neptune, N.J.
I’ve known Elaine for many, many years,” said Chinnici. She’s in a very unique situation. She has no workman’s comp because she’s an employer, and the horse happens to be on her parents’ farm.”
Ferri, is unable to train and had to turn her stable over to another trainer. She currently resides in Arkansas but early on in her career she trained in New Jersey.
A field of eight will contest the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, Grade I, 1 1/2 miles, three-year-olds and up on the lawn at Hollywood Park, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 8.
Juddmonte Farms Champs Elysees, a 4-year-old son of Danehill making his U.S. debut for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, finished second on a good turf course in the Gran Premio del Jockey Club, a Group 1 race in Italy on Oct. 14. Winner of a Group 3 race at Longchamp and second — beaten only a nose — in a Group 2 at Longchamp, he brings impressive credentials to the Turf Cup. Frankel also saddles Group I winner Heroi Do Bafra, a 5-year-old Brazilian-bred horse who finished second in the Seabiscuit Handicap at Bay Meadow, Nov. 3. Frankel has won The Turf Cup three times since 1997.
Irish-bred Sudan, arrives in the U.S. following a tenth-place finish in a group stakes at 1 1/2 miles in Sweden. Prior to that, the 4-year-old colt won the Group 1 Gran Premio di Milano at 1 1/2 miles in Italy for owner Gary Tanaka. The horse is trained by Michael Jarvis.
French-bred Obrigado, from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale, won the San Luis Obispo at 1 1/2 miles in February. He finished second in the 2006 Hollywood Derby and was third behind After Market and Lava Man in the 2007 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, just two wins shy of matching his 2006 record of 57 graded stakes wins, will try for a double with Sunriver in the Turf Cup and Ravel in the $100,000-added, Grade III, Native Diver Handicap, 1 1/8 miles on Cushion Track.
Sunriver, finished sixth in the Canadian International at Woodbine in his most recent start on Oct. 21. Pletcher shipped the 4-year-old son of Saint Ballado west in hopes of finding firmer ground, but rain is in the forecast.
“My only concern is the weather,” Pletcher said. “Sunriver appreciates a firmer turf course. The ground was a little soft at Woodbine, but not too bad.”
The Turf Cup, the last Grade I on the grass in 2007, includes six Graded/Group winners. The field lines up as follows from the rail out: Obrigado, with Joseph Talamo up; Champs Elysees, Julien Leparoux; Sunriver, Garrett Gomez; Tissy Fit, Clinton Potts; Heroi Do Bafra, Rafael Bejarano; Chief Running Bear, Corey Nakatani; Spring House, Tyler Baze, and Sudan, Patrick Valenzuela.
All carry 126 pounds.
Dec. 6, 2001: Jockey Russell Baze gained his 400th victory of the year aboard Golden Peace at Golden Gate Fields, marking the ninth time in his career he had reached the 400-win plateau in a single year. No other rider has recorded 400 victories in a year more than three times. Baze, whose best total was 448 in 1995, won 400 races for seven straight years from 1992-98. A broken bone in his back limited his victory count to 373 in 1999. Baze then bounced back with 412 victories in 2000.
Dec. 6, 2003: Legendary Daily Racing Form writer Joe Hirsch retired after 55 years of covering horse racing.
Dec. 7, 1957: A two-year-old colt named Silky Sullivan won the one-mile Golden Gate Futurity after making up 27 lengths, establishing a running style that became legendary. Horsemen still invoke the name of Silky Sullivan when referring to a horse that runs from far off the pace.
Dec. 7, 2001: The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders’ Cup Limited announced that John Deere will have entitlement rights to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) and to the series of races that makes up the World Thoroughbred Championships Turf Division. As part of the agreement, John Deere will also be the presenting sponsor of the newly created Great State Challenge, an annual event featuring the top state-bred horses from around the country.
Dec. 7, 2002: The inaugural NTRA Great State Challenge was contested at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston. Team Kentucky, led by Take Charge Lady in the Great State Challenge Distaff, won the state competition with 36 points, finishing just ahead of second-place Florida (34). The day’s betting handle of $5,083,692, including on-track and simulcast wagering, shattered the previous Sam Houston all-sources record of $4,070,715.
Dec. 8, 1989: Power to Geaux paid a record $2,922 for a $2 wager made at AK-sar-ben on the simulcast of the 11th race from Fair Grounds. The previous record for a payoff on a $2 wager was set June 17, 1912, when Wishing Ring paid $1,885.50.
Dec. 8, 2004: Jockey Robby Albarado picked up his 3,000 career win, guiding Isle of Silver to victory at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
Dec. 9, 1999: Jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr., tied Bill Shoemaker’s all-time record by registering his 8,833rd lifetime win aboard I Be Casual in the 4th race at Hollywood Park.
Dec. 10, 1977: In his second year of riding, Steve Cauthen became the first jockey to win $6 million in a single season when he rode a three-year-old filly, Little Happiness, to victory in the sixth race at Aqueduct. Cauthen was dubbed “The Six Million Dollar Man,” and “Stevie Wonder” by his admirers and was named 1977 Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press, ABC’s Wide World of Sports and The Sporting News. He also received three Eclipse Awards, being voted an award of merit in addition to earning top honors as both a journeyman and apprentice jockey.
Dec. 10, 1999: Laffit Pincay Jr. became the world’s winningest jockey when he registered his 8,834th career victory aboard Irish Nip in the 6th race at Hollywood Park. The victory eclipsed the previous mark of 8,833 wins held by Bill Shoemaker.
Dec. 11, 1983: John Henry became the first racehorse to surpass $4 million in career earnings when he won the Hollywood Turf Cup with jockey Chris McCarron at Hollywood Park.
Dec. 12, 1942: More than 20,000 racegoers turned out to watch 1941 Triple Crown winner Whirlaway win the inaugural Louisiana Handicap at Fair Grounds, staged in part as a war relief effort by the newly formed Thoroughbred Racing Associations.
Dec. 12, 1997: Jockey Russell Baze, the only jockey to win 400 or more races in a year more than three times, accomplished the feat for a sixth straight season at Golden Gate Fields.
Posted by Jeff Maday at 12/6/2007 2:06 PM Comments (0)