Friday, September 28, 2007

California Horse Racing News

The California Horse Racing Board on Thursday in Arcadia unanimously approved 12 days of thoroughbred and emerging-breed racing at Cal Expo, Aug. 20 through Labor Day, Sept. 1.

Because the fair is closed on Mondays except Labor Day, Cal Expo will actually race 11 days with a day-night doubleheader program Aug. 22, said Cal Expo racing director David Elliott.
The State Fair won't compete head-to-head against Bay Meadows for the first time since 1987. That's because the 73-year-old San Mateo landmark is scheduled to host its final program Aug. 18.

In the midst of redevelopment, Bay Meadows will close for all but training after the conclusion of its two-week San Mateo County Fair meet next August. Its final regular-season meet will be Feb. 6 through May 11.
Thoroughbred racing also attracts more fans and betting than harness racing. In 2004, the State Fair meet averaged slightly more than 9,000 fans, compared to fewer than 1,000 a night during the recent State Fair harness meet. Wagering at the 2004 State Fair totaled $19.6 million on live and simulcast races or $1.6 million a day. Harness racing drew about $800,000 a night.

Street Sense - horse of the year?

Street Sense will race this Saturday at Turfway Park in The Kentucky Cup Classic, has not won a race on the Polytrack surface in 2 tries.

But has had his greatest success in winning The Breeders Cup Juvenile and The Kentucky Derby following his Polytrack efforts.

The Kentucky Cup Classic will be run at 1 1/8 mile. Hard Spun will be Street Sense main rival in this race, finishing second to Street Sense in The Kentucky Derby.

Carl Nafzger, the trainer of Street Sense has decided that a short trip from Churchill Downs (his home base) would be wiser for Street Sense then to travel to the Hawthorne Gold Cup at Hawthorne or the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont.

So the plan will be for Street Sense to take on a short field at the Kentucky Cup Classic then head to the his final race of the year, The Breeders Cup Classic.

A win in the Breeders Cup Classic would surely stamp Street Sense as the horse of the year.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Horse Racing News Update

Even the most casual racing fans have watched the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of May. In just two minutes, the best 3-year-old thoroughbreds in the country run for the roses at Churchill Downs. On Labor Day, in just 20 seconds, the fastest 2-year-old American quarter horses compete in the most prestigious event in their racing industry, the $2 million All American Futurity.

Heartswideopen, a 2-year-old filly, was the fastest qualifier for trainer Carl Draper. She sizzled to victory in her 440-yard trial in 20.921 seconds, the fastest qualifying time in the history of the Grade 1 All American Futurity.

Two Sam Houston Race Park trainers, John Buchanan and Heath Taylor will saddle finalists in the All American. Buchanan trains Coronas Fast Dash for owner/breeder Bobby D. Cox, and Taylor conditions the California-bred Captain Courage.

Buchanan is attempting to win his second All American Futurity; in 1987, he won with Elans Special. The Texas-bred Coronas Fast Dash was the fourth-fastest qualifier and will be ridden by Juan Vazquez, who piloted DM Shicago to victory in 2004.

Taylor is hoping Captain Courage, owned by Burnett Ranches & Chad Hart, will have what it takes in the final.

"The horse is phenomenally well-bred," Taylor said. "He is a full-brother to Corona Cash, winner of the 1997 All American. We have intentionally kept him lightly raced. He's very sound — starting to mature and peak at the right time. For all intents and purposes, it's an unbelievably tough race; the fillies look like world beaters. He'll have to step up, but he's got the looks, conformation and breeding for it."

A total of 18 trials were run on Aug. 23, with the 10 fastest runners earning the chance to compete for $2 million.

"It's a weird race," Taylor said. "I've run at every quarter horse track in the world and have never seen a place where luck plays such an important part. Despite the skill and preparation, there are so many aspects you can't control."

This weekend at SHRP
Sam Houston Race Park will host an extended weekend of live quarter horse racing. Friday night's card will be highlighted by the running of the $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2) with the four-horse entry trained by Heath Taylor: Toastin Dash, Conner Can, Automatically and St. Pat's First. Woodlands Stakes winner Ckh Valiant Ruler drew the enviable rail post position for Saturday's $35,000 Governors' Cup Marathon at 870 yards. Charlie Daniels will perform following Saturday's races.

There will be two matinee racing programs this weekend, with post time for Sunday and a special Labor Day race card at 1:30 p.m.

The 2007 American quarter horse meeting concludes the following weekend, with the $341,700 Sam Houston Futurity (G1) on Sept. 7 and the $114,400 Sam Houston Derby (G2) on Sept. 8.

Penn Derby offers $1 million
Philadelphia Park will present the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Monday. This is the first time in its 28th running that the purse has been increased to $1 million, and several of the nation's top 3-year-olds are nominated, including Cowtown Cat, Zanjero and Cable Boy.

Setback for Rags to Riches
Rags to Riches, the 3-year-old filly and upset winner of the Belmont Stakes, is undergoing further testing after running a fever on Monday. The Daily Racing Form reported that trainer Todd Pletcher canceled her workout earlier this week when she had a temperature of 102 degrees.

This is the second time this summer the filly has faced health issues. She was pulled up from a routine morning workout on July 22 and sent to the New Bolton Center for a thorough evaluation. Once cleared, she resumed training and was scheduled to make her next start in the Grade 1, $300,000 Ruffian Handicap on Sept. 8 at Belmont Park.

Presque Isle Downs opens
A new thoroughbred racetrack — Presque Isle Downs — will open Saturday in Erie, Penn. Its meet will kick off with the $100,000 Inaugural Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The six-furlong stakes attracted a field of 10, including Cantrel, Coy Coyote, Lottacosta and Tres Dream.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Del Mar Summer Horse Racing

When the gate opened for Wednesday's second race, it began with a six-furlong race for California-bred maiden fillies and mares. This is a group that, on conventional dirt, might have run in the 1:10 to 1:11 range. But when the clock finally stopped after the race, the board read 1:13.95. It's a new era all right, for horses and handicappers.

The fractions for the race were 22.68 seconds for the opening quarter, 47.09 for a half-mile, and 1:00.29 for five furlongs. It took 26.86 seconds to complete the final quarter-mile. Special Smoke ($6.60), who had raced once previously, was favored. She was ridden by Jon Court and is trained by Ray Bell.

Del Mar's opener is one of the highlights of the Southern California racing calendar, and is one of the premier social events for those who live in and around San Diego. Befitting the day's importance, a slew of popular local athletes were scheduled to be in attendance, including Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, last year's most valuable player in the National Football League.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Triple Crown - Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes had three straight Triple Crown bids starting in 2002. Each of those races attracted more than 100,000 fans, including the Belmont Park record of 120,139 pulling for Smarty Jones in 2004. Last year’s Belmont Stakes race, with no Triple Crown on the line, drew only 61,168.

Curlin won the Preakness Stakes by beating the Kentucky Derby winner. To win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, Curlin will have to beat the Kentucky Oaks winner, and five other challengers. Derby winner Street Sense won't be around for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. Will this affect the crowd numbers this year?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Dettori for the Derby?

Britain's bookmakers are in a £40million sweat as Frankie Dettori goes in search of his first Vodafone Derby winner on red-hot favourite Authorized at Epsom on Saturday.

The ever-popular Italian has won every other Classic on the calendar more than twice, but 14 previous rides in the biggest one of them all have been to no avail.

The legendary Sir Gordon Richards had to wait until his 28th ride in the race before he finally broke his Derby duck at the age of 49.

Dettori has said on many occasions he will have his feet up as he approaches his 50th birthday and this is seen by many as the best chance he will ever have.

But with the 36-year-old having such a huge following - due in no small part to him riding all seven winners on an unforgettable day at Ascot in 1996 - the bookmakers are bracing themselves for an almighty gamble.

"Frankie fever has got us in a right sweat. It's a one-horse race as far as the punters are concerned. All the money is for Frankie's horse Authorized," said Damian Walker of totesport.

"The weight of money we've seen for Authorized will ensure he starts one of the shortest-priced Derby favourites for years.

"But the last three odds-on favourites in the Derby have all been beaten and you have to go back 1981 when 10-11 favourite Shergar won, so we are not without hope.

"It's now or never for Frankie. He's never really had the perfect Derby ride, but this time he's on the best horse, the ground will be perfect and Authorized's trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam knows what it takes as he won the race in 1992 with Dr Devious.

"If Frankie doesn't do it this year then he knows he probably never will."

Dettori had a slight scare ahead of the race after he was unshipped at Goodwood last week and injured his knee.

However, he has been having intensive physiotherapy all week, and despite giving up his rides on Wednesday, he is confident he will do himself justice.

"It's improving every day. I've had a good physio team working on me morning and night and it's holding up quite well," said Dettori.

"But three days ago I had my son in my arms going up the stairs when I tripped and because I didn't want to let him go I pulled my knee a little bit. I'm OK now.

"I can't wait for the race now. He goes on soft, we didn't want very heavy ground. Good to soft is good enough. Now it's a matter of going there and doing it," Dettori told BBC Sport.

Heading the opposition to Authorized is a team of eight from Aidan O'Brien's powerful Ballydoyle stable in Ireland.

Due to the size of his squad, O'Brien has called upon the services of a few relatively unknown jockeys, one being Wayne Lordan, who partners Chester Vase winner Soldier Of Fortune.

"He was beaten by Passage Of Time in France but he has been stepping up since then. I'm sure he'll run a good race," said Lordan.

"I haven't sat on the horse before but I've watched him plenty of times. He looks straightforward.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Will Street Sense Win Preakness

Larry Jones, trademark Stetson in place, led the best horse he has trained off a van and into the stakes barn at Pimlico Race Course yesterday, took two laps around the shedrow and introduced the Kentucky Derby runner-up to the stall in which he will await the chance to turn the tables on Street Sense in Saturday's 132nd Preakness.

"Easy haulin'," the one-time Kentucky farmer said after the 90-minute ride from Delaware Park, where his stable is based. Ten days after a grueling 10 furlongs at Churchill Downs, there was spring to Hard Spun's step as he surveyed the unfamiliar terrain. "Don't even need a bath," Jones said.

The 50-year-old Jones, who came into racing as owner of a horse he bought out of a $2,000 claiming race in 1980 and eventually gave up commercial farming to launch a training career, was largely unknown outside Kentucky before Hard Spun. Until moving to Delaware last year, he raced primarily in Kentucky and Arkansas, where he gained a reputation for finding inexpensive yearlings at auction and developing them into productive racehorses and for his unconventional approach to training. Hard Spun is an example.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Preakness Stakes

A much smaller field awaits Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense than the one he faced at Churchill Downs, as eight colts have been confirmed as starters for Saturday's Preakness Stakes.

Along with Street Sense, Derby runners also slated to take a shot at the second jewel of racing's Triple Crown are runner-up Hard Spun and third-place finisher Curlin. The five newcomers are C P West, Flying First Class, King of the Roxy, Mint Slewlep and Xchanger.