Archive for September, 2009

NARA grads to ride in Turfway exhibition

Chris McCarron’s North American Racing Academy has already produced its share of young, promising riders. On Friday, six graduates of the school will showcase just how much they’ve learnedwhen they compete in a 5 1/2-furlong exhibition race at Turfway Park on Friday.

The race is scheduled to take place at 6:20 p.m., about 40 minutes prior to the start of the track’s evening card. Competing in the race will be Kristina McManigell of Georgetown, Bed Creed of Taylorsville, Matthew Straight of East Greenbush, N.Y., Katherine Peddicord of Cincinnati, Ryan Pacheco of Toronto, Canada, and Claire Scholly of Buckhead, Ga.

Friday will mark the second straight year Turfway has hosted the exhibition contest.

“We are so excited to be back at Turfway for the second annual North American Racing Academy graduation race,” McCarron said. “Six of our outstanding graduates will be competing on the real stage.

Founded in 2006, the NARA has graduated 16 students to date with eight having gone on to riding careers and two more set to begin soon.

Vinery sets fee for Pioneerof the Nile at $20,000

Grade I winner Pioneerof the Nile, who was retired in July due to a soft tissue injury to his left front leg, will stand for an advertised fee of $20,000 when he enters stud in 2010 at Dr. Tom Simon’s Vinery Kentucky as part of a syndicate.

The son of Empire Maker captured the Grade I CashCall Futurity as a juvenile and went on to win the Grade I Santa Anita Derby in the run up to the Kentucky Derby. Owned and bred by Zayat Stables, Pioneerof the Nile finished second in the Kentucky Derby and 11th in the Preakness in what was his final career start.

“He’s very attractive, has an appealing pedigree, and is clearly one of the best and most consistent horses in his crop,” said Tom Ludt, general manager of Vinery.

Churchill to install permanent lights

Following a successful night racing experiment during its Spring Meet, Churchill Downs Inc. announced today it will install permanent lights at its flagship track in Louisville.

Churchill Downs held its first-ever night racing events on June 19, June 26 and July 2, 2009. The average attendance each of the three nights was 29,705 with 33,481 in attendance the final evening, bringing the total attendance for the three nights of racing to 89,115.

“We found our racing fans loved the experience and Churchill Downs is trying new ideas to bring different types of fans to our iconic track, home of the Kentucky Derby,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs. “The Company plans to invest in racing’s future despite the troubled economy and reduced handle throughout the industry.”

Churchill Downs will be soliciting bids from a range of lighting contractors and anticipates installation to be complete in time for the 2010 Spring Meet. Flanery indicated Churchill Downs will poll fans and horsemen to assist in determining the optimum mix of day and night racing.

Champion Kona Gold euthanized

Kona Gold, the champion sprinter of 2000 and popular resident of the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions, was euthanized Friday after fracturing his leg in his paddock. The gelded son of Java Gold was 15.

The bright bay gelding was discovered standing awkwardly in his paddock this morning and was taken to Hagyard Equine Medical Center Friday morning where it was determined he suffered a spiral fracture in his left front leg.

“I can tell you I was particularly fond of Kona Gold and I considered us pals,” said John Nicholson, executive director of Kentucky Horse Park. “The fact is we love what we do here but things like this are the tough part. He will be missed.”

Trained and co-owned by Bruce Headley, Kona Gold was a model of longevity and perseverance winning the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in track record time at Churchill Downs in what was his third consecutive start in the race. The bay gelding had finished third and second in the Sprint in 1998 and 1999, respectively, and made two more starts in the event – running seventh in 2001 and fourth in 2002.

Kona Gold also captured the Grade I San Carlos Handicap in 2001 and was a two-time winner of both the Grade II Pontrero Grande Breeders’ Cup Handicap (2000-01) and the Grade II Bing Crosby Breeders’ Cup Handicap (2000-01).

Following a career that saw him rack up 14 wins in 30 career starts with earnings of $2,293,384, Kona Gold was retired at age 9. After a stint as a stable pony, Kona Gold joined the Hall of Champions roster in November 2007 where his easy-going temperament made his a favorite with fans and workers alike.

Kona Gold was buried behind the Hall of Champions.

Grade I winner and sire Cryptoclearance dead at age 25

Grade I winner and sire Cryptoclearance died at Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic September 24 from a heart attack stemming from complications following colic surgery. The son of Fappiano was 25 and had been actively breeding through 2009 at Margaux Farm.

Owned by Phil Teinowitz and trained by Scotty Schulhofer, Cryptoclearance was one of the leading 3-year-olds in 1987, winning the Grade I Florida Derby and Pegasus Handicap in addition to competing in all three Triple Crown events. The dark bay horse ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby behind eventual champion Alysheba that season and returned to post a third-place effort in the Preakness Stakes and a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

Cryptoclearance continued to be a force as an older horse, winning the Grade I Donn Handicap and Widener Handicap as a 5-year-old in 1989. Known for his tremendous closing kick, Cryptoclearance amassed $3,376,327 in earnings during his racing career, which saw him win 12 races and hit the board in 29 of 44 starts.

“On behalf of Dr Ira Mersack, Dr Joseph and Lynn Fowler, myself, and all of the staff at Margaux, we want to send our condolences to Phil Teinowitz and to all of the fans who have appreciated and supported Cryptoclearance during his lifetime,” said Steve Johnson, managing partner of Margaux Farm in a statement. “He ended his racing and breeding career with the respect and admiration of all horsemen.”

Cryptoclearance carried over his prowess into the shed, siring three champions and 42 stakes winners including 14 graded stakes winners. Notable offspring by the stallion include 1998 Belmont Stakes winner and champion Victory Gallop, 2002 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Volponi, 2001 Blue Grass Stakes winner Millennium Wind, Grade I Spinaway winner Strategic Maneuver and Grade I Futurity winner Traitor.

“He was a ‘breed-shaping’ horse, and his influence will be passed down over the years through not only his sons, but very significantly, through his daughters,” Johnson said. “His contribution to the breed is that of soundness, stamina and above all else heart – traits that he and his offspring have displayed in the races that define class in our breed.

“All of his handlers over the years recall how smart and easy he was to work with, but when his mare came into the breeding shed, they also knew they had to be on their game because it was an Olympic event when it was time for him to breed. That’s how he lived his life.”

Cryptoclearance has progeny earnings of more than $50.9 million from 17 crops of racing age to date. He will be buried at Margaux Farm.
“Scotty Schulhofer and Mr. Teinowitz found Cryptoclearance in the 1985 Saratoga yearling sale and he remained wholly owned by Mr. Teinowitz throughout his racing and breeding career,” Johnson said. “Phil had a very special relationship with “Crypto” during the 24 years he owned him, and he followed the success of all of “Crypto’s” offspring as if they were his.”

Marzelli to retire from The Jockey Club

Alan Marzelli, the president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, will retire from that position at the end of the year, it was announced today by Ogden Mills Phipps, chairman of The Jockey Club.

Marzelli will be succeeded by James L. Gagliano, who has served as executive vice president and chief administrative officer of The Jockey Club for the past four years.

“In various capacities and over many years, Alan has done a first-rate job for The Jockey Club with a wide range of initiatives, all of which have benefited this industry, and we’re immensely grateful for his many contributions,” Phipps said. “We also feel extremely fortunate to have, in Jim Gagliano, an experienced and talented individual to lead our management team and staff in the years ahead.”

Marzelli joined The Jockey Club in November 1983 as controller and assistant treasurer after spending eight years with the international accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche. He served as chief financial officer of The Jockey Club from 1986 until January 1, 2003, when he was appointed president and chief operating officer.

In addition to his duties at The Jockey Club, Marzelli was a driving force behind the formation of Equibase Company and served the partnership in several key capacities through the years. He was the treasurer when Equibase was formed in 1990 and was appointed president of Equibase in April 1996. He was named chairman approximately 18 months later.

In that role, he negotiated the perpetual license agreement between Equibase and Daily Racing Form and subsequently guided Equibase’s ascent as the official supplier of racing information for the North American Thoroughbred industry.

“Jim was hired in 2005 with the understanding that he would one day succeed me and he is ready to step into that role,” Marzelli said. “While I look forward to having more time to devote to my family and personal interests, in the short term and in order to ensure a seamless transition, I will continue to serve as chairman of Equibase and represent The Jockey Club on the executive council of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.”

Gagliano was named executive vice president and chief administrative officer of The Jockey Club in June 2005. In this role, he has overseen all administrative activities for The Jockey Club and its subsidiary companies and worked directly with each business unit to develop and implement company-specific business plans. He has also represented The Jockey Club in numerous industry initiatives.

Classic winner Summer Squall euthanized at age 22

Summer Squall, winner of the 1990 Preakness Stakes, was euthanized today at Lane’s End Farm due to infirmities of old age. The son of Storm Bird was 22.

Out of Broodmare of the Year Weekend Surprise, Summer Squall was a Lane’s End homebred and stood his entire career at the Versailles farm before being pensioned in 2004 due to fertility issues.

Summer Squall was one of the standouts of his generation on the racetrack, winning the 13 of 20 career starts – including his triumph over Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled in the Preakness – for trainer Neil Howard with career earnings of $1,844,282. The bay horse captured the Grade I Hopeful Stakes as a 2-year-old and won the Grade II Jim Beam and Blue Grass Stakes during his sophomore campaign prior to finishing second in the 1990 Kentucky Derby.

A half brother to 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, Summer Squall went on to sire 1999 Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic as well as 1996 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Storm Song and Grade I winners Summerly and Summer Colony.

“He was an important part of one of Lane’s End’s great families,” said Will Farish, owner of Lane’s End.

Summer Squall has sired 37 stakes winners including 19 graded stakes winners from 12 crops of racing age. To date, he has progeny earnings of $34,226,230.

Breeders’ Cup announces tentative race schedule

Breeders’ Cup Ltd. announced its tentative lineup today for this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Nov. 6-7 at Santa Anita Park with six Cup races taking place on Friday’s card and eight on Saturday.

The only major change to the lineup from last season is the Breeders’ Cup Marathon moves to Friday, which was previously dubbed ‘Ladies Day’ in 2008. The official race order will be announced Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Breeders’ Cup also announced that an all Breeders’ Cup Pick 6 wager will be offered on both days of the World Championships this year.

Here is the race order as they have it so far (all times Pacific):

Friday, November 6


Post Time        Race                                                                                                     Distance

11:15 a.m.         $75,000 Allowance

11:49 a.m.         $75,000 Allowance

12:35 p.m.        $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon                                                        1 3/4 miles                    

  1:08 p.m.        $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf                                      1 mile (Turf)

  1:45 p.m.        $1 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint  (gr. I)       7 furlongs

   2:23 p.m.       $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies    (gr. I)              1 1/16 miles     

   3:02 p.m.       $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. I)    1 ¼ miles (Turf)

   3:45 p.m.       $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic         (gr. I)                            1 1/8 miles

   4:25 p.m.       $200,000 Las Palmas Handicap  (gr. II)                                                   1 mile (Turf)                  



Saturday, November 7


10:05 a.m.         $125,000 Damascus Stakes                                                                   7 furlongs        

10:45 a.m.        $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. II)                                      1 mile (Turf)

11:23 a.m.        $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint                                                    6 ½ furlongs (Turf)

12:10 p.m.        $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I)                                              1 mile 

12:49 p.m.        $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I)                           1 1/16 miles

1:28 p.m.          $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I)                                             1 mile (turf)

2:12 p.m.          $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I)                               6 furlongs

2:57 p.m.          $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I)                           1 ½ miles (Turf)

3:45 p.m.          $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I)                                                1 ¼ miles

4:25 p.m.          $125,000 Oak Tree Derby (gr. II)                                                 1 1/8 miles (Turf)


Farish speaks out in Op-ed piece

The following was submitted by Bill Farish of Lane’s End to various media publications today:


For almost two decades, Kentuckians have been debating the merits of expanded gaming.  As our signature racing and breeding industries have become increasingly threatened by our neighboring states, who use revenue from gaming to substantially increase race purses and breeders incentive funds, Kentucky residents have responded with a near unanimous belief that we must do everything possible to protect Kentucky’s horse industry, and the 100,000 jobs that go with it.


A recent statewide poll indicated that nearly 70 percent of Kentuckians support putting video lottery terminals (VLTs) at Kentucky racetracks.  That such a large majority of Kentucky residents would agree on what had been a controversial issue is striking, and speaks to our collective belief that Kentucky’s racing and breeding industries should be put on a level competitive playing field.


Sadly, those who oppose VLTs at racetracks, and who have clearly lost in the court of public opinion, have decided to engage in cynical rhetoric meant to divide our state instead of uniting it.


Senate President David Williams has made it clear that he intends to make protecting our signature industry a partisan issue.  After making a promise to every Kentuckian that the issue would receive a fair hearing in the Senate, Sen. Williams sent it to a committee where the chairman declared it dead before even hearing testimony.  Imagine going on trial and the judge declares you guilty before your lawyer even makes an opening statement.  Would you consider that a fair hearing? 


Now, in an effort to inject partisan politics into the discussion, Sen.Williams has attacked Gov. Beshear and other Democrats for “poisoning the well” in Frankfort. Sen. Williams also seems to suggest that Republicans should oppose VLTs at racetracks as a tenet of our political philosophy.  As a life long Republican, and a member of a Kentucky family that has worked on behalf of the Republican Party and Republican administrations, I can say without reservation that protecting our signature industry is not a partisan issue.  In fact, the Republican Party should be standing up for Kentucky businesses, Kentucky jobs, and a free market environment that would allow Kentuckians to fairly compete with their out of state competitors. Due to Sen. Williams’ utter mismanagement, this issue now pits Republicans against Republicans, not Republicans against Democrats, as he would have us believe.


Sen. Williams and several members of his caucus are currently advocating that the government should stand in the way of our signature industry, and prevent it from being able to compete.  Government interference with Kentucky businesses and job creation does not sound like a Republican philosophy I am familiar with.  But regardless, saving 100,000 jobs and the industry that identifies our state all over the world does not rest in the domain of any political party.  It should be the stated goal of all Kentuckians—regardless of political registration.


The other strategy currently being employed is similarly distressing.  Opponents have decided that the best way to defeat VLTs at racetracks is to pit horse owners and breeders against racetracks.  By suggesting that racetracks are greedy corporations that don’t care about our horse industry, our opponents lay bare their belief that our industry must be divided in order to be defeated.  In ramping up his rhetoric, Sen. Williams has made it clear that he intends to demonize Kentucky racetracks at every turn.


The horse industry is as united as it has never been in the past.  Opponents of VLTs have always relied on our discord to defeat the efforts to compete on a level playing field.  Now that the industry has formed a united front, opponents seek to break us apart again.  They will be unsuccessful in their efforts to do so. Kentucky breeders recognize that we must have a healthy horse economy in this state in order to run successful breeding operations.  A healthy horse economy includes buyers willing to invest in our product and take their investment to the racetracks in the hopes of recouping their investment.  Owners recognize that they need healthy racetracks offering good purses, so that they can attempt to win back some of their initial investment.  Racetrack operators understand that they need breeders to produce and owners to race their horses at their tracks.


We are all in this together, and the attempt to break us into factions is disheartening.  A fractured industry cannot survive, and a failed horse industry would be catastrophic for Kentucky’s economy.  Sadly, Sen. Williams seems less concerned about helping our industry, and more concerned about maintaining control over his Senate fiefdom.   


However, as a new legislative session approaches, we will stand together, Republicans and Democrats, owners, trainers, breeders, racetracks, and the 100,000 Kentuckians who rely on the horse industry to make a living.  We will continue to hold our elected officials accountable, and we will not stop working until our state government gets out of the way and allows us to have the tools necessary to compete.


Bill Farish

General Manager, Lane’s End Farm

Castleton Lyons donates earnings to PDJF

His victory in the Grade I Arlington Million gave Gio Ponti the unabashed claim as the best turf horse in America.

More importantly, it also helped give a key faction of the racing community a little more peace of mind.

On Friday, Castleton Lyons – owner of Gio Ponti – presented the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund with a check for $29,400 after pledging to donate five percent of the horse’s earnings from his win in the Arlington Million in August.

The idea for the donation came about the morning of the Million after Castleton Lyons president Shane Ryan was struck by a newspaper article that day detailing the plight of jockey Rene Douglas, who suffered catastrophic injuries in a spill at Arlington on May 23 and is now paralyzed from the waist down.

Ryan proceeded to seek out track chairman Richard Duchossois and informed him that should Gio Ponti triumph that day, he wanted those in need to benefit as well.

“He was really touched by the article that day,” said Stuart Fitzgibbon, commercial manager for Castleton Lyons. “He’s conscious of the human side of the business and …. there are a lot of people who need help in this business and fortunately the horse won and we’re delighted to hand over the check.

“There have been a lot of accidents this year, unfortunately, with a lot of guys getting badly hurt. We just hope this helps because it’s a very, very worthy fund.”

In addition to Douglas’s tragic accident, apprentice rider Michael Straight – a graduate of Chris McCarron’s North American Racing Academy – has yet to regain feeling from the waist down after being involved in a fall at Arlington Park in late August.

Such accidents may never truly be eliminated from the sport due to the inherent risks jockeys take on. However, veteran rider Jon Court hopes the Fund ensures those who lose their career don’t lose their lives and families as well.

“It’s the quality of life. I’ve seen these guys get cast aside and I knew it could happen to me any day,” said Court, who serves as vice president of the PDJF. “There are riders that lost everything. They lost their livelihood, some of them lost their families, I’ve had friends that lost their minds and some of them took their lives.

“This isn’t a jockey issue, it’s an industry issue and…we’re hoping it continues to gain more awareness in the public.”

The PDJF was formed in the spring of 2006 and is governed by an independent board comprised of stakeholders from a broad cross-section of the horse racing industry.

Court estimates about 40 percent of the nation’s track participate in donating to the Fund, but the organization is constantly trying to build up its reserve in order to maintain its long-term support of riders in need.

“(The Fund) means everything because without it, I wouldn’t be able to live,” said former jockey Gary Birzer, who suffered paralysis due to an accident at Mountaineer in July 2004. “Their donation check, it helps me with nurse bills, and it helps me to hire people so I can have my kids and help pay bills and everything. Without that organization, I don’t know what I’d be doing right now. Probably pulling my hair out.”

For more information on the PDJF, visit

“We’ve come a long way in a short time but we still have a significant way to go,” Court said. “We want to say thank you and can’t express enough how grateful we are for the help we have gotten.”




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