Archive for June, 2010

Parkin: No significant difference in risk of fatality on different surfaces

During an update on the Equine Injury Database at the third Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit held at Keeneland on Monday, evidence was presented that showed no statistically significant difference in the risk of fatalities in racehorses across different surfaces.

During a presentation from University of Glasgow epidemiologist Tim Parkin, a one year report of information from the database from November 1, 2008 to October 31, 2009 on Thoroughbred flat racing from 73 tracks came up with an overall fatality rate of 2.04 per 1,000 starts. That rate of fatalities on dirt tracks came in at 2.14 while both turf and synthetic tracks had a fatality rate of 1.78.

Included in the data are horses that suffered a fatal injury during a race and immediately after a race, and those that succumbed to a race-related injury subsequent to race day.

One area where the study found a significant difference was when evaluating the data by gender. The study found that female racehorses are half as likely to make a start that results in fatal injury than in tact (non gelded) males.

The rate of fatalities for fillies and mares was 1.79 per 1,000 starts compared to 3.37 for in tact males. There was also no significant data suggesting females are more at risk for fatal injury when racing against males.

This preliminary analysis just scratches the surface,” said Parkin, who serves as a consultant on the Equine Injury Database. “As the number of starts recorded in the database continues to grow, more complex statistical analyses can focus upon multiple variables studied in concert to better understand the myriad of factors which may contribute to fatal and non-fatal injuries. In addition, differences that may not have achieved statistical significance after one year of data collection may do so with additional observations recorded in the database.”

Juvenile horses were also found to be 30 percent less likely to suffer a fatal injury than 3-year-old or older horses.

“The work presented today represents a starting point, not a destination,” said Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and a consultant on the Equine Injury Database. “This begins to answer the question of what is happening. The ‘how’ and ‘why’ remain to be determined.”

The Equine Database was launched in July 2008 and currently has 86 tracks representing 86 percent of the flat racing days in North America participating.

Super Saver confirmed for Haskell

Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver is slated to make his next start in Monmouth Park’s Grade I Haskell Invitational, it was confirmed today by trainer Todd Pletcher after the colt worked five furlongs in 1:01.82 at Belmont Park.

“We’re pointed for the Haskell,” Pletcher said Sunday. “He’s training great and we’re on schedule to be at Monmouth on Aug. 1.”

No stranger to the Haskell, Pletcher and Super Saver’s owners WinStar Farm teamed to take back-to-back runnings of the 1 1/8-miles race in 2006 with Bluegrass Cat and 2007 with Any Given Saturday.

Super Saver, under jockey Calvin Borel, rallied to a 2 ½ length win in the Kentucky Derby on May 1, giving Pletcher his first victory in the Run for the Roses. In his last start, the Preakness Stakes, Super Saver stalked the early pace, but faded in the lane to finish eighth. Since the Preakness, he sports a trio of works at Belmont.

The  Haskell Invitational will air live on ABC from 5 to 6 p.m.

Marquetry headed to Old Friends

Former Grade I winner Marquetry, who was pensioned from stud duty this past May, has been relocated to Michael Blowen’s Old Friends facility in Georgetown, KY.

Bred and campaigned by Juddmonte Farms, Marquetry began his career at Vinery in Midway before moving to Stonewall Stallions in Versailles and later to Stonewall’s Ocala, Florida operation. The 23-year-old son of Conquistador Cielo was a Grade I winner on both turf and dirt during his time on the track and sired Breeders’ Cup winners and champions Squirtle Squirt and Artax.

“He’s a great addition to our roster of superstars,” Blowen said.

Out of the Vice Regent mare Regent’s Walk, Marquetry won ten of 36 career starts and earned $3,857,886. He was a Grade I winner on both dirt and turf, registering victories in the 1991 Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap, 1992 Eddie Read Handicap, and 1993 Meadowlands Cup Handicap.

Old Friends offers tours daily at 10 am, 1 pm, 3 pm. New ‘Twilight Tours’ are being offered at 7 pm for a limited time.

Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series expands

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge, a series of automatic qualifying races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, will increase expansion this year with a record 65 races taking place in seven countries it  was announced today. (Click on link for complete schedule

The expanded Challenge series, with its “Win and You’re In” provision, will include 14 overseas races from premier racetracks in England, Ireland, France, Australia and Hong Kong. The 2010 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races will begin in the U.S. on June 26 at Arlington Park with the Arlington Sprint Handicap, an automatic qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. The Arlington Sprint will be followed on July 3 by two qualifying races from Monmouth Park: the Grade I United Nations on turf, and the Grade III Salvator Mile.

This year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held November 5-6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and will be televised live on ABC and ESPN.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge, which began in 2007 with 25 races at six U.S. racetracks and the Sha Tin in Hong Kong, was increased to 62 races last year. In 2010, there will be 10 premier overseas tracks participating in the series:  Sha Tin in Hong Kong; Longchamp and Deauville in France, The Curragh, Leopardstown and Dundalk in Ireland, Ascot, and Newmarket in England and Randwick and Moonee Valley in Australia.

“In just four years, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge has grown into a viable series that generates increased awareness for our Championships on a weekly basis throughout the summer and fall while promoting the best of Thoroughbred racing from around the globe.  We are especially excited about the strong demand to host this year’s Challenge races from so many of the top racing associations in the world,” said Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Greg Avioli.

There will be four qualifying races this year for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic: the first in Saratoga on Aug. 8 with the $750,000, Grade I Whitney Handicap , followed by the $1 million, Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 28; the Grade III Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park on Sept. 4 and the $500,000 Grade I Goodwood Stakes at the Oak Tree Racing Association Meeting at Santa Anita on Oct. 9.

Among the other U.S. and Canadian Grade I races in the Challenge series this year are: are the Ruffian Handicap (Ladies’ Classic) at Saratoga on Aug 1; Arlington Million (Turf) and the Beverly D (Filly & Mare Turf) on Aug. 21; the Pat O’Brien Handicap (Sprint) at Del Mar on Aug. 28; the Champagne (Juvenile) and Frizette Stakes (Juvenile Fillies) from Belmont Park on Oct. 9;  Shadwell Turf Mile (Mile) on Oct. 9 and the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes on Oct. 10, both from Keeneland, and the Canadian International (IC) (Turf  )and E.P. Taylor Stakes (Filly & Mare Turf) on Oct. 16 from Woodbine in Toronto.

The international Breeders’ Cup Challenge began in April with the Darley T.J. Smith Stakes (G1) at Randwick in Australia, which was won by Melito (AUS), who qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Later that month, Able One (NZ) was victorious in the Champions Mile (G1) at Sha Tin in Hong Kong to earn an automatic spot in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

There are three new European Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on this year’s schedule:  the Group I Prix Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard Jacques le Marois  on Aug. 15 at Deauville will begin the qualifying season on the Continent, the Group II Qatar Prix Niel at Longchamp in Paris on Sept. 12 for a position in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Group I Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Juvenile Turf) at The Curragh in Ireland on Sept. 11.

Leparoux ready for return

Jockey Julien Leparoux returned to the saddle Wednesday for the first time since being injured in a spill in mid May, galloping horses in the morning in preparation for his scheduled return to regular riding at Churchill Downs next Thursday, July 1.
Leparoux, who has won or shared six riding title at Churchill Downs, was injured May 14 during the Grade III Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico when he was unseated after his mount Diva Delite clipped heels. Although Leparoux rode the next two days, winning four races during that time, it was discovered he had suffered a compression fracture in his vertebrae during an MRI on May 18
“I didn’t think I was that badly hurt,” Leparoux said. “But that is all behind me now, in the past.”
During his five weeks off, Leparoux spent a week and a half in his native France and another week in the Bahamas. Leparoux’s agent, Steve Bass, said the 26-year-old jockey would ride the final four days of the Churchill meet  before heading up to Saratoga about a week before that meet opens on July 23.

Farish steps down as Jockey Club vice chairman

Lane’s End Farm owner William S. Farish, who has served as vice chairman of The Jockey Club since 1983, is stepping down from that position and will be succeeded in that role by Stuart S. Janney III, effective immediately. Farish will continue to serve his term on the Board of Stewards, which expires in 2013.

The change was announced by Ogden Mills Phipps, chairman of The Jockey Club, following a Board of Stewards meeting Monday.

Farish became a member of The Jockey Club in 1970 and was serving his second term on The Jockey Club’s Board of Stewards when he became vice chairman in 1983.

Janney became a member of The Jockey Club in 1992 and was serving his third term on the Board of Stewards when he was named vice chairman. He has also served as chairman of The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee, which he will continue to lead.

Summer Bird settling into new role

Meant to post this the other day but it kind of got shuffled back in the wake of the Churchill Downs Breeders’ Cup announcement. Late Thursday morning, reigning 3-year-old champion male Summer Bird arrived at Ben Walden Jr.’s Pauls Mill operation near Versailles where he will begin the second phase of his career as the farm’s newest stallion.

Amanda Duckworth photo

Amanda Duckworth photo

Sadly, Summer Bird had to be retired earlier this month due to a hairline fracture to his right front. The fact the son of Birdstone didn’t get the chance to start as a 4-year-old is truly one of the great disappointments this year as it appeared the late-blooming colt was just starting to have the light bulb come on in the second half of 2009 as evident by his victories in the Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup.

“I think he would been even more talented as a older horse,” said Dr. Devi Jayaraman, who campaigned Summer Bird along with her husband Dr. K.K. Jayaraman and retains a 30 percent interest in him as a stallion. “He was getting faster and he was just finding out what it was all about. He won the Belmont in just his fifth try. We wanted to see him race but Ben (Walden) really likes the horse and he’s excited about him.”

Summer Bird is a classic example of why we shouldn’t be so quick to judge a 3-year-old class before its time. Prior to the Belmont, the handsome chestnut had only a maiden win to his credit with his best finish in a stakes race being his third-place run in last year’s Grade II Arkansas Derby.

Not only is Walden encouraged by the meteoric ability Summer Bird demonstrated on the track, but – in a commercial market that still favors precocity – the Eclipse Award-winning colt boasts a pedigree that should give breeders another strong source of stamina for which to inject into the bloodlines.

Amanda Duckworth photo

Amanda Duckworth photo

“He was a horse that anyone was going to want,” Walden said. “Honestly I didn’t give us a great chance to get him when we first started because we knew it was competitive. But what really made it happen is Dr. Jayaraman used to breed with me when I was at Vinery. He appreciated they way we interacted. So when I called him he was so happy to hear from me and he and said, ‘What do you want to do?’ It just worked out.

“As far as the horse himself, he’s just a great American dirt horse and that’s what we need more of. But as the business is contracting, I think you’re left with a lot of old school temperaments and people who appreciate the history of the business. I think those people are going to love this horse. As a commercial breeder, I’m really excited about him. To me, it was a no-brainer.”

Judging by his laid-back demeanor, it shouldn’t take Summer Bird long to fit into Walden’s Pauls Mill roster. The picturesque farm is tucked away on a scenic one way road and the fan friendly staff encouraged all who were interested to tour the bucolic facilities and get better acquainted with their other stallions, Bellamy Road, U S Ranger and Artie Schiller.

Amanda Duckworth photo

Amanda Duckworth photo

Though Walden admits it can be hard to rein one self in when you have a good thing on your hands, his burgeoning Pauls Mill roster is compact by design.

“We do have four stalls and I have a history of kind of outgrowing myself,” Walden said. “But I learned I really wanted a quality of life and a quality of not having too much on my plate. For me to be able to fill our last stall with Summer Bird is really a dream come true.”

Churchill confirmed for 2011 Breeders’ Cup

For the first time in its history the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held at Churchill Downs, Inc in consecutive years as officials from Breeders’ Cup Ltd., Churchill Downs and Commonwealth of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear made the announcement at a news conference this morning at the racetrack.

The 2011 Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held on Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5. 2011. The Breeders’ Cup will be televised on ABC/ESPN and to more than 130 countries around the world.

The 28th Breeders’ Cup will mark a record eighth time that the Championships will be held at Churchill Downs. This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be conducted on Nov. 5, 6. Previous editions of the Breeders’ Cup were held at Churchill Downs in 1988, 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000 and in 2006. The previous six runnings have had an average attendance of 73,556, with an all-time single day Breeders’ Cup crowd of 80,452 at the 1998 event. The 2006 event, which was attended by 76,132 fans, also produced all-time Breeders’ Cup records for single day on-track handle, $18,259,971, and the total worldwide single day wagering mark of $140,332,198.

“I am thrilled that Kentucky’s iconic Churchill Downs, home of the legendary Kentucky Derby, has been selected to host the 2011 Breeders’ Cup World Championships,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “The 28th Breeders Cup will mark a record eight times that Churchill has hosted the Breeders’ Cup and will be the first time it has hosted this prestigious race for two consecutive years. Jane and I congratulate Churchill Downs on this accomplishment and we look forward to joining the thousands of spectators who will attend these events.”

Governor Beshear was joined by Breeders’ Cup Chairman William S. Farish Jr. and Breeders’ Cup President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Avioli, Churchill Downs Incorporated President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Evans, Bill Carstanjen, Chief Operating Officer of Churchill Downs, Inc., and Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery.

“The prospect of consecutive years at Churchill Downs combined with Kentucky’s strong business climate and legislative incentives are sure to make the event a tremendous success for the Breeders’ Cup, greater Louisville and the state,” said Breeders’ Cup Chairman William S. Farish, Jr. “Churchill Downs continues to be one of the world’s greatest racing facilities, and is extremely popular with our horsemen and fans. We are enjoying an excellent relationship with Bob Evans and the Churchill management team. On behalf of our Board and Trustees and the racing and breeding industry which benefit the Breeders’ Cup, we appreciate Churchill’s continued enthusiasm and support in extending our relationship for the 2011 World Championships.”

“The return of the Breeders’ Cup for a second consecutive year in 2011 is good news for Kentucky and Churchill Downs as it underscores the importance of the event and our track to life and the economic vitality in our state and region,” said Robert Evans, President and CEO of Churchill Downs, Inc. “Nearly a half-million fans from around the world have witnessed some of racing’s most dramatic moments during the record six previous visits by the Breeders’ Cup to our historic track. From its first stop in 1988, the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs has been one of our industry’s greatest celebrations and its return in 2011 provides another wonderful economic development opportunity for our city, state and region. We are pleased to welcome the two-day Breeders’ Cup championship in 2011 to complete its first back-to-back visits to Churchill Downs and our city.”

Over the past four years, the, Breeders’ Cup World Championships has expanded from eight to 14, and total purses increasing from $14 million to $26 million. This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be the first at Churchill under the two-day format. It will also be the first Breeders’ Cup in which both days of the Championships will finish under the lights.

Breeders’ Cup to Churchill Downs for 2011

Breeders’ Cup Limited sent out a release on Thursday saying it would be making an announcement at Churchill Downs Friday morning where the organization is expected to award the 2011 Breeders’ Cup World Championships to the historic Louisville track for a second consecutive year.

Churchill Downs is already slated to host this year’s edition of the two-day Breeders’ Cup card on November 5 and 6 for a record seventh time. In getting the 2011 Breeders’ Cup, Churchill would join the Oak Tree Association at Santa Anita Park as the only sites to host the event in back-to-back years. Santa Anita hosted the Breeders’ Cup in 2008 and 2009.

Churchill Downs’ chances of getting the 2011 Breeders’ Cup were bolstered in recent weeks due to ongoing problems plaguing two other likely host tracks. Santa Anita Park recently terminated its lease with Oak Tree Association, meaning Oak Tree could take its race dates to either Del Mar or Hollywood Park instead. The New York Racing Association – which had been making a strong push to get the 2011 event at Belmont Park – had to get a $25 million bailout from the state in order to remain operational this season.

Earlier this year, a state law was passed granting the Breeders’ Cup a tax break worth up to $1 million should the Breeders’ Cup be held in Kentucky in either of the upcoming two seasons.

Churchill Downs first hosted the Breeders’ Cup in 1988 and most recently in 2006.

Churchill has also hosted the Breeders’ Cup in 1991, 1994, 1998, and 2000.

Officials scheduled to attend the press conference are Breeders’ Cup chairman William Farish Jr. and president and chief executive officer Greg Avioli; Churchill Downs Inc. president and CEO Robert Evans; Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery, and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.

Rachel Alexandra confirmed for Fleur de Lis

Majority owner Jess Jackson ended weeks of speculation over where reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra would make her next start when it was announced on Wednesday the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro would be entered in Saturday’s Grade II Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs.

Rachel Alexandra continues to turn in strong works; therefore the reigning Horse of the Year will start in the Fleur de Lis  at Churchill Downs. As long as she continues to progress, we intend to race her with the expectation that she will obtain her fitness level of last year,” Jackson said in a statement. “Our ultimate goal and hope is to enter the Breeders’ Cup in November (at Churchill Downs).

Jackson had previously stated he was considering either the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis, the Grade I Stephen Foster, the Grade I Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park or the Grade III Obeah at Delaware Park as Rachel Alexandra’s next target. All of the above races take place this Saturday.

After winning all eight her starts last season – including the Preakness Stakes, Haskell Invitational, and Woodward Stakes against males – Rachel Alexandra has come up short in her two tries to find the winner’s circle this year. The 4-year-old bay filly finished second to Zardana in the New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds on March 13 and was beaten a nose by Unrivaled Belle during a thrilling stretch run in the Grade II La Troienne Stakes on the undercard of Kentucky Oaks day at Churchill.

“I’ve been in racing long enough to know that you have off days and you use some to condition,” Jackson said after the La Troienne. “This (the La Troienne) is part of her coming back conditioning.”

Entries for the Fleur de Lis are being taken this afternoon but a small field of challengers are expected to face Rachel.

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