Archive for June, 2011

Animal Kingdom diagnosed with slab fracture, done for 2011

Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom will not race again this season after recent radiographs revealed the colt to have a slab fracture in his left hind leg.

The 3-year-old son of Leroidesanimaux was initially found to have a small fissure in that same hind leg two weeks ago in the aftermath of his sixth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes. Veterinarians scheduled a follow up round of radiographs and the second set of films revealed the fracture, Team Valor CEO Barry Irwin said on Wednesday.

Dr. Dean Richardson of the New Bolton Clinic in Pennsylvania will insert a screw  to compress the fracture Thursday morning after which Animal Kingdom will have 90 days of rehabilitation at trainer Graham Motion’s training base at Fair Hill. Longterm plans barring further injury call for Animal Kingdom to be pointed toward the 2012 Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse.

It is undecided whether Animal Kingdom would race before the Dubai World Cup.

“No decision will be made for a while but running Animal Kingdom in the World Cup without a prep is definitely something to consider,” Irwin said.

Louisiana Derby moves to April 1 for 2012

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has boosted the purses of 19 open-company races on its 2011-2012 stakes schedule released today. The 84-day Thoroughbred Racing Season – running Nov. 24, 2011 to April 1, 2012 – will feature 60 stakes cumulatively worth $7.54 million, including six Claiming Crown stakes worth $500,000 to be hosted in New Orleans for the first time Dec. 3.

The 99th renewal of the Grade II, $1 million Louisiana Derby will be held on April 1, 2012, the season’s final day. Fair Grounds’ signature race will not only be held on a Sunday for the first time since 2004 but its new positioning also puts it five weeks out from the Kentucky Derby. This year’s Louisiana Derby, won by Pants On Fire, was held on March 26 six weeks out from the first Saturday in May.

The 1 1/8-miles Louisiana Derby will take place the day between Saturday nigh’ts NCAA Men’s Basketball Semifinals and Monday night’s finals at the Louisiana Superdome.

Louisiana Derby week will also feature another major day of racing on March 31 with four stakes for fillies and mares, anchored by the Grade II, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks.

In addition to changes to Louisiana Derby weekend, every open-company stakes will be worth at least $75,000 and four six-figure stakes also received bumps in purse money. Seven stakes conditions that have been run with “unacceptable field sizes” in recent years have been eliminated.

The races to receive the largest purse hikes from last season are the Grade III Lecomte Stakes, the first in a three-race series of two-turn graded stakes for 3-year-olds ($100,000 to $175,000); the Silverbulletday, the first of three major two-turn stakes for 3-year-old fillies ($100,000 to $125,000); the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes ($150,000 to $200,000); and the Louisiana Handicap for older horses ($60,000 to $100,000).

The adjustments to this stakes schedule have been made to reward the best horses in our strongest divisions,” said Racing Secretary Jason Boulet. “We’re out to attract the highest quality horses we can and the most straightforward way to do that is to offer them more money.”

The 15 open-company stakes that went from $60,000 last season to $75,000 this season are the Thanksgiving Handicap, the Woodchopper Stakes, the Pago Hop Stakes, the Blushing K.D. Handicap, the Tenacious Handicap, the Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap, the Marie G. Krantz Memorial Handicap, the Pan Zareta Stakes, the F.W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes, the Tiffany Lass Stakes, the Mardi Gras Handicap, the Colonel Power Stakes, the Allen Lacombe Memorial Handicap, the Black Gold Stakes and the Happy Ticket Stakes.

The discontinued stakes names are the Bienville Stakes, the Grindstone Stakes, the John E. Jackson Memorial Stakes, the Dr. A.B. Leggio Memorial Stakes, the Letellier Memorial Stakes, the Pelleteri Stakes and the Sugar Bowl Stakes.

Stakes named that have been assigned more appropriate conditions are the Black Gold Stakes (now for 3-year-olds at 7 ½ furlongs on turf), the Happy Ticket Stakes (older females at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf), the Allen Lacombe Memorial Handicap (3-year-old fillies at 7 ½ furlongs), the Mardi Gras Stakes (older females at 1 1/16 miles on turf), the Pan Zareta Stakes (older females at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf) and the Tiffany Lass Stakes (older females at 1 1/16 miles).

So You Think, Canford Cliffs now Breeders’ Cup nominated

Multiple Group I winners Canford Cliffs, So You Think, and Treasure Beach – three of the leading international performers this season – have been nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program through the special Open Enrollment program in preparation for year-end starts in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

Coolmore nominated all three runners for $25,000 each under the Open Enrollment program, which was instituted by Breeders’ Cup Ltd., during the first half of 2011 to increase the number of eligible horses participating in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, November 4-5 at Churchill Downs.  Treasure Beach, Canford Cliffs and So You Think were not nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program as foals.

The 3-year-old Treasure Beach won last Sunday’s Group I Irish Derby at the Curragh by three-quarters of a length over stablemate Seville. A bay son of Galileo, Treasure Beach came into the Irish Derby off a second place finish in the  Epsom Derby earlier this month.

The 4-year-old Canford Cliffs, who is owned by a partnership that includes Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, has won five consecutive races Group I races over the past two years, most recently defeating three-time defending Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Goldikova in the Queen Anne Stakesat Royal Ascot. Trained by Richard Hannon, Canford Cliffs also won the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newberry prior to Royal Ascot. In 2010, he won the Group I Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh.

A dominant winner of eight stakes races in Australia, the 6-year-old So You Think, trained by Aidan O’Brien, began a European campaign this year by winning the Group I Tattersalls Gold Cup. He then finished second by a neck in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The Open Enrollment period, which will end on Thursday, is available to any previously non-nominated horse sired by any stallion standing anywhere in the world that has been nominated to the Breeders’ Cup in 2011.

“This open enrollment period has given us the chance to nominate our runners to the Breeders’ Cup at a reduced price than the usual $100,000 per horse,” said O’Brien, head trainer for Coolmore. “Making it easier for European-based horses to run in the Breeders’ Cup also gives them future stallion prospects in the American market at the end of their racing careers.”

Churchill adds make-up races to closing week schedule

Eight of the nine races lost Thursday due to the F1 tornado that hit Churchill Downs’ barn area Wednesday night will be made up on closing week.
Instead of a make-up date, Churchill Downs will add three races to Thursday’s program, two races to the Friday and Saturday, July 2 cards, and one race to the Sunday, July 3 program. No additional races will be added to the closing day card on Monday, July 4.
Because two races were added to Friday night’s card, Churchill Downs has changed its first race post time to 5 p.m. EDT – one hour earlier than its typical “Downs After Dark” 6 p.m. start time. However, the final nighttime racing program of the Spring Meet will conclude as scheduled at 11:10 p.m.
Revised Closing Week Schedule at Churchill Downs (June 30-July 4)
Day     Races   Make-Up First Race      Last Race
Thursday, June 30       12      3       12:45 p.m.      6:23 p.m.
Friday, July 1  13      2       5 p.m.  11:10 p.m.
Saturday, July 2        13      2       12:45 p.m.      6:51 p.m.
Sunday, July 3  12      1       12:45 p.m.      6:23 p.m.
Monday, July 4  11      0       12:45 p.m.      5:55 p.m.

Grade I winner Dialed In to have surgery

Robert LaPenta’s Dialed In, winner of the Grade I Florida Derby this spring, will have surgery next week to remove a chip in his right knee and will be sidelined for an undetermined amount of time.

Dialed In went off as the Kentucky Derby favorite but finished eighth in the race. The son of Mineshaft returned in the Preakness Stakes two weeks later but could do no better than fourth.

“We noticed there was something different with the knee,” trainer Nick Zito said in a statement. “Dr. Migliacci took some pictures, X-rays, on the 25th of May which was after the Preakness and there was no problem but there is now. Dr. (Larry) Bramlage (of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital) will do the surgery next week and he will be back in training soon.”

Zito added that he was prepping Dialed In for a possible start in the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga in late August.

“Unfortunately, that will not happen,” Zito said of the Travers. “I am grateful he was the favorite in the Kentucky Derby and ran in the Preakness…but I am disappointed along with Bob that he did not get a fair chance in those races. Hopefully as a 4-year-old he will get back to where he belongs.”

Churchill officials confident in support from horsemen

One of many questions raised in the wake of a tornado that decimated the Churchill Downs backside Wednesday night was what impact it would have on entries for the remainder of the meet.

Approximately 75-100 horses were displaced as a result of the damage inflicted on the nine barns most severely impacted by the storm, including about 30 horses that shipped out to Keeneland. Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery said Thursday the track would pay for the vanning costs of any displaced horse that needs to come back to Churchill for a race while racing secretary Ben Huffman added that so far, Friday and Saturday’s card had not lost any prior entries due to horses having to be moved.

“So far every trainer that had barn damage and had horses in (Friday) night has reported their horses are fine and they’re running,” Huffman said. “That goes for Saturday as well. Our horsemen are resilient and they are supporting us 100 percent and we could not be more proud of our horsemen for stepping up during this adversity.”

Huffman said Thursday morning entries for Sunday’s card were “a little light” but not anything out of the norm. Although about 6 1/2 barns were deemed uninhabitable as of Thursday, Flanery felt the track was still able to handle entries who were looking to ship in for the final week of the meet.

“We certainly believe we’re in great shape to conduct the race meet,” Flanery said. “We’ll see how entries go but I know the horsemen understand we’re at the end of one of the best meets in the country and we expect a good positive response at this point.”

Despite having his barn be one of the hardest hit, trainer Jinks Fires said he still plans to stay and race at Churchill for the remainder of the meet, which wraps up on July 4. Fires had to move his horses out of Barn 40 and has his string spread out in about 12 different barns on the Churchill backside.

“I tell everyone I have friends in high and low places and all my friends jumped in to help,” said Fires, who conditioned this year’s Grade I Arkansas Derby winner and Kentucky Derby runner Archarcharch. “I’ve got two here, two there, we’re spread all over.”

Trainers react to Louisville tornado at Churchill Downs

Despite widespread damage that has left the Churchill Downs backstretch looking like “a war zone” according to trainer Dale Romans, the good news is all horses and people have been accounted for and are not hurt. Here are a couple of morning updates from some of the trainers whose barns were involved in the damage:

Neil Howard (barns 24 and 25)

“I got very lucky. The only horses I have to move are horses who were in the barn across from me but no horses got hurt and no people. The bulk of my horses in my main barn had no problem. They haven’t (given an estimate of how long it will take to get the barns fixed). It sounds like they’re still assessing everything. The worst of the barns that took the damage were the barns all around my barn.  I’m going to move a few of my horses to barns here at Churchill, got a couple out to Skylight (training center), I’ve got to move about 6 to 8. That’s better than some people have it. It’s just a scary thing when you see it. You see people having problems like this on TV but when it’s close to you, it’s different.”

Dale Romans (Barn 5)

“On my barn 5 the roof was torn off but the horses were all okay. All people and horses are accounted for and appear to be safe. We’re going to be a little inconvenienced having to either ship early or move the 20 in that barn, they’ve got to go somewhere. Right now they’re in the receiving barn but we’re going to ship them somewhere this afternoon. Just have to figure out where they’re going to go. Underneath the roofs there is another roof over the stall which is the hay loft and I think that protected the horses because even though the roof of the barns collapsed, the rubble landed in the hay lofts and didn’t really get into the stalls or on top of horses. Some of them were trapped, but they were safe in their stalls. We’re lucky.  It looks like a war zone but it could have been a lot worse.”

Ian Wilkes (Barn 26)

“It wiped out the sides and bent half the roof (the storm). It’s air conditioned now, it’s an air conditioned barn right now. We moved 20 of the horses over  to Skylight and I’ve got eight stalls across the way. It is amazing though how everyone came together last night. There has been unbelievable help from the horsemen and from Churchill. It was tremendous. They got all the horses out. It was great to see everyone come together like that. They said they will let us know early this afternoon about tomorrow (racing and training).”

Rusty Arnold (Barn 28)

“Well the Churchill barn is now a Keeneland barn. We lost the roof and one corner of the  barn completely and it’s been condemned by the Louisville fire department so we had to move out which is the right decision. It was a disaster. It flooded after the roof came off so they moved probably half the horses last night into other barns around the racetrack. We were probably in six to seven other barns. We got in there this morning, gathered them all up and we should be at Keeneland in 30-45 minutes. For the damage that was done, it is amazing we had no horses with any major injuries aside from some cuts and scrapes. And we have no people with any major injuries. We’re in that end with Steve Margolis and those were probably the two worst hit barns but he told me the same thing, he has not had any horses with major injuries. It is pretty remarkable as far as a bad wreck goes, it could been a lot worst.

“I got the word really soon (about the storm). I was at dinner in Paris, Kentucky and my assistant called so he dealt with it first hand.  I did not go to Churchill until early this morning.  Churchill did a great job and so did Keeneland. I called (director of racing) Rogers (Beasley) late last night and he said ‘we’ve got your barn ready, tell us when you’re coming’ and this morning they got it ready and we moved. From what I understand, Churchill is going to race and train tomorrow. I tell you, the damage is extensive but in a very small area. The most amazing thing is the barns on both sides of me got no damage. Didn’t lose a shingle. But that line of barns of Ian Wilkes, Steve Margolis and myself got just annihilated. The people who were in the barns said it just like bounced and was in there about 15 seconds and gone. It just hit that row of barns as it came through there.”

“I think (Churchill) will go right back to business as normal. It will be a while before they pick these barns up. I think there could  be total tear downs. We actually lost one side of a barn. The one side is pretty much in tact so we had like 10 horses who were fine but the ones on the back, there was no roof, they were just standing there like they were in an open field, there was nothing on their side.”

Fravel named Breeders’ Cup CEO

The Breeders’ Cup announced today that Craig Fravel, President and General Manager of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of Breeders’ Cup Ltd. Fravel, 54, a resident of San Diego since 1985, will assume his new role effective July 18.

Fravel succeeds Greg Avioli in the role after Avioli departed earlier this year to take a position with Frank Stronach’s MI Developments.

“We are proud to have selected one of the most talented, innovative and respected individuals in our business to take the reins as the new Breeders’ Cup President and Chief Executive Officer,” said Breeders’ Cup Chairman, Tom Ludt. “Craig’s value as a leader and expertise in so many areas will be a terrific asset to our company in the expanded global universe of the Breeders’ Cup.”

“This business begins and ends with the horses and it is the charge of the Breeders’ Cup to make sure that our passion for breeding and racing is shared by the public,” said Fravel. “It has been a privilege to be associated with an organization such as Del Mar that represents the finest ideals of Thoroughbred racing. I am grateful to my colleagues there and, at the same time am mindful of how fortunate I am to have been offered the opportunity to lead the Breeders’ Cup, where I look forward to working with Tom Ludt and the Breeders’ Cup board to continue the organization’s work to promote our industry.”

While at Del Mar, Fravel emerged as a leading racing industry figure, serving in an advisory capacity for a number of organizations. Fravel served as chairman of the Southern California Off-Track Wagering, Inc. (SCOTWINC) and was chairman of the statewide California Marketing Committee. He also serves on the board of Equibase, the official provider of racing data for the Thoroughbred industry; the National Racing and Medication Testing Consortium and as a director of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, where he had previously served as chairman. He is a member of The Jockey Club.

Fravel becomes the fifth president and chief executive in the history of Breeders’ Cup Ltd., which administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious global event, consisting of 15 races and purses totaling $26 million over two days.

This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be held at Churchill Downs for a second consecutive year on November 4 and 5. The Lousiville track drew  a record 114,353 fans over the two-day event last November handling more than $196 million in total wagers worldwide.

The selection of Fravel completes the process of the Breeders’ Cup Search Committee, headed by Breeders’ Cup Chairman Tom Ludt, and the executive search firm Spencer Stuart, which interviewed candidates for the CEO position over the past two months, following the exit of Avioli.

Fravel joined the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club as its Executive Vice President in 1990 after working as a partner in the San Diego law firm of Luce, Forward, Hamilton and Scripps, where he specialized in corporate law and finance, and had represented Del Mar. He was promoted to track President and General Manager in March of last year.

Fravel is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and a cum laude graduate of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Fravel and his wife Cathie have two daughters, Sarah and Ireland.

Animal Kingdom sidelined with leg hind leg injury

Team Valor’s Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom will be sidelined for a chunk of the summer after he was found to have a small fissure on the tip of the cannon bone of his left hind leg.

On Wednesday morning, Dr. Dean Richardson of the New Bolton Research Center examined a nuclear scan, which indicated that something was amiss with the colt’s left hock. Both Dr. Richardson and Dr. Larry Bramlage of Rood & Riddle veterinary clinc in Lexington, Kentucky examined radiographs of the hock and discovered the  fissure on the tip of the cannon bone where it joins the lower part of the hock.

“It’s not a major thing,” said Dr. Bramlage said in a release. “I agree with Dr. Richardson that the best course of action is to keep the colt inactive for 2 weeks and radiograph the leg again. In two weeks it should settle down and he should be sound again. I don’t think it is going to separate, but that would be the worry. Right now it is a tiny crack and technically you could call it a fracture. But I would characterize it as more of a fissure because of how small it is. He lit up pretty good on the nuclear scan. Normally, no matter how hard a horse hits his leg on the ground in an accident, there is not enough force to show this type of uptake on the scan for a period of at least 10 days. This tells me that, like a lot of racehorses, he probably had a little something going on in there that he was dealing with. But when he hit the ground with such force in the accident, he overloaded the bone and this is the result.

“The good news is that this should not cost him the entire season. I would hope that he would be able to return to training in a matter of weeks.”

Animal Kingdom was observed by his trainer Graham Motion to be stiff the day following the Belmont Stakes in which he lost all chance at the start of the race after being bumped by Mucho Macho Man. Animal Kingdom stumbled badly as a result of the bump and nearly unseated jockey John Velazquez.

The chestnut colt was marginally lame for a couple of days in his left hand leg, which prompted sending him to the veterinary clinic in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Churchill Downs raises overnight purses again

Churchill Downs  will raise overnight race purses by 15 percent for the final three weeks of the Spring Meet thanks to higher than expected all-sources wagering levels. The purse hike is the second one for Churchill in two weeks and is effective immediately (June 16). The first 10 percent purse increase was announced on June 3.

“Horse racing fans have responded positively to our racing product this season and wagering levels over the last two weeks in particular greatly exceeded our projections,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “We’re pleased to announce another 15-percent increase for our horsemen as we hit the stretch run of the Spring Meet.”

Purses for the final 128 overnight races – which include overnight stakes, allowance, maiden special weight, claiming and maiden claiming events – will rise by an approximate blended average of $5,126 per race. Total overnight purses offered for the meet are projected to be $13.3 million, up $1.2 million from the original forecast of $12.1 million. The daily average purse distribution, not including stakes money, will be approximately $340,547 per day, and the number grows to $501,242 when stakes money is included. The 10-percent increase announced June 3 was attributed to strong all-sources wagering on Kentucky Derby Week.

“We’ve been fortunate this season, but as we’ve said before, these positive purse adjustments aren’t long-term solutions to the problems we face in Kentucky,” Flanery said. “The Commonwealth’s signature horse racing industry still isn’t on a level playing field with states whose racetracks have an immense competitive advantage by having their purses fueled by slot machine and casino revenues, and our purses remain well shy of their highest levels of recent years.”

The Spring Meet concludes its 39-day run on Monday, July 4.

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