Archive for March, 2013

Bow down: Champion Animal Kingdom scorches field in Dubai World Cup

Edited recap from Dubai Racing Club press release:

With effortless looking but ground devouring strikes, champion Animal Kingdom crushed his competition in the 18th running of the world’s richest race, taking Saturday’s $10 million Dubai World Cup by two lengths to halt a U.S. drought in the contest.

Now owned in partnership by Australia’s Arrowfield Stud and the Team Valor International racing partnership based in the United States, Animal Kingdom stunned even his owners with his remarkable victory over late running Red Cadeaux in the world’s richest race at Meydan.

While American-based runners had taken nine previous editions of the Dubai World Cup, U.S. horses have struggled since Meydan Racecourse with its synthetic Tapeta surface replaced Nad al Sheba racetrack and its dirt surface in 2010. Since Well Armed’s triumph in the 2009 World Cup, the only U.S.-based horse to win on the World Cup card at Meydan prior to Animal Kingdom had been Kinsale King, the hero of the 2010 Golden Shaheen.

“That was shocking,” exclaimed Team Valor Chief Executive Officer Barry Irwin. “I thought he could win but I didn’t think he could win like that. He proved that not only is he a top horse, but that he is one of the top horses in the world.”

“It’s unbelievable,” said a beaming jockey, Joel Rosario, who waved his whip to cheers and applause as Animal Kingdom strode into the winner’s circle. “He’s a very good horse; he’s very quick.”

Rosario steered Animal Kingdom to loom outside two-time Eclipse Award-winning champion mare Royal Delta, who had set fractions of :26.59, :50.02 and 1:13.63 under Mike Smith, before they swooped to the lead coming out of the far turn. In just a few steps, Animal Kingdom opened up several lengths—and the race was over.

Animal Kingdom, who captured the 2011 Kentucky Derby off a victory in the Grade III Spiral Stakes on the all-weather Turfway Park track, crossed the finish line in 2:03.21 for the 2000 metres, earning $6 million for his efforts. Trained by Graham Motion, the five-year-old son of Leroidesanimauxnow has a career record of five wins in 11 starts with earnings of $8,387,500.

Red Cadeaux unleashed a strong rally from ninth after 1600 metres to gain the runner-up prize.

“This horse never ceases to amaze me. To run second in the Dubai World Cup and get within two lengths of Animal Kingdom, I’ve got to be happy with that,” said jockey Gerald Mosse.

Planteur, recently acquired by Qatar’s Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, finished third, 4  3/4 lengths behind Red Cadeaux.

“He was third last year, third this year. I was happy enough with his run,” said jockey Ryan Moore.

The remaining order of finish was Side Glance, African Story, Meandre, Hunter’s Light, Treasure Beach, Kassiano, Royal Delta, Dullahan and Cappon.

Dullahan, a three time Grade I winner on synthetic surfaces, never threatened at any point during the race.

“He was traveling sweet. He was doing it under his own power,” said  Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who was aboard Dullahan. “I got him out down the backside. I loved where he was at. Three furlongs out, for whatever reason, he just shut it down. He pulled up great underneath me but he was was, I don’t want to say distressed, but worn out.  He was really struggling the last two furlongs.

Godolphin’s Hunter’s Light, the early favorite in the race off his victory in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round III on March 9, raced in second early but could not keep up in the latter stages.

“He had every chance. He just wasn’t good enough at this level,” said jockey Silvestre de Sousa.

Royal Delta, ninth in the 2012 Dubai World Cup, “just didn’t seem to care for it,” Smith said of his mount’s performance on the track surface as she came home tenth. “Every time she had to pick it up, she struggled.”

Slate of special events on tap for Keeneland Spring Meet

Keeneland press release:

Keeneland kicks off its 2013 spring race meeting on Friday, April 5, marking the start of 16 days of extraordinary racing featuring the nation’s top stables and riders and headlined by the 89th running of the Grade I, $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass,  a springboard to the Kentucky Derby.


Exciting wagering opportunities, a jam-packed special events calendar, and enhanced amenities for fans of all ages and interests highlight the spring meet, which runs through Friday, April 26.


Keeneland will conduct racing on Wednesday through Sunday with the post time for the first race each day at 1:05 p.m. (ET). Racing will be featured on the cable network TVG beginning at 11 a.m., and fans can watch every race live – at no charge – on the track’s website,, where the latest information related to handicapping, promotions and all things Keeneland can be found.


A total of 16 stakes, including five Grade I events, will be contested worth a total of $3.625 million. A purse increase also will add more than $627,000 to the overnight purse pool, raising Keeneland’s average daily purses to more than $611,250 – among the highest in North America.


The track’s ultra-competitive jockey colony is set to include Racing Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, who returned to the saddle in January after a retirement, and Eclipse Award-winner Julien Leparoux, who captured his fifth consecutive, and ninth overall, leading rider title during the 2012 fall season, as well as leading female jockey Rosie Napravnik. Stevens last rode at Keeneland in 2005, his final season of competition.


Keeneland, in collaboration with The Jockey Club and NBC Sports Group, will provide live coverage of the Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday, April 13, from 4:30–6 p.m. ET on NBC. The 90-minute broadcast is part of the recently announced Road to the Kentucky Derby series spotlighting six major prep races for the 2013 Kentucky Derby.


In another change for this year, the Grade I $300,000 Madison Stakes, won last year by eventual champion female sprinter Groupie Doll, was moved to April 13, joining the Grade I $300,000 Jenny Wiley , for older fillies and mares, and the$175,000 Commonwealth and $100,000 Shakertown, both Grade III stakes for older horses, as part of an exciting Blue Grass Day undercard.


The $500,000 Central Bank Ashland, for 3-year-old fillies racing 1 1/16 miles, will be held opening Saturday, April 6 and other prominent stakes slated for this spring are the Grade I $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile, a one-mile race on the turf for older horses on April 12, and the Grade III $200,000 Coolmore Lexington, a 1 1/16-mile race on April 20 for 3-year-olds.


Keeneland has also added Katie Mikolay Gensler to its race-day lineup. She will work alongside longtime Keeneland handicapper and oddsmaker Mike Battaglia providing live paddock commentary and selections.


Betologists will be deployed around the facility on race days to answer fan questions about wagering.


On Saturdays, Keeneland’s official tailgate lot, dubbed “The Hill,” located adjacent to the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center, will feature food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, music, and race-day programs and general admission tickets available for purchase.


On Blue Grass Day, Saturday, April 13, Keeneland will host “ABRV at The Hill.” The interactive fan experience is the latest initiative from The Jockey Club’s new cross-country fan development initiative, America’s Best Racing (ABR).  The ABR tour bus, nicknamed the ABRV, and 6 brand ambassadors will bring its popular Racing 101 program to the tailgate lot.


Also on Blue Grass Day, Keeneland will offer fans the opportunity to enjoy the Keeneland Double: a day at the races followed by the University of Kentucky’s Blue-White scrimmage football game at Commonwealth Stadium. Fans can park early in the day at Commonwealth Stadium, take a Lextran bus or trolley for $1 each way to Keeneland for a day at the races and return to Commonwealth for the 7 p.m. kickoff. Lextran will have dedicated shuttles from 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 4:25 a.m.–6:45 p.m. Riders will receive a $2 food voucher to use at the track.


On the first three Friday’s of the meet, Keeneland will host Friday Happy Hours featuring live music in the grandstand Mezzanine Bar immediately following the races.


College Scholarship Day on opening day draws thousands of students from colleges and universities in Kentucky and neighboring states. Admission is free for full-time students, who can register in the College Zone in the North Terrace to win one of ten $1,000 scholarships awarded after each of the day’s races.


Sunrise Trackside offers activities for the entire family on Saturdays beginning at 7 a.m. (ET) with Breakfast With the Works, which features a Southern-style breakfast and trackside commentary on Thoroughbreds as they train (until 8:30 a.m.); children’s activities in the Kids Club Corner (7-9 a.m.); an equine-related demonstration in the paddock (8:45 a.m.); walking tours of Keeneland (8:30-10:30 a.m.); photos with legendary bugler George “Bucky” Sallee in the paddock (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.); a trackside handicapping seminar (11:30 a.m.); and a Q&A session with a Keeneland jockey in the paddock (12:05 p.m.).


Patrons can take part in the Keeneland Handicapping Contest presented by Daily Racing Form, each Wednesday of the season. Entry fee is $10; 100% of the entry fees are returned in prizes, with the top ten handicappers qualifying for Keeneland’s Tournament of Champions in November.


Maker’s Mark bottle signing on Friday, April 12, the day of the Maker’s 46 Mile, is a fan favorite. Sales of the commemorative bottle will start April 5 at retail locations across Kentucky and benefit UK HeathCare’s Gill Heart Institute.


To raise breast cancer awareness, Keeneland will host Horses and Hope Pink Day on Sunday, April 14. Horses and Hope is First Lady Jane Beshear’s initiative to reach women working in Kentucky’s horse industry with education and mammography screening. The day includes activities in the North Terrace and the Breast Cancer Survivor Luncheon in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion.


The Budweiser Clydesdales will be at Keeneland Wednesday, April 17 through Saturday, April 20. Wednesday through Friday, fans can have their photo taken with a member of the world-famous team, which will perform between races on April 20.


Military Appreciation Day on Sunday, April 21, will honor all active and inactive members of the military and their families with free general admission with a military ID at any pass gate. The North Terrace will be transformed into the Military Family Zone with free food, live music and special giveaways and activities for children.


On closing day join us for the Concert on the Lawn to benefit the Markey Cancer Foundation. The event, to be held on the Clubhouse Lawn immediately following the races, features a free concert by Changes in Latitudes, a premier Jimmy Buffet tribute band.


Keeneland 2013 Spring Meet At a Glance


Post time: 1:05 p.m. (ET) Gates open at 11 a.m. No racing on Mondays and Tuesdays.


Admission: $5. Children 12 and under free.


Parking: Free (shuttles available from many lots); Preferred parking: $5; Clubhouse valet: $10


“The Hill:” Official Tailgate Lot: Located adjacent to the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center. Enter Gate 1 across from Man o’ War Boulevard or via the Van Meter Road entrance.


Simulcasting: Major Thoroughbred tracks in the United States and selected international tracks.



Traffic Note: Please be aware that the Kentucky Department of Transportation is working on major improvements to Versailles Road/US 60 between New Circle Road in Fayette County and Bluegrass Parkway in Woodford County. As a result, Keeneland is urging its guests to allow extra time for their commute to the track. Click here for a map and further details.

Turfway Aftercare Program donates $13,740 to racehorse adoption agencies

Turfway Park release:

Four racehorse adoption agencies went home from the Spiral Stakes Saturday with checks totaling $13,740 from the Turfway Aftercare Program (TAP), a joint funding effort by Turfway Park and owners who race their horses at the Northern Kentucky track.


TAP collects one dollar from racehorse owners for each horse they start at Turfway.  At year’s end Turfway matches the donation, and the fund is divided among partner agencies based on the number of “Turfway horses” each took into its program during the calendar year.  A “Turfway horse” either ran its final race at Turfway or was stabled at Turfway at the time it was sent to an agency.  The program works with agencies either based in Kentucky or that have Kentucky satellite locations.


Altogether, 34 “Turfway horses” were transitioned from the track in 2012 by the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, New Vocations, Second Stride, and CANTER Kentucky.  The agencies work to rehabilitate and retrain the horses and/or transition them into second careers as show horses or trail and companion horses.


“Winter slows down adoptions but increases all related care and feed bills, so getting funding in March really makes a huge difference,” said Kim Smith, founder and executive director of Second Stride in Prospect, Ky.  “Our fundraisers don’t gear up until April when people are getting Derby fever, and the major Thoroughbred-related grants start to pay out in May and June.  So the Turfway donation is a ray of sunlight for sure.


“We always make sure we have enough money to properly care for and feed the horses we have, so when funding dips and expenses increase, we have to restrict the intake of new horses—right at the time many trainers are wanting to retire older runners,” Smith continued.  “Thanks to the educational push and prominence of [the aftercare issue] trainers are retiring older runners sooner.  They’re ready to replace older horses with 2-year-olds coming from the training farms.  So we need money to get these older fellows off the track now, not two months from now.”


The Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association worked with Turfway Park management to define contributions to the opt-out program.  TAP wrote its first checks to adoption agencies last year for horses accepted in 2011, but 2012 marks the program’s first full year of funding.  The program was launched in mid-2011, and while Turfway made its own contribution retroactive to the meet that began January 1, owners’ contributions did not begin until the race meets held in September and December. In 2012, contributions from owners and the track both commenced January 1, the start of the winter/spring meet.


Agencies that received TAP funds for 2011 and 2012 met standards established by the track and the Safety and Integrity Alliance, an industry organization that accredits racetracks.  Going forward, TAP partner agencies must also be accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).  Broadly supported across the racing industry, the TAA was founded in early 2012 to confirm agency compliance with standards addressing operations, education, horse management including euthanasia policies, facility services, adoption policies, and status as recognized charitable organizations.


Turfway has been accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Safety and Integrity Alliance since its inception in 2009.  Turfway’s own efforts to assist trainers in transitioning racehorses off the track began a year earlier with the establishment of a surrender stall program.  Provided certain conditions are met, the surrender stall program gives owners the option to leave a horse in Turfway’s care while the track arranges placement with one of its partner agencies.  In practice, most owners instead continue to pay their trainers to keep a retiring horse in familiar surroundings while placement arrangements are made.


“While we keep the surrender stall ready, we’re more and more seeing trainers retire horses in good time and take the initiative to contact agencies on their own,” said Turfway Park general manager Chip Bach.  “The agencies also send volunteers to the track to educate trainers and keep them aware of their options.  The entire racing industry depends on the wellbeing of the horse, and we are proud to partner with these groups and to help fund their efforts.”

Champion Rachel Alexandra goes home to Stonestreet (updates with video link)

Stonestreet Farm release:

The recovery of champion Rachel Alexandra from abdominal surgery in mid-February took its biggest step forward Tuesday as it was announced the 2009 Horse of the Year was able to return home to Stonestreet Farm.

The champion daughter of Medaglia d’Oro had been recuperating at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital since February 13th when she underwent surgery to repair a section of her small colon that was damaged when she foaled a Bernardini filly a day earlier. While she did have a subsequent surgical procedure in early March  to drain an abscess adjacent to her reproductive tract and rectum, Rachel Alexandra continued to show improved appetite and attitude.


“Having Rachel home is a milestone in her recovery,” said Stonestreet Farm owner Barbara Banke, “I am deeply grateful to Drs. (Brett) Woodie, (Bonnie) Barr….and the entire Rood & Riddle team for the unparalleled care Rachel has received. A special thank you to Alex Riddle for keeping Rachel’s fans updated on her progress and to Medicine Technician Brent Comer for his dedication to her care.”

Video of Rachel Alexandra’s return home courtesy of Stonestreet can be found here:

Stonestreet employees decorated her stall with cards from fans as they awaited her arrival; a get-well banner from Fair Grounds Racecourse stretched across the barn, ready to welcome the hard-fighting champion home. Both Stonestreet and Rood & Riddle medical technicians will continued to monitor Rachel Alexandra around the clock while Dr. Barr checks her progress with daily visits to the farm.


“This time of transition is a big step, as well as an added stress in her recovery from a very serious, life-threatening condition. We feel, however, that she is ready to take on this challenge, and in doing so, she takes the next step toward getting back to life on the farm,” said Barr.


Rachel Alexandra’s first few days at home will focus on ensuring she is comfortable in her surroundings through hand grazing. She will then transition to a small, temporary round pen the size of her stall. As she becomes comfortable and her team feels satisfied with her progress, panels will be inserted to gradually extend that round pen.


These slow, deliberate, day-to-day steps are designed to evolve into turnout in a regularly sized round pen followed ultimately by transition to a small paddock. While this process could take as little as a couple of weeks, her team will set a cautious pace.


Stonestreet had previously announced that Rachel Alexandra’s Bernardini filly had been placed with a nurse mare and will not be reunited with her birth mother.

Finalists announced in Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award

Castleton Lyons release:

Finalists for the seventh annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award include an inspirational sequel to a previous finalist; a redemptive biography of a noted jockey; and a chronicle of the pursuit of American racing’s ultimate goal.


The winner of the 2012 Book Award will be announced on April 10 at Castleton Lyons, during a cocktail reception held in a room above the farm’s historic stallion barn.  First prize is $10,000, with $1,000 awarded to each runner-up. In addition, all three finalists will receive a Tipperary Crystal trophy.


Conceived and launched in 2006 by the late Castleton Lyons owner Dr. Tony Ryan, the Award has annually showcased the best of racing literature, including entries from legendary mystery writer Dick Francis, 2010 National Book Award winner Jaimy Gordon, and multiple Eclipse Award winners William Nack, Bill Mooney, Joe Drape, and Maryjean Wall. Originally known as the Castleton Lyons Book Award, the name was changed to honor its founder, who passed away in 2007. Dr. Ryan’s son and Castleton Lyons president, Shane Ryan, has continued to present this prestigious award annually.


Following are the finalists for the 2012 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award:



Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award finalists


Flying Change: A Year of Racing and Family and Steeplechasing

Author: Patrick Smithwick

Publisher: Chesapeake Book Company


The Garrett Gomez Story: A Jockey’s Journey Through Addiction and  


Author: Rudolph Valier Alvarado, with Garrett Keith Gomez

Publisher: Caballo Press of Ann Arbor


Kentucky Derby Dreams: The Making of Thoroughbred Champions

Author: Susan Nusser

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books


Semi-finalists, chosen in mid – March, also included My Year of the Racehorse, by Kevin Chong; When Racing Was Racing, by Adam Powley; The Kentucky Derby, by James Nicholson; and Racing From Death, by Sasscer Hill.

The 2012 judging team is comprised of lead judge and Washington Post editor Kay Coyte; HRTV producer and on-air host Caton Bredar; and attorney Milton C. Toby, winner of the 2011 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award for Dancer’s Image—The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby.


Spiral winner Black Onyx heads list of 13 late Triple Crown nominees

Edited release:

The total number of 3-year-old Thoroughbreds  eligible for the 2013 Triple Crown has grown to 382 with the addition of 13 late nominations (pending late mail) announced Monday to the series of American classic races that includes the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.


The most accomplished of the late nominees is Black Onyx, winner of Saturday’s Grade III, $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. Also among the late nominees are Giant Finish, third in the Spiral for trainer Tony Dutrow; Undrafted, third in the Grade III Swale at Gulfstream Park and the Al Stall Jr.-trained duo of Departing, winner of the $50,000 Texas Heritage at Sam Houston Park, and Sunbean, whose three wins against state-bred competition in Louisiana include the Gentilly Stakes at Fair Grounds.


Other late nominees include Infinite Magic, a recent purchase by Team Valor International with two wins from five starts in Britain that include a recent 1 ¼-mile triumph over the all-weather surface at Lingfield; the Mike Maker-trained duo of Brazilian Court and Wings of Fortune, each of which has a maiden victory to his credit; Are You Kidding Me, runner-up in the  Grade II Summer Stakes last year on turf at Woodbine for trainer Roger Attfield; Erik the Red, a recent maiden winner for trainer Linda Rice at Aqueduct; the Bruce Headley-trained Storm Fighter, a recent maiden winner at Santa Anita; Narvaez, who scored his second career victory in a dead-heat with early Triple Crown nominee Declan’s Warrior in a recent optional claiming allowance race at Gulfstream Park; and Hip Four Sixtynine, who scored his first victory in seven races in a maiden race at Fair Grounds on Feb. 23.


The deadline for late nominations to the Triple Crown was on-or-before Saturday, March 23. A fee of $6,000 was required to add each horse to the overall list of 2013 Triple Crown-nominated horses.


Early nominations to the three-race series closed Jan. 26 with 369 horses eligible for the 2013 Triple Crown. A nomination fee of $600 was required for each horse to become eligible prior to the early deadline.


The 2013 Triple Crown will get underway Saturday, May 4 with the 139th running of the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The Preakness, the 1 3/16-mile second jewel, is set to be run for the 138th time on Saturday, May 18 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. The 145th running of the Belmont Stakes, the 1 ½-mile final jewel of the elusive series, is scheduled for Saturday, June 8 at Belmont Park, in Elmont, N.Y.


All of the late Triple Crown nominees are colts. Nine of the 13 were bred in Kentucky, with the others bred in California, Florida, Louisiana and New York.


Graham Motion, who won the 2011 Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom, is the trainer of Infinite Magic and now has seven nominees in his care. Maker’s pair of late nominees also raised his overall total to seven, while Black Onyx is Breen’s fifth nominee.


Horses not nominated to the Triple Crown during either nomination phase will have a final opportunity to become eligible for the series through a supplemental nomination process. Those horses can become eligible for one or all of the Triple Crown races with the payment of a supplemental nomination fee at the time of entry of any of the three races. A supplemental nominee is eligible to run in the remaining Triple Crown events after payment of the fee. A supplemental nomination at the time of entry to the Kentucky Derby requires a payment of $200,000, but preference is given to original nominees first. The supplemental fee is $100,000 if paid prior to either the Preakness or Belmont Stakes.


The 2012 Triple Crown series attracted 398 early nominations. Twenty more horses were added during the late nomination phase, which brought total Triple Crown nominations for 2012 to 418. The final total was the largest since a record 460 nominations were received in 2007 and 2008.


The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975 and the horses that enter the starting gate for its 2013 renewal will be determined for the first time by points earned in the new “Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by” eligibility system. The field for the Preakness is limited to 14 starters, while Belmont Stakes permits a maximum field of 16 horses.


Late Nominations to 2013 Triple Crown
Horse Owner Trainer
Are You Kidding Me John Bates, Ron Kirk, Greg McDonald and Riordan, Shaw & Sones Roger Attfield
Black Onyx Sterling Racing Kelly Breen
Brazilian Court Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey Mike Maker
Departing Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider Al Stall Jr.
Erik the Red Lady Sheila Stable Linda Rice
Giant Finish Sunrise Stable, Gary Tolchin, Aubrey Flanagan and Bob Smith Anthony Dutrow
Hip Four Sixtynine J-LU LLC Bobby Barnett
Infinite Magic Team Valor International H. Graham Motion
Narvaez Stipa Racing Stable Inc. Agustin Bezara
Storm Fighter Golden Eagle Farm Bruce Headley
Sunbean Brittlyn Stable Inc. Al Stall Jr.
Undrafted Wes Welker Wesley Ward
Wings of Fortune Richard S. Reed, Tiffany Zammit and Quade, Bruce & Joyce Mike Maker

Rachel Alexandra showing fiesty behavior in recovery

Stonestreet Farm release:

Veterinarians monitoring the recovery of Stonestreet Farm’s champion Rachel Alexandra’s recovery at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital report the abscess drained on March 7th, continues to respond well to treatment.

Above, Rachel grazes at Rood & Riddle on March 15th.

Rachel Alexandra’s appetite is strong and the Rood & Riddle team noted an increase in “feisty” behavior during her walks last week. The 2009 Horse of the Year continues to show progress as she recovers from abdominal surgery to remove a damaged section of colon following the birth of her filly by Bernardini on February 12th.

Look for the next update on Tuesday, March 26th barring any change in her condition.

Semi-finalists announced for Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award

Edited release:

A total of seven books have been chosen as semi-finalists for the seventh annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award to be presented at Castleton Lyons on April 10.


Conceived and launched in 2006 by the late Castleton Lyons owner Dr. Tony Ryan, the Award has annually showcased the best of racing literature. Originally known as the Castleton Lyons Book Award, the name was changed to honor its founder, who passed away in 2007. Dr. Ryan’s son Shane has carried on the contest each spring since.


Castleton Lyons previously conducted it book award contest in conjunction with Thoroughbred Times magazine, one of the leading industry publications before folding this past September.


The winner of the 2012 Book Award will be announced at Castleton Lyons during a cocktail reception held in a room above the farm’s historic stallion barn.  First prize is $10,000, with $1,000 awarded to each runner-up. In addition, all three finalists will receive a Tipperary Crystal trophy. Following are the finalists for the 2012 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award:



Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award semi-finalists

(alphabetical order)


Flying Change: A Year of Racing and Family and Steeplechasing

Author: Patrick Smithwick

Publisher: Chesapeake Publishing


Kentucky Derby Dreams: The Making of Thoroughbred Champions

Author: Susan Nusser

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books


My Year of the Racehorse 

Author: Kevin Chong

Publisher: Greystone Books


Racing From Death

Author: Sasscer Hill

Publisher: Wildside Press


The Garrett Gomez Story: A Jockey’s Journey Through Addiction and Salvation       

Author: Rudolph  Alvarado, with Garrett Keith Gomez

Publisher: Caballo Press of Ann Arbor


The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America’s Premier

Sporting Event 

Author: James C. Nicholson

Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky


When Racing Was Racing – A Century of Horse Racing

Author: Adam Powley

Publisher: Haynes Publishing


Prominent owner/breeder Jessica Gay Bell dies

Edited release:

Jessica Gay Bell, who developed historic Jonabell Farm along with her last husband, passed away on March 14 in Naples, Florida, after a brief illness. She was 90.

Mrs. Bell was preceded in death by her parents James Gatewood Gay and Harriet McCreary Gay, three siblings Elva G. Gay, Robert M. Gay, and Elizabeth Gay Lewis, as well as her husband of 60 years, John A. Bell III.

Bron on August 20, 1922, Mrs. Bell graduated from University of Kentucky with a degree in Journalism and worked in Louisville for WHAS writing the news. She then moved to New York for a job as a showroom model, later returned to Lexington where she met John Bell, whom she married in 1947.

Mrs. Bell and her husband established Jonabell Farm, first on a leased portion of Hamburg Place, where they raised champion Battlefield and also Never Say Die, first American-bred to win the English Derby in the 20th century.  After relocating Jonabell to property on Bowman’s Mill Road, the Bells continued to breed, race, and sell Thoroughbreds while boarding breeding stock for clients. Damascus, the 1967 Horse of the Year, was raised there, and stallions which stood at Jonabell included 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed.


Jonabell bred some 50 stakes winners individually and in partnership, among them the homebred champion Epitome, winner of the 1987 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Additionally, they won twice Keeneland’s Spinster Stakes with homebreds Try Something New  and Hail a Cab.  The farm was sold to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, in 2001, and is now known as Darley at Jonabell.

Mrs. Bell was active in many charities and other organizations. Along with Juliette Combs Trapp, Helen LeBus Mayes, and Carey Ellis, she helped establish  The Blue Grass Ball to benefit the Markey Cancer Center at the University of Kentucky.  Named after the prestigious stakes race at Keeneland, this was the predecessor of The Lexington Ball, which continues to be one of the premiere annual charity events in Central Kentucky.

As a member of a Lexington Directions committee, Mrs. Bell worked with Carolyn Murray-Wooley of the Dry Stone Conservancy, to initiate ongoing restoration and training programs with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to preserve and raise awareness of the historical stone walls along rural roads and farmland. The special markers located next to significant rock walls throughout the area are a result of this effort.

Some of the organizations to which Mrs. Bell belonged included Bluegrass Tomorrow, Lexington Directions, and McConnell Springs, and she served on several boards including of The Lexington School, Blue Grass Airport, Chrysalis House, and the YWCA. She was also a Life Trustee of The Lexington School.

Mrs. Bell and her husband established the Bell Alcohol and Addictions Endowed Chair at the University of Kentucky.  Recently, The Bell Chair with the Chrysalis House and with support from other individuals initiated the Mentoring Angel Program which was developed to help patients transition from UK Healthcare to the community.

Mrs. Bell is survived by four children: Jessica Bell Nicholson (Joe Browne); John A. Bell IV (Nancy); James G. Bell (Wende); Bennett Bell Williams (John); eight grandchildren, James C. Nicholson (Maegan); Kelsey M. Nicholson; James Gatewood Bell, Jr. (Lauren); Tyler Bell Jones (Bret); Shelby Bell Gressett (Drew); John A. Bell V (Beth); Rhodes P. Bell; Laura R. Bell, and five great-grandchildren.  The pallbearers will be her six grandsons.

Contributions are suggested to the Bell Endowed Chair at the University of Kentucky, Office of Development,  Sturgill Building, 120 Rose Street, Lexington, Ky. 40504, or to the charity of one’s choice. Friends may call at home, 96 Chinoe Road in Lexington on Tuesday from 3 – 8 p.m.  Graveside services at Lexington Cemetery at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.  Kerr Brothers Funeral Home, Main Street,  is in charge of the arrangements.


Breeders’ Cup to include travel allowances, reduce entry fees for 2013

The Breeders’ Cup board on Friday approved the operating budget for 2013 which, for the first time, will include travel allowances paid to all participants shipping from outside of California for this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Park.


In addition, the Breeders’ Cup will reduce entry fees for its Championships races from 3% to 2%, also beginning with this year.


This year, owners of horses shipping from outside of North America to the Championships will receive a $40,000 travel allowance, and owners of domestic horses shipping to California will receive a $10,000 travel allowance.


“As the leading international Thoroughbred racing event offering $25 million in purses, today’s actions further our goals of increasing our global reach by creating even more attractive opportunities for our participants,” Breeders’ Cup Chairman Tom Ludt said in a release. “We’re very excited to extend significant travel allowances to all owners shipping horses to California and to make the Championships more affordable by reducing entry fees by 33 percent for all races.”


Breeders’ Cup spokesman Jim Gluckson said later Friday afternoon the Breeders’ Cup would still have a series of “Win and You’re In” challenge races for 2013 where each race winner would be guaranteed an automatic berth in their Breeders’ Cup qualifying race along with having their entry fees paid and a travel allowance given. The schedule of “Win and You’re In” challenge races has not yet been announced for 2013.

“There will be a Breeders’ Cup Challenge series and we will continues to have free entries for the winners, that is not going to change,” Gluckson said when reached Friday. “We’ll have more news about that when we do the schedule down the road.”


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