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Chuckas to resign as president of Maryland Jockey Club

Edited release:

The Stronach Group announced Wednesday that Tom Chuckas, president and chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, has resigned his position with the company, effective November 30.

 

Chuckas joined the Maryland Jockey Club in May 2008. Over the years, he has led the effort to develop a long-term plan to bring stability to horse racing in the state of Maryland. He has also played a pivotal role in rebranding the Preakness Stakes which saw record-breaking attendance for 2014.

 

“It has been a great personal pleasure working with the entire team at the Maryland Jockey Club,” Chuckas said. “Racing in Maryland is positioning itself for tremendous growth opportunities and I hope for nothing but success in the years to come.”

 

Frank Stronach, Founder of The Stronach Group, stated, “Tom has been a valuable part of our team over the past six years as the company has worked towards developing a strong foundation to restore Maryland’s racing industry. We very much appreciate his contributions and wish him the best in the next phase of his career.”

 

The Stronach Group and Chuckas are in negotiations regarding the transition of his responsibilities in the company moving forward.

 

The Stronach Group is also announcing that Salvatore “Sal” Sinatra has been appointed Vice-President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club and will join the company on December 1. Sinatra has been involved in the Thoroughbred racing industry for over 20 years. He previously held the position of Director of Racing with Parx Racing, formally Philadelphia Park, since 1999.

 

“I am very glad to welcome Sal to our company,” said Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer of The Stronach Group. “His knowledge and expertise in racing operations will be a great benefit to both Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course going forward.”

 

 

Old Friends to hold open house for champion Silver Charm

Edited release:

Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, KY, will hold a special open house for members of the press as well as the public on December 1 to welcome Kentucky Derby winner, Eclipse champion, and Hall of Fame inductee Silver Charm.

The open house will take place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. The now 20-year-old stallion, who is slated to arrive at the facility this week, will then enter a 21-day quarantine.

 
It was announced in October by Three Chimneys Farm that the 1997 champion three-year-old colt had been retired from breeding in Japan and would be return to the United States to live out his life at Old Friends. The decision about his retirement was a joint venture among Three Chimneys Farm, Silver Charm’s owners Jeff and Beverly Lewis, and the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association (JBBA).

 

For additional information please call Old Friends at (502) 863-1775.

 

WHAT Open House at Old Friends

WHY To welcome back champion Silver Charm

WHEN Monday December 1, 2014 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

WHERE Old Friends Farm, 1841 Paynes Depot Road, Georgetown, KY.

Churchill Downs cancels live racing Wednesday due to freezing temperatures

Edited release:
An early blast of winter weather that has sent temperatures plummeting into the teens with sub-zero wind chills has prompted Churchill Downs Racetrack to cancel its live racing program scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 19.
As a result of the frigid blast, the main track at Churchill Downs is frozen and training over the surface was cancelled Tuesday morning. With temperatures forecast to climb only into the low 20s Tuesday and dip back into the teens Tuesday evening, track officials have determined that track conditions will not improve significantly before racing on Wednesday, so the decision was made to cancel Wednesday’s racing session.
Ten races had been scheduled on Wednesday and post time for the first race was scheduled for 12:40 p.m. (all times EST).
Temperatures are forecast to climb above freezing Wednesday afternoon and track maintenance crews will be working around the clock from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning to get the track in suitable condition for the racing program scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 20.
“Our top priority on any day at Churchill Downs is the health and safety of the human and equine participants in our sport, and current conditions and our short-term forecast have convinced us that it is in the best interests of all participants that we cancel the live racing program scheduled for Wednesday,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “We’re dealing with unusual weather conditions and the combination of moisture in our track with the rapid drop in temperatures and wind chill readings have resulted in a track surface that is unsafe for horses and humans, and there appears to be little chance of significant improvement until well into the day on Wednesday. Our track team has been and will continue to work on the surface to ensure it will be ready for racing on Thursday.”
 
Cancellations of Churchill Downs racing programs due to weather conditions are rare. Wednesday’s action will be the first since triple-digit temperatures prompted the cancellation of a racing program on June 28, 2012. The last time a Fall Meet race day at Churchill Downs was cancelled due to a wintry mix was Nov. 13, 1986 when a program was cancelled due to a frozen track.  Wednesday’s cancellation will be the 19thdocumented weather-related cancellation at the track and the sixth connected to a frozen track or snow.
While there is no live racing at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, simulcast wagering on other tracks around North America will be available at Trackside at Churchill Downs. Admission will be free Wednesday and admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m.
 
Churchill Downs will contact groups and individual patrons who had purchased seating for the racing program on Wednesday to reschedule their visit.
 
Documented Weather-Related Cancellations in Churchill Downs History
 
Date    Meet    Races   Races Lost      Reason
Nov. 19, 2014   Fall    All Races       10      Frozen racetrack
June 28, 2012   Spring  All Races       9       Extreme Heat
June 23, 2011   Spring  All Races       9       Clean-up of damage following June 22 tornado
May 8, 2009     Spring  After Race 5    5       Heavy rain, thunder & lightning
May 30, 2004    Spring  After Race 4    6       Severe weather, tornado warnings
June 6, 1990    Spring  After Race 3    6       Severe weather, tornado warnings
Nov. 13, 1986   Fall    All Races       9       Frozen racetrack
Nov. 24, 1970   Fall    All Races       9       Frozen racetrack
Nov. 23, 1970   Fall    All Races       9       Frozen racetrack
Nov. 17, 1959   Fall    All Races       8       Frozen racetrack
Nov. 4, 1936    Fall    All Races       7       Snow
Sept. 29, 1884  Fall    All Races       n/a     Rain
Sept. 27, 1884  Fall    All Races       n/a     Rain
Sept. 24, 1884  Fall    All Races       n/a     Rain
Oct. 4, 1883    Fall    All Races       n/a     Rain
Oct. 1, 1883    Fall    All Races       n/a     Mud
May 22, 1883    Spring  All Races       n/a     Rain
Sept. 28, 1882  Fall    All Races       n/a     Rain
Sept. 21, 1882  Fall    All Races       n/a     Mud
 

 

Tom Durkin to receive 2014 Big Sport of Turfdom Award

Edited release:

The Turf Publicists of America announced Friday that recently retired track announcer Tom Durkin will be honored as the recipient of this year’s Big Sport of Turfdom Award. The annual honor is bestowed upon a person or group of people who enhance coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with media and Thoroughbred racing publicists.

 

Previous winners of the Big Sport of Turfdom Award include jockeys Mike Smith, Pat Day, Laffit Pincay Jr., Chris McCarron, Bill Shoemaker, Angel Cordero Jr., Eddie Arcaro and last year’s winner, Gary Stevens; trainers Bob Baffert, D. Wayne Lukas, Dale Romans and Jack Van Berg; as well as individuals who may not be involved in the day-to-day aspect of Thoroughbred racing but made significant contributions to the sport including author Laura Hillenbrand, broadcaster Jim McKay, and actors Tim Conway and Jack Klugman.

 

“I am delighted to win this award and join the ranks of some of the people I’ve admired and respected all of my professional life,” Durkin said. “It is thrilling to me to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of those folks.”

 

Durkin, 63, called the final race of his career on Aug. 31 at Saratoga Race Course. Over 43 years as a track announcer, he elevated the craft by injecting his calls with unprecedented drama and the improvised narratives he summoned enhanced the thrill of race-watching.

 

Durkin is responsible for many of the most iconic calls in the history of Thoroughbred racing, from “the unconquerable, invincible, unbeatable Cigar” to “Rachel Alexandra raises the rafters here at the Spa!”

 

Born in Chicago, Durkin studied theatre at St. Norbert College and began calling races at county fairs in Wisconsin in the summer of 1971. In 1975, he moved on to ply his trade at a string of small  tracks including Cahokia Downs, Balmoral Park, Quad City Downs and Miles Park before landing the job at famed Hialeah Park in 1981. Three years later, he was hired as the announcer for the annual Breeders’ Cup, a job he held until 2005, and gained further fame calling the Triple Crown for a decade beginning in 2001.

 

Overall, he is estimated to have called more than 80,000 races, including at least 40,000 as lead announcer for the New York Racing Association over the past 24 years. Beyond his professional duties, Durkin has been involved in several causes assisting backstretch workers, including New York’s Backstretch Employees Service Team, for which he serves as a board member.

 

Durkin sat for countless media interviews in the months leading up to his retirement.

 

“For so many of us, our memories of racing’s greatest moments are inextricably linked with Tom’s voice,” said TPA President Mandy Minger. “This award recognizes not only his contributions as an announcer, but as an ambassador. Tributes to Tom’s career permeated the mainstream media this year, capturing the class and generosity of a man who represents the best of our sport.”

 

Durkin is the first track announcer to receive the Big Sport of Turfdom, which has been awarded annually since 1966.

 

The Big Sport of Turfdom will be presented at the Race Track Industry Program Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, December 11, emceed by Chris Lincoln. It is part of the 2014 Symposium on Racing & Gaming presented by the University of Arizona at the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson, Ariz. The TPA consists of approximately 150 publicity and marketing personnel from racetracks and racing organizations around the country.

 

The Awards Luncheon is included in the registration fees for the symposium. Additional information about the luncheon may be obtained by contacting TPA President Mandy Minger at (212) 366-7694.

Grade I winner Palace Malice to return to training

Three Chimneys Farm and Dogwood Stable collectively have something to look forward to in 2015 as the two operations announced Friday that Grade I winner Palace Malice has been declared fully healed from bone bruising and would to trainer Todd Pletcher with an eye on a 5-year-old campaign.

Palace Malice was initially announced to be retired when the bone bruising was discovered following his sixth place finish in the Grade I Whitney Stakes at Saratoga on August 2. Three Chimneys purchased a half interest in the 4-year-old son of Curlin in September and it was then announced that if the colt has suitably healed by November, a return to racing for him would be on the table.

“The X-rays and ultrasounds taken in Kentucky on Thursday morning are as good as we hoped they would be, and Dr. Larry Bramlage and Dr. Robert Copelan pronounced him completely sound,” Dogwood president Cot Campbell said in a release. “Therefore, he shipped Friday morning from Three Chimneys to Aiken for 60-90 days of pre-training, and then we will send him down to Todd Pletcher in Florida. His 2015 schedule will be formulated by Three Chimneys, Dogwood, and Todd, and we will announce that at a later date.”

Palace Malice would race in the name Three Chimneys Farm/Dogwood Stable, and in Dogwood colors. He will stand stud at Three Chimneys upon his retirement.

Bred by William S. Farish, Palace Malice captured the 2013 Belmont Stakes to stamp himself as  leading 3-year-old of his generation and was widely considered among the top older horses in training this season prior to his injury. He won his first four starts of 2014, highlighted by a gritty triumph in the Grade I Met Mile where he overcame the inside No. 1 post position to defeat Goldencents by a length. Goldencents would go on to defend his title in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile earlier this month.

“Three Chimneys bought into Palace Malice based on his race record, his looks, and his pedigree,” said Three Chimneys chairman Gonçalo Torrealba. “We are excited at the opportunity to race the horse with Dogwood Stable.  Having missed the Breeders’ Cup this year, we look forward to a campaign in 2015 that has the $5,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic as our ultimate goal.”

Palace Malice has seven wins from 17 starts with $2,676,135 in earnings.

Hill ‘n’ Dale consignment, record weanling pace top day of selling at Keeneland November sale

John Sikura has cultivated some of the best female families within the Thoroughbred industry on his palatial Hill ‘n Dale Farm, balancing his head and his heart as he has invested in and sold fillies and mares that have become game changers.

 
All those bloodlines Sikura put his time and money into paid him tribute within the Keeneland sales pavilion during the second session of the 11-day November Breeding Stock sale. In rewarding him and his partners, they helped lift all the boats on a gangbusters day of selling that now has the auction’s overall gross running ahead of 2013 numbers.

 
Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales can put Wednesday in the annals of some of the best days it has had inside the sales arena. Of the 11 offerings that cracked the seven figure barrier during the auction’s second session, five were consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale including three of the day’s top four prices, the best being the sale of a Tapit filly for $3 million which established a North American record price for a weanling of either sex.

 
Where Tuesday’s opening session featured across-the-board declines, Wednesday’s lineup blew last year’s corresponding session out of the water producing a single-day gross of $54,454,000 that was 22.98 percent higher than in 2013. Global sire power once again fueled the fire, most notably in the case of Aloof, a 5-year-old daughter of world’s elite sire Galileo in foal to leading Claiborne stallion War Front who went for a sale-topping $3.9 million to Mandy Pope.

 
Though the overall average of $351,106 and median of $200,000 are still running 1.81 and 9.09 percent behind last year’s totals, respectively, the cumulative gross of $95,852,000 is now up 10.77 percent from 2013.

 
“It’s the old adage that quality sells,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “We had 18 million-dollar horses the first two days over 14 last year, three horses over $3 million, the top end is very strong. But these are families that are hard to get to and when they come on the market, people want them.”

 
Pound for pound, Sikura knew he had a consignment full of families that would rule the day.

 
At the 2003 Keeneland November sale, Sikura sold Serena’s Cat – the first foal out of his former top producing mare Serena’s Tune – as a weanling to Dell Ridge Farm for $1.4 million, but later bought back a percentage of her after Serena’s Tune was euthanized in 2006 due to laminitis.

 
With Serena’s Cat having already produced graded stakes winners Noble Tune and Honor Code, her leggy Tapit filly Sikura offered up Wednesday represented a rare chance to obtain a family Bridlewood Farm general manager George Isaacs called “a genetic masterpiece.”

 
“Really it came full circle,” said Sikura, who earlier sold the 2-year-old Tapit filly Modeling, out of another top Hill ‘n’ Dale mare, Teeming, in foal to Distorted Humor for $2.85 million to Don Alberto Corp. “I was always so sick I had sold (Serena’s Cat) so I went back in and did a deal with Dell Ridge after Noble Tune won a stakes.

 
“That was the goal to be the highest priced filly in the world sold this year and (the Tapit filly) achieved that. We brought some unique fillies in here. I thought we’d have what other people wouldn’t and we got rewarded.”

 
Thus, Isaacs battled bid for bid with Pope for the Tapit filly, getting the go-ahead from Bridlewood owner John Malone via phone to go up to $3 million, then walk away if it wasn’t enough.

 
“She’s everything we’re looking for. We’ll own her until the day she draws her last breath,” Isaacs said. “Physically she’s the best filly on the grounds. You couldn’t draw a picture any prettier.”

 
Pope may have lost out on the Tapit filly but her broodmare band that already features 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, 2011 Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty and champion Groupie Doll gained another notable addition in Aloof.

 
Consigned by Paramount Sales, Aloof is out of the Group I winning mare Airwave and showed her class on the track in becoming a Group III winner.

 
“(The price) was about twice what I had hoped she would go for. But Galileo is the best stallion and in foal to War Front, you couldn’t ask for anything more,” Pope said. “She was beautiful and leggy which I think will help because War Front’s tend to be a little plain.

 
“She better (have a pretty War Front),” Pope joked “Or I’ll send her back to Paramount.”

 
The sale continues Thursday beginning at 10 a.m.

 
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.

Champion Big Brown to stand in New York

Champion and dual classic winner Big Brown will stand the 2015 season in New York at location to be determined, it was announced on Wednesday.

A majority interest in the nine-year-old son of Boundary, the sire of nine 2014 stakes winners to date, has been acquired by Andrew Cohen’s Sunrise Stables and Gary Tolchin’s Golden Goose Enterprises. Both were principals in the ownership of Big Brown during his racing career along with IEAH Stables, Paul Pompa and Pegasus Holdings Group.

Big Brown will stand his first season in New York for an introductory fee of $8,500. Sunrise and Golden Goose, which developed and stand record-breaking New York freshman sire Frost Giant, will announce the location where Big Brown will stand in the near future. The bay horse has stood his entire stud career at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky since 2009.

“In becoming the first horse in history to win the Kentucky Derby from post 20…Big Brown showed us what an extraordinary runner he was, and his Preakness Stakes  victory was just as impressive,” Cohen said. “As a sire, he has given us stakes winners at a wide variety of distances and surfaces, and he has had Grade/Group I runners in three countries. Some of his most successful performers have been New York-breds and/or from New York-bred connections. We believe that between Big Brown and Frost Giant, we are offering New York breeders the best stallion choices for their mares.”

Trained by Rick Dutrow, Big Brown was famously pulled up by jockey Kent Desormeaux during his bid for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes but returned to win the Grade I Haskell and the Monmouth Stakes on turf before his retirement in the fall of 2008 with earnings of $3,614,500.

Currently, Big Brown is tied for second behind Curlin among all third-crop sires in North America with his nine 2014 stakes winners, and his progeny have earned $3,342,697 this year, ranking him seventh overall among his peers. Overall, Big Brown has sired 11 stakes winners in his first three crops of racing age, an additional nine stakes-placed runners and the earners of over $7,397,000.

Mandy Pope adds Aloof to broodmare band for $3.9 million

The elite broodmare band Mandy Pope is compiling for her Whisper Hill Farm operation got another All-Star addition  Wednesday as Pope went to $3.9 million to obtain beautifully-bred Aloof early in the second session of the Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale.

Consigned by Paramount Sales, Aloof is a daughter of international leading sire Galileo and is out of the champion Group I winning mare Airwave. The 5-year-old Aloof showed her class on the track in becoming a Group III winner and had even more appeal as she sold in foal to top Claiborne sire, War Front.

“A lovely mare out of an outstanding family,” said Pope, who has secured such top mares as Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty and champion Groupie Doll in recent years. “(The price) was about twice what I had hoped she would for. But Galileo is the best stallion, he and Tapit, and in foal to War Front, you couldn’t ask for anything more. And she was beautiful and leggy which I think will help because War Front’s tend to be a little plain.

“I hope she has a pretty War Front. She better,” Pope joked “Or I’ll send her back to Paramount.”

The appeal of a Galileo mare is one Pope has already aggressively gone after before. She purchased Betterbetterbetter, another daughter of Galileo in foal to War Front, for a sale-topping $5.2 million at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton November sale.

“We’re trying to get the European flair going,” said Pope, who added that Aloof would likely go back to War Front in 2015.

Pat Costello of Paramount Sales said that final price exceeded his expectations but that he wasn’t surprised to see such a bidding war break out over a mare of Aloof’s residual quality.

“It was two strong bidders right there and both of them loved her,” Costello said. “She was a queen all week, we knew she’d sell well. She’s a scopy mare and to do what she did on the racetrack was just an addition. Couldn’t be a better feeling.”

Coolmore Stud goes to $3.6 million for Naples Bay

Graded stakes winner Naples Bay, a half sister to Grade I winner and Darley sire Medaglia d’Oro, set the standard during the first session of the Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale when she sold for a $3.6 million to representatives of Coolmore Stud.

Consigned by Claiborne Farm, agent, Naples Bay sold in foal to leading Claiborne stallion War Front. The six-year-old daughter of Giant’s Causeway won the Grade III Marshua’s River Stakes in January before being bred and also captured the 2012 Grade III Noble Damsel.

“She comes from a great family. She’s in foal to War Front so we’re looking forward to seeing that,” said Coolmore’s M. V. Magnier, who signed the ticket. “She could easily go back to (Coolmore sire) Galileo but we’ll decide that. She deserved to make that price.”

Walker Hancock of Claiborne said that Naples Bay, who is out of the stakes winning mare Cappucino Bay, “had every quality to be a great broodmare.”

Naples Bay highlighted an afternoon that also saw the global ambitions of China Horse Club show themselves inside the Keeneland pavilion as representatives of the racing and business lifestyle club went to $2.8 million to obtain multiple Grade I winner Iotapa for its ever-expanding operation.

Founded by Teo Ah Khing, the architect who designed Dubai’s massive Meydan Racecourse, China Horse Club has been aggressively buying horses across the globe and most notably partnered with Coolmore Stud on ownership of beautifully bred English and Irish Derby winner, Australia.

Iotapa fit the bill as a most desirable addition to the program. The dark bay daughter of Afleet Alex won the Grade I Vanity and Clement L. Hirsch this summer and was most recently third behind Grade I winners Untapable and Don’t Tell Sophia in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

“She may be part of our program here in America. But the purpose very much is we are promoting the best of racing and the best lifestyle elements of what we do to our audience, our members,” said Eden Harrington, general manager of China Horse Club. “Breeding is certainly part of our operation. And this is the biggest marketplace there is for breeding so in due course it would make sense, and a mare of this stature would make sense.”

 

 

 

 

 

Grade I winner Egg Drop sells to Bridlewood for $1.9 million

Few mares on the Keeneland sales grounds are more beautiful than Grade I winner Egg Drop. The daughter of Alphabet Soup set another standard others in November Breeding Stock auction will have to chase as she became the first offering in this year’s Keeneland sale to hit seven figures, selling to Bridlewood Farm for $1.9 million on Tuesday.

Campaigned by the Little Red Feather Racing partnership, Egg Drop sold in foal to leading sire Tapit, adding to her already standout physical appeal. The 5-year-old gray mare won three straight graded stakes to close out her breakout 2013 campaign, including a victory in the Grade I Matriarch, and was second in the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes this February  before being bred to Tapit.

“Bridlewood is now owned by (billionaire John Malone) and we’re trying to build a special program one horse at a time,” said longtime Bridlewood manager George Isaacs after signing the ticket. “This is literally our second mare. We bought Concinnous (for $2 million) last night (at Fasig-Tipton). We want to build a broodmare band of about 20-25 special mares…and this mare had all the ingredients we are looking for.

“She’s an alpha physical, beautiful mare, very good pedigree, great race record. And in foal to a top sire. She was right below what we thought we’d have to pay.”

Bill Koch, founder and managing partner for Little Red Feather Racing, found himself fighting tears shortly after seeing the partnership’s big mare change hands. Egg Drop, who retired with six wins from 13 starts and $534,020 in earnings, was the first Grade I winner for Little Red Feather since their upset 2004 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Singletary.

“We just know what a fabulous mare she is how much she means to all our partners,” Koch said, welling up with tears. “There’s a lot of mixed emotions but she’s going to a great home and we love her and we’re so pleased with the people who bought her.

“You know how hard it is to get a filly like that, with so much courage and so much heart. When you’re in a partnership, it’s hard sometimes. But you have to do the right thing and we knew that some day this would probably have to happen. It was a difficult decision…and we can ultimately reinvest in the industry and keep (the partnership) going that way.”

 

 

 

 

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