Tag Archive | "Triple Crown"

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Legendary jockey Dominguez to be honored Preakness week

Posted on 13 April 2014 by WNST Staff

DOMINGUEZ HEADLINES 2014 ALIBI BREAKFAST AWARD WINNERS

BALTIMORE, 04-11-14—Pimlico Race Course today announced the winners of this year’s Preakness media awards. Honorees will be recognized and awards presented at the May 15 Alibi Breakfast in the Terrace Dining Room. The ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m., two days prior to the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, the $1.5 million Preakness® Stakes (G1).

The Special Award of Merit is given to someone who has made a positive impact on the racing industry. The 2014 winner is Ramon Dominguez. Dominguez, who retired last June retired with 4,985 career victories and earnings of $191.6 million, was a regular rider at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park early in his career. The three-time Eclipse Award winner for outstanding rider arrived in Maryland in 2000 and won 1,012 races at the major Maryland tracks over the next five years, including 297 victories in 2001. He earned his first Grade 1 score when he guided A Huevo to victory in the 2003 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.

“I am very proud to be presented The Special Award of Merit,” Dominguez said. “It has been an honor to be part of horse racing in Maryland, a place where I have great memories as well as friends that I will always treasure.”

Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred reporter Sean Clancy is the recipient of the David F. Woods Award for his feature centering around jockey Gary Stevens’ return to glory. Clancy becomes the first writer to win the award four times, previously earning the honor in 2004, 2007-08. The Woods Award honors the best story for the previous year. Judging was done by Preakness notes team members Ed Gray, Mike Kane and Matt Graves, all award winning turf writers.

Getty Images photographer Patrick Smith is the winner of the Jerry Frutkoff Preakness Photo Award, sponsored by Nikon. Smith captured a fist-pumping Stevens after Oxbow crossed the finish line first in Preakness 138 last May. Judging was completed by Nikon’s Mark Kettenhofen and Maryland Jockey Club photographers Jim McCue and Jerry Dzierwinski.

The prestigious Old Hilltop Award will be bestowed upon WJZ-TV sports director Mark Viviano  and HRTV executive producer and senior vice president Amy Zimmerman for covering Thoroughbred racing with excellence and distinction. Viviano will be working his 17th Preakness next month. Under Zimmerman’s guidance, HRTV has either won or received honorable mention for the Eclipse Award for National Television Feature eight consecutive years.

The Honorary Postmaster for Preakness 139 Station is Laurel Park-based trainer Tim Keefe, who competed in Ironman Triathlons two of the last three years to help raise money for horse-related charities.

Most Rev. William Lori, the Archbishop of Baltimore, will provide the invocation for the third straight year.

The Alibi Breakfast is a popular fixture of Preakness week festivities, starting in the late 1930s on the porch of the historical Pimlico Clubhouse when a group of trainers, owners and other dignitaries would gather in the mornings to expound upon the merits of their horses. Today’s event is a descendant of the original gathering to celebrate the event and solicit interesting race predictions.

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Trainer bonus added to Preakness weekend purse

Posted on 18 February 2014 by WNST Staff

PIMLICO STAKES SCHEDULE WORTH NEARLY $4.7 MILLION DURING 35-DAY SPRING MEETING

$100,000 Trainer Bonus Added To Preakness Weekend

BALTIMORE, 02-18-14—The Maryland Racing Commission approved the 2014 Pimlico Race Course spring stakes schedule at its monthly meeting this afternoon. The headline event of the 10-week meeting is the 139th running of the $1.5 million Preakness® Stakes (G1), the middle jewel of horse racing’s famed Triple Crown, on May 17.

The marquee meet of the Maryland racing season will feature 25 stakes races for purses totaling $4,680,000. The Preakness day undercard features eight other stakes races, including three graded races. The May 16 card features eight stakes races, highlighted by the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) and the $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3).

In addition, Pimlico will debut a $100,000 trainer bonus on Preakness weekend. Trainers will earn points based on finishes in 15 stakes races May 16-17.

·        May 16—Black-Eyed Susan (G2), Pimlico Special (G3), Miss Preakness, Jim McKay Turf Sprint, Hilltop, Skipat, Rollicking

·        May 17—Preakness (G1), Dixie (G2), Maryland Sprint (G3), Gallorette (G3), Chick Lang, James Murphy, Sir Barton, The Very One

Trainers will receive points for finishing first (10 points), second (7), third (5), fourth (3) and starting a horse (1 point) in each race. The winner will earn $50,000. Other prize money: $25,000 (second), $12,000 (third), $7,000 (fourth), $4,000 (fifth) and $2,000 (sixth). Trainers must have started five horses in the stakes combined to be eligible.

“It is extremely competitive during the Triple Crown season with so many high profile races,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. “We are working hard to increase the profile of Preakness weekend. We hope adding the trainer bonus will lead to larger fields and more wagering.”

The other modifications to the 2014 stakes schedule are:

·        $100,000 purse increase to the Dixie Stakes (G2) from $300,000 to $400,000 and changing the distance from 1 1/8 to 1 1/16

·        Not carding the Allaire duPont Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares on Preakness day

·        Increase purses of Dahlia, Twixt, Tesio, Henry Clark, Primonetta, Stormy Blues and Shine Again Stakes from $75,000 to $100,000

·        Changing the name of the Canonero II Stakes to the Sir Barton Stakes, increasing the purse from $75,000 to $100,000, altering the condition to non-winners of a sweepstakes and moving the race from early June to Preakness day

·        The winners of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) and Miss Preakness Stakes on May 16 will receive a breeding season to Awesome Again and Ghostzapper, respectively, courtesy of Adena Springs

The Pimlico spring stand will begin April 3 with live racing taking place four days a week on a Thursday through Sundayschedule prior to Preakness and then Friday, Saturday and Sunday (plus Memorial Day). The 35-day meet will end on June 7, Belmont Stakes day.

Pimlico Spring Meeting Live Racing Schedule

April 3-4-5-6

April 10-11-12-13

April 17-18-19 (no racing Easter Sunday)

April 24-25-26-27

May 1-2-3-4

May 8-9-10-11

May 15-16-17

May 23-24-25-26

May 30-31-June 1

June 6-7

The Pimlico stable area will be open for training, beginning Monday, March 17.

The current Laurel Park winter meeting will conclude its 13-week run on Saturday, March 29.

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Derby winner Orb installed as Belmont favorite over Oxbow

Posted on 05 June 2013 by WNST Staff

NEW YORK (AP) — Back home again, Kentucky Derby winner Orb is the horse to beat in the Belmont Stakes.

Orb was made the 3-1 morning-line favorite in a field of 14 entered for Saturday’s final leg of the Triple Crown at Belmont Park, and trainer Shug McGaughey is confident his colt can bounce back from his fourth-place finish behind Oxbow in the Preakness.

“He’s been here for three weeks, and I think it has to be a help not only mentally but being familiar with the footing as well,” McGaughey said. “He’s done well here and trained well here. … I’m going to strike a line through the Preakness. It wasn’t his day. It was (trainer) Wayne Lukas and Oxbow and Gary Stevens’ day. We’re going to regroup and hopefully you’ll see the right horse here on Saturday.”

Orb drew the No. 5 post Wednesday, with Oxbow two gates over in No. 7. Revolutionary, one of trainer Todd Pletcher’s record five entries, is the second choice at 9-2. Oxbow is next at 5-1.

“I think Shug has established his horse as the favorite today, and that’s right,” said Lukas, who has won a record 14 Triple Crown races, including the Belmont four times. “But I think he knows he has to take care of business in getting us out of the way, too.”

The field for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont is the largest since 1996, when Lukas won the race with Editor’s Note.

“It’s a great advantage to be on your home court, where you train your horses,” said Lukas, who used to have a Belmont-based stable. “They don’t have to ship in and get settled, and then get over the surface. They’ve already been doing that.”

Orb, under Joel Rosario, navigated his way past 16 rivals in the final half mile of the Derby to win by 2 1/2 lengths. In the Preakness, Orb was unable to find running room outside after breaking from the rail, and Oxbow led wire-to-wire under Gary Stevens.

McGaughey is well-versed in what it takes to deal with the Belmont – one long trip around the spacious oval.

“The jockey is really going to have to read the race – it’s what separates the top riders from some of those that aren’t,” said McGaughey, who won the Belmont with Easy Goer in 1989 and spoiled Sunday Silence’s Triple Crown try. “If you turn down the backside at Belmont, it’s not like turning down the backside at Churchill Downs, or Pimlico or the Fair Grounds.

“You’ve got a long way to go, and big open space through there, and you better be patient. If you’re not, it’s going to get to you.”

Orb comes into the race with five wins in nine starts for owners Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps and Stuart Janney III, while Oxbow’s Preakness win was just his third win in 11 starts for Calumet Farm.

Pletcher is looking for his second Belmont win. He won it in 2007 with the filly Rags to Riches, and Unlimited Budget could make him 2-for-2 with his Belmont fillies if Rosie Napravnik can pull off the upset and become the second female rider to win a Triple Crown race (Julie Krone won the 1993 Belmont with Colonial Affair).

“She’s a big, strong, talented filly. From a physical standpoint, she is going to match up well,” Pletcher said. “My biggest concern is the mile-and-a-half, with her not as strongly bred as Rags to Riches. But she’s trained very well.”

Pletcher will also send out Overanalyze, Palace Malice and Midnight Taboo. Mike Repole owns Unlimited Budget, Overanalyze and Midnight Taboo.

Unlimited Budget, who won her first four starts before running third in the Kentucky Oaks, and Peter Pan winner Freedom Child are co-fourth choices at 8-1.

The last Derby-Belmont winner was Thunder Gulch in 1995, and the last Preakness-Belmont winner was Afleet Alex in 2005. The last rematch of the Derby and Preakness winners was in 2011, when Preakness winner Shackleford ran fifth and Derby winner Animal Kingdom sixth behind Ruler On Ice.

The field from the rail out is Frac Daddy (Alan Garcia, 30-1), Freedom Child (Luis Saez, 8-1), Overanalyze (John Velazquez, 12-1), Giant Finish (Edgar Prado, 30-1), Orb (Joel Rosario, 3-1), Incognito (Irad Ortiz, Jr., 20-1), Oxbow (Gary Stevens, 5-1), Midnight Taboo (Garrett Gomez, 30-1), Revolutionary (Javier Castellano, 9-2), Will Take Charge (Jon Court, 20-1), Vyjack (Julien Leparoux, 20-1), Palace Malice (Mike Smith, 15-1), Unlimited Budget (Rosie Napravnik, 8-1), and Golden Soul (Robby Albarado, 10-1).

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/06/05/2626001/derby-winner-orb-3-1-favorite.html#storylink=cpy

 

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Derby winner Orb to arrive for Preakness May 14

Posted on 05 May 2013 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE, 05-05-13—Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Orb is scheduled to arrive at Pimlico Race Course on Tuesday, May 14 to begin final preparations for the 138th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) on Saturday, May 18.

Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey confirmed his plans to run the Malibu Moon colt in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown during a Sunday morning phone call with Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas and two other Preakness officials. Pimlico officials traditionally call the winner of the Kentucky Derby to extend a formal invitation to come to Baltimore.

“I’m looking forward to getting this process going again and running in the Preakness,” McGaughey said.

McGaughey has had two Preakness starters: Pine Circle, fifth in 1984; Easy Goer, who finished second to Sunday Silence after an epic battle in 1989.

“We are tickled to death with the way he ran yesterday and he seemed to come out of the race well,” added McGaughey. “I am looking forward to getting there. We had a great two weeks down here and I am sure our time at Pimlico will be every bit as good. We are planning on bringing him Tuesday of Preakness week.”

Orb, bred and owned by Maryland native Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable, won the Kentucky Derby by 2- 1/2 lengths after making a powerful move to the lead under jockey Joel Rosario. It was the first Derby victory for McGaughey, who has developed a number of champions during his distinguished career, including the unbeaten Personal Ensign.

Five runners that followed Orb to the wire in the Derby – Mylute (5th), Oxbow (6th), Will Take Charge (8th), Itsmyluckyday (15th) and Goldencents (17th) – are considered candidates to challenge Orb in the Preakness.

On the list of new shooters for the Preakness are Illinois Derby (G3) winner Departing, Sunland Derby (G3) winner Govenor Charlie, Southwest (G3) runner-up Fear the Kitten and allowance winner Bellarmine.

Orb, Oxbow, Will Take Charge, Goldencents and Departing are regarded as likely starters. Itsmyluckyday, Mylute, Govenor Charlie, Bellarmine and Fear the Kitten are possible starters for the 1 3/16ths mile race.

Goldencents, trained by 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Doug O’Neill, will be shipped to Pimlico this week. O’Neill broke with recent form last year and brought Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another to Baltimore two days after his Derby win. He said Sunday morning that he liked that experience and is anxious to send Goldencents and 10 other runners to Pimlico.

“He came out of it good and we’re going to do the right thing by the horse,” O’Neill said. “As long as he continues to do well, we’re going to try the Preakness.”

Team O’Neill could arrive in Baltimore as early as Tuesday, May 7.

O’Neill said that he has been impressed by Orb.

“I thought he ran great,” O’Neill said. “He’s a dynamite horse. He looked great on paper. He looked great in the flesh the whole week watching him train and he ran accordingly. He’s the real deal.”

That said, O’Neill is willing to tackle Orb again in two weeks.

“It’s what horse racing is all about,” he said. “They don’t hand you anything. As good as he is, if Goldencents rebounds and gets back to his Santa Anita Derby effort, I think we have a chance to be right there.”

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a five-time winner of the Preakness, will be represented by LeComte (G3) winner Oxbow and Rebel (G2) winner Will Take Charge and acknowledged Sunday that Orb presents a tough challenge.

“We are all going to have to get better to beat him,” Lukas said, who has had at least one starter in 25 of the past 33 years. “I think the Preakness will be the biggest hurdle for him for the Triple Crown. If he gets by that, he gets to go back home to Belmont and run right out of his stall.”

Mylute, co-owned by GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm, acted like a horse who still had plenty of energy and his connections started thinking about the Preakness.

“We need a couple more days to think about it,” GoldMark Farm general manager Todd Quast said after he and trainer Tom Amoss checked on the Louisiana Derby runner-up in his stall. “You wouldn’t not want to go from what you see today, that’s for sure. When he came out of the Louisiana Derby he was so high that we worked him back eight days later. If he comes back with that kind of energy we have to seriously look at it.”

Mylute’s jockey Rosie Napravnik is looking forward to her first opportunity to ride in Maryland’s premier race. Napravnik began her career at Pimlico in June 2005 as a 17-year-old and built her reputation in Maryland. She was a regular rider in the state through 2008 and topped the jockey standings in 2006 and 2008.

“There’s no other race I would rather be in and win,” Napravnik said.

Only two female riders have had a Preakness mount: PJ Cooksey (1985) and Andrea Seefeldt (1994).

Trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. said Itsmyluckyday was “60-40” for the Preakness after a disappointing performance in the Derby.

“We have to blame it on the (sloppy) race track. It’s not just making an excuse. He trained too well to run so bad,” Plesa said. “You could see where he was struggling with the racetrack all the way around. It wasn’t a case of soundness; it was a question of handling the racetrack.”

Itsmyluckyday is scheduled to ship to Monmouth Park Monday morning.

Departing has won four of five career starts for trainer Al Stall and the War Front gelding was confirmed as a Preakness horse Sunday morning. Stall said that Claiborne Farm principal Seth Hancock told him in a text at 9 a.m. before going to church that he was leaning toward running.

“He called me after church and said, ‘Let’s go forward,’” Stall said.

Departing, bred and co-owned by Claiborne and Adele Dilschneider, was on the Kentucky Derby trail until he finished third in the Louisiana Derby on March 30. The 3-1/4-length victory in the Illinois Derby on April 20 got him back on track to compete in the Triple Crown races.

“We were kind of pointing toward the Preakness no matter who was going to be there, really,” Stall said. “I was unbelievably impressed with the way Orb trained and the way he ran. He’s going to be a monster horse to try to beat. We just have our horse on a good schedule. He’s fresh. I wanted to get a work into  him before the Derby, which he did Thursday. We’re very excited how that went and how he came out of it too. All that went into our decision. That’s what made us firm it up today.”

Sagamore Farm’s Heat Press, who finished second in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico on April 27, is considered “unlikely” by trainer Graham Motion.

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Secretariat 40th anniversary to be recognized Preakness week

Posted on 17 April 2013 by WNST Staff

MARYLAND JOCKEY CLUB ANNOUNCES SPECIAL PREAKNESS EVENTS TO COMMEMORATE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF SECRETARIAT’S TRIPLE CROWN CAMPAIGN

 Preakness & Black-Eyed Susan Appearance, AFI Silver Theatre Screening & ESPN Roundtable Highlights 

 

BALTIMORE, 04-17-13—Secretariat’s legendary Triple Crown campaign in 1973 has marveled three generations of racing fans, fascinated by the mark he left on history and his stunning performances that rewrote the record books. “Big Red’s” 40th Anniversary Celebration continues on this season’s Triple Crown trail with special events and appearances by the Meadow Stable team at the Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness.

 

Tickets are available for festivities that begin Tuesday, May 14 at 6:30 p.m.,  when a live taping of ESPN’s In the GateThoroughbred racing podcast series comes to the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD. Hosted by Barry Abrams, the Roundtable Discussion, “Secretariat’s 40th Anniversary,” will feature Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery and jockey Ron Turcotte and offer an in-depth conversation about the phenomenon that was Secretariat, as well as the now-settled controversy of his record-breaking race time in the Preakness. Audience participation will be encouraged for the Roundtable Discussion, which will subsequently be available on ESPN.com leading up to Preakness day. The panel includes Secretariat: The Making of a Champion author Bill Nack, journalist Steve Davidowitz, Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas and members of the Maryland Racing Commission among others.

 

At 7:30 p.m., immediately following the ESPN podcast, the National Film Board of Canada will present the highly anticipated documentary Secretariat’s Jockey-Ron Turcotte . This touching film, directed by award-winning filmmaker Phil Comeau and produced by Maryse Chapdelaine, follows Turcotte as he returns to the people and places that marked the storied life of this resilient and legendary jockey, whose  impressive 16-year career in the irons ended in 1978 when a fall left him paraplegic.

 

A VIP reception at 9 p.m. will toast this incredible evening with appearances from the Meadow Team and Roundtable panel, as well as the Maryland Horse Industry Board’s presentation of its May “Touch of Class” Awards. The awards, presented monthly by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Secretary of Agriculture, recognize individuals or horses who demonstrate national or international excellence.

 

“It is a privilege to honor the greatness of the magnificent Secretariat at each and every one of his pivotal anniversaries,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. “The celebration of his 40th is even sweeter following the official confirmation last year that Big Red did, in fact, set a track record with his 1973 Preakness win.  Secretariat’s star power is timeless, as his legion of fans can well attest.”

 

“The Maryland Jockey Club has been most gracious in pulling together such an enriching event,” Mrs. Chenery said. “I am very much looking forward to an engaging panel discussion hosted by ESPN, seeing the documentary film about Ronnie and sharing this memorable occasion with friends and fans.”

 

Tickets for the May 14 trio of events which include the ESPN Roundtable, AFI film screening and VIP reception, can be purchased for $50 through www.secretariat.com. A special discounted rate of $25 is available for children 14 and under.

 

Secretariat fans can enjoy more of the 40th Anniversary Celebration when it continues Black-Eyed Susan Day, May 17, and Preakness Day, May 18, at Pimlico Race Course. Members of the Meadow Stable team including Turcotte and exercise rider Charlie Davis as well as Nack are currently scheduled to host an autograph signing and meet and greet both days. Secretariat enthusiasts can also purchase an assortment of official Secretariat merchandise and memorabilia at the Secretariat Tent.

 

For more information about tickets or the Secretariat 40th Anniversary Celebration and scheduled events, go online to Secretariat.com, the official website for the legendary Thoroughbred champion and visit www.blackeyedsusanday.com and www.preakness.com for full details.

 

Secretariat 40th Anniversary: Preakness

 

Tuesday, May 14,

AFI Silver Theatre

8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD

ESPN Roundtable Podcast Taping, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Ron Turcotte Film Screening, 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Reception, Meet & Greet and Touch of Class Awards , 9 p.m.

Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18,

Pimlico Race Course

Meadow Team Stable Appearances

Secretariat Tent

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Secretariat’s 1973 Preakness winning time to be reviewed

Posted on 12 June 2012 by WNST Staff

MARYLAND RACING COMMISSION AGREES TO REVIEW TIMING OF SECRETARIAT’S 1973 PREAKNESS STAKES
New Evidence to Be Presented at June 19 Meeting

BALTIMORE, Md. (June 12, 2012) – Penny Chenery, the owner of Secretariat and Thomas Chuckas, the President of the Maryland Jockey Club have requested that the Maryland Racing Commission conduct a hearing to consider “compelling” evidence, based upon advances in modern video technology, regarding the long-standing controversy surrounding Secretariat’s winning time in the 1973 Preakness Stakes. The Commission has agreed to do so and it will consider the request at its upcoming meeting on June 19th at Laurel Park.
The electronic timer in use at Pimlico for the 1973 Preakness recorded a winning time of 1:55—a clocking that quickly became the source of controversy after two independent clockers from the Daily Racing Form had individually hand-timed the race at a much faster 1:53 2/5. In the days following the 1973 Preakness, the stewards at Pimlico, and later the Commission, concluded that there were “extenuating circumstances” attendant to the electronic timer’s recording.  As a result, the official time was subsequently changed to that reported by Pimlico’s official hand clocker — 1:54 2/5.
Had Secretariat’s time been officially recorded as 1:53 2/5 – the time still recognized today by the Daily Racing Form – he would have beaten Canonero II’s track record of 1:54 for the 1 3/16-mile distance, set during the 1971 Preakness Stakes. Instead, the Preakness wound up being the only ”jewel” of Secretariat’s three Triple Crown race victories in which he did not establish a new track record.
“For me, revisiting this dispute on a new day is matter of resolution – for historians, for sportswriters and for racing fans,” said Mrs. Chenery. “Their voices are supported by sound evidence, and they deserve to be heard.”
The Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Pimlico Race Course, agrees that the time has come to settle the issue.
“During the last 40 years, video technology has been accepted in other professional sports as a supportive mechanism for officials to ensure fairness and accuracy in their decisions,” said Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas. “It is important for horse racing and the record books to confirm the correct time in this historical race. It is the appropriate thing to do.”
In later runnings of the second leg of the Triple Crown, Tank’s Prospect (1985), Louis Quatorze (1996) and Curlin (2007) separately established the current, officially – recognized Preakness Stakes record time of 1:53 2/5. The track record at Pimlico for 1 3/16 miles is held by Farma Way with a time of 1:52 2/5 when he won the 1991 Pimlico Special.
The June 19 Maryland Racing Commission meeting will be held at Laurel Park beginning at 1:00 pm and is open to the public.

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O’Neill takes unique approach to training I’ll Have Another for Belmont

Posted on 27 May 2012 by WNST Staff

NEW YORK (AP) Trainer Doug O’Neill is taking an unconventional path to a Triple Crown bid by using a series of strong gallops rather than formal workouts to prepare I’ll Have Another for the Belmont Stakes on June 9.

“There will be a lot of days when I’ll Have Another, strictly galloping, will pass a lot of workers,” O’Neill said Sunday morning after taking a red-eye flight from his West Coast base and being reunited with his Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.

The last three Triple Crown champions, Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978), all drilled at least one mile in preparation for the 1½-mile “Test of the Champion.” The Belmont is the longest of the Triple Crown races.

O’Neill said his plan has everything to do with the vigor the colt brings to his daily morning regimen.

“If anyone got a chance to see him, he stretches and puts a lot of effort into his morning gallops,” he said.

I’ll Have Another was shipped to Belmont Park the morning after little-known jockey Mario Gutierrez, 25, ran down Bodemeister by a neck in the Preakness on May 19. His trainer was encouraged by everything he observed.

“His appetite is strong, his stride is great and his coat is there,” he said.

O’Neill added, “We have all the confidence in the world in I’ll Have Another. As long as he stays healthy and injury-free, we think he’ll be very tough.”

His pre-race handling of the colt is likely to spark discussion and debate. Seattle Slew, for instance, was given three workouts to fortify him for the Belmont marathon. He went three furlongs in a sizzling 354⁄5 seconds the day before he beat Run Dusty Run by four lengths.

I’ll Have Another appears to be well-prepared for the challenge ahead from a freshness standpoint. Shin problems sidelined him after he ran sixth in the Hopeful last Sept. 5, ending his 2-year-old season with three starts. He was the fifth consecutive Derby winner to compete in two prep races, pulling an upset at 43-1 in the Robert Lewis on Feb. 4 before edging Creative Cause by a nose in the Santa Anita Derby on April 7.

 

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O’Neill suspension unrelated to I’ll Have Another

Posted on 26 May 2012 by WNST Staff

CALIFORNIA (AP) — Despite vigorously denying he gave one of his horses an illegal performance-enhancing mixture, trainer Doug O’Neill was suspended 45 days — a ban that won’t take effect until after his superstar colt, I’ll Have Another, tries to win the Triple Crown.

After a nearly two-year legal battle, California racing officials agreed with O’Neill but still found fault because of a rule that says trainers are ultimately responsible for horses in their care.

The ruling Thursday doesn’t prevent O’Neill from saddling his Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner in the Belmont Stakes on June 9.

The suspension and $15,000 fine — which O’Neill can appeal — come in the final weeks of I’ll Have Another’s attempt to become horse racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner and first since Affirmed 34 years ago. The colt trained by O’Neill won the Derby on May 5 and took the Preakness on Saturday.

“I plan on examining and reviewing all of my options following the Belmont Stakes, but right now I plan on staying focused on preparing for and winning the Triple Crown,” O’Neill said in a statement.

The seven-member California Horse Racing Board met in closed session Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., to consider the recommended decision of a hearing officer in O’Neill’s case. The board agreed with the officer’s recommendations on the punishment for O’Neill, who turned 44 on Thursday.

While elevated carbon dioxide is associated with “milkshaking,” the officer agreed with O’Neill that his horse Argenta had not been fed a mixture of bicarbonate of soda, sugar and electrolytes that enhances performance and combats fatigue. The officer did not indicate what might have caused the overage.

“I’m gratified that the CHRB found that I did not “milkshake” a horse or engage in any intentional conduct that would result in an elevated TC02 level,” O’Neill said.

The penalty comes at a time when racing is under heavy scrutiny for the way horses are prepared for their races.

O’Neill said he spent $250,000 defending himself.

“I know I didn’t milkshake a horse. None of us around the barn milkshaked any horses,” O’Neill said Wednesday. “You got to have rules and I respect rules, but when you get faulty science involved, it costs a lot of money unfortunately, but you’ve got to fight it and that’s what we’re doing.”

O’Neill ran into trouble after Argenta tested in excess of the permitted level of TCO2 — a Class 3 violation — after finishing
eighth in a race at Del Mar on Aug. 25, 2010. The horse is co-owned by Mark Verge, the CEO of Santa Anita race track and O’Neill’s childhood friend.

But the hearing officer, who could have recommended up to a 180-day suspension, advised that 135 days be stayed as long as O’Neill doesn’t have any Class 1, 2 or 3 medication violations in any state during an 18-month period.

It was O’Neill’s third total carbon dioxide violation in California and fourth in his career. In 2010, he was suspended and
fined for a similar offense involving one of his horses that ran in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course in suburban Chicago.

The officer found there were no suspicious betting patterns in the 2010 race and that there was no evidence of any intentional acts on the part of O’Neill in connection with the incident.

However before the hearing, the parties had stipulated that the Ken Maddy Laboratory at UC Davis detected an excess level of TCO2 in the horse’s blood sample, and CHRB Rule 1887 states a trainer is ultimately responsible for the condition of a horse, so O’Neill was punished.

CHRB executive director Kirk Breed will decide when O’Neill’s suspension will begin, but it will be no sooner than July 1.

The Jockey Club has said that elevated total carbon dioxide levels, regardless of cause, are violations of the rules and
penalties for excessive TCO2 are severe. It urges trainers and their veterinarians to work closely to identify any procedure or practices that may elevate such levels in horses.

 

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MJC says wagering figures up in 2012

Posted on 23 May 2012 by WNST Staff

Pimlico Announces Final Spring Meet Handle Figures

BALTIMORE, 05-23-12—The Maryland Jockey Club concluded its spring meeting at Pimlico Race Course last weekend, posting average wagering figures which were 9% higher than the 2011 spring meet. The average daily handle went from $4.72 million to $5.17 million. The stand featured 29 live racing dates and 21 simulcast days.

“It is significant news that the live and export numbers increased from a year ago,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “We finished strong as betting was up in May on nine of 11 days of live racing. Our handle improved $4.1 million on Preakness day and $3.1 million last Friday which helped the final numbers and I have to thank our racing office for carding two unbelievable cards.”

Attendance was up nearly 9% at Pimlico as the Preakness day crowd increased from 107,398 to a record 121,309. Performances by Grammy Award winner Maroon 5 and Billboard Music Award winner Wiz Khalifa in the infield plus the presence of Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another in Baltimore for 12 days before the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown contributed to make it a must-see event.

“We continue to enhance the infield experience since changing the beverage policy after the 2008 Preakness and got lucky as Maroon 5’s popularity skyrocketed after we booked them,” added Chuckas. “I don’t think you can put a dollar figure on what it meant having trainer Doug O’Neill bring the Kentucky Derby winner here two days after winning the Derby instead of just three days before the Preakness. Their presence increased our visibility in the market as Doug and his team became part of the community leading up to the big weekend.”

Castellano, Ness, Midwest Thoroughbred, Inc. Capture Spring Meet Titles

The eight-week Pimlico spring meeting ended Saturday afternoon with Abel Castellano, Jamie Ness and Midwest Thoroughbred, Inc. winning individual titles. The 29-day stand began at the historic home of the Preakness Stakes (G1) on March 30.

Castellano won the first race of the meet and never looked back, dominating the rider standings with 41 victories, 22 more than Horacio Karamanos. The 28-year-old rode winners for 14 different trainers, including 23 for Ness. The duo teamed up for six multiple win days, including four on May 11.

“I am so happy with the way the meet went,” Castellano said. “My agent Kevin Witte put in a lot of hard work and I wouldn’t have won the meet without him. I was winning races nearly every day (24 of the 29 days) as trainers gave me an opportunity to show them what I can do.”

Castellano arrived in Maryland as a 19-year-old and has been a consistent top five rider in the state since. He captured his first career riding title during the 2003 fall meet at Laurel Park and waited nearly nine years for his second.

“I was very young when I won that first title and almost expect it to happen all the time,” added Castellano, who has 73 winners in Maryland this year, three more than reigning champion Sheldon Russell. “Now I am married with two kids and another on the way and have more responsibility. I am taking things more seriously-putting in more work in the mornings. When the big-name riders came in last week and asked who the leading rider was, it made me happy that they knew I was.”

Ness saddled 24 winners from just 65 starters during the stand, 13 more than Dane Kobiskie and Hugh McMahon. Ness leads the nation with 178 winners through May 22, including 47 in Maryland.

“Riding for Jamie Ness is the best,” said Castellano. “I know that every horse is at 100 percent and riding horses like that increases your confidence. I work a lot of horses for him in the morning and love having the opportunity to ride for him.”

Midwest Thoroughbreds topped the owner standings at Old Hilltop, finishing first 24 times from 64 starters, all with Ness.

-mjc-

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ESPN’s Van Valkenburg says Triple Crown won’t save horse racing

Posted on 23 May 2012 by WNST Audio

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