Archives for February 2018

British horse racing plans ‘Formula One’ team series

young attractive British racegoerPlans were announced Monday to launch a multi-million pound team horse racing series across some of Britain’s leading courses next year. Promoters Championship Horse Racing (CHR) said the aim was to have 12 branded teams, each with a squad of 30 horses, compete over eight consecutive Thursdays in an early summer evening televised slot. Each one… [Read more…]

Great Stakes Card at Laurel Park for Saturday

Press Release

Cash is King and Jim Reichenberg’s Ms Locust Point, already a stakes winner in each of her three local starts, puts that streak on the line as she goes after her first graded triumph in Saturday’s $300,000 Barbara Fritchie (G2) at Laurel Park.

The 66th running of the Barbara Fritchie for fillies and mares 3 and older and the 42nd renewal of the $250,000 General George (G3) for 3-year-olds and up, both at seven furlongs, highlight a 11-race Winter Carnival program featuring six stakes worth $950,000 in purses.

Sharing the spotlight are the $100,000 Miracle Wood for 3-year-olds at one mile and the $100,000 Wide Country for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, joined by the $100,000 John B. Campbell for 4-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles and the $100,000 Maryland Racing Media for fillies and mares 4 and older at 1 1/16 miles.

Ms Locust Point has won three consecutive races since returning in November following a layoff out of her lone previous try in graded company in last February’s Forward Gal (G2) at Gulfstream Park. Her last two have come in the six-furlong Willa On the Move and What a Summer at Laurel, where she also captured the Gin Talking in December 2016.

Both of her recent stakes victories came in front-running fashion, kicking off her 4-year-old season Jan.20 with a three-length triumph in the What a Summer despite bobbling at the start to win in a sharp 1:09.78.

“She came out of her last race very good and she’s doing great. She’s going into this race good. We missed a couple days of training because of the track but, all in all, she’s sitting on go,” Parx-based trainer John Servis said. “Her last defeat she came out of the race with an issue and we had to give her a little time and she’s come back great.

“She’s maturing and learning how to settle a little more. She’s becoming a better racehorse,” he added. “She looks like a colt, and she’s got a pretty fast cruising speed. She can cruise along pretty good and just do that in hand comfortably.”

winter horse racingFavored in each of her seven career starts, Ms Locust Point lost her debut at Parx in October 2016 before graduating next out and capping her juvenile campaign in the seven-furlong Gin Talking. She tried the distance again last winter, opening up a clear lead before fading to fifth, beaten 3 ¼ lengths.

“When we first got her, about the third time we breezed her she did it so nice and well in hand. She was a little rambunctious then, so we kind of thought if we could teach her to settle and bottle up some of that speed we’d be a lot better off in the long run,” Servis said. “This would be a great race to win; obviously, it’s a graded stake. We’re just taking baby steps with her and trying to manage her the right way and find the right spots where she can continue to earn money and be successful.”

Regular rider Jorge Vargas Jr., who leads Laurel’s current winter-spring meet with 19 wins from 78 starters, will be up again from Post 9 at 118 pounds.

The most accomplished horse in the 11-horse field is Chester and Mary Broman’s millionaire homebred Highway Star, a four-time graded-stakes winner and 124-pound topweight who came up a head shy in the seven-furlong Ballerina (G2) last summer at Saratoga.

Trained in New York by Rodrigo Ubillo, the 5-year-old mare won the Gallant Bloom (G2), Ruffian (G2) and Distaff Handicap (G3) last year at distances from 6 ½ furlongs to one mile and also finished third in the 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps (G3) and second in the one-mile Go For Wand (G3) Dec. 2 at Aqueduct, her most recent start.

“In between seven furlongs and a mile, she handles those two distances very well. She likes the one turn. I don’t know if she knows the difference with an extra furlong. She doesn’t care, but that’s what she does best,” Ubillo said. “She just does everything right and she’s competitive. She always gives her best out there and she tries every time.”

Three C Stables, West Point Thoroughbreds and Robert Masiello’s Berned will make her 4-year-old debut in the Barbara Fritchie, having rallied from last of 11 to upset the seven-furlong Safely Kept by 4 ¼ lengths at odds of 8-1 Nov. 11, her most recent effort.

Berned has run in five previous graded stakes, finishing second in the 2016 Tempted (G3) by less than a length, and fourth in the 2017 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and Charles Town Oaks (G3), the latter by 1 ¼ lengths.

Jockey Feargal Lynch, aboard for the second straight time in the Safely Kept, retains the mount from Post 6 at 118 pounds.

“When she won the Safely Kept, this was sort of the plan to point for the race at Laurel. She obviously likes the track a lot and Feargal’s got an awful lot of confidence in her and I think running on that track allows him to kind of let them run away from her early and then come with a run,” trainer Graham Motion said. “I always had her pegged as more of a mile and a quarter-type horse but the owners always thought she was more of a seven-furlong horse and it looks like they were right.”

Rounding out the field are Bishop’s Pond, winner of the Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes Jan. 8 at Laurel and Frisky Whiskey, both cross-entered in the Maryland Racing Media; Divine Miss Grey and Boule, 1-2 finishers in the Interborough Stakes Jan. 15 at Aqueduct; multiple stakes winner Quezon; stakes winner Moiety; Sky Flower, second in the Thirty Eight Go Go and third in the Nellie Morse Jan. 27 at Laurel; and Tazkeya, second to Ms Locust Point in the What A Summer.

2018 NYRA Handicapping Tournament Schedule

Highlighted by the third annual Belmont Stakes Challenge, The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has released the 2018 schedule for handicapping challenges at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course.

Each handicapping contest offers horseplayers the opportunity to win live money wagered in addition to the prize pool. Each NYRA handicapping challenge will also offer the opportunity qualify for a seat to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge in November and the National Horseplayers Championship in February 2019.

In addition to registering online at, horseplayers can also directly qualify into each NYRA handicapping challenge through qualifiers hosted at and

Aqueduct Racetrack Winter/Spring meet
* Saturday, March 10, Gotham Challenge: $500 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2018 Belmont Stakes Challenge, two seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship. Guaranteed minimum 1st place prize of $5,000.

* Saturday, April 7, Wood Memorial Challenge: $500 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2018 Belmont Stakes Challenge, two seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship. Guaranteed minimum 1st place prize of $5,000.

Belmont Park
* Friday, June 8, and Saturday, June 9 Belmont Stakes Challenge: $10,000 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge, two seats to 2018 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, 4 seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championships. 100 percent of the prize money will be returned to players after deducting the cost of seats. Wagering will take place on all live races from Belmont Park on Friday, June 8 and will conclude on Saturday, June 9 with the Belmont Stakes.

* Saturday, July 7, Stars & Stripes Challenge: $500 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge, 2 seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship. Guaranteed minimum 1st place prize of $5,000.

Saratoga canopy walk throughSaratoga Race Course
* Friday, August 10, Saratoga Challenge: $1,000 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge, three seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship. Guaranteed minimum 1st place of $15,000.

* Saturday, August 11, Fourstardave Challenge: $2,000 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge, five seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship. Guaranteed minimum 1st place prize of $25,000.


Aqueduct Racetrack Fall Meet
* Saturday, November 17, Aqueduct Challenge: $1,000 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge and six seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship. Guaranteed minimum 1st place prize of $10,000.

For more information including full rules and regulations for each 2018 NYRA handicapping challenge, please visit

Strong 2018 Canterbury Park Meet on Tap

Press Release

Canterbury Park racing officials announced a thoroughbred stakes schedule for the 2018 season with 35 races worth $2.375 million, including three new races and increased purses for nine existing stakes. The Shakopee, Minn. track’s richest race, the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, will be run Saturday, June 23 along with four other stakes totaling $500,000 in stakes purses alone. The six stakes races that make up the Minnesota Festival of Champions will also be worth a half-million dollars. Scheduled for Sept. 2, each race sees a $15,000 purse increase. The Sprint, Distaff Sprint, Classic, and Distaff Classic all have purses of $75,000 and the Northern Lights Futurity and Debutante increase to $100,000.

“We will be offering the richest stakes schedule in Canterbury Park history, with two days offering half a million dollars in stakes purses, and more total purse money than ever before,” company president Randy Sampson said. Racing officials expect that total purses will increase to $15 million or nearly $1.2 million more than the 2017 season.

New to the schedule are the $45,000 Minnesota Made Sprint and Minnesota Made Distaff Sprint on July 20 and the $100,000 Canterbury Turf Express, run Aug. 24. The Minnesota Oaks and Minnesota Derby, whose history pre-dates Canterbury, each will offer a record purse of $100,000.

A 2012 cooperative marketing and purse enhancement agreement reached with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, owners and operators of nearby Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, will supplement purses by $7.28 million in the coming race season. The agreement extends through 2022 with more than $83 million going toward purse supplements and joint marketing of the two properties and the region known as RiverSouth-Land of Big Fun.

“The SMSC agreement was intended to improve racing at Canterbury on the whole, but also specifically to encourage and reward those that breed horses in Minnesota and those that race those state-breds here,” Sampson said. “We saw breeding increase when the agreement was announced and stabilize with the quality of horses improving along with the purses. The two horses with the highest purse earnings in the 31-year history of Canterbury both raced as recently as last season and both were bred in Minnesota.”

The first condition book will be available February 2. Stall applications are due March 26 and are available at .

The 70-day live racing season begins May 4 and runs through Sept. 15.

$616,553 Rainbow Six Carryover at Gulfstream Park today

Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018

Press Release

The 20-cent Rainbow 6 went unsolved for the 10th consecutive program Sunday at Gulfstream Park, producing a $616,553 carryover jackpot for Wednesday’sprogram.

Gulfstream Park paddockMultiple winning tickets Sunday were each worth $418.36.

There will also be a Super Hi 5 carryover Wednesday of $3,594.14.

The Rainbow 6 was last hit Jan. 28, when the mandatory payout of a North American record $19.779 million pool produced multiple winning tickets worth $15,566.

The carryover jackpot is only paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool. However, on days when a mandatory payout is scheduled, the entire pool is shared by those holding tickets with the most winners.

The Rainbow 6 carryover heading into Sunday’s six-race sequence (Races 7-12) stood at $506,538.61, generating a handle of $458,480.

Huge Betting Value in Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018

by International Correspondent

The Cheltenham Festival 2018 features 28 stunning races, including some of the most important events in the national hunt (jumps) racing calendar. The four-day event (13th-16th March) will host the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and Stayers’ Hurdle, all of which are regarded among the premier events in the British racing season. However, the Festival concludes with the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup, an event that is shaping up to be a thriller in 2018.

The Gold Cup is responsible for making the names of some legendary horses down the years, with the likes of Golden Miller, Arkle and, in more recent times, Kauto Star joining the pantheon of horse racing greats by winning the marquee race of the Festival.

This year Might Bite is the early favourite to win the Gold Cup, with plenty of punters parting with cash after his King George VI Chase win in December. The current odds for the Nicky Henderson trained horse are sitting around 3/1. However, the Gold Cup has been won by the favourite only on four out of the last ten occasions, so there is still a chance for price-savvy bettors.

Some runners who might upset the odds are discussed below. Be careful though, the betting picture for Cheltenham is ever-changing as we approach the start of the Festival, so check out Betting Tips: Cheltenham Festival 2018 to keep yourself abreast of the latest odds, tips and free bets.

Sizing John: Odds: 7/1

Last year’s Gold Cup winner still has much to offer, despite a poor showing in his last race. If, as some have speculated, that was indeed just an off day, then the 7/1 offered by William Hill may just be a bargain for a horse that has been largely imperious ever since coming under the tutelage of trainer Jessica Harrington in 2016.  Could be one of those hindsight moments where bettors curse themselves for ever doubting him.

Native River: Odds: 10/1

A really interesting candidate. Native River has only been in a competitive race twice since winning the Welsh Grand National in 2016. One of those races was his third place to Sizing John in the Gold Cup last year. He has all the attributes to be a winner of Cheltenham’s biggest prize, so it is worth keeping an eye on signals from his training yard. Certainly, he is one to watch.

Killultagh Vic: Odds: 14/1

Killultagh Vic was unbeaten in five races before falling at the final fence when leading the Irish Gold Cup in early February. He is a superb horse though, one who has often displayed the grit and stamina required to win a Gold Cup. The fact he is priced at single figures with some bookmakers proves he is respected. An excellent chance.

Definitly Red: Odds: 16/1 

Like Killultagh Vic, Definitly Red has been rattling the betting markets after his superb victory in the Cotswold Chase in early February. The Gold Cup suits horses in peak form and Definitly Red seems to have rediscovered his best at the right time. Definitely worth a look.

Brazilian Jockey Scores World Record Win 12,844

jockey riding a horse raceJorge Ricardo Nabs World Record for Rider Wins

For years, Brazilian jockey Jorge Ricardo battled for one of the least heard-of, yet toughest titles in sport — most horse races won — and on Monday he got there with a 12,844th victory. The win in the rain at Rio de Janeiro’s Hipodromo race track equalled the extraordinary world record held by Ricardo’s career-long Canadian… [Read more…]

2018 National Horseplayers Championship Begins Today in Vegas

Nearly $3 Million, ‘Horseplayer of the Year’ Eclipse Award on the Line at NHC 19

A record estimated field of 700 entries will compete for the largest purse in handicapping tournament history – projected at more than $2.96 million in cash and awards – and horse racing’s official title of “Horseplayer of the Year” – at this weekend’s 19th NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Presented by Racetrack Television Network, STATS Race Lens™ and Treasure Island Las Vegas. The three-day tournament, Friday to Sunday at Treasure Island, will offer a first-place prize of $800,000.

“This year’s total NHC prize money will be about double what it was only five years ago, in 2014,” said NTRA Chief Operating Officer and NHC Tournament Director Keith Chamblin. “We are very grateful to so many horseplayers and participating organizations throughout the industry for their help making the NHC a singular event that represents the ultimate prize for horseplayers.”

The NHC field will be reduced to the top 10 percent of players after the first two days. The highest 10 cumulative scores after the Semifinal round will fill out the Final Table. Bankrolls amassed during Day 1, Day 2 and the Semifinal round will roll over to the Final Table, with the 10 finalists settling the NHC score in seven “mandatory” assigned races.

Players who do not make the Semifinal cut will still compete on Day 3, in a separate Consolation tournament.

A full scoreboard will be updated regularly at, where fans and players can also find each day’s contest race menu and news updates.

Noel Michaels, author of Handicapping Contest Handbook: A Horseplayer’s Guide to Handicapping Tournaments, will host live video coverage daily, Friday to Sunday, from 5-8 p.m. ET (2-5 p.m. PT) on the NTRA Facebook page ( Programming will include interviews with NHC personalities, handicapping and previews of mandatory races, and live coverage of Sunday’s Final Table. Additional news and exclusive content will be shared on Twitter via the official NTRA account, @NTRA.

nhc final table vegasAt the Races with Steve Byk will broadcast live on SiriusXM satellite radio (Sirius 219; XM 206; Online 964) from Treasure Island during the show’s regular hours, 9 a.m.-Noon ET (6-9 a.m. PT), on Friday morning, and online at daily, Friday to Sunday, Noon-5:30 p.m. ET (9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. PT). Next Monday’s regular 9 a.m.-Noon ET (6-9 a.m. PT) show will feature an extended NHC recap.

Defending NHC champion Ray Arsenault – who last month was honored with an Eclipse Award as “Horseplayer of the Year”– heads this year’s record field, which is comprised of 570 individual players (130 are dual qualifiers playing the maximum two entries).

As the 2017 NHC winner, Arsenault, of Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, near Toronto, received an automatic berth into this year’s tournament to defend the title he won last January when he bested 653 other entries.

Arsenault won by amassing a mythical bankroll of $407.70 from a total of 53 Win-and-Place wagers pared from a mind-melting menu of more than 150 races run at eight different tracks. Arsenault will seek to become the first-ever two-time winner of the NHC, as will 11 other past winners that have qualified. The other qualifying champions: Paul Matties (2016), John O’Neil (2015), Jose Arias (2014), Michael Beychok (2012), John Doyle (2011), Brian Troop (2010), John Conte (2009), Richard Goodall (2008), Stanley Bavlish (2007), Steve Wolfson Jr. (2003), and Judy Wagner (2001).

Several players will compete for major bonuses tied to earlier accomplishments:

The winner of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) is eligible for a $3 million BCBC/NHC Bonus. San Francisco resident Nisan Gabbay, a 40-year-old software developer and owner of a tech startup, earned $350,000 for winning the BCBC at Del Mar in November with a final live bankroll of $176,000. First prize at the NHC is $800,000, meaning that successful completion of the BCBC-NHC double would be worth $4.326 million.


Buddies Brad & Howard at the 2015 NHC

As the winner of the 2017 NHC Tour, Mike Ferrozzo won $100,000 and an NHC berth. Should he go on to win this year’s NHC, he will receive a $2 million bonus in addition to the NHC grand prize of $800,000.

Hawthorne sponsors million-dollar bonuses for their Holiday Extravaganza champions. John Ukleja won the Dec. 29 contest and Paul Langley won on Dec. 30. Both are eligible for a $1 million bonus should they go on to win the NHC.

Ed Peters is eligible for a $500,000 bonus should he win the NHC as the top qualifier out of The BIG One at Laurel Park in September.

In its 19th year, the NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), previously known as the National Handicapping Championship before a revamping of the brand in 2017, is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments.

NHC players qualified via contests hosted by 40 racetracks, casino race books, handicapping contest websites, Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) outlets, simulcast distribution networks, horse owner associations and other Thoroughbred racing organizations. The NHC 19 qualifier hosts were Aqueduct, Arlington Park, Belmont Park,, Breeders’ Cup, Canterbury Park, Century Bets, Churchill Downs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Ellis Park, Equestricon, Gulfstream Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Hollywood Casino at Penn,,, Indiana Grand, Keeneland, Laurel Park, Lone Star Park, Los Alamitos Race Course, Louisiana Downs, Meadowlands, Mohegan Sun, Monmouth Park, National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club, Public Handicapper, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga Bets, Saratoga Race Course, Surfside Race Place, Tampa Bay Downs, The BIG One, Thoroughbred Owners of California, Treasure Island, TVG, Woodbine Entertainment Group, and Wynn Las Vegas.

The tournament format for the NHC is meant to be the best possible test of overall handicapping ability. Players attempt to earn the highest possible bankroll based on mythical $2 Win-and-Place wagers. Assigned “mandatory” races – eight per day on Day 1 and Day 2 and seven at the Final Table – are selected by NTRA Director of Media & Industry Relations Jim Mulvihill, Treasure Island Director of Race and Sports Tony Nevill, Monmouth Park Marketing Manager and Contest Director Brian Skirka, and Equibase National Racing Analyst Ellis Starr.

Mandatory races will be announced at least 36 hours prior to each contest day (Wednesday evening for Friday, Thursday evening for Saturday, Friday evening for Sunday) on Twitter (@NTRA) and

The remaining 10 races on Day 1 and Day 2 and all 10 plays in the Semifinal round will be optional wagers on races at one of eight designated NHC tournament tracks: Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Laurel Park, Oaklawn Park, Santa Anita Park and Tampa Bay Downs.

Treasure Island will play host to the NHC in its second-floor ballroom for the seventh straight year.

On Saturday, the NTRA also will host an invitation-only online tournament, the Tito’s $10,000 Charity Challenge. A field of about 40 celebrities and racing personalities will compete to have $10,000 donated in their names to three different causes – the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, official charity of the NHC ($5,000); a nonprofit of the winner’s choosing ($2,500); and a nonprofit to be determined by Tito’s ($2,500).

About the NHC
In its 19th year, the NHC is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino race books, off-track betting facilities and horse racing and handicapping websites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals. There are no bye-ins to the NHC. Each year, the NHC winner joins other human and equine champions as an honoree at the Eclipse Awards. For more information on the NHC, visit

JPMorgan Chase to Accept ADW Deposits

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Tuesday, February 6, 2018) – The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today announced that JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest bank in the United States and the largest credit card issuer in the U.S. with more than 80 million active credit cardholder accounts, has begun approving credit card deposit transactions with U.S. licensed and regulated advance deposit wagering companies (ADWs).

The decision by Chase to accept its cardholders’ account funding transactions with ADWs approved to use the industry’s 7802 merchant category code is expected to have a significant and positive impact on overall U.S. pari-mutuel handle, particularly advance deposit wagering, which already is the fastest growing segment of the U.S. pari-mutuel wagering market. It also could lead to acceptance of these types of transactions by other leading credit card issuing banks that have not allowed their Visa or MasterCard customers to use their cards to fund licensed and regulated ADW accounts.

“This is a major victory for our industry and one that would not have come about without the efforts of Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) and his staff,” said NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Waldrop.

Said Barr, who serves on the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee and is Co-Chairman of the Congressional Horse Caucus: “I am delighted that this latest move by Chase will have a positive economic impact on Thoroughbred racing and breeding in Kentucky and across the nation. I have appreciated working with the NTRA and Chase to make this development possible and look forward to continuing our efforts on behalf of Kentucky’s signature equine industry.”

Who will try for the 2018 Kentucky Derby? The Early Nominations

2013 KY Derby contender VerrazanoBreeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Good Magic headlines a lineup of 360 3-year-old Thoroughbreds nominated early for this year’s Triple Crown series, which begins with the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5. A son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and trained by Chad Brown, Good Magic won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by… [Read more…]