Archives for December 2018

A History of England’s most prestigious horse racing event

Cheltenham Festival

The most definitive race meeting of the National Hunt Season is swiftly approaching, and punters will be eagerly anticipating landing some big winners at Cheltenham Festival. The four-day event is the most prestigious event in the British racing calendar, with some of the biggest prizes up for grabs and some of the finest horses in the business competing for a place in the record books. Here, we take a look back at the history of the world famous event and explore the roots of Cheltenham Festival.

The early days: According to, the Festival was originally known as the National Hunt Meeting and was staged at Market Harborough in 1860. It wasn’t until 1911 that Cheltenham became the permanent fixture for the National Hunt Meeting, Prestbury Park being the exact location.

The famous track had held the festival in 1904 and 1905, in fact, but it took a further six years to become established as the home of the National Hunt Meeting. From 1911, the event was known as Cheltenham Festival and has remained that way to this very day, with much owing to Fredrick Cathcart. Cathcart was the Clerk of the Course and Chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse until his death in 1934, with much of his life’s work being based around making Cheltenham what it is today and establishing the Gloucestershire town as the headquarters for National Hunt racing.


Beloved Individuals that the horse racing industry lost in 2018

John Asher, who was an ambassador for the Kentucky Derby and the face and voice of Churchill Downs, died at the age of 62 on Aug. 27.

Asher died of a heart attack while vacationing in Orlando with his family. Asher was an award-winning journalist and publicist for over 30 years. He joined Churchill Downs in 1997 and served as vice president of racing communications since 1999. As a radio journalist, Asher earned five Eclipse Awards for “outstanding national radio coverage of thoroughbred racing.” Asher was also known for his community service outreach and volunteerism. He was well known, well respected and will …

Boom Time for California Horse Racing

Santa Anita Park’s 2018-19 Winter Meeting got off to a record-breaking start on Wednesday, as the track posted an all-sources pari-mutuel handle of $20,491,016, a 19 percent increase over a year ago and an all-time opening day record.

Wednesday’s opening day crowd of 41,373 contributed to an on-track handle of $3,463,535, a five percent increase over last year’s $3.3 million. On-track attendance was up year to year three percent.

In measuring the significance of Wednesday’s numbers, the last time Santa Anita opened on a Wednesday was 2012, when all-sources handle was $13.4 million, making yesterday’s handle of $20.4 million a whopping 52 percent increase. On track attendance on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 was 27,273, making yesterday’s 41,373 a 52 percent increase.

Changes Overseas: No longer ‘At The Races,’ Sky Sports comes under starter’s orders

There are unlikely to be many mourners when At The Races officially expires at midnight on Monday. After all, and with all due respect to the television channel’s home in Milton Keynes, it is going to a much better place. Just short of its 18th birthday, the adoption papers were signed and approved earlier this year and from Tuesday, it is official. At The Races is part of the Sky Sports “family” now…

But as the new year begins on Tuesday, At The Races will finally be consigned to history. In its place: Sky Sports Racing, the youngest member of the squad of channels broadcast from Sky Centre in west London, alongside Sky Sports Premier League, Football, Cricket, Golf, F1 and others that cover multiple sports. Britain’s second-biggest spectator sport – 500,000 paying spectators in front of rugby union at the latest count – now has a place on Sky to call its own.

Night Horse Racing Now in This Country

Night horse racing is among the oldest of all sports, and was played by the royals and nobles of yore. But in today’s times this popular sport is undergoing a series of changes. “It’s no longer the same, there is an option like ‘syndicated horse ownership’ and with a small investment it is possible to enjoy the game,” confirms Sanjay. Similarly, Gaurav seconds the response saying that now-a-days it is very affordable and by pooling in a small share, multiple people can jointly own the same horse and enjoy the same benefits, “It’s a great way of social engagement as well…

$100M to New Jersey horse tracks? You bet

Months after New Jersey instituted sports betting, in part with the promise of reviving its horse racing industry, the Legislature is moving to provide $100 million in state funding to those tracks to increase the purses paid to race winners.

A bill recently approved in a 40-0 vote in the Senate proposes sending $20 million a year for five years, starting in 2019, to the New Jersey Racing Commission for purse subsidies. It now awaits a vote in the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee, which meets on Jan. 17.

A.J. Sabath, a lobbyist for the Standardbred Breeders and Owners of New Jersey, said sports betting parlors have helped the Monmouth Park and Meadowlands tracks but that a little extra adrenaline is needed.

“The theory was at the time that if there’s sports betting at the race tracks that that will trickle down and help support horse racing. And so this is a little added insurance that that will occur,” Sabath said…

Industry Profile: Announcer Frank Mirahmadi and Santa Anita

Frank Mirahmadi is no stranger to Santa Anita, having grown up in Beverly Hills and going to the track as a teenager. He would sit in the grandstand, where he would try to perfect his future occupation, doing practice calls of races, often in the voices of people who came before him.

“Every announcer at Santa Anita is a race calling legend,” Mirahmadi said. “Joe Hernandez, Dave Johnson, Trevor Denman, Michael Wrona. I need to and will improve my work at Santa Anita in order to maintain the level of brilliance that has been displayed in that booth.”

Mirahmadi’s path to this moment has been long. He’s been the caller at his share of small and large tracks across the country. He’s called the California fair circuit, Golden Gate and Los Alamitos. He left a job at Aqueduct in New York to come back to Santa Anita. He will continue to call the summer meeting at Monmouth when Santa Anita is dark.

Mirahmadi’s love for Santa Anita was such that he gave up a full-time job at Oaklawn Park just to audition for the Santa Anita job in 2016. He didn’t get the job, losing, by his count, for the sixth time to Wrona. The consolation prize was Golden Gate Fields, a position he kept until he went to New York …

Hastings Park 2019 Changes On Tap

More Friday Night Live cards and earlier start times on two of the biggest days of the year: these are two major changes to the 2019 live Thoroughbred racing schedule announced by Darren MacDonald, general manager, Hastings Racecourse & Director, BC Racing.

“We’re excited about the adjustments” MacDonald said. “The 2019 season will encompass 52 live racing dates beginning Sunday, April 21, running through to Sunday, October 20.”

The popular Friday Night Live 7:00 p.m. cards have been increased to eight, beginning on July 19 and continuing on consecutive Fridays through August and concluding on September 6.

“It’s a concept that was introduced several years ago to attract a younger demographic and it has worked beyond our expectations,” MacDonald said. “Racing under the lights at Hastings has become a favorite destination on Vancouver’s entertainment scene.”

Historically, the two most popular dates on the local Thoroughbred schedule are BC Cup Day and BC Derby/Oaks Day that stand out as “can’t miss” attractions when Hastings showcases the best of B.C. racing.

Hasting Park logoIn 2019, start times for both will be moved to 12:50 p.m., one hour earlier than in past years. BC Cup Day is set for the Holiday Monday on August 5; BC Derby/Oaks Day goes Saturday, September 7.

Two Monday evening dates – August 19 and August 26 – will be part of the Hastings schedule on dark days during the 2019 PNE Fair.

A month-to-month breakdown of the 2019 race-day season includes three dates in April, eight in May, nine in June, July and August, eight during the month of September and six in October.

MacDonald said the 2019 stakes schedule will be released in January. The regular 2019 racing calendar is available on the Hastings Racecourse website at

Source: Press Release

Santa Anita Stakes Schedule 2018-19

Dec. 26

$300,000 Malibu Stakes (Grade I), 3 year olds, 7 furlongs

$200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (Grade II), 3 year olds, 1 mile (turf)

$300,000 La Brea Stakes (Grade I), 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs

$300,000 San Antonio Stakes (Grade II), 3 & up, 1 1/16 miles

$75,000 Lady Of Shamrock Stakes, 3 year-old fillies, 1 mile (turf)

Dec. 28

$75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes, 2 year olds, 1 mile (turf)

Dec. 29

$300,000 American Oaks (Grade I), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/4 miles (turf)

$150,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes (Grade III), F/M, 3 and up, 1 1/8 miles (turf)

Dec. 30

$75,000 Blue Norther Stakes, 2-year-old fillies, 1 mile (turf)

2019 Stakes

Jan. 1

$75,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes, 4 & up, 6 1/2 furlongs (turf)

Jan. 5

$200,000 San Gabriel Stakes (Grade II), 4 & up, 1 1/8 miles (turf)

$100,000 Sham Stakes (Grade III), 3 year olds, 1 mile

Jan. 6

$200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (Grade II), 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs

Jan. 12

$100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes (Grade III), F/M, 4 & up, 6 1/2 furlongs (turf)

$200,000 La Canada Stakes (Grade II), 4 & up, 1 1/16 miles

Jan. 13

$75,000 Kalookan Queen Stakes, 4 & up, 6 1/2 furlongs

Jan. 19

$200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes (Grade II), 4 & up, 6 furlongs

Jan. 20

$75,000 Astra Stakes, 4 & up, 1 1/2 miles (turf)

Jan. 21

$100,000 Megahertz Stakes (Grade III), 4 & up, 1 mile (turf)

Jan. 26

$100,000 Cal Cup Turf Sprint Stakes, 3 year olds (Cal-bred), 6 1/2 furlongs (turf)

$150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf Sprint, F/M, 4 & up (Cal-bred), 6 1/2 furlongs (turf)

$150,000 California Cup Sprint, 4 & up (Cal-bred), 6 furlongs

$200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic, 4 & up (Cal-bred), 1 1/8 miles (turf)

Jan. 27

$75,000 Clockers’ Corner Stakes, 4 & up (R), 6 1/2 furlongs (turf)

Feb. 2

$200,000 San Pasqual Stakes (Grade II), 4 & up, 1 1/8 miles

$150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (Grade III), 3 year olds, 1 1/16 miles

$200,000 San Marcos Stakes (Grade II), 4 & up, 1 1/4 miles (turf)

Feb. 3

$75,000 Baffle Stakes, 3 year olds, 6 1/2 furlongs (turf)

Feb. 9

$100,000 Thunder Road Stakes (Grade III), 4 & up, 1 mile (turf)

$200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (Grade II), 3-year-old fillies, 1 mile

Feb. 10

$75,000 Sweet Life Stakes, 3-year-old fillies, 6 1/2 furlongs (turf)

$200,000 San Vicente Stakes (Grade II), 3 year olds, 7 furlongs

Feb. 16

$75,000 Wishing Well Stakes, 4 & up (R), 6 1/2 furlongs (turf)

$250,000 Santa Monica Stakes (Grade II), 4 & up, 7 furlongs

Feb. 18

$200,000 California Cup Derby, 3 year olds (Cal-bred), 1 1/16 miles

$200,000 California Cup Oaks, 3 year-old fillies (Cal-bred), 1 mile (turf)

Feb. 23

$200,000 Buena Vista Stakes (Grade II), F/M, 4 & up, 1 mile (turf)

Feb. 24

$100,000 Spring Fever Stakes, F/M, 4 & up (Cal-bred), 6 furlongs

March 2

$200,000 Pasadena Stakes, 3 year olds, 1 mile (turf)

March 3

$100,000 Tiznow Stakes, 4 & up (Cal-bred), 1 mile

March 9

$500,000 San Felipe Stakes (Grade II), 3 year olds, 1 1/16 miles

$75,000 China Doll Stakes, 3 year-old fillies, 1 mile (turf)

$500,000 Santa Anita Handicap (Grade I), 4 & up, 1 1/4 miles

$400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (Grade I), 4 & up, 1 mile (turf)

$200,000 San Carlos Stakes (Grade II), 3 & up, 7 furlongs

March 10

$100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (Grade III), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles

March 16

$100,000 San Simeon Stakes (Grade III), 3 & up, 6 1/2 furlongs (turf)

$400,000 Beholder Stakes (Grade I), F/M, 3 & up, 1 mile

March 17

$100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes, F/M, 4 & up (Cal-bred), 6 1/2 furlongs (turf)

March 23

$200,000 San Luis Rey Stakes (Grade II), 4 & up, 1 1/2 miles (turf)

March 24

$100,000 Sensational Star Stakes, 4 & up (Cal-bred), 6 1/2 furlongs (turf)

March 30

$200,000 Santa Ana Stakes (Grade II), F/M, 4 & up, 1 1/4 miles (turf)

March 31

$75,000 Santana Mile, 4 & up, 1 mile

April 6

$1-million Santa Anita Derby (Grade I), 3 year olds, 1 1/8 miles

$200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes, 3 year olds (Cal-bred), 6 1/2 furlongs

$200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes, 3-year-old fillies (Cal-bred), 6 1/2 furlongs

$400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (Grade I), 3-year-old-fillies, 1 1/16 miles

$150,000 Providencia Stakes (Grade III), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles (turf)

$200,000 Royal Herione Stakes (Grade II), F/M, 4 & up, 1 mile (turf)

April 7

$100,000 Las Flores Stakes (Grade III), F/M, 4 & UP, 6 furlongs

Source: Santa Anita

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – Dec. 23, 2018

FREE Horses to Watch & Trip Notes


AMERICAN MANDATE (Race 5 @AQU, 12/15/18) – Steve Asmussen runner had the worst of it as he dueled throughout and then had to try to hold off the late runner of a fresh closer, who was coming  off a strong debut effort. Settled for second in an even-better-than-it looks performance.


WILD SCAT BLUE (Race 3 @TAM, 12/8/18) – this son of Scat Daddy dueled throughout in this race and then gave way to a sharp 3yo that had shipped in from Southern California for trainer Eion Harty.  Should be awfully tough back in at this same claiming level next time out at Tampa.