Archives for March 2019

2019 Dubai World Cup: Will This Be the Pace Setup?

The ensuing proverbial chess match meets the absolute apex of horseracing excitement. While multiple storylines exist—as they often do in a complex renewal of any world-class race—one that shines in this year’s edition is that of the luckless and much-loved North America, a truly local product and hero trained at Zabeel Stables by Satish Seemar.

Big in size and style, the front-running 7-year-old bay son of Dubawi who failed to break in last year’s event—losing all chance as one of the favourites—has returned with a vengeance in 2019, winning both his starts on the local dirt in emphatic style. On Wednesday, in the official post position draw, he landed in barrier three among the 13 set to contest the 2000m affair. Jockey Richard Mullen will team up with Ramzan Kadyrov’s imposing gelding for a 12th time, hoping for an eighth victory.

“Given we both break on terms, it looks the pace will be between my horse North America and Capezzano,” Mullen said. “I think North America has more natural speed than Capezzano, so I hope that will leave us in front to dictate and use the huge stride pattern he has once we get into the back straight. I am happier with him being drawn outside Capezzano. If it was the other way around, he would be able pressure us, but we might have that advantage now. Thunder Snow will probably be up close, as he has shown in the past from wide draws. I think Axelrod is another that could be racing prominently.”

Salem bin Ghadayer makes a splash back in action with a trio of entries in the world’s richest race, topped by Sultan Ali’s aforementioned Capezzano, a progressive type who has manhandled his foes by a combined 25¾ lengths in his last three tries, all wins, including a 9½-length drubbing of defending Dubai World Cup champion Thunder Snow in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3. The mount of Mickael Barzalona upped the intrigue when landing in barrier two, as he very much has the same forwardly inclined modus operandi as market favourite North America.

Bin Ghadayer’s other two are Grade 1-placed American imports bearing the banner of Phoenix Thoroughbreds and partners, Gronkowski and Axelrod. The pair landed adjacently in posts seven and eight, with Oisin Murphy and Royston Ffrench set to take the respective reins of two horses who failed to factor in their Super Saturday preps.

Godolphin’s popular Thunder Snow is certainly the standard in the race as he bids to become the first two-time winner one year after becoming the first UAE Derby (G2) victor to pull off the double. Without a win since his tour-de-force last year, the Saeed bin Suroor trainee has accounted well for himself, including a second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)—both over 2000m on dirt. Christophe Soumillon will once again have to work out a trip from a wide post, as he did when breaking from 10-of-10 in 2018 and 13-of-16 in the 2017 UAE Derby, when he jumps from barrier 12.

Bookending Thunder Snow in second and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic were Salomon del Valle’s Gunnevera and WinStar Farm, China Horse Club et al.’s Yoshida, who bring ample class into a deep field. Five-time Grade 1-placed Gunnevera hopes to finally break through at the top level when he is ridden by Emisael Jaramillo from the rail. The deep closer was last seen disappointing in sixth in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) on Jan. 26—a race in which fellow entrants, Charles Fipke’s Seeking the Soul and WinStar Farm, China Horse Club et al.’s Audible, finished second and fifth. The Pegasus, in its current and previous form as the Donn Handicap (G1), has produced no less than five Dubai World Cup winners, including Bill Mott-trained inaugural victor Cigar.

Mott seeks a second win when he returns with his first runner in the big race since Lea (third in 2015) when he saddles multi-surface Grade 1 winner Yoshida. A decisive winner of the Woodward (G1) last September in his dirt bow over Seeking the Soul and Gunnevera, he exits the worst effort of his life when finishing sixth in the turf equivalent of the Pegasus over soft ground. A five-time winner from 13 starts, he and Todd Pletcher-trained Grade 1 winner Audible are owned in part by WinStar, whose Well Armed brought the curtain down on Nad Al Sheba in a 2009 Dubai World Cup romp. Jose Ortiz rides Yoshida from post 10, while Audible, who must improve to factor, landed in the four for jockey Flavien Prat.

Seeking the Soul is Fipke and trainer Dallas Stewart’s second runner in the race after Forever Unbridled’s fifth last year after a wide trip. The dark bay homebred has been impressive in morning track work, but must prove his effectiveness over the 2000m trip, as well as at this level of competition, when Mike Smith takes the reins from a plum draw in five. Finishing a short head in front of Forever Unbridled in 2018 and returning again is Reddam Racing’s Pavel, who breaks from post six under Joel Rosario for trainer Doug O’Neill. Interestingly, he adds blinkers after having breezed in them earlier in the week.

Japan’s K T Brave, a flashy chestnut with a big blaze, appears to have shipped well and was a good third two back in the Tokyo Daishoten (G1), finishing 1½ lengths behind Dubai World Cup alumnus Gold Dream. He must improve to factor here for trainer Haruki Sugiyama and owner Kazuyoshi Takimoto. The same can be said for another Asia-based chestnut, South Korea’s Dolkong, who was a romping winner of the Curlin Handicap on Feb. 28, but could only manage third last out in Round 3, nearly pipping Thunder Snow. The Simon Foster trainee is owned by Lee Tae In and breaks from the outside post 13 under Olivier Doleuze.

Rounding out the field is a horse many, including trainer Ahmad bin Harmash, believe is one to watch for the 2020 Dubai World Cup—as well as a serious factor in 2019—Hamdan Sultan Ali Alsabousi’s New Trails. The regally bred son of Medaglia d’Oro has raced five times this season and risen from the handicap ranks to Group 2-placed when second to North America in Round 2. Fourth in Round 3, he was 1¼ lengths shy of becoming the 13th horse in this field to have won or placed in G1 company. Connor Beasley rides from barrier nine.

Santa Anita Re-opens Friday; Stakes Moved to New Dates

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 24, 2019)—With CHRB approval expected this Thursday, Santa Anita Park will reopen for live racing on Friday, March 29 and the Grade II, $200,000 San Luis Rey Stakes will headline proceedings, with first post time at 1 p.m. Santa Anita, which has been closed for live racing since March 3, has also issued a revised stakes schedule, with eight stakes, six of them graded, relocated on what will be a busy racing calendar.

As part of the revised schedule, the 82nd running of the Grade I, $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap, which was originally scheduled for March 9, will now be run on Santa Anita Derby Day, Saturday, April 6. With the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby leading the way April 6, Santa Anita will also offer a third Grade I stakes, the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks.

Also on Santa Anita Derby Day, the Grade II, $200,000 Royal Heroine and the Grade III, $150,000 Providencia will be complemented by two additional stakes, the $200,000 Evening Jewel and the Echo Eddie, making for a total of seven added money events on what will no doubt be a blockbuster afternoon on April 6.

Big Cap Stakes Moved

Along with the Santa Anita Handicap, two other graded stakes originally scheduled for Big ’Cap Day, March 9, have been rescheduled and will now be included in a total of six graded stakes to be run on Saturday, March 30, as the Grade I, $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (turf) and the Grade II, $200,000 San Carlos will also be joined by the Grade I, $400,000 Beholder Mile (originally scheduled for March 16), the Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon (originally scheduled for March 16), and the Grade III, $100,000 Santa Ana Stakes.

Horsemen have also been advised that the following stakes, which were also originally scheduled to be run during Santa Anita’s period of inactivity, have been rescheduled. The $100,000 Irish O’Brien has been moved to March 31, as has the $100,000 Sensational Star and the $75,000 Santana Mile.

Entries for Friday, March 29 will be taken on Sunday, March 24. For a complete listing of Santa Anita’s remaining Winter/Spring Stakes Schedule, please visit

Santa Anita Park is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and is one of North America’s top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world’s largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; Xpressbet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is North America’s premier supplier of virtual online horseracing games, as well as a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry.

The Stronach Group is North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, home of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and is one of North America’s top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world’s largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; XpressBet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is also a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – 3/28/19

2019 Pegasus World Cup

SEEKING THE SOUL (GP, 1/26/19, Pegasus Cup) – trainer Dallas Stewart is a master at getting horses to run their best in the biggest races in the world and he does so while somewhat under the radar.  He had another live longshot in Seeking The Soul, a horse I downgraded after the track came up a wet mess at Gulfstream for the 2019 Pegasus World Cup.  However, that didn’t stop the veteran runner from firing a big shot as so often the Stewart runners do.  Watch Seeking The Soul (saddle cloth #4) makes an inside move at the 5/8th pole before running into traffic, getting stopped briefly, and losing momentum.  He re-rallies quickly and then continues with a long sustained run to be a clear 2nd to City of Light.  Impressive effort with a sneaky troubled trip.

2019 Dubai World Cup Night: Almond Eye all the Rage in Dubai Turf

The super filly has been followed to Meydan by a huge team of Japanese media, who have been eagerly watching her morning workouts on the Meydan track. Trainer Sakae Kunieda admits that there could still be better to come from the four-year-old, who seems to have settled into Dubai well.

“Even I don’t know where her limit is yet,” Kunieda said. “She means a lot to me, giving us this opportunity to travel with her. She is a really special filly. She has relaxed into her Dubai surroundings very well.”

Connections have opted for the 1800m Dubai Turf, having considered a tilt at the 2410m Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1)—also worth $6 million—and it is a race in which her compatriots have fared well, winning three of the last five runnings.

Vivlos, the 2017 winner and last year’s runner-up, lines up once again. The 6-year-old mare finished a good second to Beauty Generation in the Longines Hong Kong Mile (G1) at Sha Tin in December. Group 1 winner Deirdre is a third member of Japan’s female team in Saturday’s race. The 4-year-old finished third in last year’s Dubai Turf (G1) and second in the Hong Kong Cup (G1) in December.

Saeed bin Suroor is the most-successful trainer in the Dubai Turf’s history, boasting six previous winners, including Benbatl in 2018. He will be looking to add more with the highly exciting Dream Castle, who has always been well-regarded. The son of Frankel has been better than ever this season, winning each of his three starts at Meydan, culminating in a 1¼-lengths success from Wootton in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday, March 9. The 5-year-old emulated Benbatl by winning both the Singspiel (G3) and Al Rashidiya (G2) before going one better than his illustrious stable companion in the Jebel Hatta. All three races are over this course and distance. Bin Suroor has a useful second string in the field in the shape of progressive 5-year-old Mountain Hunter, who has win his last two starts well in handicap company at Meydan.

“Dream Castle worked very nicely on Saturday and has had a brilliant year already,” Bin Suroor said. “Obviously, this is going to be a stronger race, but he has risen to every challenge we have given him this year.”

Wootton, like Dream Castle and Mountain Hunter, is owned by Godolphin. He re-opposes, having joined Charlie Appleby from French trainer Alex Pantall this season. His best performance last year came at Royal Ascot in June when finishing third to Without Parole in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes (G1), a rival who lines up, as well. Representing iconic conditioner John Gosden and U.S. owner-breeders John and Tanya Gunther, the 4-year-old son of Frankel has looked in good shape in his morning spins around the Meydan training track.

The Dubai Turf is one of the few big races to evade Ireland’s record-breaking champion trainer Aidan O’Brien, who has saddled six previous runners, none of whom made the frame. His representative this year could scarcely be in better form as she heads to Meydan. I Can Fly, winner of last season’s Group 2 Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown, warmed up in a conditions event at Dundalk on March 8 with an eight-length victory in which she was nothing short of dominant.

Irishman David O’Meara, based in North Yorkshire in Great Britain, has enjoyed top-level success when sending runners to the US and Canada and he bids to do the same in Dubai on Saturday with Lord Glitters. The 6-year-old won York’s Group 3 Strensall Stakes in August and rounded off his year when a close sixth to Roaring Lion in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on British Champions Day, October 20.

Third that day was the Simon Crisford-trained Century Dream, who boasts two solid performances at Meydan in 2019. On Feb. 21, he finished three lengths second to Mythical Magic in the Zabeel Mile (G2) and went on to be fourth, behind Dream Castle and Wootton, in the Jebel Hatta.

For the first time since 2014, Hong Kong is represented in the Dubai Turf with trainer Caspar Fownes’ charge Southern Legend aiming to upset the apple cart in Saturday’s 1800m feature. The consistent 6-year-old was most recently closing at the finish when runner-up in he local Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin in February.

“It’s going to be a tough ask behind Almond Eye. I think the only view we might get of her is from behind,” said Fownes. “But our boy is doing nicely, he looks as good as he ever does and he’s walking around with a bounce in his step. We’ve been here a few times before but this is probably the best horse I’ve had here since Lucky Nine.”

Mike de Kock won consecutive runnings of the Dubai Turf in 2003 (Ipi Tombe) and 2004 (Right Approach) and he has two chances of getting win number three this year. Yulong Prince won the Grade 1 Daily News at Greyville in June when named Surcharge. He has changed names and joined De Kock after being bought privately in August by Chinese owner Zhang Yuesheng.

Mary Slack’s colours will be carried by stablemate Majestic Mambo, who had a pipe-opener for Saturday when sixth behind Dream Castel in the Jebel Hatta Sponsored By Emirates Airline on March 9.

U Carrot Farm’s multiple Group 1-winner Rey de Oro will face off against familiar foes Cheval Grand and Suave Richard in Saturday night’s Group 1 $ 6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan Racecourse. Trained by Kazuo Fujisawa, the 5-year-old son of King Kamehameha has won seven of 12 career starts, while banking $7,952,951. He will make his seasonal debut with the services of jockey Christophe Lemaire from post six as he looks to avenge last year’s fourth-place effort in the 2410m test on the Meydan turf.

Rey de Oro is the richest of the three talented Japanese contenders, all bred at Northern Racing, in the eight-horse field. He captured his first Group 1, the prestigious Tokyo Yushun, in 2017 when three-quarter lengths the best of Suave Richard. At his best when tracking the leaders, Rey de Oro added a second Group 1 win in Tokyo last autumn with a 1¼-length win in the Tenno Sho over 2000m. The trio have kept close company in recent years, with Cheval Grand, trained by Yasuo Tomomichi for Kazuhiro Sasaki, notching his first Group 1 with a 1¼-length win over Rey de Oro in the 2017 renewal of the Japan Cup.

Cheval Grand, a 7-year-old Heart’s Cry chestnut, has post a record of 3-4-5 from 18 career starts. Last season, he went winless in five starts, but was narrowly denied victory in the spring edition of the Tenno Sho (G1), coming up a neck short of Rainbow Line. There is little to choose between Rey de Oro and Cheval Grand, who both arrive at the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic from the Group 1 Arima Kinen Grand Prix, where they finished second and third, respectively. Hugh Bowman has the call aboard Cheval Grand, a career earner of $7,930,746, for his Meydan debut from post one.

Suave Richard, with $4,457,211 in earnings, is more lightly raced than his fellow Japanese raiders with a record of 3-1-2 from 10 starts, but is capable of doubling his Group 1-tallies on Saturday night. A 5-year-old son of Heart’s Cry, Suave Richard broke through at the top flight with a three-quarter length score in the Osaka Hai over 2000m at Hanshin on April 1, 2018. Twice defeated by Rey de Oro, the Yasushi Shono charge, owned by NICKS Co., will need a big effort to notch his first win at the 2400m distance.

He arrives at the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic from a strong fourth, defeated less than two lengths, in the Group 2 Nakayama Kinen. Joao Moreira will take over from regular pilot Mirco Demuro as the duo leave from Post seven.

Trainer Aiden O’Brien will saddle Irish-breds Magic Wand and Hunting Horn as he looks for his second Longines Dubai Sheema Classic score, having previously captured the event in 2013 with St Nicholas Abbey. Last time out, Magic Wand, a 4-year-old daughter of Galileo, took on the boys for the first time in the inaugural Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational, finishing second behind well-regarded Bricks and Mortar over a soggy Gulfstream Park turf.

With a career record of 2-1-1 from 13 starts, the multiple Group 1-placed bay showed an affinity for a distance of ground when second in the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp in October. Magic Wand also picked up her first graded win at 2400m when four lengths the best in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Ascot. Ryan Moore will pilot Magic Wand from barrier three.

Hunting Horn, a 4-year-old son of Camelot, has won just twice from 14 starts, having made the grade in the 2000m Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes in June at Ascot. He was narrowly denied a Group 2 win over 2400m in September when nosed out by Brundtland in the Qatar Prix Niel (G2). Through two starts in 2019, Hunting Horn has a pair of thirds to his credit. Wayne Lordan will have the call aboard Hunting Horn from post five .

Godolphin homebred Old Persian has a knack for having his picture taken with six wins from nine attempts for trainer Charlie Appleby. The 4-year-old Dubawi colt made a dramatic debut at Meydan in March when a nose the best over Racing History in the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold. With three Group 2 wins from four starts at the distance, Old Persian will now be given his third attempt at a Grade 1-breakthrough. William Buick, aboard for the Dubai City of Gold score, retains the mount from two.

Desert Encounter, trained by David Simcock for Abdulla Al Mansoori, earned his Grade 1 stripes with an out-of-the-clouds score in the Canadian International at Woodbine. Last of 11 at the half, the 7-year-old Halling gelding made up considerable ground over the lengthy homestretch to finish a length the best of Thundering Blue in the 2400m classic. Jim Crowley, who guided Desert Encounter to a wide-traveling third last out in the Dubai City of Gold, retains the mount from eight.

Godolphin’s Racing History, a 7-year-old son of Pivotal, completes a compelling Longines Dubai Sheema Classic field. Trained by Saeed Bin Suroor, Racing History is Group 1-placed at the distance, with a good second in the Grosser Preis von Bayern over a yielding Munich turf in 2016. However, with two wins from 11 starts, the lightly-raced gelding will require a career-best effort to topple the field. The Longines Dubai Sheema Classic will be the penultimate race on Saturday’s lucrative Dubai World Cup card.

Santa Anita Park whip ban looks like a panicked response to a welfare crisis

From the UK’s Guardian:

The first, an immediate ban on the use of all race-day medication including the anti-bleeding drug Lasix, has since been watered down and will start with the two-year-old crop in 2020. The second, though, seems likely to apply from Friday: a ban on the use of the whip by jockeys for anything but “corrective safety measures”.

If so, Santa Anita will be the first track in a major racing nation to ban the whip for encouragement at any stage of a race. It will also set a precedent that racing regulators around the world will struggle to ignore. If Santa Anita can get by without the whip in the closing stages of a race, why can’t everyone?

The British Horseracing Authority will be watching with interest. “We talk regularly to our colleagues in other countries where racing is held,” a spokesperson said this week. “Events have moved quite quickly in recent weeks in California and we look forward to catching up at the next opportunity to hear more of their plans.”   more…

Dubai World Cup Notes – March 26, 2019

MUSIR winning in Dubai. Copyright Andrew Watkins

$6 million Dubai Turf (G1) sponsored by DP World

Almond Eye—The Japanese superstar stretched her legs over the turf course first thing this morning.

“We just wanted her to get acquainted with the track before we breeze her Wednesday,” trainer Sakae Kunieda said. “She has relaxed into her Dubai surroundings very well. The grass here is a bit long, but I think she will like it.”

Almond Eye will breeze Wednesday morning under regular rider Christophe Lemaire, who flew to Dubai early in order to ride the filly in her last major workout in preparation for the Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1).

Deirdre—Deirdre cantered a lap and a half around the Meydan dirt track first thing this morning.

“Everything she has shown us lets us know she is very happy despite the long trip to Dubai,” said her work rider Yuta Komiyama. “I am glad that she is in really good form.”

The Harbinger mare will breeze Wednesday.

Dream Castle—Godolphin’s Dream Castle arrives for the 1800m turf feature on the back of three consecutive course and distance victories, most recently Super Saturday’s Group 1 Jebel Hatta.

His trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, won Saturday’s race with Benbatl last year, like Dream Castle victorious in both the Singspiel and Al Rashidiya, but only second in the Jebel Hatta.

“He worked very nicely on Saturday and has had a brilliant year already,” Bin Suroor said. “Obviously this is going to be a stronger race but he has risen to every challenge we have given him this year. Hopefully, he will be very competitive.”

I Can Fly—Trainer Aidan O’Brien reported I Can Fly arrived safely on Tuesday morning along with four stablemates.

“I Can Fly seems in good form,” O’Brien said. “She has come out of her prep win at Dundalk a few weeks ago quite well. It has been a while since she ran beyond a mile. We think she can run a good race.”

Lord Glitters—David O’Meara’s head lad Colin Bolger was aboard the grey as they turned out on Meydan’s turf course at 7:00 a.m.

“He got over on Thursday and I’m really pleased with how he travelled. He can be quite highly strung, but he has taken the journey over really well,” Bolger said. “We’ve been on the turf for the last two days and he might have a breeze on the grass on Thursday with Danny (Tudhope), who rides the horse on Saturday, in the saddle.”

Southern Legend—Ebullient trainer Caspar Fownes gave his challenger a tick of approval at Meydan on Tuesday morning, five days out from his gelding’s biggest test. Fownes has become something of a fixture at this meeting in recent years with Southern Legend to be the trainer’s 7th runner since his first foray in 2011. However, he has never had an acceptor in the Dubai Turf, with 2016 Dubai World Cup runner Gun Pit—last behind California Chrome—his only charge to tackle a race other than the two sprints before.

“It’s going to be a tough ask behind Almond Eye. I think the only view we might get of her is from behind,” he said trackside at Meydan on Tuesday morning. “But our boy is doing nicely, he looks as good as he ever does and he’s walking around with a bounce in his step. We’ve been here a few times before, but this is probably the best horse I’ve had here since Lucky Nine.”

Hong Kong’s champion jockey Zac Purton will ride at Meydan for just the second time when he is legged aboard Southern Legend.

Vivlos—Vivlos went for a spin on the dirt track early on this morning, hacking for one lap before cantering for another.

“She has been a bit stiff the past couple of days since arriving to Dubai, but today she felt really good and loose,” said assistant trainer and regular exercise rider Shinji Yasuda, “She has become relaxed and we were able to put in a good work today.”

She will breeze Wednesday in preparation for the race.

Without Parole – Royal Ascot winner Without Parole, whose seven-race roster puts him level with Almond Eye as the least experienced runners among the field for the Dubai Turf, has taken his first trip outside Europe in his stride, according to trainer John Gosden’s travelling head groom Tony Procter.

“He’s eating and drinking well, which are the best signs,” Procter said as he prepared to send his boss a video of the 4-year-old’s steady Tuesday canter around one circuit of the Meydan training track under regular work rider Maurizio Varju.

Without Parole arrived at the international quarantine barn on Saturday, and Procter added: “He’s done all his serious work at home, including a racecourse gallop at Chelmsford, which is what we always do when we come to Dubai. Run them off the plane is the usual schedule.”

Wootton—Having spent his 3-year-old career in the care of Alex Pantall in France, Wootton has since joined Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby and has had two starts at Meydan this year. After finishing fourth in the Zabeel Mile, the 4-year-old then took an honourable second behind Dream Castle in the Jebel Hatta (G1). Having raced at the Dubai World Cup Carnival twice, he has fitness on his side and enjoyed light exercise on the dirt track at Appleby’s Marmoom base this morning.

“He has some nice European form and we changed the style of his racing in that we stepped him up in trip to 1700m on his last outing, which was one of his career-best starts finishing second to Dream Castle,” Appleby said. “If he reproduces that form it will make him competitive, but what we like about the horse is that he gets into a nice rhythm in his races now so he is a simpler horse to ride compared to when he was a 3-year-old.”

Although beaten just over a length by Dream Castle on Super Saturday, Appleby is not fearful of the rematch.

“It is all about who turns up on the night,” Appleby added. “We went into Super Saturday on our A-Game and Dream Castle beat us, but he needs to turn up in the same form on World Cup night. If they both turn up in the same condition, then we have a length to find, but who knows what is going to happen.”

$6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1)

Cheval Grand—Japan Cup winner of 2017 Cheval Grand was out on the dirt track first thing this morning, trotting down the back stretch, hacking around the far turn and ultimately cantering for half a lap under work rider …

How Virginians will be able to gamble on old horse races at Colonial Downs

NEW KENT – Fur coats, piles of cash, convertibles, yachts and diamond rings spun across the gambling machine’s screen. But the horses were optional.

The first shipments of historical horse racing terminals were scheduled to be delivered Monday at Colonial Downs, about a month before the track’s new owners hope to open the doors of their revamped, casino-esque facility in New Kent County.

To mark the occasion, Colonial Downs representatives held a demonstration showing how the machines the General Assembly legalized last year will work. The historical horse racing machines – a major step toward casino-style gambling in Virginia – will provide a critical new revenue stream to support the reopening of Colonial Downs and thoroughbred racing’s return to the track.

The plan was pitched as a way to revive horse racing, create hundreds of jobs and generate tax revenue for state and local governments. But the debate in the legislature focused largely on the return of horse racing, without delving deeply into the functionality of the gambling machines or their similarity to traditional slot machines.

According to an economic impact analysis circulated by Colonial Downs, the new iteration is projected to take in $203.7 million in revenue by 2022, with $161.9 million coming from historical horse racing.

The machines look and feel like traditional slot machines. But instead of using random numbers, they’re powered by an archive of horse races that have already been run, combining players’ money into pools under the same pari-mutuel wagering system used in live horse racing.

Monday’s game demo – just off a newly carpeted red floor lined with black bases awaiting the machines’ arrival – showed that players can pull up charts showing horse odds and jockey information and use it to carefully predict the horses’ finishing positions. Or they can just press a button over and over again and hope to get lucky.

At the New Kent Rosie’s, the minimum bet per spin will be 20 cents, company representatives said, but a “high-limit” room will allow up to $15 per spin. Winners’ payouts will depend on the size of the pools, they said, and could range from $1,000 to six-figure jackpots.

The company acknowledged most historical horse racing players would use the automatic bet feature, while more experienced horse racing fans could bet on live races or simulcast races from other tracks.

The machine used for the demo featured a game-show theme called “What’s Behind That Door?,” one of about 50 game themes Colonial Downs plans to use. Other themes listed on the website of Exacta Systems, the manufacturer providing the machines to Colonial Downs, include fairies, pirates, monkeys, angels, ninjas, turtles, leprechauns and conquistadors. Still, the games are based on past horse races, even if the machine has an entirely different cartoon theme.

The company has erected five billboards in Virginia to advertise the new enterprise, including one off Interstate 64 heading west out of Richmond.

Sports Betting in New York State

Sports bettingThis year, New Yorkers who want to be part of that action [March Madness] legally must still take their money to another state, with New Jersey the closest option. Next year, though, they should be able to place bets in New York, as the last of the state’s consequential bans on betting disappears. And this might be New York’s best chance to get gambling right and correct the mistakes of the past.

Over the decades, a step-by-step loosening of the state’s betting ban allowed lotteries, bingo, off-track betting, Indian casinos and slot-machine “racinos.” Then in 2013, the state constitution was amended to allow seven non-Indian casinos. The four approved for the Southern Tier and upstate have opened. Three more, in New York City and downstate, can be licensed and built starting in a few years. Those 2013 changes also approved on-site sports gambling for casinos, a bonus that didn’t pay off until last year, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a ban on sports betting in most states.

With Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo …

Horseracing Integrity Act Re-introduced

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) and Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) on Thursday reintroduced the Horseracing Integrity Act (H.R. 1754), which establishes an authority to create and implement a national uniform medication program with input from the horse industry.

“As the Representative for the Horse Capital of the World, I have the distinct honor of fighting for the future of this great American sport,” said Congressman Barr in a release. “I continue to believe the prosperity of Kentucky’s signature horseracing industry depends on national uniform medication standards and testing procedures. I am proud to reintroduce this legislation with my friend and colleague, Congressman Tonko, and I look forward to building upon the great bipartisan work we secured last Congress, including more than 100 cosponsors, to ensure the safety and integrity of this sport is preserved for years to come.”

Under existing law, the American horseracing industry labors under a diverse patchwork of conflicting and inconsistent rules governing medication policies and practices across dozens of different racing jurisdictions. According to the release, the lack of uniformity in the rules of horseracing has impaired interstate commerce and undermined the public confidence in the sport.

Here’s One Look at Free Horse Racing Data

by Rich Nilsen

In the fall of 1992 I graduated from the University of Louisville Equine Industry Program, and the following summer, the director of the program, Dr. Bob Lawrence, got me connected to Dick Broadbent, owner of Bloodstock Research Information Service, Inc.   Mr. Broadbent hired me and I soon became their Marketing Director.  Over the years this job expanded into head marketing duties for their ADWs, and, as well as their sister data company, Thoroughbred Sports Network (TSN).  [TSN utilized Equibase data, whereas Brisnet utilized Daily Racing Form data].

Shortly after he partnered with Beulah Park in Ohio and created the ADW BrisBET, Dick Broadbent had the genius idea of giving away complimentary past performances to customers who wagered through his new betting site.   I wish I could say it was my idea, but it wasn’t.  The concept was simple.  All the customer had to do was place a $2 bet on a given track and he or she could download the Brisnet Past Performances for free.  It was viewed as a loss leader, as BrisBET would still pay the appropriate royalty to Equibase for any and all past performances accessed.

At this time we were kicking the DRF’s butt, as we had the Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances, a product that was far superior to the original ‘Racing Form.’  Wagering sites like were over a decade away from existence, and BrisBET was becoming well known and growing rapidly each year.  Wager with BrisBET and get your data for free — the data you were originally paying for.  A majority of the Brisnet data customers who resided in eligible states switched over to BrisBET for their wagering, and tons of new customers came flooding in the door…every day.

We didn’t have the astronomical marketing budget of major competitor YouBet, but we had free past performances and that carried a lot of weight.  We also had a rock-solid wagering platform, and we executed other ideas well, such as the AmericaTAB Players Pool and the Brisnet NHC online qualifiers, the first of its kind on the “world wide web.”

BrisBET continued to grow like a hot tech stock, and consequently, the company (along with its partner companies) were purchased by Churchill Downs in June of 2007 for over $80 million.  BrisBET, TsnBET, and WinTicket (the Ohio racetracks’ ADW) became the foundation for, and the rest is history.

This past week Pat Cummings, Craig Bernick and the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation (TIF) put out a white paper to the industry in hopes of changing the market place by encouraging industry stakeholders to give away data in the expectation that it would lead to growth in the sport.  It was entitled “Embracing a Future with Free Racing Data.”  This is an idea that has been batted around for years but never really put down on paper and presented to the whole sport.


Needless to say, there is a ton of free information available for other American past times such as baseball and football.  For example, within minutes I was able to pull up the complete minor league stats from the 1950s for my father’s best friend and sandlot teammate, Bob Lennon.  Born in 1928 Bob hit 64 home runs in one season in Nashville Double A, a record feat that earned him a plaque in Cooperstown, NY.   His detailed minor league and major league statistics, including fielding stats, as well as those of thousands upon thousands of obscure players are easily accessible at

Original ledger from the 1944 Mill Basin Athletics, Brooklyn Sandlot champs

Playing fantasy football?  The plethora of free data available is also impressive.  With the growth of sports betting, the need to provide even more free data will be a necessity for companies with skin in the game.


According to the TIF paper: “Equibase–as a going interest of the racetracks and The Jockey Club–should eschew their interests to profit from data sales, absorbing the costs of data collection and distribution in favor of the wagering participation and the trickle-down industry benefits this would yield. In other words, the collection and distribution of racing data should be considered a marketing expense, used to attract and retain gamblers…. Equibase’s success should not be measured in terms of data sales, but in the performance of racing’s wagering markets.”

The bottom line and the reality is that Equibase, DRF, and BRIS are all in the business of selling data.  That’s their bread and butter. Unlike, Equibase does not get a cut of the wagering handle.  They sell advertising and they sell data.  Equibase and their track partners earn a cut of every sale.

However, it is reasonable to consider a method to give away a fraction of that data without hurting their overall sales.  And if done properly, the ‘giveaway’ could grow overall sales and increase wagering within the sport.  That’s a win-win and what we all want to see happen.


In an attempt to do just that and provide a visual of what could be done, I mocked up a stripped-down past performance product utilizing basic Brisnet data.


sample City of Light free pps


For those wondering, the following bits of data were altered or removed from the traditional Premium Plus Brisnet PPs:

5 past performance lines remain (5 removed)

6 workouts remain from the traditional 12 workouts

3 trainer categories remain (3 removed)

BRIS Race Shapes (too complicated for the novice)

BRIS Speed/Pace Pars removed


Of course, Equibase and the Daily Racing Form could give away their comparable version of the stripped-down, basic past performances. There are, no doubt, other ways to present free data and an online resource comparable to would make sense.

A few key items were removed from the PPs presented above, but in my opinion, this is a very good past performance product for a giveaway.  If a beginner player starts using this product, eventually they will gravitate towards a better product such as DRF Formulator, TimeformUS or the BRIS Ultimate Past Performances.   And that will cost them money.


Note: The opinions in this article are strictly those of the author and do not represent or speak for any company within the horse racing industry.

Related Articles:

Will Industry Answer Renewed Call for Free Betting Data

What Sports Betting Data Can Cost for a Commercial Business

TDN Article about Free Horse Racing Data