Archives for June 2019

Portland Meadows closes after 73 years

A photo history of the Rose City’s race track

“Under lights as bright as a thousand moons, big-league horse racing comes to Portland Saturday,” The Oregonian wrote on Sept. 14, 1946.

The newspaper called the new, “ultra-modern” Portland Meadows racetrack a “long-courted dream for race-minded” locals, one that cost “considerably more than a cool million” to build.

The track’s proponents heralded it as the Rose City’s arrival on the national sports stage.

“This is not a ‘pocket edition’ of any other track but a full-scale race plant of which the Northwest can be proud,” declared developer Bill Kyne ahead of the inaugural race.

Just over 72 years later, what was likely the track’s last live horse race took place with much less fanfare. The venue’s owner, The Stronach Group, says Portland Meadows has been running in the red for years. It’s looking to turn the property into a warehouse/distribution complex. The racing season at the facility ended in February.

Suffolk Downs, New England’s Last Thoroughbred Horse Track, Hosting Final Live Races

BOSTON (AP) — New England’s last thoroughbred horse track, Boston’s Suffolk Downs, is hosting its final live races this weekend, but it’s not clear what comes next for the industry, which continues to receive millions of dollars in casino tax subsidies.

Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, the company that operates the once grand, 84-year old track, has been running a handful of summertime races since losing out on its bid to build a resort casino on the property in 2014.

Two years ago, it sold the property — where the Depression-era champion Seabiscuit was discovered by the team that launched him into the limelight — to a real estate developer that plans to build apartments, condominiums and offices on the 161-acre property straddling Boston and Revere.

But Sterling Suffolk still wants to remain in the racing business and is betting on legislative approval this year to make that happen.

The company has proposed restoring the Great Barrington Fairgrounds near the New York state line while keeping its more lucrative simulcast and online betting operations in the Boston area. Current regulations don’t allow for a state-licensed race operator to split its operations this way…

New Race Condition at Saratoga Meet

Saratoga starting gateThe New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) had announced it will offer a series of races restricted to 2-year-olds purchased for $45,000 or less at their most recent auction starting in July at Saratoga Race Course.

“We are happy to try something new at Saratoga,” said Martin Panza, NYRA’s senior vice president of racing operations. “We feel the Maiden Allowance Auction Series will further support our smaller trainers and owners, who play an important role in our racing program, and also provide an opportunity for new owners to get into the game and showcase their horses at Saratoga.”

The Maiden Allowance Auction Series expands on the current condition book to encourage prospective owners from all racing jurisdictions to buy horses with the incentive of a chance to compete at the Spa.

The open juvenile races, to be restricted to horses that went through the ring for $45,000 or less at their most recent auction, will be offered in the first condition book of the Saratoga meet for purses of $75,000.

With the summer sales season approaching, a number of opportunities to buy young horses are on the horizon including Fasig-Tipton’s The Saratoga Sale, set for August 5-6; as well as their New York-bred Yearling Sale, set for August 11-12, both in Saratoga Springs, New York.

“These races will provide a great opportunity for owners and trainers to experience the thrills and excitement of winning a race at Saratoga with a modestly priced auction purchase,” said Boyd Browning, president and CEO of Fasig-Tipton Co. “Buyers are needed at all price ranges at Thoroughbred auctions and this is the type of program that incentivizes owner participation. We applaud NYRA for introducing this program and look forward to seeing these races at Saratoga.”

The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s June Two-Year-Olds & Horses of Racing Age Sale, slated for June 12-14, will also offer prospective buyers an opportunity to enter the market at an affordable level.

“This is a win-win situation for NYRA and the owners of moderately priced horses,” said Tom Ventura, president of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company. “The owners will have an opportunity to race their horses for a quality purse, without having to run in a maiden claiming race, while also avoiding the heavy heads that are targeting the Saratoga meet. With more horses breaking their maiden, NYRA will have a larger pool of horses to fill next level allowance and stakes races. It should have a trickle-down effect in the sales ring, in a part of the market that could always use more buyer participation. Buyers will certainly appreciate a chance for an early return on their investment, while limiting the competition. Hats off to NYRA for creating an innovative option for owners.”

The new condition will also include up to $13,500 in New York Breeding Fund open company owners awards for New York-breds finishing 1st through 3rd in the new Maiden Allowance Auction Series.

“Creating added value for middle market horses is a positive move for everyone,” said Jeff Cannizzo, executive director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. and NYRA board member. “Establishing more maiden winners is positive long-term for New York. Doing this in Saratoga makes it sweeter for owners and breeders. New York-breds become even more lucrative at this level and will earn up to 20% open company owners awards on top of the purse. This is positive for breeders and owners here in New York where there will be many New York-breds eligible for this new condition. In 2018, New York-breds alone won 34 percent of the races at Saratoga and $11.4 million in purses.”

The 2019 Saratoga meet will feature 76 stakes across 40 racing days, highlighted by the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers and the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney as the anchors of two of the biggest racing days in North America.

“It’s great to see innovative programming in the condition book,” said Joe Appelbaum, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA). “NYTHA applauds the effort to provide more opportunities for a range of horsemen to succeed at Saratoga. We would expect this initiative to fill races, be highly competitive and to provide a path to a more robust racing program.”

The 2019 Saratoga meet begins on Thursday, July 11 and runs through Labor Day, Monday, September 2. Following Opening Weekend, Thursday, July 11 through Sunday, July 14, racing at Saratoga will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays. Closing week will run Wednesday, August 28 through Labor Day, Monday, September 2.

Source: NYRA

Breeders’ Cup Remains at Santa Anita

Breeders CupLEXINGTON, Ky. (June 27, 2019) – After a meeting of and discussion with its Board of Directors today in Lexington, Ky., Breeders’ Cup Limited affirmed by unanimous decision its commitment to conduct the 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. on November 1-2. This will mark the 10th time the event will be held at Santa Anita, the most of any host venue over the 36-year history of the Breeders’ Cup.

“Foremost among the core values of the Breeders’ Cup are the safety and integrity of the competition and we hold ourselves, our host sites and our competitors, to the highest standards of both. It is clear that meaningful and effective reforms and best practices have been implemented in recent months at Santa Anita through the collective efforts of The Stronach Group, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Thoroughbred Trainers, and the California Horse Racing Board,” said Craig Fravel, President and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup. “We fully embrace those reforms and will devote our time and energy in the coming months to further advance those efforts. We look forward to showing the world the best in Thoroughbred racing at one of its finest venues.”

Forbes’ Top 10 Horse Racing Tracks In The World

30th Horse Dies At Santa Anita; Hall Of Fame Trainer Banned From TrackDespite the recent negative publicity, the world remains fascinated by horse racing, billionaires continue to invest in championship thoroughbreds, and the racetracks around the globe still remain among the most elite. Here is my selection of the top 10 racetracks in the world:

Churchill Downs, Kentucky (opened in 1875, hosts the Kentucky Derby)

Ascot, United Kingdom (opened in 1711, hosts The Gold Cup, King George VI) …

Top 10 Horse Racing Tracks In The World

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A Day at the Races with the Riverhead Rotary

Column: A day at the races with the Riverhead RotaryI don’t recall the exact moment I saw the field at Shea Stadium for the first time. I was too young for any vivid memories. But I still recall that wow factor of walking through the tunnel and seeing the field. Shea Stadium is long gone, of course, and by now I’m old enough and have attended enough baseball games that the initial thrill has faded.

I was thinking back to that youthful excitement last Friday when, for the first time, I walked into Belmont Park, the grand race track in Elmont that has been home to horse racing for more than a century. I’ve watched many of the big races for the Belmont Stakes over the past 20 years or so, but had never been to the race track in person.

It was an experience long overdue, and something I’ve talked about doing for years.

So when a letter arrived in my mailbox at work from Ed Goldstein of the Riverhead Rotary inviting me to attend an event called “A Day at the Races,” I jumped at the opportunity. Mr. Goldstein noted that he had read an earlier column of mine on sports betting and thought I might be interested in checking out horse racing…

To Churchill via Afghanistan, horse trainer Mark Simms followed his dream

For Simms, the path to the Winner’s Circle at Churchill Downs had gone through various states and countries, through countless predawn drives chasing a dream in his spare time and through, of all places, Afghanistan.

“I really do thank the Lord every morning,” Simms said. “I’m training racehorses. I’m living the dream.”

His alarm clock goes off at 3:30 a.m., with long days facing even longer odds in trying to break into a tough business.

Simms, who recently turned 30, went out on his own in 2017 as a trainer. That move was after a stint assisting Churchill-based trainer Dale Romans that began when Simms was enlisted in the U.S. Army.

He was a soldier, part of a military family, joining ROTC in high school in Virginia and the Army out of college, being stationed all over the place. But even then, it was always about horses. His grandfather, a horse trainer himself, would always tell a story of how Simms learned to walk in a horse barn. Simms grew up on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indian Reservation in North Dakota, which had a racetrack, Chippewa Downs.

“As long as I can remember,” Simms said, “all I’ve really wanted to do was train racehorses. … They get in your blood, and it’s really hard to shake them.”

While stationed in Korea at one point, Simms would go to a racetrack on the weekends with a Korean soldier who could translate the program, and they’d figure out horses on which to bet…

Wimbledon 2019: A Look at the Men’s Singles Favourites

The pinnacle of the tennis season, not least the grass court season, is almost upon us – Wimbledon. The penultimate Grand Slam begins next month at the world-famous All England Lawn Club in SW19 and in readiness for the tournament beginning, we take a look at the favourites to win the men’s singles title. But in the meantime, check out all the latest Wimbledon men’s odds online.

Novak Djokovic

Reigning champion and world number 1, Novak Djokovic is the overwhelming favourite for the men’s singles title again this year. The Serbian has four Wimbledon titles to his name and overcame South African Kevin Anderson in last year’s final, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(7-3). He previously enjoyed back-to-back wins in Wimbledon finals against Roger Federer in 2014 and 2015.

This season, Djokovic has won the Australian Open, which in turn, saw him win his fifteenth Grand Slam title; and he was also successful at the Madrid Open, beating eighth-seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.

Rodger FedererRoger Federer

He holds both the records for the most Grand Slam titles (20) and the all-time record of eight Wimbledon titles, so there’s little doubting Roger Federer’s ability to go all the way again.

In the Open Era, he shares the record with Björn Borg for winning five consecutive Wimbledon titles. His first came in 2003, while more recently, Federer won his eighth Wimbledon title in 2017, when he defeated Marin Čilić in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.

The former world number 1 is currently number 3 in the ATP rankings, having retired in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open and lost out at the same stage of the Madrid Open in his return to clay after three years out.

Rafael Nadal

He may sit behind Roger Federer with 18 Grand Slam titles to his name, but the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, has only won Wimbledon twice. The world number 2 first won the tournament in 2008, defeating the Swiss ace in five sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5-7), 6-7(8-10), 9-7; before winning for the second time in 2010, beating the Czech Republic’s Tomáš Berdych, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

This year, Nadal came runner-up in the Australian Open (a Grand Slam he’s only one once, in 2009); while a string of semi-final defeats in a number of ATP 1000 masters finally culminated in victory, when he won the Rome masters last month. More recently he added to his Grand Slam tally, by winning the French Open for the twelfth time.

Alexander Zverev

He’s the second-youngest player in the ATP top 10 and is certainly one to watch for the future, with 10 career titles to his name already. However, 22-year-old Alexander Zverev, has yet to make a lasting impression on the big stage. At Wimbledon, his best finish to date has been making the fourth round (2017).

Last year he made the quarter-finals of the French Open, losing to eventual runner-up Dominic Thiem in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1. However, the German has previously overcome the odds and tough opposition. Only last year, he beat Djokovic in the ATP finals, while he previously beat the Serb in 2017’s Italian Open and in the same year, beat his idol, Federer in the Canadian Open.

Racetrack Moving Forward on this Caribbean Island

PM Says Over 200 Locals Employed In Horse Racing Track Project

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says an impressive amount of work is continuing on the Horse Racing track which forms part of the 1st Phase of the Pearl of the Caribbean development in Vieux Fort.

The first phase of the St. Lucia track includes a world class racetrack with turf and dirt courses, quarantine facilities, a polo field, barns and a veterinary clinic.

“Over 200 Saint Lucians have been employed on the first phase of the project along with 15 local contractors,” Chastanet wrote on his official Facebook page last week.

“More business employment opportunities will be created in the coming weeks with an estimated 500 jobs being created for locals as the Town Centre development phase of the project commences,” he disclosed.

According to Chastanet … read more about the St. Lucia racetrack

Top Trainer with 13.3% of Santa Anita Horse Deaths is Banned

Santa Anita Park kicks out trainer after a fourth horse of his diesHall of Fame Trainer No Longer Welcome

The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, has issued a statement saying in part, “We regret that Mr. Hollendorfer’s record in recent months at both Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields (near Oakland, California) has become increasingly challenging and does not match the level of safety and accountability we demand.

“Effective immediately, Mr. Hollendorfer is no longer welcome to stable, race or train his horses at any of our facilities.”

The action comes the a day after CNN aired an investigation into horse deaths at Santa Anita and other racetracks around the country.

According to horse racing website Equibase, American Currency raced five times earlier this season at Golden Gate Fields before he raced at Santa Anita, once in May. American Currency finished in the money nine times in 13 career races and won three times.

There were 10 races scheduled for Saturday’s program, the next to last day of the season …