Archives for January 2021

Saratoga Race Course scheduled for July 15 Opening Day

The New York Racing Association announced dates for the meets at Saratoga Race Course, Belmont Park and Aqueduct on Friday, with the Belmont Stakes, Travers and Whitney scheduled for their respective traditional spots.

Opening Day for Saratoga will be Thursday, July 15, to start 40 days of racing, including Whitney Day on Saturday, Aug. 7, and Travers Day on Saturday, Aug. 28.

The bulk of the 153rd Saratoga will run five days a week, from Wednesday to Sunday, and will conclude on Labor Day, Sept. 6.

The rest of the Saratoga stakes schedule is to be determined.

With the Kentucky Derby scheduled for May 1, the Belmont will move back to its spot five weeks later, June 5, after the Triple Crown series was substantially disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020…

Make horse racing at Louisiana Downs great again

Louisiana horse racingLetter to the Editor of the Shreveport Times in Louisiana:

“Getting ready to go to Louisiana Downs for opening day at Oaklawn last week. Oaklawn [Park] is one of the top tracks in the nation and the track that I am about to go to used to be one as well.

Louisiana Downs has fell off so bad from the way it was in late ’70s and throughout most of the ’80s and ’90s. When the casinos arrived the racetrack begin its decline to where we find it today.

The biggest race held at Louisiana Downs is the Super Derby. It used to draw top horses now it should be called the Uper Derby case it has been hit with kryptonite.

Louisiana Downs can can come back to its heyday if it only had the right people at the helm. Please Harrah’s do something, there are people who still love the track for more than going to the casino.”

Gene Green

Shreveport

The 2021 NHC Tour Begins Today

NTRA NHC logoLexington, Ky. (January 25, 2021) – The 2021 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Tour officially begins this Friday, January 29 with a $75 online qualifier to be held on HorsePlayers.com, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today.
Friday’s contest will be the first NHC qualifier to offer 2021 NHC Tour points awarded to Tour members who finish in the top 10 percent of officially-sanctioned NHC contests and among the first contests to offer berths to the $3,000,000-estimated 2022 NTRA National Horseplayers Championship to be held at Bally’s Las Vegas January 28-30, 2022. The officially declared Tour points leader will be eligible for a $5 million bonus should he or she win the 2022 NHC.
The 2021 NHC Tour, which offers an additional $365,000 in prize money, runs through January 9, 2022 and is expected to offer hundreds of online and onsite opportunities to compete for an NHC berth. The top 75 individual point leaders on the overall year-end Tour Leader Board, who have not already qualified through an official on-track or online contest, will automatically qualify into the 2022 NHC. Horseplayers cannot buy an entry into the NHC; they must earn a berth in qualifying contests held throughout the year.

How to Participate in the 2021 National Horseplayers Championship

Tour membership of $50 must be paid prior to participating in an online or on-track NHC qualifier to be eligible to win a berth in the NHC. To sign up for the NHC Tour, go to www.ntra.com/membership.
For more information on the NHC Tour benefits and to view the official rules go to www.nhctour.com. A schedule of 2021 Tour events will be updated regularly at https://www.ntra.com/nhc/nhc-events/.
About the NHC
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 NTRA.com/nhc.

Aqueduct Racing Cancelled for Friday due to Weather

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has canceled Friday’s live racing program at Aqueduct Racetrack due to high winds and frigid temperatures forecast to impact the New York metropolitan area.

The National Weather Service (NWS), which aligns with forecasts provided by NYRA’s independent weather services, is calling for sustained high winds throughout the day on Friday with gusts as high as 39 mph. Those conditions will create dangerous wind chill values between -5 and 5 throughout the downstate region.

As a result, NYRA has canceled Friday’s eight-race card in the interest of the safety of all participants.

Live racing at Aqueduct will be conducted as scheduled this afternoon with Thursday’s eight-race card offering a first post of 12:50 p.m. Eastern and will resume on Saturday, January 30 with a nine-race card highlighted by the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan. First post on Saturday is 12:20 p.m.

Source: NYRA

Hong Kong Star Golden Sixty top 10 of LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings

Hong Kong Golden SixtyGolden Sixty climbs into top 10 as Hong Kong figures prominently in LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings and Top 100 G1 races rankings

Golden Sixty is within touching distance of status as the world’s premier miler based on the 2020 LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (WBRR), released by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) on Tuesday, 26 January, as nine of Hong Kong’s elite races featured in the World’s Top 100 G1 Races last year.

With his recent victory in the G1 Stewards’ Cup becoming his 15th win from 16 starts, including 12 victories in a row, Golden Sixty has soared to an international rating of 124 in the year end list  – just one point shy of gun British miler Palace Pier and French galloper Persian King – to be the world’s joint-third top miler and equal 10th overall behind Godolphin’s Ghaiyyath (130).

Emphasizing the quality of Golden Sixty’s performances, Palace Pier’s credits include G1 victories in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, France, while Persian King also saluted twice in 2020 G1 contests – the Prix d’Ispahan at Chantilly, France, and the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp, France. Persian King has since retired.

Underlining his advance under Francis Lui and Vincent Ho, Golden Sixty currently shares second top place with Japanese superstar Almond Eye and British miler Mohaather, who have also both bowed out of racing – leaving only Palace Pier ahead of Golden Sixty among champion milers still in training.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said: “With the retirement of one Hong Kong champion in Beauty Generation, it is fitting that we should have a new champion in Golden Sixty to emerge to occupy such a high place in the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

“Golden Sixty has been expertly managed by Francis Lui and his team along with Vincent Ho in compiling a winning streak bettered in Hong Kong only by Silent Witness.

“That Hong Kong has produced another champion in Golden Sixty worthy of global acclaim from a horse pool of just 1400 horses in a jurisdiction which has no breeding is a wonderful result.

“We hope Golden Sixty can rise even higher as his career unfolds, while acknowledging the difficulty of improving on his already stunning record.

“Looking further ahead, I’m confident with our significant incentives, coupled with the emergence of our four-year-old crop, there is great cause for optimism about the continued excellence of Hong Kong racing.”

Golden Sixty is one of 17 Hong Kong-trained horses in the 2020 World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, a figure which includes Classique Legend (125) and Shadow Hero (115), who achieved their rankings based on Australian performances before export to Hong Kong.

Five of the 17-strong Hong Kong contingent – including Beauty Generation – have been retired, signalling a changing of the guard in the world’s most competitive racing jurisdiction.

Winner of A$15million The Everest, Classique Legend is the joint highest-rated sprinter in the world along with Australian speedster Bivouac and the highest-rated horse based in Hong Kong with an international mark of 125 – one point higher than Golden Sixty, who notched a 12th straight win at Sha Tin on Sunday in the G1 Stewards’ Cup.

Retired champion miler Beauty Generation departs in joint 21st place with a rating of 122.

Hot King Prawn, winner of the Centenary Sprint Cup on Sunday, shares equal 40th with Exultant on 120, while Beat The Clock (119) comes in at No 57.

Mr Stunning, Southern Legend, Thanks Forever and Waikuku round out Hong Kong’s top-100 contingent at No 80 on 118 points.

Furore (117), Ka Ying Star (117), Time Warp (116), Big Time Baby (115), Columbus County (115) and Voyage Warrior (115) also featured in the rankings.

Godolphin’s Ghaiyyath is the world’s highest-rated racehorse with a figure of 130 from American galloper Authentic (126).

Nine of Hong Kong’s elite races featured in the world’s top 100 and the number was on par with France.

Hong Kong’s highest-rated race in 2020 was the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m), won by Japan’s Normcore, earning a rating of 121.25 to be equal 16th in the World’s Top 100 G1 Races behind the Juddmonte International Stakes (2080m) at York.

Each G1 is ranked according to an average rating of the first four finishers in that race with the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings Committee deciding the ratings.

The Juddmonte International returned a figure of 125.25.

The LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, won by Golden Sixty, was rated equal 29th with a mark of 119.5. The Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup was rated equal 32nd with a mark of 119.25.

Two of Sha Tin’s prestige sprints – the Centenary Sprint Cup (won by Beat The Clock) and Chairman’s Sprint Prize (Mr Stunning) – were rated equal 47th with figures of 117.75.

The FWD Champions Mile (Southern Legend) returned a mark of 117.50 to sit at equal 51st in the rankings, while the Stewards’ Cup (Waikuku) was assessed at joint 55th at 117.25.

Aidan O’Brien-trained Mogul’s effort to land the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) drew a race rating of 117 and a ranking of equal 58th, while Time Warp’s victory in the Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) delivered a race rating of 115.5 and equal 98th place.

Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said: “It is most satisfying that we have maintained a position in the top five in the world for the number of top G1 races staged in Hong Kong.

“COVID-19 has presented challenges for all racing jurisdictions and Hong Kong is no exception.

“It is gratifying to that the Club has again risen to the challenge with a ‘can-do’ spirit. We have again attracted world-class horses to Hong Kong for our elite races, especially the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races, with entries from Japan, Ireland, Great Britain and France.

“We take immense satisfaction from the Club’s ability to overcome these significant obstacles to maintain Hong Kong’s strong presence among the world’s top G1 races.”

LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings 2020

Hong Kong Trained Horses in World Rankings since 1998

World’s Top 100 Group 1 Races

Scientific Study on Speed, Pace and Aerodynamic Drafting in Thoroughbred Horse Racing

“Choice of pacing strategy and the benefit of aerodynamic drafting are thought to be key determinants of racing performance. These effects have largely been analyzed without reference to final outcome, in small datasets with low temporal resolution, and a focus on human swimming, cycling and running. Here, we determined the position and speed of 44,803 racehorses, once per second, in 3,357 races ranging in length from 1006 to 4225 m (50.9–292.9 seconds duration) using a validated radio tracking system.

We find that aerodynamic drafting has a marked effect on horse performance, and hence racing outcome…”

Goldman Sachs Raises Penn National’s Stock Target by Almost $40 a Share

Fresh off mobile launches in Michigan and Virginia, gambling analysts on Tuesday gave another vote of confidence to publicly traded sports betting companies.

Goldman Sachs upgraded DraftKings to a buy with a $65 price target and reiterated Penn as a buy with a growing price target from $86 to $124 a share.

As of 12:30pm ET, DraftKings was up seven percent on the day to $54.90, while Penn was down 1.8 percent to $102.12.

The DraftKings upgrade was based on what the analysts said was a market leader position and “ability to participate in the economics of single operator states.” DraftKings, for example, runs sports betting in New Hampshire through its contract with the state lottery…

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – Jan. 26

Tampa Paddock

Up close and personal at Tampa Bay Downs paddock. Copyright AGOS

Check out our AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for Agameofskill.com visitors

SANTA ANITA

CHARMAINE’S MIA (Race 8 at Santa Anita, Jan. 9, 2021) – Moved into the barn of Phil D’Amato and what do you know – the mare improved by leaps and bounds.  At 16-1 odds she dominated a very strong group here that included multiple stakes winners.  There is no reason she can’t keep running big in turf sprints for her new outfit.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS

JUSTLYREWARDED (Race 6 at Tampa Bay Downs, Jan 6, 2021) – Broke from a tough outside post and then raced wide throughout.  Worse yet, the 7yo gelding was racing against the grain of an inside speed bias.  Better-than-it looks 4th place finish for owner/trainer Peter Knoll.

MY BROTHERSLEDGE (Race 7 at Tampa Bay Downs, Jan 6, 2021) – The best closer in this turf race  made a strong early run against the eventual wire to wire winner.  The 6oy was the only horse with a shot down the stretch but had to settle for 2nd.  He ran a ‘winning race’ with new jockey Hector Diaz in the irons.

 

Racing at Turf Paradise Cancelled for Monday. Sunday Stakes Recap from Big A.

the Big A race horseThere were some anxious moments throughout the running of Sunday’s $100,000 Busanda for The Grass Is Blue, but the daughter of Broken Vow proved superior in the nine-furlong event for sophomore fillies at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Owned by Louis Lazzinnaro and trained by Chad Brown, The Grass Is Blue received a well-timed ride by jockey Manny Franco, who piloted the filly to a one-length triumph in her second start around two turns and first with blinkers.

The Grass Is Blue garnered ten points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks when taking the Busanda – a 10-4-2-1 qualifier for the prestigious event. The Grass Is Blue arrived at the Busanda off a close third as the favorite in Laurel Park’s Anne Arundel County on December 26.

Breaking from the outside post in the five-horse field, Franco angled The Grass Is Blue to the inside approaching the first turn while Traffic Lane assumed command with fellow Todd Pletcher-trained Repole Stable color bearer Coffee Bar close behind in second through an opening quarter-mile in 24.44 seconds. Franco had a tight hold on The Grass Is Blue, who was rank as the field approached the backstretch.

Lessons from the biggest online handicapping tournament thus far in 2021.

With the half in 49.73, Traffic Lane was maintained command as The Grass Is Blue was still in search of racing room along the fence with Wonderwall and Diamond Ore inching closer to the front.

As Coffee Bar inched her way to even terms with her stable mate at the top of the stretch, Franco weaved The Grass Is Blue two paths to the outside and in the clear and gave the filly her cue at the three-sixteenths. Coffee Bar proved to be a tough customer and battled gamely to the inside, but the 8-5 favorite proved best, completing the 1 1/8 miles in a final time of 1:54.90 on the fast main track.

The New York-bred Coffee Bar, a Repole Stable homebred, finished another five lengths ahead of Diamond Ore, who rounded out the trifecta. Traffic Lane and Wonderwall completed the order of finish.

Franco expressed confidence in his filly and said the equipment change made a big difference.

“I knew I had a lot of horse under me the whole way around,” said Franco, who piloted Always Shopping to a win in the 2019 Busanda.“The blinkers helped a lot. I was just waiting for the right moment to make my move and at the quarter pole, she just accelerated. With the blinkers first time, I knew she was going to take me there. I just wanted to give her a breather at some point during the race and that’s why I stayed inside. When the time came, I tipped out and she just accelerated. She got the distance really well.”

Lazzinnaro was full of praise for Franco for a confident and patient ride aboard his filly.

“I think Manny gave the horse a perfect trip,” Lazzinnaro said. “It looked like she liked the track a lot so we’ll probably keep her here during the winter and let Chad figure out what to do and how to go about winning another race with her. Chad took his time with her and got her going good. The distance was good for her today.”

The Grass Is Blue returned $5.20 as the favorite and banked $55,000 in victory pushing her lifetime earnings past the six-figure mark to $121,978 through a career of 5-3-0-1.

Bred in Kentucky by Phillips Racing Partnership, The Grass Is Blue is out of the Aldebaran mare Shine Softly, whose mother Soaring Softly won the 1999 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf and was named Champion Turf Mare that same year.

Live racing resumes Thursday at Aqueduct with an eight-race card. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

Source: NYRA

Racing at Turf Paradise Cancelled for Monday, Jan. 25th due to weather issues.

How Horse Racing Fans Can Plan for a Trip to New Zealand

We all needed a break from 2020 and thankfully, the calendar has turned. Of course, concerns about the current state of global health affairs are still in the back of our minds. The good news is that a light seems to be at the end of a very long tunnel thanks to the introduction of several vaccines. This is why many horse racing enthusiasts are looking forward to attending live events in the coming year. However, what if you plan on visiting New Zealand in order to simply “get away from it all’? There are several ways in which you can truly enjoy all that this country has to offer while still keeping up to date with your hobby. Let’s take a look at some useful suggestions to keep in mind.

Address Logistics from the Beginning

New Zealand is home to some of the most famous racetracks in existence. Thanks to rather agreeable weather throughout the year, the chances are high that you can plan on visiting at least one competition during your stay…