About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 15-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is also a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program. He is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 15-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is also a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program. He is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – Sept. 18, 2018

Kentucky Downs

PAPER CLIP – (Race 4 @KYD, 9/13/18) – 2nd time starter was the speed of the field and she broke on top. But then JR took back and had her in a bad spot racing on the inside over the up-and-down Kentucky Downs turf course. Appeared she might be done when she re-rallied and just missed getting 2nd. Ward filly will be tough with a better ride next time out.

 

Saratoga

KITTY’S LEGACY (Race 4 @SAR 8/16/18) – Freud juvenile filly broke 1 1/2 lengths slow but finished full of run to be a fast closing second behind the winning favorite.  She’s a half to 3 winners on the grass including a stakes winner.

TRUE GOLD (Race 7 @SAR 8/30/18) – this 2yo son of solid NY stallion Frost Giant closed well under Joel Rosario to claim the place spot behind a well meant winner.  Charlton Baker runner showed a lot of talent in debut and shouldn’t be a maiden much longer.

 

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Great Horse Racing Videos – 2018 Spinaway won by Sippican Harbor

Sippican Harbor to train up to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

Lee Pokoik’s Sippican Harbor is in good shape following her impressive last-to-first, two-length win in Saturday’s Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga, trainer Gary Contessa said Sunday morning.

The 2-year-old filly by Orb won her second straight start after breaking her maiden by 17 lengths on August 12 at Saratoga. The victory came after placing fifth in her debut on grass on July 22 at the Spa.

“She’s good. I’d say a little tired,” Contessa said. “We’re not going back to the turf anytime soon, but I do believe she’s just as good on the grass as she is on the dirt. So, the time may come where she does double duty.”

Sippican Harbor will head to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 4 at Churchill Downs and will train right up to the race.

“We’re just going to work, I’m not going to run her again [until Churchill],” said Contessa. “She deserves a break. I ran her 20 days apart to get her ready. Two months to get her to the Breeders’ Cup? Piece of cake.

“I’m definitely excited. I was crushed when she lost on the turf, I didn’t think she could possibly lose, that’s how much I loved her,” he added. “I thought she was phenomenal. Everything she’s ever done, she’s done like a super horse. There’s a little bit of a stigma attached to Orb that he’s throwing grass horses, so I just went with it, and thought ‘oh we got a turf horse here,’ but her dirt works and her turf works were sensational. It’s thrilling to be in this position. It makes getting up in the morning a lot easier.”

The performance by Sippican Harbor was exactly what Contessa said he was hoping to see from his young filly. Now, with two impressive victories from three starts, the questions about her talent have been answered.

“We went to the champagne room and it [race replay] just kept playing and playing and playing. I love the call where he [race-caller Larry Collmus] said ‘and she’s the real deal!’ I love that because that’s exactly what I was thinking at that point. She’s the real deal because going in, I wasn’t positive. You could take a really good boxer and he beats up a chump and he looks really good doing it, but when you throw him in with Mike Tyson and he’s knocked out in the first round. We had to see this to believe it.”

UofL Equine Business Program Names New Director

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sean Beirne, an early graduate of the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program in the College of Business, has been named the program’s new director.

Beirne, who has worked in various capacities in the horse racing industry nationwide, has most recently been employed by industry vendor Roberts Communications Network. He was on the Colorado Racing Commission for the past eight years, serving as chairman from July 2015 to June 2017.

Beirne“On Nov. 1, I will begin what I consider to be my ‘dream job,’” Beirne said. “I am thrilled beyond words to receive the opportunity to come back to my alma mater and prepare students to become the future leaders of our great sport of horse racing.”

He replaces Tim Capps, who died following a stroke in April 2017.

Beirne earned his bachelor’s degree from the equine program in 1990. He earned his first undergraduate degree, in political science, from UofL in 1986.

Beirne and his wife, Mary, are both Louisville natives. Mary Beirne graduated from UofL’s School of Nursing.

The Equine Industry Program at UofL is an accredited business degree with an equine focus. Graduates can be found in all aspects of the industry, from training to broadcasting.  Beirne attended the UofL Equine program at the same time as AGOS Founder Rich Nilsen.

For more information, contact Terri Burch, interim director of the Equine Industry Program, at terri.burch@louisville.edu or 502-852-4859.
#WeAreUofL

Sports betting has “serious consequences” for Pro Players

“As a growing number of the various states move toward adopting legalized gambling, the sports leagues have concerns. The players associations do, too.

There are serious consequences, particularly for the athletes,” NFL Players Association V.P. for business and legal affairs Casey Schwab told David Purdum of ESPN.com. “Because of those consequences, the athlete’s voice must be heard, particularly as we contemplate sports betting in the country.”

The athlete’s voice can be heard, but the entities setting up the wagering programs don’t necessarily have to listen. For years, don’t-call-it-gambling-gambling on fantasy football has existed, with individual player performance residing at the heart of the process. And the athlete’s voice hasn’t been heard…”

Source: NFLPA exec: Sports betting has “serious consequences” for players

Monumental 2018 Travers Day Handle for NYRA

Horse Racing Thriving in Saratoga

A blockbuster Travers Day card, highlighted by Catholic Boy’s victory in the 149th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers, generated all-sources handle of $52,086,597, shattering the previous record set in 2015 by 4.9 percent.

Saratoga paddock copyright Agameofskill.comAll-sources handle, which exceeded the $50 million mark on Travers Day for the first time ever, surpassed the 2017 all-sources number by 8.8 percent.

 

On-track handle was $11,466,264, an increase of 5.6 percent over 2017, and just shy of 2015’s $11,472,451.

A paid crowd of 49,418 witnessed Catholic Boy put away European invader Mendelssohn in the stretch to draw clear for a four-length victory in the Runhappy Travers, giving Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano his record sixth victory in the race.

The Runhappy Travers was one of six Grade 1 stakes on Travers Day, which also featured the Grade 1, $1 million Sword Dancer, the Grade 1, $700,000 Personal Ensign, the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego, the Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina and the Grade 1 $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens presented by Runhappy. The Travers Day card was rounded out by the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa.

The 2018 summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course continues through Labor Day, Monday, September 3. For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit NYRA.com.

2018 Travers Day
August 25, 2018
All-sources: $52,086,597
On-track: $11,466,264

2017 Travers Day
August 26, 2017
All-sources: $47,870,987
On-track: $10,862,095

2016 Travers Day
August 27, 2016
All-sources: $45,596,367
On-track: $10,778,993

2015 Travers Day
August 29, 2015
All-sources: $49,668,754
On-track: $11,472,451

2018 Woodward Stakes Day Handle also shows Big Increase

A strong card featuring four graded stakes on the final Saturday of the 2018 meet – highlighted by Yoshida’s victory against a
full field of 14 in the 65th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward – generated an all-sources handle record of $31,030,034, easily eclipsing the previous Woodward Day record set in 2017 by 11.3 percent.

On-track handle was $5,895,252, an increase of eight percent over 2017.

The record-setting day came a week after the New York Racing Association established a new record for all-sources handle on Travers Day with $52,086,597, marking the first time all-sources wagering on Travers Day topped $50 million.

Woodward Day also featured Raging Bull’s impressive win in the 111th running of the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac, part of an effort that saw Chad Brown set a new Saratoga single-meet wins records for a trainer, with the conditioner eclipsing the previous mark of 40. Sippican Harbor, at odds of 16-1, won the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway and earned an all-fees paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Following Yoshida’s win in his dirt debut, Lady Montdore ended the day with a victory in the Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls.
The 2018 summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course concludes Labor Day, Monday, September 3 with an 11-race card highlighted by the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful for 2-year-olds and the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap on the turf.

Source: NYRA

3 “Win and You’re In” Challenge races in Europe on Sat. Morning

A trio of “Win and You’re In” Challenge races are on tap Saturday at Leopardstown in Dublin, with the $1.493 million QIPCO Irish Champion and the presence of heavy favorite Qatar Racing’s Roaring Lion serving as the main attraction. Run at 1 ¼ miles, the Irish Champion will offer an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, a race Roaring Lion qualified for when he won York’s Juddmonte International (GI) August 22 for trainer John Gosden. The 3-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy rates as Europe’s best male turf horse off successive wins in Sandown’s Coral-Eclipse (GI) in July and the Juddmonte International and will bring a 6-for-10 lifetime mark to the Irish Champion, in which he’s trading as a stiff 5-4 favorite among European punters.

The Coolmore conglomerate of Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Saxon Warrior (JPN) will have another crack at Roaring Lion after running second and fourth to him, respectively, at Sandown and York. The 3-year-old son of Deep Impact (JPN) won the 2000 Guineas (GI) at Newmarket in May for trainer Aidan O’Brien and is 4-for-8 lifetime. Flaxman Stable Ireland’s homebred Study of Man (IRE) is also expected for trainer Pasqual Bary and is garnering a bit of support off his French Derby (GI) win at Chantilly in June. Benbatl (GB), Cliffs of Moher (IRE), Crystal Ocean (GB), Lancaster Bomber and Magic Wand (IRE) could also run in the “Win and You’re In” QIPCO Irish Champion.

Breeders’ Cup Preps

The $418,142 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron (GI), run at 1-mile, will award an automatic starting berth into the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and, if Roaring Lion is Europe’s best male turf horse, then the Niarchos Family’s homebred Alpha Centauri (IRE) is clearly their best filly, if not best horse overall, as she’s blitzed her competition en route to a quarter of consecutive group I wins for trainer Jessica Harrington. The 3-year-old daughter of Mastercraftsman (IRE) came to prominence with a win in the Irish 1,000 Guineas (GI) at The Curragh in May then rattled off the Coronation at Royal Ascot in June, Falmouth at Newmarket in July and “Win and You’re In” Prix du Haras de-Fresnay-Le-Buffard Jacques le Marois at Deauville August 12 to earn an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Alpha Centauri is 6-for-9 lifetime and is as low as 2-5 among the European punters.

copyright Pixabay

The imposing shadow that Alpha Centauri casts could keep the field for the Matron at a minimum, with John Dance’s LAURENS (FR), who won the Prix Saint-Alary (GI) at Longchamp in May and French Oaks (GI) at Chantilly in June serving as the perceived main danger for trainer Karl Burke. Coolmore could start group winners Clemmie (IRE), Magical (IRE), and Rhododendron (IRE) while group winner Veracious is also possible for the “Win and You’re In” Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron.

The “Win and You’re In” $179,204 KPMG Champions Juvenile (GII), run at 1-mile, will award an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and is expected to draw overflow field with several up-and-coming 2-year-olds looking to announce their presence on the international scene. Godolphin’s Dark Vision (IRE) is undefeated in three starts for trainer Mark Johnston and impressed winning the Vintage (GII) at Glorious Goodwood July 31. The son of Dream Ahead has yet to be tested in any of his runs and could go favored over a potential field of 18 that is long on promise.

Coolmore and O’Brien could run as many as eight, including Christmas (IRE), who was second to his highly touted stablemate Anthony Van Dyck (IRE) in The Curragh’s August 26 Futurity (GII), as well as Mount Everest (IRE), a son of 2003 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Six Perfections (FR) who broke his maiden at The Curragh, as did Sydney Opera House (GB). The Aga Khan has homebreds Masaff (IRE) won on debut locally June 21 and Zuenoon (IRE), who is 2-for-3, and the Dermot Weld-trained pair could be ready for the rise in class.

The “Win and You’re In” action in Ireland moves to The Curragh Racecourse in County Kildare Sunday as the $418,142 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five (GI) and $418,142 Moyglare Stud (GI) will award automatic starting berths into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, respectively.

Global Racing Club and Mrs. E. Burke’s Havana Grey (GB) and Stephen Louch’s Caspian Prince (IRE), the 1-2 finishers in the Group 2, 5-furlong Sapphire Stakes at The Curragh on June 22 lead the way. Finsbury Square (IRE), Hit The Bid (AUS), Sioux Nation, Speak In Colours (GB) are also attracting lukewarm support for the “Win and You’re In” Derrinstown Stud Flying Five.

The Moyglare, run at seven furlongs, figures to draw a crowd, with several from Coolmore and trainer Aidan O’Brien expected, as he could choose from Angelic Light, Banduic Ellie, Beyond Reason, Coral Beach, Fairyland, Fantasy, Hermosa, Just Wonderful and Peach Tree.

Delta Prince the One to Beat at Woodbine?

Wager on WoodbineDelta Prince enjoyed the finest hour of his career here at Woodbine this June, winning the Grade 2 King Edward over the Ricoh Woodbine Mile course and distance.

Now the up and coming five-year-old trained by James Jerkens will be looking for a new crowning achievement in the Grade 1, $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Saturday.

“He’s a lengthy kind of horse,” said Jerkens, who believes the sweeping turn on the E.P. Taylor course is a good fit for his budding star. “He’s not short coupled, light on his feet.”

Delta Prince has a kingly pedigree as a half-brother to Royal Delta, winner of two Breeders’ Cup Distaffs and three straight Eclipse Awards for her division. His dam also produced Crown Queen, victorious in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Keeneland’s turf course.

“Since he’s come back, so far, he’s the best he’s ever been for a long time.”

So, it is no surprise that Delta Prince is not only talented but has developed into a top-notch turf performer after beginning his career with two decent efforts on the main track. But after displaying steady improvement through 2017, Delta Prince wound up on the sidelines.

Unraced as a juvenile, Delta Prince joined the Jerkens barn at Palm Meadows as a three-year-old and began his career late that year, making his first two starts on the dirt in New York.

“The first time he ran real green,” said Jerkens. “Then, in the mile race he ran well, but he was hitting his pasterns real bad. So I thought I’d try him on turf, and he wouldn’t hit his pasterns. The first time he ran on turf, he ran off the screen. I’ve kept him on turf ever since.”

Delta Prince continued his upswing on the grass but went to the sidelines in early September after finishing a good third in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Saratoga.

“He had some little nagging things that just got the better of him,” said Jerkens. “We were keeping him going but we didn’t want to risk serious injury. He just needed lots of time.”

That prescription appears to have paid off in spades as Delta Prince, making his first start in almost 10 months, returned victorious in the King Edward.

In his lone start since then, Delta Prince wound up farther off the pace than planned and could not run down a loose-on-the lead Voodoo Song in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Fourstardave over one mile of “good” turf.

“I thought he ran very well,” said Jerkens. “The course was a lot softer than he likes and he broke real flat-footed or he wouldn’t have been that far out of it. He had to make a big, long run and that’s hard on soft turf.

“Since he’s come back, so far, he’s the best he’s ever been for a long time.”

2018 Del Mar Summer Meet Surges

Horse Racing is Alive and Well in So. California

All sources handle in 2018 rose 6.8 percent to $13.44 million per day as Del Mar completed a highly successful summer season – its 79th – on Labor Day Monday. The wagering increase follows a 5.1 percent gain in all-sources handle in 2017, which averaged $12.58 million. The strength of the 2018 summer racing program and the increase in field size helped drive a 10.8 percent increase in wagering by out-of-state patrons and a 14.1 percent increase in betting by California ADW customers.

Drew Brees at Del Mar

Drew Brees at Del Mar

“Across the board, we’ve hit all our marks with a wonderful display of teamwork in a group effort,” said DMTC CEO Joe Harper. “Our owners, our trainers, our jockeys – everyone is pulling their oars in the same direction. It is amazing what positive things can happen when we all get on the same page to put on a first-rate show. The bar was set very high in 2017, but here we’ve gone and jumped far over it in a very gratifying summer.

Field size, which averaged 8.7 runners per race, rose again over the seven-week season, just as it had the year before. Del Mar’s highly successful “Ship & Win” program drew 105 new runners to the track from out-of-state. Since its inception in 2011, the “S & W” plan has lured more than 1,200 runners to Del Mar.

“The response from our horsemen and horsewomen to our program at Del Mar has been just terrific,” said executive vice president for racing Tom Robbins. “We have a wonderful partnership going right now and we’ll continue to work to make it even better.

“And our track crews – headed by Leif Dickinson on our turf course and Dennis Moore on our main track – have been nothing short of exceptional. Their superior work has allowed us to conduct highly competitive and safe racing throughout the summer and we all owe them a huge thank you. We dedicate significant off-season time and resources to preparing the surfaces for their best and it is heartening to see such positive results.”

Accelerate the Horse of the Meet

Foremost among the exceptional racing that unfolded over the course of the summer was a dominant win by Hronis Racing’s Accelerate in the $1-million TVG Pacific Classic. The Hronis outfit and their trainer, John Sadler, also cut loose one of America’s rising stars in Catalina Cruiser, who pulled off a stakes double with impressive tallies in the San Diego and Pat O’Brien. Then there were a series of 2-year-old stars led by the Bob Baffert-trained and Gary and Mary West-owned Game Winner, victorious in the Grade I Futurity. Bellafina, conditioned by Simon Callaghan and carrying the silks of Kaleem Shah, was the meeting’s top juvenile filly, winning the Grade I Debutante.

Metaboss at Del Mar
copyright Gary Tasich

“On behalf of the California horse owners, we couldn’t be more pleased with the results at Del Mar”, said Nick Alexander, chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners of California. “We congratulate the Del Mar management team and staff on a job well done. It was an outstanding summer and we look forward to returning later this fall.”

Del Mar’s spectacular presentation of the Breeders’ Cup in 2017 earned it a return performance of the championship event in 2021, an announcement that was made at the track in August. The track will now take a short respite before returning for its fifth fall race meeting between November 9 and December 2.

Source: Del Mar

Ellis Park’s strong finish sets stage for 2019 meet

Ellis-Park logoIs Horse Racing Dead?  Not in Henderson, KY

Ellis Park’s strong finish sets stage for 2019 meet.

Evansville Courier & Press Full coverage: Ellis Park’s strong finish sets stage for 2019 meet