This Many Fans Allowed at Belmont Park for Opening Week

Belmont Park crowd

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Belmont Park Opens Thursday, April 22nd

The Belmont Park horse racing meet begins [Thursday] and, after a year without fans in the stands, some spectators will be allowed in. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard has reaction from Saratoga Springs, where officials are hopeful for a more normal summer season.

Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement during a press call Wednesday [April 14, 2021].

“Effective Friday, April 23, spectators will be allowed at auto and horse races at 20 percent capacity for outdoor events, and that will be in line with our guidance for other professional sports events. The health and safety protocols that apply to sports events – face masks, social distancing, proof of completed immunization or recent negative test – will apply here, also.”

Horse Racing Suffers with Ontario’s Extended stay-at-home order

“It just feels like it’s always the same people that get run over in this province,” he says. “It’s always agriculture, it’s always the people with a small or no voice at all. This is a very fragile industry that’s a pillar of agriculture. It’s hard to watch when your own government doesn’t appear to take the industry seriously. They kneecapped us a decade ago.”

Ohio, he says, is a whole different world than Ontario right now. Maybe it’s what Ontario would be like if we hadn’t bungled our way through the past few months.

“I went out for a steak last night with a couple of clients and the people that work here,” he says. “Two of our employees went to the Cleveland Indians game the other night, another person went to the movies. You still have to wear a mask, you still have to social distance, but the thing I found most interesting — as Ontario seems to be tripping over itself getting people vaccinated — I was literally in the States 24 hours and I had a needle in my arm…

The Aldaniti Grand National story

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This year’s Grand National marks the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest sporting stories, Aldaniti and Bob Champion winning the famous race.

When they lined up at Aintree in 1981 for the world‐famous race, Aldaniti and his jockey Bob Champion had overcome incredible odds just to be there.

Bob had beaten cancer and his big‐race mount had recovered from a leg injury so severe the vets thought his racing days were finished.

Together they conquered the fearsome fences for the most emotional victory any racecourse is ever likely to see. It was so remarkable a film was made of their triumph over adversity.

When Bob was diagnosed with cancer, the one thing that got him through the debilitating treatment was the thought of riding Aldaniti in the Grand National.

The pair had finished third in the 1979 Cheltenham Gold Cup and trainer Josh Gifford had assured Bob the ride on Aldaniti, as well as the job as stable jockey, remained his…

Probability in Horse Racing

A philosopher’s guide to betting on the KY Derby

Last year for the April Derby Issue, I wrote a column on probability, but that was scientific, or logical, probability. This time, I decided to write about something far more important: probability in horse racing. In that last column, I distinguished two kinds of probability, Classical and Relative Frequency. Briefly, classical probability applies to cases where there are a finite number of possible outcomes, each equally likely, like flipping a coin or rolling a die. Relative frequencies are those cases in which there are many trials, and we count how often a particular outcome occurs.

Clearly, neither of these work in the case of horse racing. If we used the classical approach, each horse in a race would be assigned the same odds, but we do not believe that every horse has the same chance of winning. And we cannot run the same race many times over to determine how often Olivia wins.

So, what do the odds in a horse race mean? This kind of probability is called “Subjective” and reflects the beliefs of the people setting the odds…

Does the European handicapping system work?

An earnings-based system rather than one based simply on wins alone is a suggestion put forward by more than one industry expert, but the current system of handicapping has been in place for 170 years, introduced by Admiral Rous in 1851. Rous was appointed the first official handicapper in Britain in 1855 and devised the Weight-For-Age scale, which in theory should afford horses of different ages an equal chance of winning.

Tellingly, it says a lot about our sport that he is still remembered anecdotally for the remark, “I have just gone through the next race and have discovered that I have handicapped each horse so well that not one of them can possibly win.”

We could argue that if it isn’t broken, why fix it? Certainly, many trainers have no issue with the system, other than its interpretation by the various official handicappers in relation to their own horse.

“There has to be a process in place, and if we didn’t have handicaps, a lot of horses couldn’t compete and would fall out of training,” says Michael Grassick, CEO Irish Racehorse Trainers Association (IRTA). “I personally believe that handicaps serve a purpose. Many do feel that in Ireland the handicapper is too severe. After a period of time horses will run to a certain rating and when they go above that rating, they will no longer be as competitive until returning to that rating. The Irish handicapper is felt to be very slow in moving a horse who has gone up through the handicap back down the ratings; we feel that in the UK horses are lowered a bit quicker. While in the lower grades of 45-60, the horses seem to drop quite quickly and drop through the floor and out of the system…

Popular Jockeys Join Team Event in Racing League

“It’s great that the racing industry has decided to try something a bit different,” said jockey Hayley Turner.

Top [UK] jockeys including Frankie Dettori, Hollie Doyle and Oisin Murphy have been signed up for the new Racing League competition which launches this summer.

David Egan, winner of big races in Dubai and Saudi Arabia recently on Mishriff, will be in a team for Irish trainers Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien.

The new televised series will guarantee £2m in prize money.

How will it work?

Racing in team colors, the sides will each consist of two to four trainers working together, three jockeys, stable staff and a squad of 30 horses.

They will compete across 36 12-runner handicap races, worth at least £50,000 each, with horses rated 0-90 and run over distances between five and 12 furlongs.

All six meetings will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.

Each jockey will be able to ride in a maximum of 18 of the 36 races.

Jockeys will compete for a £50,000 prize pot awarded to the three riders who score the most points.

Santa Anita eyes Good Friday for Horse Racing Fans’ return

Santa Anita Reaccredited by NTRA Safety & Integrity AllianceThere’s good news aplenty concerning the Southern California horse racing scene.

Santa Anita plans to begin welcoming fans back Friday, April 2, according to Santa Anita general manager Nate Newby.

The track’s been devoid of fans since last March when shutdowns began throughout the country because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s our current plan, to open at limited capacity starting April 2,” Newby said during a telephone interview Thursday. “We are waiting for some more information from either the state or the county, or both, that we expect to get in the next few days, either late this week or early next week. We don’t have any (further) details until we see the detailed guidelines.”

Newby said Santa Anita management expects the guideline to be 20% of reserved seating.

“There’s a big difference between capacity and reserved seating,” he said. “There will be no walking around, general-admission type (thing).”

Racing has been hurt less by the pandemic than other sports because about 90% of its wagering dollars come from off-track bettors.

Newby said the first half of Santa Anita’s winter-spring meet has gone well…

Mayor of Prescott Valley: Arizona Downs Horse Racing is a Benefit to Area

Arizona DownsAs Mayor of Prescott Valley, I am proud of our thriving community. We have a diverse community with residents from across the nation choosing to relocate to our area. From outdoor recreation to exploring local shops, to enjoying a day at Arizona Downs, we have something for everyone…

Horseracing has been an important industry to Arizona since statehood, representing our state’s ranching and old west roots. For rural Arizona, ranching, breeding, and farming are embedded in our community and a local economic driver.

Arizona Downs is part of our state’s history and as we continue to grow and thrive, we must also modernize the industries that are at our core. For the past decade, Arizona’s horse racing industry has suffered due to increased competition from other states. As efforts to bolster the local horse racing industry have increased across the nation, Arizona has lagged behind. Since 2004, Arizona horse tracks have seen live race attendance drop 45% and parimutuel handles drop $55M a year.

This decline in revenue impacts every small business owner and employee that is involved in race days. Arizona has a lot to offer and can easily become a national destination for horse racing. The Arizona Legislature is currently considering Senate Bill 1794 which will support Arizona horse racing and generate more than $100M in new state tax revenues. By implementing Historic Horse racing in the state, purses will increase from $80,000 to $300,000, attracting horses and revenues from California. It will also attract $300M in capital investments and help create nearly 4,000 new jobs…

PA Gov. Wolf is at it Again. Seeks to move money from Penn horse racing to college scholarships

Horse racing in Pennsylvania supports 20,000 jobs, according to the industry, which is supported by hundreds of millions of dollars from slot machines. There is now a push to take some of that money and give it to college students.

Insiders say hold your horses.

Governor Ed Rendell signing Act 71 in 2004. It was called the Race Horse Development and Gaming act.

“Watch the jobs in the horse racing industry double,” Rendell said.

The law legalized casino gambling and steered a cut of slots revenue to the horse racing industry. It’s about $250 million a year — but too much, critics say.

“After 15 years and $3 billion, the horse racing industry is fat and happy but it can’t stand on its own four hooves?” asked Sharon Ward, of Education Voters of Pa.

Ward is with Education Voters of Pa., a group that supports Governor Wolf’s plan to siphon $199 million from horses and bet on college scholarships.

“Imagine if we spent that money on college students who would then be productive and taxpayers in Pennsylvania,” Ward said.

Russell Williams, owner of Hanover Shoe Farms, disagrees…

Comparing the Greats: The Most Influential Sires of the Late 20th Century

In the world of modern Thoroughbred racing, lineage is everything. While there will always be unexpected superstars whose breeding is nothing to write home about, the majority of top-tier equine athletes have been bred in the black for generations.

Some stallions, in particular, have a knack of producing offspring to rival – even exceed – their own on-track prowess. The 20th century gave rise to many of these super sires, but three stand out when it comes to sorting the best from the rest.

Take a look at the horses who we believe are the most influential sires of the 20th century.

Sadler’s Wells

Foaled on the 11th April 1981, this striking bay stallion was the foremost son of another racing great: the incomparable Northern Dancer. Winning a phenomenal 18 sires championships across three countries, Sadler’s Wells produced more than 320 stakes winners, among them 80 horses with Grade 1 victories to their names.

While most of his offspring are found in Europe, Sadler’s Wells’ progeny has won major races around the world. At least one of the foals he’s sired has taken victory in each of the five British classics, and many have proven dominant in North America too.

As well as producing many phenomenal racehorses, Sadler’s Wells was also an incredible broodmare sire. His grandchildren through his daughters including several racing greats, from Arc de Triomphe winner Sakhee to 2000 Guineas champion Henrythenavigator, Taghrooda, Peeping Fawn, and Conduit.

His sons have also proved influential in the breeding shed. Among the most notable are champion sires Galileo, El Prado, and In The Wings, with the former looking set to out-produce even his magnificent sire.

Danehill

Foaled in 1986, Danehill became a champion sire on both sides of the equator during his prolific stud career. The handsome bay made his mark when he became the all-time leading sire of stakes winners, with 349 victories among his offspring and a phenomenal 89 Grade 1 wins.

Danehill left his greatest legacy in the UK, where he was crowned champion sire three times. He also headed the general sires log in France on two occasions. Most notable among his progeny is one of his grandchildren: the incredible Frankel.

Danehill’s own sons have also enjoyed impressive careers at stud, with the two most prominent examples being Dansili and the titular Danehill Dancer. Among his grandsons are several younger stallions too, such as Teofilo and Siyouni.

Galileo

Keeping it in the family, we also have to include Sadler’s Wells’ most famous stallion son on this list – the wonderful Galileo. Foaled in 1998 and still active in the breeding shed today, this striking blood bay was the winner of the Epsom Derby and Irish Derby, winning six of his eight starts.

Many of his offspring continue to dominate on track in 2021. Indeed, those who follow horse racing will find that many of the horses listed in the races at popular, bonus-offering sportsbooks like BetMGM descend from Galileo and his own famous sire, Sadler’s Wells. Judging by the way the reputations of this remarkable stud’s offspring proceed them, it’s no surprise that they are fan favourites for wagering in the US and Europe.

Galileo’s most famous son is Frankel, but he’s not his only notable progeny. The leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland in 2008, 2010, and every year consecutively between then and 2019, Galileo commands a stud fee of around 600,000 euros, making him the most expensive stallion in the world. His many Grade 1 winners include Love, Teofilo, and Serpentine.

Which of these three incredible sires do you feel has had the greatest influence on modern Thoroughbred racing?