A Brief History of Horse Racing at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds

Racing at Fair GroundsThe Fair Grounds, which considers April 13, 1872, its first day in operation, is one of the oldest race tracks in the United States. Only a handful are older, including the well-known Saratoga Race Course in New York (1863) and Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course (1870).

Horse racing was actually staged on the 145-acre piece of land in Gentilly as far back as 1852. At the time, the race track was known as the Union Race Course and later the Creole Race Course, according to Bob Roesler’s book “The Fair Grounds: Big Shots and Long Shots.”

The Fair Grounds name can be traced to the Mechanics and Agricultural Fair, which was held on the site for several years beginning in 1859. It featured displays of horses and livestock, as well as machinery and agricultural products. After the annual event, the public began referring to the area as the Fair Grounds and the name stuck…

Woodbine’s 2020 Horse Racing Season Ends Abruptly

Woodbine via WO FB pageThe suburban Toronto track was hit with a double whammy during the weekend — a government shutdown order because of the [Covid-19] pandemic that forced cancellation of the final three weeks of the meeting, and then a winter storm that eliminated half of Sunday’s unexpected closing day program.

The lost races included the Grade III Grey Stakes for 2-year-olds and the Grade III Mazarine Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, both with some very promising youngsters.

Canada’s premier track did manage to provide a pretty spectacular sendoff, though, with a flurry of graded stakes Saturday.

Saturday’s $150,000 Grade III Ontario Derby had the winners of all three Triple Crown races in the field of eight but it was Kentucky invader Field Pass who got the spoils…

Breeders’ Cup Registers Sixth-Highest Handle in Two-day History

Breeders CupTotal all-sources handle for the two-day Breeders’ Cup Nov. 6-7 at Keeneland was $160,472,894, the sixth-highest total since the Breeders’ Cup expanded to a two-day event in 2007 and an 8% decrease from the 2019 record handle of $174,000,574 at Santa Anita Park.

Breeders’ Cup did not report attendance figures this year at Keeneland with no paid spectators allowed as a COVID-19 safety precaution. Owners and their guests, breeders, participating horsemen, and media were allowed to attend—a group that perhaps numbered in the low thousands.

Despite a sharply reduced crowd, this year’s total handle represented a 7% increase from the 2015 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland…

Oklahoma Training Track in Saratoga in Line for Renovation

They’re digging again.

Saratoga Springs residents who were wondering what that gigantic mountain of dirt was doing just inside the Nelson Avenue backstretch gate of Saratoga Race Course last winter might have another one to ponder this winter.

This time, it would be somewhere in the vicinity of the Oklahoma Training Track.

The New York Racing Association has already stripped some ground around the Oklahoma, which officially closed for training last Tuesday, as a first step toward examining whether any renovation to the surface needs to be done.

That type of work was performed on the main track in time for the 2020 racing meet and was met with universal approval from horsemen and jockeys.

The main track upgrade was such a hit that Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who has a history of mostly training his horses on the Oklahoma, actually sent his champion mare Midnight Bisou over to the main for two breezes in July leading up to the Personal Ensign.

If NYRA does a similar job on the Oklahoma, it should improve what is already considered one of the most forgiving dirt training surfaces in North America…

This is What Happened to Beulah Park in Columbus

Work finally on Beulah Park Living, the $300 million housing, retail and office complex on the site of the former Beulah Park horse racing track in Grove City.

The project developers, Falco, Smith & Kelley of Columbus, included details of the project with an announcement of a May 3 groundbreaking, five years to the day that horses last raced round the track.

The first phase of the 212-acre project is scheduled to include 264 apartments, 104 ranch-style homes, 80 townhome condominiums, a 94-unit assisted living facility and 216 single-family home lots. Plans eventually call for up to 972 apartments, condominiums and homes.

Developers plan to include “new urbanist” design elements, including walking distance to shops and restaurants, and alleys behind the community’s 84 estate home lots.

The homes will be built around a 45-acre park with trails, a pond, gardens, and a pavilion. Plans eventually include a community center on the site.

“What makes Beulah a unique community is that we are going to be able to have a diverse range of people who will live here, because we’ll have such a diverse range of housing available,” Pat Kelley, with Falco, Smith & Kelly, told ThisWeek News earlier this year. “And to me, that’s what truly defines a development as a community.”

The apartments will rise on the east side of the development and could eventually grow to include 415 units.

Racing at Golden Gate Fields Postponed till December 3rd

Golden gate turf breakWith the continued regard for the safety and well-being of 1/ST RACING employees, those working on the backstretch and the community at large, and in following the best guidance from local health authorities, Golden Gate Fields’ leadership has decided to continue its suspension of live racing through November.

Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Golden Gate Fields has implemented stringent health and safety measures including, strict social distancing, masking policies and regular COVID-19 testing with isolation requirements for any positive cases or identified close contacts.

On November 13, Golden Gate Fields announced a one-week temporary closure to address a COVID-19 outbreak. Since then, all track facilities have undergone thorough cleaning and track-wide COVID-19 testing has been administered to all 1/ST RACING employees and to all those who work on the backstretch. All testing data have been shared with the Berkeley Public Health Division (BPHD).

All positive cases are overseen by the BPHD through their case managers. Positive cases are required to isolate as per BPHD protocols and are not able to return to Golden Gate Fields until health clearance has been provided by the BPHD.

The 1,300 horses stabled onsite will continue to receive the daily care and exercise they require.

Golden Gate Fields will continue to monitor the situation in collaboration with the BPHD and will look forward to resuming live racing with the announcement of a reopening date as soon as possible.

For more information please visit www.goldengatefields.com or @GGFRacing.

Traditional Multi-Race Wagers Return to Fair Grounds

horses racingNew Orleans (November 17, 2020) – When Fair Grounds’ 149th season of racing kicks off Thanksgiving Day, a traditional early and late Pick Five will replace the Black Gold Five, a jackpot wager that had been in place for the past several years.

On a regular basis, the early Pick Five will encompass races 1-5, and the late Pick Five will be offered on the final five races of the card. The 50-cent minimum wager will pay 100% of the day’s pool plus any carryover coming into the day to those who correctly select 5-of-5 winners. Should no one pick 5-of-5, 25% of the pool will be paid to those who select the most winners, with the remaining 75% of the pool carrying over to the following day’s late Pick Five sequence.

Learn about the most common types of horse racing wagers.

In addition to the newly implemented early and late Pick Five, Fair Grounds will also offer an early Pick Four, which will now move to races 2-5, as well as two other Pick Fours later on the card. Rolling Pick Threes and daily doubles remain a staple of the wagering menu.

Fair Grounds will also make a key change to their horizontal wagering platform. Beginning this meet, any race that is taken off the turf after a sequence has started will revert to ALL on any live tickets. This rule only applies to turf races moved to the main track. Any scratch in a race that did not switch surfaces will result in the bettor getting a replacement of the post time favorite.

A complete list of wagering information, special wagers, and with key racing dates for the meet can be found here (PDF file)

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About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, one of the nation’s oldest racetracks, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 13 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. The 149th Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 108th running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 26, 2020 through March 28, 2021. More information can be found online at www.FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.

An unlikely comeback for horse racing?

Longtime race horse owner Armand Janjigian knows all about calculating the odds, but he still wants to rescue the state’s thoroughbred racing industry, even if it’s a long shot.

The business consultant and owner of the Kingsbury health clubs in Medfield and Kingston just turned 86. But he’s not ready to ride into the sunset.

Instead, he is plotting an unlikely comeback for thoroughbreds [in Massachusetts]. Janjigian is piecing together more than 300 acres near Interstate 84 in Sturbridge to build a new racetrack. He’s lining up investors for the $25 million-plus project. And he is working with town officials to rewrite the zoning rules to allow racing, and the gambling that would go along with it…

Canada bans well-known opioid, methadone, for race horses

A well-known opioid used in addiction treatment has joined the likes of ketamine, fentanyl and tobacco in being illegal to give to race horses.

Methadone was classified as a potential “performance-altering drug” and made illegal to give to competing horses by regulations that were published yesterday. The blood pressure drug amlodipine and allergy drug ciclesonide were also banned.

The regulations state that because methadone is a potent painkiller it could be used to mask a horse’s pain, allowing it to race better even if its hurt. It also puts the horse at risk.

Bill O’Donnell, the president of the Central Ontario Standardbred Association, said he thinks the ban is inconsequential because of how unlikely it is that owners or trainers have been giving their horses methadone…

Gramm Wins BCBC over Kinchen. Donnelly Third.

Economics Professor and Race Horse Owner from Memphis, TN, Marshall Gramm, crushed the exacta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to capture racing’s most lucrative live-money tournament this past weekend.  TV personality Jonathan Kinchen was second, while arguably the best contest handicapper in 2020, Dylan Donnelly was third.  This trio each turned their $7,500 bankrolls into over $100,000 by the conclusion of the weekend.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 12, 2020) – Making the biggest wagering score of his life, Marshall Gramm, an economics professor at Rhodes College and a racehorse owner from Memphis, Tenn., nailed a cold exacta with Authentic and Improbable for $170,250 in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) to propel him to victory last Saturday in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

The 12th annual Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, Thoroughbred racing’s biggest live-money tournament, held Nov. 6-7, featured 430 top horseplayers wagering on the two-day card of the 37th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington.

Marshall Gramm BCBC winner

Photo courtesy of Carlos Guerrero

Gramm, 47, finished with a total score of 170,250 points. Combined with his first-place prize of $322,500, Gramm had total winnings of $492,750. That put him ahead of second-place finisher Jonathon Kinchen, NYRA/Fox Sports television handicapper and analyst. Kinchen compiled 161,025.20 points, and combined with his second-place prize of $215,000, he had total winnings of $376,025.20. Dylan Donnelly, from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., finished third with 136,200 points and $118,250 in prize money, for total winnings of $254,450.

In this year’s BCBC, each player was required to fund a $2,500 buy-in and a $7,500 betting bankroll ($10,000 total). All buy-in monies were applied to the prize pool, making the total prize pool $1,075,000. Players made real wagers (win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and daily double) with their $7,500 bankroll on 22 races over the two days and kept all monies earned from their wagering.

A big sports fan who grew up in Washington, D.C, Gramm loved “numbers and statistics,” and learned the handicapping game by reading books from noted racing journalist and author Andrew Beyer.

Gramm has played in the BCBC five of the last six years, registering his best finish in 2018, taking fifth place. He has been teaching economics at Rhodes College since 2000 and currently chairs the department. Gramm has taught a course at Rhodes called Economics of Racetrack Wagering Markets, which he describes as a class on “decision making, price discovery and probability.” Along with Clay Sanders, he is also co-managing partner of Ten Strike Racing, a stable that has won 338 races, including stakes winners Dot Matrix, Long on Value and Warrior’s Charge.

The biggest moment in recent Memphis horse racing history happened at this year’s Breeders’ Cup – local coverage of Gramm’s victory and the TN connection

Gramm experienced a range of emotions when he learned that he had won the tournament. “When I hit (the exacta), I was thrilled, my biggest score ever. You know you’ve had a great day, but it was nerve-racking, and a relief, and I will always be able to say that I am a BCBC Champion.”

In this year’s BCBC, Gramm was in contention throughout. On Friday, he cashed a $600 daily-double wager on Vequist in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), followed by Aunt Pearl (IRE) capturing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Those bets earned him $17,350 and he closed out the first day of competition in seventh place.

On Saturday, Gramm went “all in” on Monomoy Girl winning the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), wagering his $18,165 bankroll and more than doubling his money. After hitting on a minimum show bet in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), Gramm went into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic in 11th place with $36,930. In the climactic race of the World Championships, he made six individual exacta wagers using Authentic, Improbable and Tom’s d’Etat. Gramm wagered $7,500 on the Authentic-Improbable combination and won the tournament.

“Marshall is a dear friend and I am very happy for him. The BCBC is the Masters of handicapping contests. It’s not all about the money, it’s about the title. I wanted to win, but there are about three people in the world I am ok running second to, and Marshall is one of them.” ~ Runner-up Kinchen stated.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions at Keeneland, most of the BCBC tournament play was conducted online at TVG.com, the official Breeders’ Cup wagering partner, Xpressbet.com and NYRA Bets. The BCBC was also conducted at designated satellite locations at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, Calif., and at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

Online qualifying for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge begins this Sunday, Nov. 15 on Horseplayers.com. A guaranteed 2021 BCBC berth will be awarded to the winner of the contest, which has a $500 entry fee and a low 1 per 23 ratio. Players can up for Sunday’s contest here.

ABOUT BREEDERS’ CUP

The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred horse racing’s year-end Championships, as well as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The Breeders’ Cup is also a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, an organization composed of industry leaders committed to advancing safety measures in Thoroughbred racing and improving the well-being of equine and human athletes.

The 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Championship races, was held on Nov. 6-7 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, and featured a total of $31 million in purses and awards. The event was televised live by the NBC Sports Group.

Source: Breeders’ Cup (edited press release)