Did Del Mar Just Save Horse Racing?

Editorial from the San Diego Union Tribune

…While any horse deaths are tragic — and those who see horse racing as cruel and inhumane aren’t going to change their minds — this is a credit to Del Mar officials. They had already adopted several improvements after Del Mar’s awful summer and fall racing seasons in 2016, in which 23 horses died in racing or training. This year, they took more steps, including adopting medication rules that promoted horse safety; increasing veterinary supervision and horse testing; and improving stable security.

In June, Tom Robbins, Del Mar executive vice president of racing and industry relations, told The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board, “There’s not another state that has these same rules with these changes. We’re at …

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Upstate New York

All-sources handle record set as wagering tops $700 million during 2019 meet at Saratoga Race Course

Source: NYRA Press Office

by Pat Mckenna; Mark Bardack

Milestone record achieved during reconfigured racing calendar and despite cancellation of a Saturday racing card

For the first time in history, the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) generated more than $700 million in all-sources handle during the 2019 meet at Saratoga Race Course, which was conducted over a five-day race week and included the cancellation of a full Saturday card of racing.

Wagering from all-sources totaled $705,343,949 a staggering increase of more than $46 million, or 7 percent, over last year when racing was conducted for the full 40 days during a six-day week. This year’s handle eclipsed the previous record set in 2017 by nearly $29 million or 4.2 percent.

The milestone record was achieved despite the cancellation of a full racing card on the second Saturday of the season due to extreme heat, in addition to the cancellation of the final seven races on July 25 due to severe storms.

The record was also set during a season in which the Saratoga calendar was reconfigured to include a five-day race week, a departure from the traditional six days, and the earliest opening in modern history. The change was made to accommodate construction of a new arena for the New York Islanders at Belmont Park.

Average Daily Handle Up Nearly 10%

Average daily handle for the 2019 Saratoga meet was $18,085,742, an increase of 9.8 percent over the 2018 average daily handle of $16,477,086.

NYRA sets new all-sources handle record as wagering tops $700 million during 2019 meet at Saratoga Race Course

copyright NYRA

“This has been a truly outstanding meet highlighted by the traditional recipe that sets Saratoga apart: world-class thoroughbred racing and entertainment. We would not be in this enviable position without the dedication of the owners, the talent of the horsemen, and the unmatched enthusiasm of our fans. I want to thank the local community for their support and everyone who contributed to our success this summer,” said NYRA CEO & President Dave O’Rourke. “This summer also marked the loss of one of Saratoga’s most ardent benefactors, Mrs. Marylou Whitney. Saratoga and NYRA will forever be grateful for her contributions to racing.”

Klaravich Stables was the meet’s leading owner with 19 wins. Chad Brown defended his H. Allen Jerkens training title with 41 wins. Jockey Jose Ortiz claimed the Angel Cordero, Jr. riding title with 60 wins.

The 2019 season witnessed several other highwater marks, including record all-sources handle of $31,835,863 on Whitney Day and $52,129,344 on Travers Day.

This year’s banner Travers Day coincided with the 150th edition of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers, which aired for the first time on the FOX broadcast network and was watched by more than 1.3 million viewers nationwide.

Saratoga’s record handle can also be attributed, in part, to the unabated growth and popularity of Saratoga Live, NYRA’s highly-acclaimed and award-winning television program. Distributed to a nationwide audience across FS2, Saratoga Live featured more than 190 hours of live programming this season compared to 80 hours when the broadcast was first introduced in 2016. FS2, part of the Fox family of networks, carried full-card coverage during most of the meet’s 39 racing days. NYRA’s investment in content and distribution has been rewarded with an increase in year-over-year viewership of more than 140 percent.

This year’s Whitney Day celebrated the life and legacy of Mrs. Marylou Whitney, the beloved owner, breeder and philanthropist who passed away earlier in the meet.

Whitney Day featured a visit by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced plans to build the Marylou Whitney Backstretch Pavilion, a permanent structure on the Oklahoma training grounds to house the Saratoga Backstretch Appreciation program. Launched more than a decade ago by Mrs. Whitney and her husband, John Hendrickson, the program provides meals, entertainment and support for thousands of backstretch workers.

On the eve of Whitney Day, NYRA officially dedicated the Clubhouse entrance in Mrs. Whitney’s honor. Fans each summer will now pass through the “Marylou Whitney Entrance” upon their arrival at Saratoga Race Course.

The 2019 meet marked the debut of the Empire 6, NYRA’s new jackpot-style multi-race wager, which provided one of two mandatory payouts on closing day. A total of $5,379,911 was wagered on closing day of the Empire 6 for a total pool size of $6,173,478 which included the jackpot carryover. Monday’s five figure payout of $23,794 rivaled several other large Empire 6 payouts over the course of the meet including: $37,064 on August 21; $25,145 on August 14 and $12,547 on August 18.

The 2019 season saw the successful debut of the newest hospitality venue at Saratoga Race Course: the 1863 Club. Constructed over the course of only 10 months, the 36,000-square-foot, three-story, climate-controlled building welcomed thousands of fans who experienced its modern amenities and sweeping views and sightlines of the track during its inaugural season.

The Saratoga meet began with an Opening Weekend celebration to honor New York Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera. The legendary Yankees star visited the Spa just prior to his induction into Cooperstown as the first unanimous selection in the history of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. During the event, NYRA presented Rivera with commemorative framed blue and white pinstriped silks featuring the closer’s famed number “42”.

On-track handle for 2019 was $146,618,750.

Total paid attendance for the 2019 Saratoga meet was 1,056,053 over 39 days, marking the fifth consecutive season that paid attendance has exceeded one million fans.

Figures for all-sources handle at Saratoga dating back to 2010, the start of the 40-day meet, are as follows:

All-Sources Handle

2010 $551,660,724

2011* $526,251,819

2012 $588,351,964

2013 $586,617,240

2014 $571,163,485

2015 $648,272,805

2016 $647,322,503

2017 $676,709,490

2018 $659,083,459

2019* $705,343,949

*39 race days, due to weather cancellation

Live racing returns Friday, September 6 to Belmont Park for the 37-day fall meet, which includes 45 stakes worth $11.525 million in purse money – an increase of $1.45 million over 2018 – starting at Belmont Park from September 6 to October 6, and concluding at Aqueduct Racetrack, with Belmont at the Big A from October 11 to October 27. The fall championship meet will be highlighted by eight Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers held over two weekends.

For more information, visit NYRA.com for the report on horse racing in upstate New York.

Is Horse Racing Dead? Travers Card Sets Records

2019 Travers Stakes Card sets Record Handle numbers

Source: NYRA Press Office

For the second consecutive year, the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) generated a Travers Day record all-sources handle as fans wagered $52,129,344 on an afternoon that featured the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers.

On-track handle was  $11,657,493, which is also a new Travers Day record.

Saratoga canopy walk throughA paid crowd of 48,213 witnessed Code of Honor secure the fourth Travers victory for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and second for Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. Code of Honor, owned by William S. Farish and Lane’s End Farm, posted a final time of 2:01.05 in the Runhappy Travers.

For the first time in history, fans nationwide watched the Runhappy Travers action unfold on the FOX Broadcast Network as part of a special one-hour telecast. Overall, the FOX Sports family of networks broadcast 6 ½ hours of live racing action from Saratoga which included all seven graded stakes on Travers Day.

The 150th Runhappy Travers was one of six Grade 1s on Travers Day, including the Grade 1, $850,000 Sword Dancer; Grade 1, $700,000 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti; Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina; Grade 1, $600,000 Forego presented by Encore Boston Harbor; and Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial presented by Runhappy. Rounding out the blockbuster card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa.

The 2019 summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course continues through Labor Day, Monday, September 2. For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit NYRA.com.

Travers Day Handle 2015-2019

2019 Travers Day

August 24, 2019

All-sources: $52,129,344

On-track: $11,657,493

 

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

Saratoga Race Track Attracts Famous Fans

NFL Star Among the Celebrities at Saratoga

Without question the biggest celebrity/fan at Saratoga Race Track is former Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells.

The soon-to-be-78 Parcells does two things that every retiree aspires to do: Golf and go to the horse track.

However, the Pro Football Hall of Fame coach is not just a fan of horse racing, but is active as an owner.

Last week his 2-year-old colt, Tuggle, finished third in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.

The two-time Super Bowl champion told ESPN four years ago that horse racing is in his blood.

“I’ve always been interested in horse racing since I was a young man. My father liked to take us to the track when we were little. This is a very happy place for me with this umbrella blue sky. The track is going to be fast. The turf’s going to be firm and I’m going to be with my friend. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Is Horse Racing at a Tipping Point?

It’s barely 9.30am at Santa Anita Park racetrack in Los Angeles, but Jennifer Saavedra has been at work for five hours already. Her husband, trainer Anthony, is traveling, and she’s charged with overseeing their small five-horse stable. “I’ll probably get done around six tonight,” she says. Long days are a staple of track life like water is to the Venetians. Not that Saavedra minds: horses are in her “blood,” the 53-year-old says.

“You couldn’t keep me away from the track since I could walk.”

But the intense scrutiny the sport in California has been under these past few months – a result of the 30 horses fatally injured at Santa Anita during a six-month period that’s commanded national headlines – has left Saavedra “exceedingly” worried that the existential crisis facing the racing industry could bring about an abrupt end to racing in California. Saavedra describes her involvement in the sport – a world as far removed from the office 9-to-5 as Mercury is from Neptune – as her “passion”. A way of life that’s “more than just a job”, she says.

But the intense scrutiny that horse racing in California has been under these past few months – a result of 30 horses fatally injured at Santa Anita during a six-month period – has left Saavedra “exceedingly” worried that the existential crisis facing the sport could bring an abrupt end to a world she’s been in her “whole life.”

Read the rest….

Is Horse Racing Like the Wizard of Oz?

This Writer Thinks So

by J. N. Campbell for The Sports Haven

L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” can be likened to many facets of sport.

Today, the state of horse racing is allegorically connected to L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” It’s a landscape that is brilliant on the surface, full of diverse and fascinating characters. However, if we drill down a bit and look hard enough, there’s negligence, mismanagement and nothing short of a decentralized state.

Running through our Oz is, of course, the Triple Crown trail. Like the ‘Yellow Brick Road,’ it’s bright, shiny and seems to link the country behind the sport. After Belmont, however, we become lost and lose interest. The state seems minor, even irrelevant to a larger audience.

Certainly, local ovals are well-attended on major race days — but on a regular basis for the most part, patrons are like Baum’s munchkins (no jockey jokes here, mind you!) — well-meaning, but cogs in a larger mysterious wheel. Problems arise stealthily as take outs fluctuate, odds change after the gates open and officials shave pennies off winnings called breakage, like licks from a lollipop.

Thus, bettors feel diminutive and under-served. Track leadership is like that munchkin mayor, unsure of the future now that the Wicked Witch of the East is dead.

Speaking of those that fly on brooms or cast spells, they remind me of our super trainers. Regionally, they  …

Concerns about Suffolk Downs’ plans for Horse Racing at fairgrounds

Great Barrington — A controversial horse-racing bill pending in the state Legislature has aroused concerns among town officials about a proposal from Suffolk Downs to bring racing back […]

Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, the company that operated the now-closed track at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, has reached an agreement with the fairgrounds owners to bring thoroughbred racing back to Great Barrington for up to 30 days of racing in the months of September and October starting in 2020. The company expects to spend between $15 million and $20 million, according to town manager Mark Pruhenski, who recently spoke with Chip Tuttle, Suffolk’s chief operating officer.

But in order to accomplish that feat, Suffolk needs a change in state law to permit it to hold races in Great Barrington while at the same time allowing it to maintain its simulcasting and betting operations back in East Boston. Racing at the fairgrounds would also require permits from the town.

Two bills that would accomplish that feat …

Can This Technology Get Racehorses Off Drugs?

Thoroughbred horse racing in the US is addicted to drugs. It runs so deep that it has become the norm. And worse, because it is legal, it is seen as beneficial. Instead of a health-first approach to …

These image scanners add a significant diagnostic advantage, as traditional CT scans require the patient to lie down with the anatomy un-weighted, depriving the clinician of the ability to analyze the stressed areas of bone while under loading pressures.

Until this equipment was developed, horses needed anesthesia in order to have a CT scan performed. The inherent risks associated with general anesthesia, the need to go to a hospital for a test, and the cost of this procedure prevented widespread use of CT in the majority of racehorses in training and eliminated its use as a screening tool by racing regulators and track practicing veterinarians…

Horse racing in Iowa doing well despite overall industry declines

Economic Impact Nearly $200M

University of Kentucky researcher Alison Davis conducted a study which shows the economic impact of horse racing on Iowa is nearly $197 million. “I was impressed with the overall impact. For a state like Iowa to have an economic impact of about 200 million dollars was pretty significant,” Davis says.

Davis says some of the economic impact may be under reported due to a lack of data. She says in the report that $143 million of the output was generated by the thoroughbred racing industry — with $29 million of that from the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona.

“To see how Pairie Meadows Casino and their parimutuel activity compared to the actual thoroughbred racing and their expenses, I said certainly indicated the importance of the equine component of horse racing and also the support of the casino,” Davis says. The report finds the industry supports 2,961 fulltime jobs. She says the horse industry is doing well in Iowa, but members of the industry need to be aware of the issues they face.

“Even though those are impressive numbers, horse racing as an industry is facing challenges, not just here, but in other places. But certainly we saw the numbers where horse farms were decreasing, number of horses (decreasing). To think about those types of challenges where it is because of alternative competition or changes in business model is something to think about. What might happen if it declines more?,” Davis says.

 

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.