Dr. Z Passes at Age 80. The Obit for William Thomas Ziemba

William Thomas Ziemba was born in a small town in Western Massachusetts and became a world-renowned scholar of quantitative finance, risk control and management science. He died at home in Vancouver. He is survived by his wife, Sandra Schwartz and daughter, Rachel Ziemba…

Known as “Dr. Z,” Bill developed scenarios, models and studied anomalies across any market he could think of – from Jai alai, sports betting, currencies, equities, and horse racing, seeing all as forms of investment where decisions could be studied, optimised and bets appropriately scaled.

Bill’s love of horse racing was sparked at an early age at Saratoga racetrack. His books on racetrack betting were inspiring to many, and he even designed calculators that would help any bettor use his system. More recently, he achieved his dreams of owning race horses and spent more time in Saratoga, NY and in Lexington, Kentucky, the home of some of his favorite horse farms.

More on the life of Horse Racing’s Dr. Z.

Industry Profile: Brookdale Farm’s Fred Seitz

One way or another, it has been quite a journey to Versailles from his native Bronx. But [Fred Seitz] always had the right stuff in his own pedigree: his father had also been a Marine, serving on Iwo Jima; likewise an uncle, lost in a B-25. And when Seitz was five, he was blessed by a transformative change of environment—the family of six having previously squeezed into a one-bedroom apartment in the city—after his father joined the maintenance crew on a New Jersey farm belonging to the social reformer Geraldine Morgan Thompson. It was called Brookdale and, though since swamped by suburban development (for Brookdale University and a county park), Seitz would eventually preserve the name in tribute to the life-changing opportunity he found there. Because the farm, crucially, was divided between agriculture and a training track.

“All of a sudden, we’d left the streets of New York for this little hamlet in the country,” he recalls. “A wonderful place to grow up. And I became fascinated by those horses. There were all these different trainers in there, renting stalls, and the place had a great history going back. Regret had trained there—a Whitney farm was right across the road—and Colin was another that came off the place in the old days. And I was walking hots by the time I was 10. Of course, they gave me the easy horses, but I couldn’t believe they were paying me: I thought it should be the other way round. A dollar per horse! It was a wonderful opportunity to learn, and I was so lucky to be able to find out, so early in life, what I wanted to do with all my ensuing years.”

Read about the legacy of Brookdale Farm’s Fred Seitz from TDN

Life on the Backside of a Racetrack

“There’s a lot to be said about doing what you love to do,” Johnson said. “You’re not exactly doing it out of necessity, you’re doing it out of passion.”

Bob Johnson, 64, was born into the life he found passion for. His father trained race horses and he said his grandfather trained thoroughbreds for the government, way back when, in whichever World War the cavalry needed horses for.

Many of the people cleaning stalls and exercising quarter horses behind the track have their own family history in the sport. Some lineage runs as deep as the bloodlines that define the horses they dedicate their lives to.

Horse Racing picks for Saratoga race track on Saturday, July 30: Put Early Voting on your ballotThat life has given Johnson plenty of memorable days on the race track but even more days spent in the backside of the track, putting in the hours and committing to the lifestyle that leads to the races themselves, and the feeling those moments can bring…

Tyler Gibbs, a trainer from Logan, Utah, is his family’s third-generation in the horse racing industry. He’s worked with horses his whole life, which is common among those who make the tending to and training of horses their life’s work.

He sees a similar sense of community among those who contribute to the ecosystem of the backside. Most — not all — get along well. But they look out for each other nonetheless.

While circuiting tracks across the country during the season, many will cross paths at different tracks or even find themselves traveling a similar schedule throughout the season….

More on Life on the Backside of a Racetrack

Top Thoroughbred Owner Sarah Ramsey Passes

Sarah Ramsey, top thoroughbred breeder and owner, dies at 83“It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Sarah Kathern Ramsey,” Churchill Downs president Mike Anderson said Monday night. “Our hearts are with Ken and his entire family during this very difficult time. She lived a wonderful life, and we’ll miss her smiling face in the Churchill Downs winner’s circle.”

Ramsey had a major stroke in 2007, which affected her speech and paralyzed her right side. She used a wheelchair to attend the races.

The couple built their fortune through investments in radio and cellphones. They owned cellphone tower businesses in five states, including Kentucky, one of which they sold for $39 million in 1994 and used the money to buy their 1,200-acre farm.

Their best-known horse was Kitten’s Joy, who had nine wins in 14 career starts and earnings of $2 million. The couple used “Kitten” for many of their homebred horses, which was Sarah’s nickname given to her by Ken when they were dating in 1954…more on Thoroughbred Owner Sarah Ramsey and her passing at MSN

Industry Profile: Track Owner Belinda Stronach

Santa Anita eyes April 2 for horse racing fans’ returnBelinda Stronach leaves her mid-town Toronto home by 7 a.m. most days for an hour-long walk. She dresses in black athletic gear for her neighbourhood rambles, occasionally a ball cap, and eschews earbuds and podcasts, preferring to soak in the sounds of a city waking up.

Her route varies, day to day, and is plotted to avoid streets scheduled for garbage pick-up. Should she have time before heading in to work at The Stronach Group (TSG) offices in a spacious Victorian-era house near the Royal Ontario Museum, the family company’s chief executive will grab a cappuccino at a favourite Italian haunt. And if she comes across a historical plaque anywhere along the way, she will stop to read it, local history being an area of personal interest.

Stronach’s home is also in a heritage conservation district, while the house itself was built in 1878. For anyone counting, that’s five years after the inaugural running of the Preakness Stakes, a historic Maryland horse race in a historic sport, one that the 56-year-old Canadian owner of American racetracks is aiming to revitalize before horse racing becomes fodder for the plaques.

Stronach, mind you, is no nostalgist chasing the resurrection of the grand old days. Rather, TSG, branded as 1/ST in thoroughbred racing circles, is chasing new fans, not to mention a fresh generation of bettors, and the core pillars of her approach will be on display, for both racing fans and industry players, in north Baltimore for this weekend’s 147th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course…

More on Stronach, the future of horse racing and the connection to sports betting

 

Industry Profile. Trainer Tim Yakteen brings 2 star horses to Kentucky Derby 148

“It’s like having a lottery ticket sort of fall in your lap,” he said. “Now we’re trying to cash it.”

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Tim Yakteen has been to the Kentucky Derby with good horses before. Now the trainer is at Churchill Downs in charge for the first time with two top contenders that used to be trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.

Tim Yakteen brings 2 top horses to 1st Ky Derby in chargeYakteen worked two different stints earlier in his career as an apprentice under Baffert, who won’t be at the Derby on Saturday because he’s serving a 90-day suspension imposed by Kentucky racing officials. The six-time Derby winner also has been banned for two years by Churchill Downs Inc.

It may seem uncomfortable to most everyone except Yakteen.

“I wouldn’t say that I think that there’s any awkwardness there,” he said. “I just feel really lucky and fortunate.”

A surprised Yakteen took calls from the owners of Messier and Taiba asking him to train their budding stars.

“I was honored they had the confidence that I could continue to carry the torch,” he said, perched on a trunk near Messier’s stall in his Santa Anita barn.

Baffert relinquished the colts to serve the punishment handed down after last year’s Derby winner, Medina Spirit, tested positive for an anti-inflammatory medication that isn’t allowed on race day.

Baffert’s suspension bars him from Santa Anita and Yakteen said they’ve had no conversations since he took charge of Messier, the early 8-1 third choice in the Derby, and Taiba, a 12-1 shot… more on Trainer Tim Yakteen at www.thestar.com

Pre-order Rich Nilsen’s Kentucky Derby Package which will now include bonus coverage of the KY Oaks!

This Hall of Fame Jockey Wanted to End It All. His Story

…It is what follows next from the man who spent three seasons riding some of the best racehorses in the world for trainer Aidan O’Brien that stops you in your tracks.

Eighteen months after he was on the top of the racing world when winning the Derby on John Oxx-trained Sinndar and 13 months after winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on the same horse, the future five-time champion jockey in Ireland was at such a low ebb because of his losing battle with drink that he stood on a top-floor balcony of a Dubai apartment block ready to throw himself off.

Johnny Murtagh: Creating Belief

Johnny Murtagh has opened up on his a battle with alcoholism that almost cost him his life

A desperate phone call to US trainer John Sadler, who Murtagh was in town to ride for, rescued him from the precipice until his family could arrive to look after him. Murtagh, 51, says: ‘I looked over… that’s how close I was. It scares me to think back now. It is still gut-wrenching when you think about how close it was.

‘The signs were probably there. Drinking a bottle of wine at night on your own with all those bad thoughts in your head.

Johnny Murtagh: Creating Belief is sponsored by Coral and broadcast on Thursday May 5 at 9pm on ITV4 and Tuesday May 10 at 11pm on ITV.

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch. See www.samaritans.org for details.

Industry Profile: Woodbine Trainer Roger Attfield still going strong, on the track and off

First, he kicked COVID’s butt this past winter. And then his five-year-old horse Shirl’s Speight kicked butt in the Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland last Saturday — a record third time Attfield has won the Grade 1 showcase in Kentucky.

Shirl’s Speight, who out-bobbed Masen at the wire after going off at 9-1, came out of the Maker’s Mark, Attfield said, in “very, very good” shape and will likely race Kentucky Derby week. After that, Attfield will return to Woodbine to begin his 52nd year training thoroughbreds at the Etobicoke track.

The man is an absolute legend, and is still going strong, still putting in the long days and winning big races — and still earning the praise of racing fans, jockeys, track workers and fellow trainers around Woodbine — including Canada’s top conditioner Mark Casse.

Age 82

“He’s an icon. He’s somebody that I’ve always looked up to,” Casse told the Toronto Sun this week from his home in Ocala, Fla. “He’s a guy that you want to like and you respect him. There’s a lot of good horse trainers that aren’t necessarily somebody you look up to or want to be around, but Roger is not just a top-class horse trainer, he’s a top-class man. I admire him very much.”

Many track people are amazed that Attfield, who turns 83 in November, is still at it, still going strong…

Industry Profile: Eugene Melnyk passes. Most of success came on the turf, not on the ice

Eugene Melnyk will long be remembered as the owner of the Ottawa Senators. But what many sports fans don’t know is the Toronto-born-and-raised entrepreneur had more success with horses than hockey players.

Melnyk, who died on Monday at 62, was a King in the Sport of Kings, leaving a huge legacy in Canada and the U.S., both as a thoroughbred owner and breeder.

“He loved his horses. He was passionate about them. And he was a big supporter of Woodbine,” Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson told the Toronto Sun. “He went to St. Mike’s and grew up largely as a wagerer.

“There’s one story about Eugene that’s a little bit of folklore,” Lawson said. “Ferdinand in the 1986 Kentucky Derby was a long-shot and Eugene was at Woodbine that day. He was there with people I know and he unloaded (his money) on Ferdinand for the main reason Ferdinand was his dad’s name. And Ferdinand paid $37.40 and Eugene took it all in cash. I think he walked out of there with over $30,000 in cash. Maybe more.”

Horse Racing History

Prior to leaving the horse-racing game in 2014, Melnyk had won 62 graded stakes winners and captured some of the biggest races on both sides of the border, including the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint with Speightstown, a horse that won $1.3 million. Speightstown, named after a city in Barbados, also won an Eclipse Award — the highest honor in U.S. racing. Melnyk’s racing colours were blue and gold with three V’s (the national colours of Barbados, where he lived). He won all three Canadian Triple Crown races, including the 1998 Queen’s Plate with Archers Bay.

Another of his great thoroughbreds was…

The Belmont Child Care Association issued the following statement:

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the
Belmont Child Care Association, Inc.,
and the Staff and the Families of Anna House,
we wish to express our deepest condolences to the
Melnyk family, his companion Sharilynne, and to his
daughters Olivia and Anna, for whom Anna House was named.
We were saddened to learn of Mr. Melnyk’s passing and
we will always be most grateful to him for his
kindness and incredible generosity.

Documentary on Ironman Jockey Perry Ouzts

As any horseplayer around the midwest knows, Ohio jockey Perry Ouzts is the ironman in the world of jockeys.  A winner of over 7,200 races, Perry Wayne Ouzts is still going strong at the amazing age of 67.  He has ridden over 50,000 mounts in his long career on the racetrack!  According to Equibase.com jockey Ouzts is winning at a 17-percent clip in 2021.

“If he wanted to he, he could have ridden at any racetrack in the country. He’s as good as anyone out there,” said trainer W.J. Danner.

Related story: The Hall of Fame case for jockey Perry Ouzts

Ironman Jockey – Perry Ouzts from Dave T on Vimeo.