Stars & Stripes Racing Festival a Success at Belmont Park

The recent Stars & Stripes Racing Festival, comprised of five graded stakes and highlighted by Catholic Boy’s thrilling victory over Analyze it in the Grade 1, $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational, generated all-sources handle of $24,612,465, the highest such handle figure since NYRA launched the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival in 2014.

With a paid attendance of 16,763, Saturday’s on-track handle of $3,182,221 also established a new high for the festival.

In addition to the Belmont Derby, Saturday’s blockbuster 11-race Stars & Stripes card included the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational for 3-year-old fillies, as well as the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban, the Grade 2, $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship and the Grade 3, $300,000 Dwyer.

2014-2018 Stars & Stripes Day Handle

2014

Saturday, July 5

Races: 10

All-sources: $18,829,264

On-track: $2,825,797

2015

Saturday, July 4

Races: 11

All-sources: $20,652,065

On-track: $2,779,529

2016

Saturday, July 9

Races: 11

All-sources: $22,980,094

On-track: $2,898,826

2017

Saturday, July 8

Races: 11

All-sources: $22,341,423

On-track: $3,084,823

2018

Saturday, July 7

Races: 11

All-sources: $24,612,465

On-track: $3,182,22

source: NYRA

Is Horse Racing Dead?  Check out these latest financial reports

Strong Financial Year At Ascot Racecourse

source: Ascot

Is Horse Racing Dead?  Not in the UK

Commenting on the business performance and on future plans, Ascot chief executive Guy Henderson said, “2017 was another year of progress in our financial performance, with Royal Ascot performing particularly well. The opening of the new Village Enclosure on the inside of the track, in which we have further invested, was positively received and has generated strong sales for 2018.”

Source: Strong Financial Year At Ascot

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in New York

Expansion of Saratoga Race Course

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) received approval from the New York State Franchise Oversight Board to proceed with construction of a permanent building at the site of the current At the Rail tent at Saratoga Race Course.

The project will replace the seasonal tent and trailers located immediately adjacent to the end of the Clubhouse with a 36,000-square foot, three-story, climate-controlled building featuring differentiated hospitality options and modern amenities. In addition to the three floors of usable space for guests, a basement level will provide space for a fully appointed kitchen to service the building.

Saratoga canopy walk throughNYRA currently plans to break ground on the project at the conclusion of the 2018 summer season and anticipates the new building will welcome guests on opening day of the 2019 meet.

“This project is another example of NYRA’s continuous efforts to provide the best possible experience for our guests. The new building will transform the parcel of land at the south end of the property with the type of differentiated seating, dining options and amenities synonymous with a world-class sporting venue,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “Perhaps most importantly, the new building will address the modern-day needs of Saratoga Race Course while honoring its history. We have taken great care to ensure that the building is historically consistent with the fabled architecture of our grandstand and clubhouse. We look forward to beginning the next steps of this much-anticipated project.”

SOSH Architects will continue to oversee design, bid and construction administration services for the building. Matt Hurff, partner at Saratoga Springs-based Frost Hurff Architects, will continue to serve as project consultant to ensure all historic preservation standards are met.

The project has received the endorsement of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, which specifically noted the importance of the new building to the future of Saratoga Race Course.

“The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation is pleased to offer its support for the New York Racing Association’s planned At the Rail building at Saratoga Race Course, which incorporates historically sensitive design details,” said Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation Executive Director Samantha Bosshart. “The Foundation looks forward to seeing the New York Racing Association’s significant investment in this building come to fruition.”

In recent years, NYRA has placed significant resources behind historic preservation efforts at Saratoga Race Course. In 2015, NYRA began to restore the copper roofing that historically bordered the slate-covered roof on buildings throughout the property. This is visible in a number of locations, including the archway over the Clubhouse escalator, which was installed in 2016; the paddock mutuel building roof, to which copper accents were added in 2017; and the Clubhouse from the Easy Goer to the Club Terrace, which will feature the addition of copper along the roofline for the 2018 season.

In 2017, NYRA unveiled several upgrades to the historic paddock mutuel building, including a new slate roof and rafters. The improvements are intended to ensure the continued preservation of the historically-significant building, which was constructed in 1902 and originally used as a saddling shed during inclement weather.

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The Saratoga Race Course Local Advisory Board also expressed support for the new building.

“The objective of this project is to maintain the historic character of Saratoga Race Course while responding to changes in the sports and entertainment landscape to ensure a sustainable, successful future for racing at Saratoga,” said Saratoga Race Course Local Advisory Board Chairman Joseph A. Torani. “The Saratoga Local Advisory Board strongly endorses the decision by the Franchise Oversight Board to approve construction of this new building which will accomplish these stated goals.”

The new building is the latest in a series of capital improvements at Saratoga Race Course. Since 2013, NYRA has invested more than $30 million at Saratoga in efforts to enhance the guest experience and provide amenities that are consistent with those available at first-class stadiums and arenas.

These efforts are most recently demonstrated through the creation of The Stretch, Saratoga’s newest hospitality area located in the grandstand at the Top of the Stretch, which will debut on opening day of the 2018 meet.

The Stretch will feature modern and upscale amenities in a casual environment with breathtaking views of thoroughbreds rounding the final turn as they enter the dramatic stretch drive. Highlights of the area include three types of boxes available in multiple configurations, a dining tier, reserved bar seats, and approximately 200 premium reserved seats.

Additionally, guests now enjoy more than 1,000 new high-definition televisions throughout Saratoga Race Course; 950 picnic tables available for free on a first-come, first-serve basis in the backyard; new high-definition video boards in the backyard and infield; enhanced Wi-Fi and sound systems; a renovated and redesigned Saratoga Family Zone; and new attractions and hospitality areas such as the Saratoga Walk of Fame, Fourstardave Sports Bar and Easy Goer.

The 2018 meet at Saratoga Race Course will be highlighted by the Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney and the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers, the centerpieces of two of the biggest days in North American racing.

The 40-day meet, which includes 69 stakes worth $18.8 million in purses, will run from Friday, July 20, through Labor Day, Monday, September 3. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays. For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit www.NYRA.com/Saratoga.

Source: NYRA

Florida Horse Racing: An Economic Study

“Florida has a robust equine industry with more than $6.8 billion total value added to the state’s economy,”

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Florida

The latest American Horse Council study pinpoints the Florida equine industry’s large-scale economic impact and industry officials are taking note. The $6.8 billion annual equine economic impact in Florida is up by 33% since the last study over a decade ago. The racing sector’s impact is up 47%.

“That’s significant,” said Lonny Powell, CEO of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owner’s Association. “Florida truly is a horse state. To many, the beach, sun, sand, and oranges are synonymous with Florida, but our state has been steadily adding equines to that list to hang our state’s collective hat on for some time. Equines are becoming a strong part of Florida’s brand.”

“A thriving thoroughbred industry is vital to the state’s economy and to providing world class entertainment to spectators from around the globe,” said P.J. Campo, Vice President of Racing for The Stronach Group.

Campo added, “It’s significant that racetrack operators in the state generate $307 million in revenue and create over 1,200 jobs with purses in excess of $105 million. Our Miami-area operation, Gulfstream Park, is one of the gems in the racing world and its right here in Florida.”

Campo is referring to the world-class racing experience for both competitors and spectators and one of the world’s richest days of horse racing with the Pegasus World Cup.

“Florida has a robust equine industry with more than $6.8 billion total value added to the state’s economy,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. “As the third largest state in terms of equine population in the United States, Florida’s horse industry is vital to the state’s economy. The export of purebred horses from the state is one of our fastest growing sectors and shows the prominence of Florida’s horses worldwide.”

The numbers also reveal jobs are up by 8% from the last study conducted 13 years ago. Florida has been a proponent of state job growth, especially in recent years, and the employment numbers are important for an overall robust state environment. The labor-intensive industry provides jobs ranging from directly working with horses – including grooms, trainers and equine health practitioners – to a significant number of jobs that exist in the restaurant, hotel and hospitality sector thanks to racetracks and equine venues.

Thoroughbred horse sales, specifically the Ocala Breeders’ Sales, contribute strongly to the hospitality sector as buyers from as many as 49 states and 38 countries flock to the two-year-olds in training sales each spring. Horse sales in the state generated $156 million in revenue in 2016.

Tom Ventura, president of Ocala Breeders’ Sales said, “Since 2010, OBS has sold over 22,000 horses for more than $1 billion dollars to buyers from every state except Alaska and 38 different countries. OBS has become the destination to buy quality two year olds, accounting for nearly 70% of juvenile sales in North America.”

In addition to the sales, Ocala, Marion county, is recognized worldwide as the hub of thoroughbred breeding and training carrying the moniker, “Horse Capital of the World™” due to the number of horses of all breeds and world class equine events that are based there. About 15,000 thoroughbreds annually receive early training in the state away from harsh winters and frozen ground. The area is strongly supported by a concentration of equine services, such as leading veterinarians, researchers, feed and tack retailers, equine dentists, and major horse transportation companies.

“Anecdotally, we’ve known locally for a long time the significant impact of equines to our county economy. Our 2015 study commissioned by the CEP provided those hard numbers – a substantive $2.6 billion economic impact to the county. Having a national study that drills down to the state level just solidifies the growth we’ve been seeing in recent years ourselves,” said Kevin T. Sheilley, president and CEO of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership.

The latest study reports Florida is home to 387,078 horses with one in four being thoroughbreds in racing, competition and recreation. Thoroughbreds make up the largest segment of the horse population in Florida. Florida nationally is third in horse population behind Texas which is over four times larger geographically and California which over two times larger.

“With over 113,000 jobs and a robust $6.8 billion in total impact, equines continue to have a notably greater economic impact than our signature spring baseball training. The study clearly supports the train of thought that the Florida thoroughbred business, along with our entire equine industry, are not only worth preserving but supporting and growing as well. Florida is most fortunate to have such an industry and agri-business already well established within its borders just as we Floridians are fortunate to live and work here,” Powell said.

With the fourth largest growth rate in the nation, land is at a premium in Florida. Agricultural operations like equine production preserve a significant amount of land. The latest report notes land owned or rented for horse-related purposes has increased to 717,000 acres. The preserved land, mostly in Central Florida, provides rural opportunities for city-bound Floridians and opportunities for diversity of tourism in the state. The report covers figures as of 2016.

Last year, two Florida-breds, Caledonia Road and World Approval won Eclipse awards, the nation’s highest honor for thoroughbreds. They join the list of 52 national champions including six Florida-bred Kentucky Derby winners. Florida has had more winners of Kentucky Derbies outside of Kentucky than any other state. Champions include 28 Breeders’ Cup winners.

“It’s clear to see why the road to the Kentucky Derby begins here in Ocala, Horse Capital of the World™,” said City of Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn, “ It is a major epi-center of the horse world and is part of our daily life here integrated into our hometown history, arts and culture. It’s not surprising the state numbers would reflect what we’ve known in Marion County for a long time, that the industry makes a significant impact.”

“The equine industry is a key driver of the local economy in Marion County,” said Kathy Bryant, Chairman of the Marion County Commission. “Ever since Needles’ triumph in the 1956 Kentucky Derby, we’ve proudly been the home to countless thoroughbreds who attract jobs and excitement to our community.”

Incentive programs offered in Florida are a key to the industry and have grown in recent years.

“Florida consistently ranks in the top two to three in foal crop annually. Incentives in the state from breeders’ and owners’ awards, to bonus money for races of all types give Florida-breds robust opportunities to earn more for their owners who have invested in them. The Florida Sire Stakes series promotes stallions standing in the state and gives FSS eligible Florida-breds going into the sales arena opportunities for their buyers to race in the prestigious series,” said Powell.

Hip 94, Pioneerof the Nile–Faith In Me, sold for $1 million at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale

Stephen W. Screnci, president of Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Inc., said: “It is very rewarding to see strong Florida numbers and with new incentive additions to racing meets, the economic impact should continue to further enhance our already strong all-year program here in Florida.”

Tampa Paddock

Up close and personal at Tampa Bay Downs paddock. Copyright AGOS

“We are continually seeking to enhance the state’s breeding and racing programs by providing incentives for horsemen to race Florida-breds at Tampa Bay Downs,” said the track’s Vice President and General Manager Peter Berube. “We also recognize the importance of Florida’s thoroughbreds and to attracting new investors in the state.”

Bob Jeffries, president of the Tampa Bay Downs HBPA, offered his enthusiasm for the study noting the cooperation of industry members to continue the growth of the industry.

“We have the largest stakes program in Tampa Bay Downs history currently. When the track, the horsemen and the Florida breeders work together as a team, good things happen for everyone. And good things are happening,” Jeffries said.

Powell added, “Our job at FTBOA is to promote, advocate for and enhance the economics of our state-wide industry at home as well as outside our state and national borders. This fresh American Horse Council study clearly demonstrates the importance of our mandate on behalf of the entire state industry. Our breeders, farms, tracks, owners, conditioners and equine professionals are top-shelf, which, along with our weather and quality of life, make Florida the greatest place to breed, sell, own and race.”

The industry is supported by Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services which creates a favorable business climate including no tax on stallion seasons, exemptions for horses purchased from original breeders and a breeding stock exemption. Feed and animal health items are exempt along with certain farm equipment. Property tax breaks are also provided to Florida’s horse farms.

New to the study was the addition of analysis of the impact and scale of equine retirement, sanctuaries, and therapy programs. These programs among other re-training programs give thoroughbreds that are no longer racehorses opportunities for second careers in horse sport competitions and recreation. These programs added multi-millions in impact, slightly over $114 million, compared to the billions in the racing sector, but their importance cannot be unscored enough in showcasing the versatility of horses in second careers.

Source: Press Release

Successful 2018 Preakness Stakes Day in Maryland

The Stronach Group and the Maryland Jockey Club announced that total handle on Saturday’s 143rd Preakness Stakes, won by Justify, was $93,655,128.

The handle, as well as the crowd of 134,487, was the third-largest in Preakness history.

Despite rain showers, a sloppy track and dense fog, an energetic crowd was treated to 14 races, world-class dining, and entertainment featuring Post Malone, 21 Savage and ODESZA.

“It’s amazing that under the conditions, the fact field size was 6.6 compared to 8.9 the year before and we lost four turf races, our handle was $93 million,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “Justify and all our equine and human athletes put on a memorable show. I want to thank all of the fans who attended and wagered on our races Saturday. They are truly remarkable. The Stronach Group is proud to be part of the history and tradition of Thoroughbred racing in Maryland. We’re committed to honoring the deep history and tradition of the Preakness while continuing to modernize the sport by offering unique entertainment and guest experiences.”

Friday Just as Successful

Despite a sloppy track and afternoon showers, a crowd of 48,265 attended Friday’s 14-race Black-Eyed Susan program at legendary Pimlico Race Course.

The crowd was the second largest in the Black-Eyed Susan’s 94-year history, just shy of last year’s record of 50,339.

The program was highlighted by seven stakes and Red Ruby’s victory in the $250,000 Xpressbet Black-Eyed Susan (G2).

Total handle for the afternoon was $18.591 million, down six percent from last year ($19.895) on an afternoon when four races were taken off the turf on a program with 35 fewer starters.

“We witnessed some impressive performances on the track from our equine and human athletes, and we received positive feedback on the upgraded facilities in the Preakness Village and Turfside Terrace and our dining rooms,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “Despite races being taken off the turf, handle was strong and the crowd enjoyed the afternoon.

“We want to thank our dedicated fans and horsemen. We’re looking forward to showing off more of our improvements Saturday during Preakness 143, including a new stage for InfieldFest, a revamped infield layout, and five spectacular performers. The Stronach Group’s commitment to Thoroughhbred racing in Maryland and throughout the country are reflected by today’s impressive results.”

Source: Press Release

Belmont Man o’War Card Soars over 50%

Saturday’s stakes-packed card at Belmont Park, highlighted by Hi Happy’s victory in the 60th running of the Grade 1, $700,000 Man o’ War, generated all-sources handle of $15,642,446, a 50.6% increase over 2017. The 11-race card, which included 4 graded stakes and 5 total stakes, had an average field size of 7.82, a 7.6 percent increase over 2017.

Despite cool temperatures and intermittent rain throughout the day, on-track handle was $1,812,370, a 48.1 percent increase over 2017.

 2018 Man o’ War Day
  • May 12, 2018
  • Races: 11
  • Stakes: 5
  • All-sources handle on NYRA races: $15,642,446
  • On-track handle on NYRA races: $1,812,370

2017 Man o’ War Day

  • May 13, 2017
  • Races: 11
  • Stakes: 4
  • All-sources handle on NYRA races: $10,384,063
  • On-track handle on NYRA races: $1,223,589

Source: Press Release

Overnight Ratings Spike 12% for NBC Preakness Broadcast

Is Horse Racing Dead?

With viewers perhaps sensing a special horse in undefeated Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) winner Justify, overnight ratings for NBC’s Preakness Stakes (G1) increased 12% compared with last year’s broadcast.

Source: Overnight Ratings Spike 12% for NBC Preakness Broadcast

Suffolk Downs to Raise Summer Meet Purses 15%

Live racing will return to Suffolk Downs this summer with three two-day racing festivals and the track announced today a purse increase of 15% on overnight purses. The three festival weekends are scheduled to be held June 9-10, July 7-8 and August 4-5.

In 2017, the track conducted four weekends of live racing with an average daily purse of $493,095, including incentives.

The track offered lucrative starter incentives for trainers at $400 per horse and owners were rewarded with $500 for horses finishing first through fifth (on top of purse money) while the owners of horses finishing sixth through last received a bonus of $1,500. This incentive program will continue in 2018.

“We are looking forward to another season of racing and we are glad to be able to continue to reward the horsemen and women who have supported our festival weekends, especially those who stabled here in the past,” said Chip Tuttle, the Chief Operating Officer at Suffolk Downs. “We understand that asking people to ship in for each weekend requires that we ensure some return on their investment and we expect that we’ll be over $500,000 per day in purses with this increase. We appreciate the cooperation of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in making these weekends a success.”

horse racing blinkersWith the 15% purse increase for 2018, $5,000 claiming races will now carry a purse of $30,000, maiden special weight races will offer a purse of $47,500 and allowance/optional claiming races will be listed at $52,500, pending approval by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

The track is also scheduled to host a stakes race both weekends in July and August and those black-type events will have a purse of $100,000. The first weekend of racing, June 9-10, will coincide with the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes.

Over the course of each weekend, there will be stakes races restricted to either horses foaled in Massachusetts or sired by a Massachusetts-based stallion. Each offers a purse of $50,000 and is a showcase for the Massachusetts Thoroughbred breeding industry.

In addition to live racing, the track will be hosting a food truck festival each weekend featuring food trucks from a variety of local vendors, craft beer, live music and family fun activities for the whole family.

For more information, visit www.suffolkdowns.com

Keeneland 2018 Spring Meet Has Near-Record Wagering

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Kentucky

Keeneland closed its 2018 Spring Meet on Friday with near-record all-sources wagering on Keeneland of more than $157 million, highlighted by an all-time single-day handle record on Toyota Blue Grass Day and driven by full fields of quality horses and competition among the nation’s top owners, trainers and jockeys.

All-sources wagering on Keeneland racing totaled $157,172,604 for the 16-day Spring Meet, held April 6-27, ranking just behind the record of $158,640,591 set during the 16-day 2013 Spring Meet, and a 14.39 percent increase from the $137,399,556 recorded during last year’s 15-day Spring Meet. Average daily all-sources wagering of $9,823,288 rose 7.24 percent from $9,159,970 in 2017.

Keeneland painter photo by Richard J. Nilsen

copyright AgameofSkill.com

Keeneland set wagering records for all-sources handle and Pick 4 and Pick 5 pools on Toyota Blue Grass Day, April 7. Total all-sources handle was $22,634,861, eclipsing the previous record of $21,736,983 set April 9, 2016. Wagering on the All-Stakes Pick Four ending in the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) totaled $1,065,002 versus the previous record of $733,800 set April 8, 2017. The All-Stakes Pick Five handled $899,196, smashing the previous record of $653,827 from April 20, 2013.

A rollback from the takeout increase in the fall of 2017 was favorably received by horseplayers as evidenced by the substantial increase in all-sources handle.

Keeneland offered an early Pick 5 wager with a 15 percent takeout for the first time this meet on the first five races of each race day, and it was an unqualified success. Total handle for the wager over 16 days totaled $4,104,850, an average of $256,553 per day.

On-track attendance and wagering were just shy of last year’s Spring Meet totals despite inclement weather for the meet’s opening two weekends. Total attendance of 250,475 was nearly even with last spring’s 252,247. Average daily attendance of 15,655 was just short of the 16,816 in 2017.

A record crowd of 28,307 basked in the sun on Maker’s Mark Day, Friday, April 13, to surpass the previous Friday attendance mark of 24,734 established April 2, 2010. On Saturday, April 21, 37,378 fans, the fifth-highest single-day attendance in Keeneland history, celebrated the season with an afternoon of racing.

On-track wagering this spring was $17,457,750 compared to $17,668,979 last spring. Average daily on-track handle was $1,091,109 versus $1,177,932 in 2017.

“This was an exceptionally successful Spring Meet in so many ways – from near-record handle to robust attendance and racing of the highest caliber,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “Mother Nature threw us a curve ball or two, but the sometimes inclement weather never dampened the tremendous enthusiasm of our fans. We are extremely grateful to the community, our horsemen and corporate partners for their tremendous support throughout the spring.”

Source: Keeneland

Added Horse Racing Date for Golden Gate Fields

Golden gate turf breakGOLDEN GATE FIELDS TO ADD ONE RACING DAY, THURSDAY, MAY 31; BAY AREA TRACK TO OFFER FANS & HORSEMEN ADDITIONAL TURF OPPORTUNITIES AS ALL SOURCES HANDLE SHOWS 31 PERCENT INCREASE OVER 2017

WINTER/SPRING MEET TO CONCLUDE JUNE 10, CREATING A SEVEN-WEEK TURF VOID IN THE BAY AREA

BERKELEY, Calif. —With another strong season underway and its turf course in impeccable condition, Golden Gate Fields has announced it will add Thursday, May 31 to its spring racing calendar, which is welcome news to Bay Area horsemen and fans alike.

“We plan to offer a good many turf races on this extra day and throughout the remainder of the Spring Meet,” said David Duggan, Golden Gate Fields General Manager. “This meet will conclude on June 10 and following that, there’s a seven-week period where there’s no turf racing in Northern California. Our turf course is pristine, and the weather should complement the day nicely.”

Duggan, who took the reins at Golden Gate in December, was quick to defer credit for the track’s recent success.

“Our great position this meet is a direct result of the horseplayers and the fantastic effort put forth by our horsemen, jockeys and our staff,” said Duggan. “As a result, we are very pleased to be adding to our racing calendar, and especially in late-May. We’ve said this many times, but we’ve got a tremendous group of horsemen. We’re excited to be doing well and we look forward to finishing up strong.”

First post time on Thursday, May 31 is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. PT. For additional racing information, please visit www.goldengatefields.com.