Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Upstate New York

2021 Saratoga meet breaks betting record again

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Despite above average rainfall and ongoing fears about the spread of coronavirus, more than one million horse racing fans returned to the Saratoga Race Course this summer and set an all-time betting record.

New York Racing Association President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said the all-source handle, or the total amount of money bet, reached more than $800 million, the third year in a row that the handle record was broken during the 40-day meet.

“Thanks to the energy, enthusiasm and support of the best fans in horse racing, the 2021 summer meet at Saratoga Race Course has been a tremendous success,” O’Rourke said in a statement.

He also noted that this year’s meet “has been a summer reunion like never before,” after NYRA raced without fans in Saratoga in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re especially pleased that the return of fans has translated into strong business for downtown Saratoga Springs and the entire Capital Region community,” he said. “The summer meet at Saratoga is as strong as any point in its storied history.”

Thoroughbred owner Rick Porter Left lasting legacy of caring for horses as much as people

There was something about Rick Porter that drew people to him.

Fans would come out to Delaware Park to watch a race simply because they knew Porter had a horse running in it.

And it was an impressive record to be following, too.

The Wilmington native saw great success as a thoroughbred owner, campaigning 20 graded stakes horses and multiple champions, including Havre de Grace, Songbird, Omaha Beach and Eight Belles.

One of his most recent victories was at the Delaware Handicap in 2017, one of the state’s biggest races of the year, with Songbird and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Others in the industry respected his deep knowledge of horses and admired his expertise in the business.

John Mooney, executive director of racing at Delaware Park, said…

Eight will get in gate for Belmont Stakes without Trainer Bob Baffert

Belmont Park horse racingTrainer Doug O’Neill knows this isn’t horse racing’s shining moment. Medina Spirit, who won the Kentucky Derby only to fail a drug test, won’t line up at the starting gate at the Belmont States on Saturday. And Medina Spirit’s trainer, Bob Baffert, the sport’s biggest name, won’t have a horse in the race, since he’s temporarily suspended from New York racetracks.

There’s just no escaping any of that — Baffert has even been lampooned on “Saturday Night Live” — but there is, at least, a chance to course correct. O’Neill, whose horse, Hot Rod Charlie, is the third betting choice in a field of eight at 7-2 morning line odds and drew the No. 4 post position at the Belmont Stakes draw on Tuesday morning, could be one of the keys to a changing script. Well, at least for a day.

“I do think this sport could use some more stories of the connections between horse and human and how, like in the Derby, there were like 250 people there all because of Charlie,” O’Neill said. “Charlie brought all these people together, so you know horses are amazing. They’re mirrors of us and we said it all the time, if you give them love, they gave it right back to you. I think these are the stories that we don’t really talk about a lot.”

The 2-1 favorite, Essential Quality, got the second post position, and…

Make Horse Racing about True Sport

true sport of horse racing tampaThey say the first time you “breeze” a racehorse (that is a term for letting them run as if you were in an actual race) the adrenaline rush is so high that when you get off your legs crumple underneath you.

I had just graduated from college and had the opportunity to gallop race horses. This was a childhood dream of mine, so I thought if not now, when? Can’t be doing this when I’m 50. I signed on the dotted line

The job was at Fairview Farm in Landrum, S.C., which included a mile and a quarter track. I arrived and was told to shorten up my stirrups, put on my helmet and begin galloping. I had to pinch myself because here I was galloping some of the most elegant, athletic horses in the world, a dream come true!

After many hours of galloping, you can earn the opportunity to “breeze” a horse. The guys in the barn all referred to me as “New York” as they found my fast-talking New York persona incredibly amusing . The big day came and I heard over and over again from the barn workers,

“Hey New York, be careful, your legs are gonna crumple when you get off,” accompanied by a lot of laughter. I had ridden over some pretty imposing fences in my show jumping career, so I just laughed right back at them.

When we got the horses to the track (you run in pairs) the trainer told us to pick up a nice slow gallop and when we hit the quarter pole to drop down on the rail and let them run.

It is hard to describe the elevated beauty of that moment. The power, the grace, the wind in your face. It was like nothing I had ever experienced, even when jumping huge fences and getting that moment of suspension in the air. This was a whole different level of thrill..

Industry Profile: Hall of Fame jockey Bobby Ussery

Horse racing fans have been in their element recently with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes grabbing national attention. Nothing can compare to the adrenalin rush fans get when their favorite horses come charging down the stretch in the sport’s most iconic races.

Controversy is nothing new in the horse racing game and Hall of Fame jockey Bobby Ussery can attest to that with some firsthand knowledge. The affable 85-year-old lives in Presidential Place in Hollywood and still counts himself as a big horse racing fan. Robert Nelson “Bobby” Ussery was born in Oklahoma and retired in 1974 with 3,611 race wins. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1980.

Medina Spirit, the winner of the Kentucky Derby, is embroiled in controversy after testing positive for the steroid betamethasone in post-Derby testing. If the second round of testing comes back positive, Medina Spirit will be disqualified…

Deja Vu. Baffert’s KY Derby winner Medina Spirit fails drug test

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Bob Baffert’s frustration was apparent as he tried to digest the latest positive drug test involving one of his prized thoroughbreds.

This one involves Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, Baffert’s fifth horse to fail a drug test in a year, which the Hall of Famer vowed to fight “tooth and nail” in the latest doping scandal for horse racing and arguably the sport’s premier trainer.

Flanked by his attorney Craig Robertson in a morning news conference at Churchill Downs on Sunday, Baffert said his barn was told that Medina Spirit was found to have 21 picograms of the steroid betamethasone, double the legal threshold in Kentucky racing, in a postrace sample…

“This shouldn’t have happened,” Baffert said, [after another Grade 1 winner of his tests positive]. “There’s a problem somewhere. It didn’t come from us.”

Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby on May 1 by a half-length over Mandaloun, giving Baffert his record-setting seventh victory in the race that starts the Triple Crown season. Medina Spirit is still expected to race in the Preakness, the Triple Crown’s second jewel, on Saturday.

Related New: Churchill Downs issued this statement following the news of the positive drug test on Baffert’s Derby winner, suspending one of the winningest trainers of all time for running his horses at their racetracks.

The colt galloped Sunday at Churchill Downs and is expected to leave the track with stablemate Concert Tour and head to Baltimore on Monday.

Baffert was planning to saddle Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in the Preakness, going for a record eighth victory in the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Except for 2020 when the races were run out of order due to the coronavirus pandemic, Baffert is undefeated with a Derby winner in the Preakness, which holds its post position draw Monday…

Industry Profile: Remembering the greatest horse in racing history – Secretariat

Secretariat was, and still is, considered not only the best in horse racing history, but one of the best athletes in sports history.

Not only did the thoroughbred set the track and stakes record for a mile and a quarter at Churchill Downs in winning The Kentucky Derby (which still stands), but also won the Triple Crown by setting a world record for the mile and a half in the Belmont Stakes which also still stands.

He was truly something special.

Secretariat died in 1989 at 19 years old after losing a battle with laminitis, a painful and debilitating hoof condition.

It’s estimated that Secretariat’s heart was 2.5 times the size of a normal horse. This would account for his historically fast speed at long distances.

Ellis Park Gearing up for 2021 Meet, with Record Purses & more Stakes Races

Ellis-Park logoHENDERSON, KY. (WFIE) – Ellis Park is back on track to offer record purses while adding two new stakes for the 2021 racing season. The meet runs Sunday June 27 through Saturday Sept. 4.

Racing secretary Dan Bork said maiden races likely will top the record $50,000 achieved in 2019 before the pandemic forced cutbacks last year in the wake of a three-month shutdown. Average daily purses should top $350,000, which would be the highest in Ellis Park’s 99-year history. Those numbers include Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund supplements, for which the vast majority of horses are eligible.

The condition book, which details the races for which entries will be taken on a given day, will be finalized in May after the Kentucky Derby, Bork said. Meanwhile, a 14-race stakes schedule was announced today, highlighted by the highly successful Kentucky Downs Preview Day now becoming Preview Weekend on Aug. 7-8 with the two new races. Six stakes received $25,000 purse increases over last year.

All the Kentucky Downs Preview stakes carry a purse of $100,000 with the exception of the $125,000 Preview Turf Cup, a 1 1/4-mile prelude to Kentucky Downs’ $1 million, Grade 2 Calumet Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles.

“We should have very quality racing,” said trainer Larry Jones, the Hopkinsville native and long-time Henderson resident who has spent most of the summers of his training career at Ellis Park. “With the extra stakes and the money the way it is, it’s going to bring in a lot better outfits – horses that maybe would have gone to Saratoga will stay and race at Ellis. I’m looking forward to it. It reminds you of days gone by.”

Five dirt stakes take center stage a week later on Aug. 15, headlined by the $200,000 Ellis Park Derby. Last year’s running of the 1 1/8-mile race was captured by Keeneland’s Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass winner Art Collector. Also that day again will be the Groupie Doll for fillies and mares, the Ellis Park Juvenile and Ellis Park Debutante — each increased to $125,000 from 2020 — along with the $100,000 Audubon Oaks at seven-eighths of a mile…

Kentucky Derby Works, Trainer Interviews and more – Cox, Brown

Red-hot trainer Brad Cox on Essential Quality, Mandaloun works and Ky Derby

Brad Cox is interviewed on the backstretch of Churchill Downs after works by Godolphin’s Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality (5F 1:00.40) and Juddmonte Farms’ Risen Star winner Mandaloun (1:00). There’s a reason he’s always smiling in these videos!  Cox is loaded for bear for this weekend.
Jockey Florent Geroux after Mandaloun’s final work before Kentucky Derby 147 on Saturday, May 1, 2021.
Chad Brown on Blue Grass runner-up Highly Motivated and his Kentucky Oaks fillies. Starts with b-roll of Highly Motivated’s work (5F 1:00.40).

Large Kentucky Derby Pools along with Mandatory Derby Pick-6 Payout

The Highlight of a Tremendous KY Derby Week

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Friday, April 23, 2021) – Large pools and a mandatory Kentucky Derby Day payout in the newly named Derby City 6 (formerly Single 6 Jackpot) highlight a spectacular wagering menu for the 38-day Spring Meet that begins Saturday at Churchill Downs.

The 20-cent Derby City 6, a jackpot wager where bettors must correctly tab the only winning combination to take down the entirety of the pool, handled more than $1.06 million in 2019. The 15-percent low takeout bet will begin Saturday and if multiple winning combinations correctly select six winners, 90 percent of the daily pool gets paid, while 10 percent will carryover to the next day. If no one correctly selects all six winners, the entirety of the day’s pool will carryover to the next day.

Along with the Derby City 6, the return of the two-day Oaks/Derby Pick 6 will also be a top wager. The $2 minimum bet (2019 handle: $479,561) spans six Grade I events across Kentucky Oaks and Derby Days. The bet begins on Oaks Day with the $500,000 La Troienne (GI) and the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI). It continues Kentucky Derby Day with the $500,000 Derby City Distaff presented by Kendall-Jackson Winery (GI), $500,000 Churchill Downs presented by Ford (GI), $1 million Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (GI) and the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI).

• DAILY DOUBLE and SUPER HIGH-5 wagers are
$1 minimum straight bets.
• On Oaks Day and Derby Day – SUPERFECTA is
a $1.00 minimum wager
• TRIFECTA, PICK-3, PICK-4 and PICK-5 wagers
are $.50 minimum straight bets
• The DERBY CITY- 6 is a $.20 minimum wager
• EXACTAS are a $2.00 minimum straight bet
with $1.00 boxes and wheels
• The special OAKS DAY/DERBY DAY PICK-6 is a
$2.00 minimum wager and will be a separate
event from the regular Oaks Day card

There will be four Pick 5 and Pick 4 wagers on Kentucky Derby Day. The third Pick 5 (2019 handle: $3,980,809) and third Pick 4 (2019 handle: $4,091,771) will feature an all-stakes sequence and culminate in the Kentucky Derby.

Superfecta wagers will once again return to a $1 minimum on Kentucky Derby and Oaks days but will be a 10-cent minimum on all other days.

For the full wagering menu and list of daily post times for KY Derby 2021.