Horse Country Kentucky – Now Booking for Coolmore at Ashford Stud

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Dates for Coolmore at Ashford Stud are now available through October 2021!  Please know effective July 1, select stallions including American Pharoah and Justify, will not be on the tours as they prepare for shuttling to Australia. Curious about shuttling? We share a little more below…

In the Southern Hemisphere, the breeding season runs August – December…so while we are winding down breeding in Kentucky, it is getting started for them. Many of our Kentucky stallions participate in a practice called shuttling, conducting their breeding duties in the Southern Hemisphere.

Luckily, these guys are used to traveling (they did it a lot in their racing days!), they have travel buddies (most have dedicated staff with them wherever they go!), and they’ll be back! Our member locations will still be offering fantastic experiences, but we understand that there may be interest in particular horses on tours. While we can’t ever guarantee a horse on a particular tour, we do like to share the info about shuttling as some of these guys leave the country!

We keep you up to date as the stallions return late this year/early next year.

Source: Horse Country Kentucky

Industry Profile: Trainer King Leatherbury, The King of Maryland

Editor’s Note:  I had the good fortune of working for trainer King Leatherbury one summer at both Pimlico and Laurel.  Although I worked on the backstretch for him, I was also doing a college internship in which I analyzed his accounting ledgers dating back a couple of decades to determine whether or  not his owners made owners.  Incredibly, they actually did.  An article was written, and with the help of editor Mark Simon, it was published in the now-defunct Thoroughbred Times (April 24, 1994).  ~ Rich Nilsen

King Leatherbury knows how he wants his training career to be defined. He knows how he would like to be remembered.

“If I wanted something on my tombstone,” he said, “it would just be, ‘He won races.’ ”

Leatherbury, 87, has won races all right. He ranked fourth all-time with 6,455 victories when he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2015, the ultimate exclamation point to a career that has spanned parts of seven decades. He currently ranks fifth on the all-time list of leading trainers by wins with more than 6,500.

The Maryland native stayed close to his roots in winning at least 100 races per season for 26 consecutive years from 1972 to 1997. He won at least 200 races every year from 1974 to 1984. He won more often than any other Thoroughbred trainer in the nation in 1976 and 1977.

Business boomed even as he competed against the likes of [trainers] Bud Delp, Dick Dutrow, and John Tammaro, a group so formidable they became known as the “Big Four.”   Continue reading about legendary horseman King Leatherbury.

Big Papi Needs a Job. Horse Racing?

Future baseball Hall of Famer David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz visited Gulfstream Park on Friday, March 9, 2018 to film a segment for his reality show, Big Papi Needs a Job, which debuted Jan. 31, 2019 on Fusion TV.

In the episode, Ortiz explores the ins and outs of being a thoroughbred owner, including a visit to trainer Mark Hennig’s barn, the jockey’s room and grandstand as well as the paddock and walking ring for Race 5, where he gave the call for riders up and later made a presentation to winning jockey Tyler Gaffalione and trainer David Fawkes in the winner’s circle.

Ortiz, 42, retired following the 2016 season after leading the Boston Red Sox to World Series championships in 2004, 2007 and 2013, when he was named Series MVP. A 10-time all-star, he finished with 541 home runs and 1,768 runs batted in and a career batting average of .286 over 20 seasons.

The first season of Big Papi Needs a Job featured 10 half-hour episodes where the 6-foot-3 Ortiz, a native of the Dominican Republic tried his hand at various professions. Previous shows had him working as a barista, barber, brewmaster, dog groomer, firefighter trainee, food truck cook, manicurist, mechanic, musician, zookeeper and tour guide at the Red Sox home stadium of Fenway Park.

Source: Press Release

Industry Profile: Bruce Lunsford, Art Collector’s Owner

LOUISVILLE — Bruce Lunsford, who will have his first Preakness Stakes (G1) entrant when Art Collector takes on Kentucky Derby winner Authentic Saturday at Pimlico, knows something about tough races and taking on formidable opponents.

After all, as the Democratic nominee for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seat in 2008, he gave Mitch McConnell the closest call of the Senate Majority Leader’s long political career.

“Oh sure, even in politics there’s a common thread,” said Lunsford, comparing it to horse racing. “I went into a race that nobody thought I could win. I was 25 points behind; I was tied with two weeks to go. It was like the stretch drive. It was fun, exhilarating, and I got to meet a lot of people. Mitch and I still have a decent relationship today. I think he respected what I did, and I saw where he was quoted as saying the only time he’d had his people write a concession letter was in the race with me. Because two weeks out, it looked like we were going to win.”

The 72-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist from Louisville has been many things: Founder of a Fortune 500 company, investor in a myriad of start-up companies, producer of movies, partner in the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park and Hurricane Bay water park. He worked in state government as Kentucky’s commerce secretary. Now Lunsford would love nothing more than to add classic-winning horse owner and breeder.

Art Collector, out of Lunsford’s mare Distorted Legacy, is his first Preakness entrant and his second in the Triple Crown, following Vision and Verse, the 1999 Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up to Lemon Drop Kid at odds of 54-1. Art Collector — who is 4- for-4 this year, including the $200,000 RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Derby and Keeneland’s Toyota Blue Grass (G2) — was supposed to be the first Kentucky Derby starter for Lunsford and trainer Tommy Drury.

Within days of being fulfilled, that Derby dream was derailed when Art Collector sustained a minor and fleeting, but untimely, foot issue. A month later they are back on solid ground for another swing in the Triple Crown.

“It’s the only thing you work on, probably, that you spend weeks and days and everything to get ready and it lasts two minutes or less,” Lunsford said. “So a lot of stuff is just outside your control. I do like the way this horse runs. They all have to get out of the gate. We’ve seen a lot of horses over the years who are really good break bad and it takes them out of the action. This horse has not shown a propensity to do that. If he gets in the flow and we get a fair trip, I’ve got to like our chances to hit the board. Anything above that gets to be gravy. But a lot of the handicappers all of a sudden are picking him. So I don’t know exactly what that means.”

Lunsford wonders how the Derby might have been different had Art Collector been in the field, given that his horse and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. logically figured to put more pressure than the front-running winner Authentic faced in his absence.

“The good thing is that speculation doesn’t matter, because we’re going to get a chance to run against each other,” Lunsford said. “I’m hopeful both have a good trip, and I’d love to see them down the stretch together. I’ll take my chances.”

Lunsford grew up in Kenton County in northern Kentucky near Cincinnati, his dad a union shop steward who wound up buying a small farm. Young Lunsford got interested in horse racing while attending the University of Kentucky and going to Keeneland. In the summers he’d go to Ellis Park with his fraternity brother and close friend Greg Hudson, whose dad owned horses.

A CPA who also received a law degree from Northern Kentucky University, Lunsford in his early 30s was Kentucky’s commerce secretary under John Y. Brown. In that capacity, he helped bring United Parcel Service’s worldwide air hub to Louisville and was involved with launching the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.

A few years later, Lunsford got into horse ownership by claiming a couple of cheap horses with his pal Hudson.

“The good news or bad news, whichever way you look at it, both of them won about $100,000,” he said. “So we thought this game is easy. We found out later it’s a little more complicated.”

A couple of years later, Lunsford wanted to get involved in the breeding side of racing. He purchased one of his first broodmare prospects in 1994, paying $500,000 for a 3-year-old filly out of the Greentree Stable dispersal upon the advice of Claiborne Farm head Seth Hancock.

“You know Bruce, he wanted action,” Hancock recalled. “We said, ‘Well look here. You can have your cake and eat it too. Greentree is dispersing these things, and here’s a pretty good racemare who’s got a great pedigree. You’ll have some fun running her and maybe we can make a pretty decent broodmare out of her.’ ”

That half-million dollar filly, Bunting, had one win out of 13 starts for her prior connections, but she also finished second in Keeneland’s Ashland (G1) and Pimlico’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2). In four starts for Lunsford, she won a Gulfstream Park allowance race before being retired to Claiborne Farm. She proved far better than pretty decent as a broodmare.

Bunting’s first foal was Vision and Verse, who won the Illinois Derby G2) and also was second in the Travers Stakes while earning $1 million. Her 11th foal was a filly named Distorted Legacy, a minor stakes-winner who placed second in Belmont Park’s Flower Bowl (G1). Distorted Legacy’s second foal was Art Collector.

Until Art Collector, Lunsford’s home-run horses came around 15 years ago.

His $160,000 yearling purchase Madcap Escapade won 7 of 9 starts and more than $1 million, including Keeneland’s Ashland G1), and finished third in the 2004 Kentucky Oaks. The Frankie Brothers charge was being pointed for the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Sprint against males when she suffered a career-ending injury. He sold a half-interest in Madcap Escapade at auction for $3 million, staying in for the other half, to another trusted advisor, John Sikura, with whom Lunsford also boards mares at Hill ’N’ Dale Farm.

The Brothers-trained First Samurai, purchased as a yearling with his friend Lansdon Robbins of Louisville, won his first four starts in 2005, including New York’s Grade 1 Hopeful and Champagne before finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The winner of Gulfstream Park’s Fountain of Youth (G2) upon the disqualification of Corinthian for interference, First Samurai’s Derby aspirations ended when he was injured in Keeneland’s Blue Grass. He retired to a stallion career at Claiborne.

Lunsford also bred and sold Golden Missile, winner of the Grade 1 Pimlico Special in 2000, then sold that horse’s mom, Santa Catalina, for $1.35 million five years later. He also bred and sold Canada’s 2006 Horse of the Year Arravale, a two-time Grade 1 winner.

For all his success, Lunsford knows well how difficult it is to just get to the championship races, let alone win.

“Just like the experience at the Derby,” he said. “All things went right, and then he winds up getting what is almost like an ingrown toenail. You’re talking about creatures that have large bodies and small legs. And things happen. Seth Hancock told me one time, you’ve got to learn to take the hard blows in this business… My good friend Don Dizney told me that it’s the lows that make the highs so good. There’s a lot of truth to that. If you can win 15, 20 percent of your races, they cover you pretty well. It’s like the baseball player who bats .300.”

Lunsford today is chairman and CEO of Lunsford Capital, a private investment company he founded in 2003. The companies he has founded include Vencor, a Fortune 500 company now known as Kindred Healthcare, and its spinoff real-estate company Ventas; Atria Communities, the third-largest assisted-living company in America; and Valor Healthcare, Inc., a company that develops and operates outpatient clinics for military veterans under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I was a start-up guy,” he said. “Now what I do is I invest in people that I think have it. I tell people I don’t invest in financial statements, I invest in people. When I realize they have the skillset, we try to give them the things they need to do to make it work.”

Drury is an example. Lunsford one day this summer asked Drury what he had going on for the week. The trainer mentioned the various trips he’d be making up and down the highway to Belterra Park and Ellis Park. “He said, ‘Man, we’ve got to get you to the point to where you’re not bouncing around so much,’” Drury recalled. “He said, ‘Better-quality horses is going to do that to you. We need to sit down and talk.’

“And that’s the kind of guy Bruce is. He’s always willing to help others. Always willing to try to help you reach your goal and get to the next level. It’s like the Blue Grass,” Drury continued, referencing Art Collector giving him his first graded-stakes victory. “It took me a long time to get to that. He knew that and I think he was genuinely happy for me. He’s got a heart the size of Texas. It makes you want to work that much harder and want to win that much more for people like that.”

Lunsford said that at this stage of his life, he only wants to do things that are fun and challenging.

“The thing I’ve done well is I’ve built a really nice staff,” he said. “The guy who runs the whole real-estate company which is assisted living and apartments, his dad was my barber. His son Brian (Durbin) is like my right-hand man. Every time I get out of Jerry’s chair, I say, ‘I just can’t tell you how he’s changed my life.’ I have a team of about six people of his quality. I’ve built a team of people where, if I drop dead tomorrow, they can keep it going.”

Lunsford laughed when asked if he’s an under-the-radar Shark Tank.

“I can relate to everything they do, except I don’t have as much money,” he said.

So maybe a Shark Tank Lite?

“That’s right,” he said. “You know I was in the movie business for a while with Ed Hart, had about 10 movies we made. We had a lot of fun. Made a little money, lost a lot of money. But I will say one thing: I was in the two toughest business anybody can be in: the horse business and the movie business.”

Making having a horse of Art Collector’s caliber even more satisfying for the father of daughters Amy, Cindy and Brandy and grandfather to six is sharing the experience with his significant other, Eleanor Porco.

“I have a lot that I enjoy in life, because I like action a little bit,” Lunsford said. “I don’t think I’m an action junkie or anything. But this is one of those things where my friends are able to enjoy it. My two best friends are still alive. I mean, we’re at the age where that could not be true. The whole idea of having a horse of this quality and at a time in my life when I’ve really got a great soulmate with me has just really turned it into a great blessing.

“There are only so many interesting things you can do in life. Outside of having your children and things you do as a kid, sports and otherwise, when you’re older, it’s harder to keep it exciting. I’m 72 years old and my life is still exciting.”

Source: Maryland Jockey Club

What We Know about the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act

Lot of Questions Raised

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The federal bill putting in place a national regulatory body for Thoroughbred racing is considered a near certainty for passage later this year, generating timely questions about how the body will function and deliver on its promise of improving the industry’s drug-testing abilities and the safety of its athletes.

Washington DCThe bill, called the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, was introduced in the Senate last week by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader. On the same day, a House committee that had not called for a vote on similar legislation for the past five years swiftly approved its passage on a bipartisan basis. Officials who support the effort are now confident the legislation will be approved by the end of this year’s lame-duck session, if not sooner.

“I don’t like to quote odds for anyone, but I rate its chances better than they’ve ever been,” said Bill Lear, vice chairman of The Jockey Club, which has made passage of a federal bill overhauling the sport’s regulation a priority since 2014. “I still think there are lots of hurdles to overcome, but I do think with the bipartisan support in both houses, we are in a position where we should get it done by the end of the year.”

While racing officials who have worked on the bill …

Virginia Peters runs a one-woman horse racing operation at Canterbury Park

Virginia Peters’ sons always believed there was an expiration date on her time at Canterbury Park. Once they finished high school — and were no longer around to help out in the barn — they were certain she would get out of the horse business.

That was 23 years, seven grandchildren and many, many horses ago. Peters, 73, still shows up at the Shakopee track year after year to race the thoroughbreds she breeds at her farm near Jordan. Her tiny operation is dwarfed by most stables at Canterbury, but she will be part of Wednesday’s Minnesota Festival of Champions when her veteran gelding Where’s Jordan runs in the $100,000 Blair’s Cove Minnesota Turf.

The festival celebrates the full scope of the state’s breeding and racing industry, from the high-earning 60-horse barns to the mom-and-pop stables such as the one Peters has run for three decades. A retired teacher, Peters also sews the silks for many fellow horse owners and has served on the board of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association. She’s become part of the fabric of Canterbury, much like the Festival itself.

“I think my sons have figured out I’m always going to have horses,” said Peters, who currently has two thoroughbreds in training. “Here at Canterbury, I have so many really good friends, and that’s enabled me to keep doing this…

Industry Profile: Racehorse Owner Jack Knowlton

From Fairy Tale to Triumph

In 1995 Jack and five pals of his formed Sackatoga Stable. The name was a play on words. A combination of letters from the crew’s hometown of Sackets Harbor along with Jack’s residency in Saratoga Springs creating an amusing name for the enterprise. They chose the staid checkered colors of maroon and gray that matched those of their high school for the stable’s jockey silks.

They liked the name so much that they named their first horse Sackets Six. Little did they know that eight years later lightning would strike them in the form of a three-year-old gelding with the name Funny Cide…

How Sol Kumin Turned A Labour Of Love Into The World’s Leading Horse Racing Business

Is Sol Kumin the ultimate “hobby-preneur”? Amid a 20-year career on Wall Street, including the launch of his own hedge fund business, Kumin only became interested in horse racing in 2014 when a friend persuaded him to take a stake in a thoroughbred. Six years later, the financier has built one of the world’s most successful racing stables, with a string of winners of prestigious races to his name.

“The racing has turned into a more commercial endeavour but it certainly didn’t start out that way,” reflects Kumin, who confesses he quickly got “hooked” following his initial foray into the sport. “Initially, it was a bit of a journey to understanding there was so much more to this sport; we bought more horses, did some research on how to do things a little differently, and over time it became a business.”

Handicapping Tip of the Day #55 – The Only Race

A sharp trainer uses the condition book to plan the future of a horse especially when it comes to conditioning and training. However, things don’t always work out.

by Art Parker for AGameofSkill.com

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

I became friends with a trainer during my first year of playing the horses – the days when I was learning something new every day. One day I noticed he entered a horse above his usual class. After thinking he couldn’t possibly win, I decided to ask him why. I caught up with the trainer late in the day and asked him that very question after his horse finished seventh in a field of nine.

“It’s the only race I could find for him. He is fit and ready to run. That was the only thing close to where he belongs, so I entered. It looked like it would be another week or so before another race would be available, and I would rather run him and keep him in shape,” the trainer explained.

Understanding the Condition Book

That was before I learned all about a condition book. Once I got my hands on a book, I began to understand. We know that racing secretaries must write races that have a higher probability to fill and to make the races as competitive as possible. What is not possible is to have a ready-made class system that is fair to all and will provide an abundance of opportunities to all horses. Nor is it possible to have enough horses to fill all races and all races be competitive.

Understanding the Condition Book

I borrowed the words from a West Point Thoroughbreds website that best describes a condition book. “A condition book is the schedule of races for a given track during a certain period of time, usually a few weeks or a month. It is this schedule that provides a framework for trainers to develop the training regimens for their horses for this time period. While this seems straightforward, there are a number of factors that can change the timing of races. You see, just because a race is in the condition book doesn’t mean that enough horses will enter the race to warrant it being used. That is why you’ll see substitute races in the book as well. These are races that also get entries and can be used in place of another race on the card.”

A sharp trainer uses the condition book to plan the future of a horse especially when it comes to conditioning and training. However, things don’t always work out. A race perfect for one horse may not fill and a substitute race is used. When that happens a trainer that has a horse ready must find another race that fits his charge, but that is not always possible; hence, the horse may be placed in less than an ideal event.

When you examine past performances and you see an awful race last time out, don’t quickly conclude that the horse isn’t what he used to be. That last race may have been the only option for the trainer.

Great horse racing videos – the late, great Forty Niner versus two of his top rivals

Top Freshman Sires to Watch according to The Blood-Horse

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The top sires to watch include many familiar names, such as Darley’s Nyquist and Frosted , and Claiborne Farm’s Runhappy , who all were represented by a 2019 yearling average of $200,000 or more.

Nyquist and Runhappy had the strongest overall profiles, having ranked among the top sires in all five categories. Nyquist might have a slight edge over Runhappy having been a three-time grade 1 winner and champion at 2. Runhappy definitely had speed as indicated by his 2015 champion sprinter title, but he didn’t win at 2 until Dec. 28 of his juvenile year. The son of Super Saver ‘s first book of dams include 34% who won at 2 (the highest among our 10 sires to watch) and his dams have produced 27% 2-year-old winners to date, which is the co-highest among the top 10 sires along with Taylor Made Stallions’ Not This Time

Top Freshman Sires for 2020: