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

What You Need to Know about HISA

The Horseracing Safety and Integrity Authority, HISA for short, is set to take effect on July 1 when racetrack safety standards begin. That will be followed by the anti-doping and medication control component on Jan. 1, 2023.

Combined the two are a monumental step forward for an industry finally under one governing body thanks to the HISA act backed by Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Andy Barr, R-Ky., and signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020.

Finally, thankfully, the sport will no longer be undercut by competing jurisdictions with different rules and regulations. No longer will there be confusion brought about by inconsistent guidelines and messaging.

Lisa Lazarus is the new person in charge. An attorney from New York, HISA’s chief executive officer boasts an impressive international sports background, most recently as chief counsel for the Fédération Equestre Internationale and before that a decade with the NFL where she was involved with strategy and development as well as collective bargaining negotiations…

Horses and connections — including trainers, jockeys and owners — must be registered with HISA by July 1. If the deadline is not met, horses could be scratched from races. The registrations will result in daily records of a horse’s conditioning and medications for review.

The body is also building a database of detailed injury reports on horses and jockeys. It is also in the process of reaching agreements with state racing commissions, who will enforce HISA rules. For example, accreditation will be required for tracks wanting to participate in interstate simulcasting.

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: 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.

Trainer Falcone Discusses Race Placement Strategy and More

Trainer Robert Falcone, Jr. is tied for third in the Aqueduct winter meet trainer standings with seven wins heading into Sunday’s card. 

The 28-year-old conditioner enjoyed stakes success in December at the Big A with John Grossi’s Racing Corp.’s Maiden Beauty, who notched a gate-to-wire 3 3/4-length score in the nine-furlong Bay Ridge.

But Falcone, Jr. has also profited in the claiming ranks, including with Miss Peppina, who was claimed from the conditioner for $14,000 out of a nose score in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint January 9 at the Big A.

“No one wants to stand in the cold and lose,” Falcone, Jr. said. “Miss Peppina won for $14,000 last week and she just got up. If I ran her for $25,000, she’s not going to win.

“You spot them in the right spots because you want to win races, but you’re going to end up losing horses when you do that,” Falcone, Jr. added. “I had 29 horses here at one point and now I have 20.”

Falcone, Jr., who also has a small string out in California, said he is doing his best to put his horses in winnable spots this winter.

“Keep them happy and spot ‘em where they can win. If you’re the favorite, it means you’re in the right spot,” Falcone, Jr. said. “The toughest part is replacing them when you’re a claiming outfit and you don’t have ten 2-year-olds coming in every year. To get one back in the claim box isn’t easy, you’re shaking five-ways, six-ways, but you want to win races and show people that your barn is capable of winning. If you protect them, you’ll keep running third and fourth.”

the Big A race horseJohn Grossi’s Racing Corp.’s Empty Tomb worked a half-mile in 52 flat Friday over the Belmont dirt training track in preparation for a possible start in Saturday’s $100,000 Jazil, a nine-furlong test for older horses at the Big A.

Empty Tomb, a 6-year-old son of Speightstown, set a pressured pace last out in the nine-furlong Queens Country, relinquishing the lead late to 42-1 upset winner Forewarned, who is probable for the Jazil.

Falcone, Jr. said he on the fence regarding the Jazil with the $125,000 Stymie, a one-mile for older horses on February 26, a long-term target.

“He’s doing good. He came out the race good and worked well. I’m still on the fence with him [regarding the Jazil],” Falcone, Jr. said. “I’m not sure a mile and an eighth is really his preferred distance. Even if I do run here, the race I really want to run him in is the Stymie. I think the one-turn mile suits him perfectly.

Did you miss?  Handicapping Tip: The Fewer This the Better

“He walked yesterday and jogged today. He’s doing good. He’s on the muscle. He’s ready to run again,” Falcone, Jr. added. “I don’t have a problem with running him. I’m just trying to figure out what’s best for the long term.”

Falcone, Jr. said Maiden Beauty, a 6-year-old Revolutionary bay, will target the one-mile $100,000 Biogio’s Rose for older New York-bred fillies and mares on March 6 at the Big A.

“She’s doing really good. She’s such an easy horse to deal with,” Falcone, Jr, said. “She has a lot of class. She’s an easy horse to train and real sound.”

Maiden Beauty entered the Bay Ridge just 11 days after a neck score in a one-mile optional-claiming event on December 19 at the Big A.

Falcone, Jr. said Maiden Beauty, who he claimed for $45,000 from Tony Dutrow in June at Belmont, could look for a similar prep ahead of the Biogio’s Rose.

“When she ran in the ‘2X’ both times at Aqueduct with Tony last year, he ran her for the tag and that’s how we were able to run her in the allowance before the stakes without the tag,” Falcone, Jr. said. “She’s still eligible for the ‘3X’ without the tag. Depending on when the race is written in the next book, I may go for the ‘3X’ and then go to the Biogio’s Rose.”

Sanford J. Goldfarb, Irwin Goldfarb and Nice Guys Stables’ Kept Waiting will make her dirt debut in Race 7 on Thursday, an open seven-furlong allowance for older fillies and mares.

The 5-year-old Broken Vow bay, bred in the Empire State by John Lauriello, boasts a career record of 9-3-3-1, all on turf, including a five-length romp last out December 2 sprinting six furlongs at the Big A. 

“She works good on dirt and does it easily in hand. She has the speed to be close and we figured we’d give her a shot on the dirt,” Falcone, Jr. said. “If she does handle the dirt the way she trains in the morning, there’s no reason she doesn’t have a shot to hit the board.”

Falcone, Jr. claimed Kept Waiting for $40,000 in September 2020 out of a runner-up effort in a maiden claiming tilt at Belmont. She graduated at first asking for new connections on the Belmont turf and two starts later notched a state-bred allowance win over the same course in April.

“If she does take to the dirt OK, we only have one more start and then the turf isn’t that far away,” Falcone, Jr. said. 

Kept Waiting will exit post 4 under Kendrick Carmouche.

Horse Country Kentucky – Now Booking for Coolmore at Ashford Stud

copyright DarbyAmerica

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