Maryland Racing Industry at Crossroads

Total wagering on the rescheduled, closed-door Preakness Stakes program at Pimlico last Saturday was down nearly 50% from its 2019 renewal, a pandemic-impacted decline similar to that experienced at the Kentucky Derby, which was moved from May to September.

Even in pre-pandemic times, a majority of wagering on horse racing is conducted online, through legal betting platforms like BetPTC.com, TwinSpires, TVG and Xpressbet. Since March, almost all wagering comes via these channels. Betting in person has grown increasingly rare in the internet era, and even more so in 2020. For perspective, of the $369 million bet on races at Laurel Park in 2019, the Maryland Racing Commission’s annual report records that $350.2 million, nearly 95%, came from bettors outside of Maryland…

When is the Breeders’ Cup?

Keeneland clock racingIs the Breeders’ Cup Cancelled?

The good news is that the race goes on with the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.  The popular, annual event features purses worth over $31 million with race horses coming from all over the world to compete.  The dates are Friday, November 7 and Saturday, November 8 at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, KY.

The bad news concerning the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland is that, just like many other sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans will not be in attendance.

Top trainers with horses that will play a major factor include Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher and Aidan O’Brien.

Horseplayers can view all of the “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup prep race videos here.  Start handicapping now as the two cards are not easy to decipher.  Follow additional Breeders’ Cup news and notes right here on agameofskill.com

 

 

Belmont Park Fall Dates and Stakes

Belmont Park GrandstandThe New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has announced race dates for the 27-day Belmont fall meet, including 38 stakes worth $5.58 million in purse money, that will kick off on Friday, September 18 and run through Sunday, November 1.

Following opening weekend at Belmont, live racing will be conducted Thursday through Sunday with the exception of Columbus Day weekend, when live racing will be offered on Monday, October 12 and return on Friday, October 16.

The Belmont Park fall meet has traditionally opened on the Friday following Labor Day. Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYRA adjusted the fall schedule by adding a one-week break following the conclusion of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course.

Check out Handicapping Tip of the Day #61 – Analyzing Layoff Race Horses

“This new fall schedule is the result of a collaborative effort between NYRA, the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the New York Thoroughbred Breeders to modify our racing calendar in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the industry,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke. “I’d like to thank the horsemen and breeders for their common-sense approach to solving the challenges brought about by this unprecedented public health crisis.”

The fall meet at Belmont Park will be highlighted by 22 graded stakes, featuring seven Grade 1 events and seven Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers to the two-day Breeders’ Cup 2020 World Championships to be held November 6-7 at Keeneland Race Course.

Stakes action will commence Opening Day with the $80,000 Miner’s Mark at 1 1/2-miles on Big Sandy for 3-year-olds and up leading into the first of the meet’s Grade 1 events the following day with the $250,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, the second leg of the Turf Triple series for 3-year-old fillies in a 1 ¼-mile turf test on Saturday, September 19.

The following Saturday will be highlighted by the Grade 2, $150,000 Vosburgh, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up offering a berth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The September 26 card is bolstered by the Grade 3, $100,000 Noble Damsel at one-mile on the turf for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

The Thursday, October 1 card offers the $100,000 Joseph A. Gimma, a seven-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies as the first of 10 stakes races restricted to New York-breds at the meet. It’s counterpart, the $100,000 Bertram F. Bongard also at seven furlongs on the main track will be held October 2.

Five graded races will highlight the Saturday, October 3 card, led by the Grade 1, $250,000 Belmont Derby Invitational, second leg of the Turf Triple series for males, a 10-furlong turf test offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The card is bolstered by the Grade 1, $250,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at 12 furlongs on the turf for 3-year-olds and up; the Grade 2, $150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap at 6 ½-furlongs for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up; the Grade 2, $150,000 Kelso Handicap, a one-turn mile for 3-years-old and up; and the Grade 2, $150,000 Pilgrim for 2-year-ols at 1 1/16-miles on the turf.

The following day will showcase an additional three graded events on October 4 led by the Grade 2, $150,000 Beldame at nine furlongs for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up; The Grade 2, $150,000 Miss Grillo for juvenile fillies; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up.

Columbus Day Weekend beginning Saturday, October 10 and ending on Monday, October 12, will feature nine graded events worth $1.65 million, including four Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” challenge races on Saturday led by the $250,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, a 1 ¼-mile test offering a berth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The Saturday, October 10, card is bolstered by the Grade 1, $250,000 Champagne, won last year by Belmont Stakes and Runhappy Travers hero Tiz the Law, at one-mile for 2-year-olds providing a spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. A loaded card also includes the Grade 1, $250,000 Flower Bowl at 10-furlongs for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up with a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf on the line; the Grade 1, $250,000 Frizette, a one-turn mile for juvenile fillies offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; and the Grade 2, $150,000 Sands Point for sophomore fillies at one mile on the turf.

Sunday, October 11 will feature the Grade 3, $100,000 Futurity, a six-furlong turf sprint offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Matron for juvenile filly turf sprinters.

The Grade 2, $150,000 Hill Prince for sophomore turf milers and the Grade 2, $150,000 Knickerbocker, a nine-furlong turf test for 3-year-olds and up on Columbus Day Monday will close out the lucrative weekend.

The spotlight will focus on the Empire State on Saturday, October 24 when the best New York-breds gather at Belmont Park for Empire Showcase Day. An annual celebration of all things New York, the Empire Showcase Day card will offer eight stakes worth $1.2 million topped by the $175,000 Empire Classic at 1 1/8 miles.

Closing weekend will feature five stakes combined from October 31 – November 1, led by the Grade 3, $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap on Saturday. Sunday’s Closing Day will offer the $80,000 Pumpkin Pie and the $80,000 Chelsey Flower.

New York state currently requires all racetracks to operate without spectators in attendance to combat the spread of COVID-19. NYRA will issue updated guidance regarding COVID-19 health and safety protocols for jockeys, trainers and owners in the near future.

Source: New York Racing Association

Turf Paradise Cancels Fall/Winter Meet

Turf Paradise will not run its 2020-21 meet due to challenges related to COVID-19, track representatives told the Arizona Racing Commission in a video conference Aug. 13. The Arizona track has traditionally run a meet from the fall through early May.

Turf Paradise announced last month that it planned to run a shortened season, but a previously-proposed 121-day meet that was to begin Nov. 1 was scrapped early during the commission meeting by track representatives. The track last raced March 10, an early ending to its 2019-20 meet.

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Alabama Stakes Set for August 15 at the Spa

 

The year 2020 will be the only time the Travers has been run before the Kentucky Derby and the only time The Alabama has been run before the Kentucky Oaks.

By Art Parker

Like the Travers Stakes, the Alabama Stakes is one of the great historic races held annually at Saratoga. Like the Travers it is run at 1 ¼ miles and usually one week before it. This year the Alabama will be run on August 15th, a week after the Travers due to COVID-19 rescheduling. The Alabama is restricted to three year old fillies.

walking horse through Saratoga crowdThe Alabama was first run in 1872 making it one of the oldest races for females in America and the longest continuously run stakes race for three year old fillies. The race is named in honor of William Cottrell of Alabama. The race is named in honor of the Confederate Captain who was heavily involved with thoroughbred racing and breeding before and after his service in the Civil War. When approached by the Saratoga Association in 1872 about having a race named in his honor, he declined and requested the race instead be named for his home state of Alabama. Cottrell used his activity in racing to help and mend relations between the North and the South after the Civil War.

While the Kentucky Oaks stands as the female version of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, the Alabama is the female edition of the Travers Stakes, which is open to all 3-year-olds at Saratoga.

The great filly Go For Wand set the stakes record in 1990 for the Alabama at 2:00 4/5 minutes.

Jockeys Jorge Velasquez, Jerry D. Bailey and Mike Smith have all won five Alabama Stakes.

Many great fillies have won the Alabama such as:  Elate, Songbird, Royal Delta, Silverbulletday, Heavenly Prize, Sky Beauty, Open Mind, Shuvee, Gamely, Vagrancy and Beldame to name a few.

Only four fillies and have ever won the Kentucky Oaks and the Alabama Stakes: Open Mind, Make Sail, Princess of Sylmar and Blind Luck.

The year 2020 will be the only time the Travers has been run before the Kentucky Derby and the only time The Alabama has been run before the Kentucky Oaks.

The purse for the 2020 Alabama is $600,000.

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Handicapping Tip #60 – Watch ’em and Learn

NTRA Statement on the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC)

NTRA NHC logoSource: NTRA and the NHC Players Committee

August 4, 2020
The health, safety and well being of our guests and employees, as well as everyone else involved, is our utmost consideration as we ponder a return to Bally’s Las Vegas for the 2021 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC). We understand that some of you are anxious to know what impact COVID-19 may have on an event that has become a mainstay on the Thoroughbred racing calendar and an annual goal for many horseplayers each winter since 2000. Even though we are still nearly 200 days away from our event, and our hope is to host a record-setting event at Bally’s Las Vegas in 2021, be assured that we fully recognize that a pandemic that has impacted virtually every facet of our daily lives may very well impact the 2021 NHC.
We are working with our colleagues at Bally’s on a number of contingencies to address what obviously is an ever-changing and fluid situation. Everything is on the table. Our goal is to determine a path forward and communicate plans for the 2021 NHC by early November, if not sooner. In the meantime, the NHC Tour, with a heavier than usual dose of online opportunities predicated by current events, continues through January 23. An estimated 350 NHC berths remain up for grabs as we move toward what is shaping up to be the richest NHC in history. Stay tuned for further updates and, as always, thank you for your ongoing support of the NHC.
Stay safe,
Keith Chamblin
Chief Operating Officer
NTRA

Covid-19 and Horse Racing. No Fans as Colonial Opens

Colonial Downs planned to welcome folks back July 27 under Gov. Ralph Northam’s Phase 3 plan. With an extensive plan in place, Marshall said it would only allow 1,000 spectators at the track at the time and changed the regular weekend racing schedule to a Monday through Wednesday schedule.

“Our horsemen fully support the decision to conduct racing without fans at Colonial Downs this summer, otherwise the public risk is too great,” Executive Director Frank Petramalo Jr. said in a news release. “There is a bright spot. All of our races will be televised live on the TVG network and people can wager on TVG or on other online sites.”

2020 West Virginia Derby Cancelled due to coronavirus

Mountaineer racetrack

Mountaineer Racetrack officials had planned to run the Aug. 1 races without spectators, but concerns about bringing in owners, trainers and jockeys from out-of-state to the Chester track ultimately proved to be untenable, he said.

Jim Colvin, manager of racing operations at Mountaineer, said the rescheduling of the Kentucky Derby to Sept. 5 was another factor, with at least two thoroughbred horse owners opting out of the West Virginia Derby to prepare for the Triple Crown race.

Colvin said it would not be feasible to push the races back to a later date, or to substitute other stakes races this fall.

“At this time, we would have no makeup dates,” he told commissioners during the meeting, conducted telephonically.

Where to Watch the Horse Races Live in Saratoga

Great Offtrack Places To Watch Live Racing At Saratoga Race CourseRacing City Brewing has the largest projection screen in the area at 23×14 feet along with several TVs, and their spacious building is excellent for social distancing. The kitchen is currently closed, but they will allow guests to bring food or order takeout. They will have beer, wine, cocktails, non-alcoholic beverages, and small snacks available.

There is a $25 deposit to reserve the table, which is put towards the final bill. They will open at noon on all race days and plan to host watch parties on the weekends. Guests will be able to buy the Daily Racing Form, enroll in an online wagering account and fund their accounts for immediate use.

The Parting Glass

The Parting Glass opens daily at 11am ET and you can watch horse racing on their big screen while enjoying food and beer specials. Reservations are not necessary.

Horse Races Live At Saratoga:

Del Mar Jockey Colony Hit with Covid-19. Track Cancels

Del mar chantal billboardWith caution its primary concern, Del Mar has preemptively canceled its next three days of racing, July 17-18-19, after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19. All of Del Mar’s jockeys and jockey room personnel were tested on Tuesday by San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency staff as requested by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

“Assuming these individuals continue to show no symptoms, they will be isolated for a total of 10 days and should be able to resume their usual activities, including riding after that time,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, Medical Director, Epidemiology & Immunizations Services, County of San Diego.

Read the Full Article:
http://www.dmtc.com/media/news/del-mar-cancels-this-weekends-racing-after-jockeys-test-positive-1592