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

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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

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.

Del Mar’s Ship & Win Gets More Lucrative

Is Horse Racing Dead? Del Mar shipper program gets richer

Press Release

Del Mar’s highly effective “Ship and Win” program, where owners and trainers are given solid incentives to import out-of-state horses to race locally, returns for its eighth summer at the shore in 2018 with yet another husky bonus increase providing additional encouragement to bring runners to the place “where the turf meets the surf.”

When the program first started in 2011, horsemen bringing Thoroughbreds to Del Mar were rewarded with an automatic check for $1,000 when they made a local start along with a 20% bonus payment on top of whatever purse monies were earned in that initial outing. Last year those incentives had increased to a $1,500 check and a 30% bonus.

For 2018, the “Ship and Win” payout has grown even sweeter still. Now the automatic check has climbed to $2,000, while the 30% first-race purse bonus again will be in place. As it has since its inception, Del Mar works in conjunction with the Thoroughbred Owners of California in formulating and actualizing the program.

Drew Brees at Del Mar

Drew Brees at Del Mar

“This has been a wonderfully successful program for our horsemen, for Del Mar and for all of California racing,” said Del Mar’s racing secretary, David Jerkens. “We’re approaching 1,000 horses brought into the state utilizing ‘Ship and Win’ and they’ve made thousands of starts at all its major racetracks. When these horses come our way, we find they almost all stay in the state. We added to the bonus money again this year to make it even more lucrative to those willing to step up and we’re hoping to see another increase in new stock at our summer meeting.”

The first season that Del Mar put “S & W” in play, it drew 107 horses. Heading into 2018, the track now can count just under 1,000 horses having been brought on board via the program, with those horses having made over 1,500 starts locally and more than 3,500 starts at other state tracks, such as Santa Anita, Los Alamitos and Golden Gate. The equine influx has helped Del Mar maintain one of the highest field-size averages in the country – in 2017 it was 8.6 runners per race (summer) and 8.5 (fall).

Jerkens made note of some of the increases for “S & W” runners when the 30% first-race bonus is calculated into the track’s already healthy purse structure. In the case of a starter in a first-level allowance race, he said the $62,000 purse would be heightened by an additional $18,600 for “S & W” horses, meaning they are instead running for a prize of $80,600. A $32,000 claimer normally races for a pot of $39,000, but with “S & W” monies added in the purse rises to $50,700. Even the track’s lowest-level horses, the $20,000 maiden-claimers, see their purses climb from $20,000 to $26,000.

The racing secretary emphasized that the 30% bonus applies to purse payouts across the board, not just the winner’s share.

He also noted that for local horsemen the program presents the possibilities of personal gain along with the ability to enhance the racing product statewide as it competes for wagering dollars nationally. In the case of racing outfits from outside the state, he said “S & W” makes a direct statement that Del Mar and California racing in general is more than happy to welcome them to one of the best circuits in all the sport.

There are only a few basic rules for “S & W” horses: An eligible horse must have made his/her last start outside California and cannot have raced in the state within the past 12 months. First-time starters are not eligible. All stakes runners are eligible to receive the $2,000 starter fee, but no stakes runners – including overnight stakes – are eligible for the 30% first-race purse bonus.

Those with questions concerning the program are encouraged to contact Jerkens, or Del Mar’s executive vice president for racing, Tom Robbins, at (858) 792-4230.

Del Mar’s summer stand this year will begin on Wednesday, July 18 and continues through to Labor Day Monday, September 3 for a total of 36 racing days. Its fall meeting runs from Friday, November 9 to Sunday, December 2 for 16 racing dates.

Horse Racing Booming in California

Is horse racing dead?

Horse Racing Booming in California

Source: Horse Racing Booming in California

Is Horse Racing Dead? Nearly $1 Billion in Handle at Gulfstream Park Meet

No, It’s Not

Gulfstream Park shattered total handle records during its 89-day Championship Meet, highlighted by The Stronach Group’s innovative $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1).

Total handle during the Championship Meet was $957 million, eclipsing last year’s record of $867 million by 10.4 percent. Handle including total simulcast was $1.021 billion. On-track handle was up $3.9 million.

pegasus world cup logoThe Jan. 27 Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the world’s richest race won by Horse of the Year Gun Runner, handled a record $41.9 million. That record was broken on Florida Derby Day when total handle was $49.9 million.

Gulfstream also become the first par-mutuel facility outside Latin America or the Caribbean to host the Clasico Internacional del Caribe, featuring horses from countries in the Confederacion Hipica del Caribe competing in five stakes races, including the $300,000 Clasico del Caribe.

“The Championship Meet was an extraordinary 89 days of world-class racing, exceptional dining and incredible events,” said Gulfstream Park General Manager Bill Badgett. “We want to thank the fans who witnessed many of the world’s greatest equine athletes and jockeys and we want to thank the horsemen and owners from around the world for supporting our meet.

“The Stronach Group is creating an entirely new way to experience the races while embracing generations of new fans through world-class entertainment and events. We look forward to our Spring/Summer meet and building on our year-round program and preparing for another memorable Championship Meet in 2018-2019.”

Audible’s victory in the Xpressbet.com Florida Derby highlighted an afternoon of seven stakes (five graded) worth $2.3 million. Audible will now attempt to become the 25th Florida Derby winner to win the Kentucky Derby (G1). Audible could also become the fourth Florida Derby winner in six years to win the Run for the Roses.

For the second consecutive year the Pegasus attracted the world’s best Thoroughbreds. Just two days after being named Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards held at Gulfstream, Gun Runner ran away from 11 others to win the Pegasus.

Is Horse Racing Dead? Churchill Downs to Offer up nearly $9 Million in Purses

Churchill winner's circleThe 144th renewals of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) and the $1 million-guaranteed Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) headline a strong roster of 32 stakes races with total purses of $8.84 million scheduled for Churchill Downs Racetrack’s April 28-June 30 Spring Meet.

The schedule is headlined by a spectacular Kentucky Derby Day on Saturday, May 5 that features seven graded stakes races – including three Grade I events – with total stakes purses of $4.2 million. The Kentucky Oaks Day program one day earlier features six graded stakes with total stakes purses of $2.35 million. Another highlight is the “Downs After Dark” nighttime program on Saturday, June 16, featuring five graded stakes, topped by the 37th running of the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI), with total stakes purses of $1.1 million.

The Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks are among six Grade I races on the Spring Meet schedule that also features seven Grade II events, 10 Grade III contests, one listed $100,000 event, two additional $100,000 stakes and six overnight stakes races that offer purses of $65,000-added. The Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Stephen Foster Handicap programs are among seven racing days that will feature two or more stakes contests. Alongside the Derby, Oaks and Stephen Foster Handicap, Grade I events set for the 2018 meet are the $500,000 Old Forester Turf Classic and $300,000 Humana Distaff on Derby Day and the Oaks Day renewal of the $350,000 La Troienne.

Four events on the Spring Meet schedule will benefit from individual purse increases of $50,000. Those races are the $300,000 Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU(GIII) on Derby Day and the Oaks Day renewals of the $350,000 La Troienne, the $200,000 Edgewood Presented by Forcht Bank (GIII) and the $200,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII).

Along with the running of the Kentucky Derby, America’s greatest race and the nation’s oldest continuously-held sports event, a trio of Grade I events on the Derby Day racing program includes the 32nd running of the Old Forester Turf Classic (formerly known as the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic from 2000-17) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the grass; the 32nd renewal of the Humana Distaff, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares ages 4 and up. Completing the spectacular roster of seven Derby Day graded stakes events will be the $500,000 Churchill Downs (GII) for 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs; the $300,000 Longines Distaff Turf Mile (GII) for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up at one mile on turf; the Pat Day Mile for 3-year-olds at one mile on the main track; and the $300,000 American Turf Presented by Ram Trucks (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.

The 2017 Kentucky Derby was won by MeB Racing, Brooklyn Boyz, Theresa Viola, St Elias, Siena Farm and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Always Dreaming, while Gunpowder Farms LLC’s Divisidero earned his second consecutive victory in the Turf Classic. Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Paulassilverlining won the Humana Distaff.

The six stakes races on the Friday, May 4 Kentucky Oaks Day program are headed by the Oaks, America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, which will be run at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, and the La Troienne (GI), a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares ages 4 and up. The Oaks Day schedule also features the $400,000 Alysheba (GII) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles; the $200,000 Eight Belles Presented by Kentucky Trailer (GII) for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs; the Edgewood (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf; and the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs on turf.

China Horse Club International Ltd. and Clearsky Farm’s Abel Tasman rallied from last in a field of 14 to win the 2017 Kentucky Oaks, while Maggi Moss’ Big World took the La Troienne.

The Stephen Foster Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds and up, is the main even on the June 16 night racing program the features five stakes contests. Joining the Grade I headliner will be the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) for fillies and mares ages 3 and up at 1 1/8 miles; the $200,000 Wise Dan (GII) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf; the $100,000 Matt Winn (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; and the $100,000 Regret (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

The Stephen Foster was won last year by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm LLC’s Gun Runner, who would go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) and Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year and the Champion Older Male of 2017.

Other multiple stakes programs include the Kentucky Derby Week Thurby program on Thursday, May 3 that includes the $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile for 2-year-olds at five furlongs and the Opening Verse Overnight Stakes for 3-year-olds and one mile on turf; the Saturday, May 26 card topped by the $100,000 Winning Colors (GIII) for fillies and mares 3 and up at six furlongs and the Keertana Overnight Stakes for fillies and mares 3 and up at 1 ½ miles on turf; the Saturday, June 2 “Downs After Dark” program topped by the $100,000 Aristides (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs and the Mighty Beau Overnight Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs on turf; and the Saturday, June 30 closing day program with a trio of stakes races led by the $100,000 Bashford Manor (GIII) for 2-year-olds at six furlongs, the $100,000 Debutante (Listed) for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs, and the Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs.

The Spring Meet stales schedule kicks off under the lights during the Opening Night celebration on Saturday, April 28. The night’s racing program will be highlighted by the $100,000 William Walker, a race for 3-year-olds named for the pioneering African-American jockey and Kentucky Derby winner which will be run for the fourth time. The William Walker is the only race on the Spring Meet schedule that will undergo a change in racing surface or distance. The race will now be run on the turf at five furlongs after being run on the main track at six furlongs in its first three renewals.

Other graded stakes contests on the schedule include the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ½ miles on turf on May 19, and the Old Forester Mint Julep Handicap (GIII), a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares 3 and up on June 9. Two additional overnight stakes races complete the schedule: the May 12 Unbridled Sydney for fillies and mares 3 and up at five furlongs on turf, and the June 23 Roxelana, for fillies and mares 3 and up at six furlongs on the main track.

Is Horse Racing Dead? 2017 Breeders’ Cup a $96.8 Million Impact on San Diego

Del mar chantal billboardThe Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which were contested at Del Mar racetrack for the first time in 2017, generated $96.8 million in direct and indirect economic benefits for San Diego County, according to an economic impact study.

Source: Breeders’ Cup a $96.8 Million Impact on San Diego