Is Horse Racing Dead? Golden Gate Meet Sees Healthy Gains

Golden gate turf breakGolden Gate Fields concluded a successful fall meet on December 10 with very strong year over year gains in handle. The all-source handle saw a double digit increase of 12% while on-track handle was also up, showing an 8% gain. Total on-track attendance for the fall meet was steady, with a slight increase from 2016.

“We’re very pleased with the performance of this meet. We’re also absolutely thrilled that our loyal fans come out to support this game in which we all have such a strong passion for,” said general manager David Duggan. “A lot of credit goes to the hard work of our horsemen, jockeys, and dedicated team.”

The gains from the fall meet continue the overall upward trend of 2017 at Golden Gate Fields. The bayside track saw increases in both attendance and on-track handle at the conclusions of the winter/spring and summer meets.

Juan Hernandez led all jockeys in wins during the fall meet with 38 trips to the winner’s circle. Trainer John Martin, who won 3 races on closing day Sunday, scored a 21-20 win total over Jonathan Wong in the training standings. In fact, Martin and Wong were tied with 20 wins apiece heading into the last race of the meet. Country Road, conditioned by John Martin, made a last to first blitz to the front in the finale to secure the training title for the Martin stable. Hernandez and Martin also won the jockey and trainer titles at the 2016 Golden Gate fall meet.

Racing resumes at Golden Gate Fields on December 26 with an early 12:15 p.m. PT first post. The winter/spring meet, which is the longest of the three live racing seasons at Golden Gate Fields, runs through June 10.

Latin American Stakes Day at Gulfstream Park a Big Success

Clasico Internacional del Caribe a Big Hit

Press Release

Noisemakers, drum circles, fans singing anthems, wearing the colors of their countries and waving national flags.

The Clasico Internacional del Caribe, the premier Thoroughbred event in Latin America and the Caribbean, arrived for the first time in 50 years in North America Saturday and it was a hit at Gulfstream Park.

The highlight of the five-race Clasico came just before 5 p.m., when the 3-year-old filly Jala Jala from Mexico carried jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to a nine-length victory over Panama’s Fray Angelico and the Clasico del Caribe presented by Fasig-Tipton.

Horses participating in the Clasico Internacional del Caribe were from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

Pegasus statue at Gulfstream ParkGulfstream was shoulder-to-shoulder throughout the day as on-track handle soared to $1.4 million compared to $947,000 over the corresponding Saturday last year. Total handle was $8.8 million, compared to $9.4 million the previous year. Total handle on the five Clasico races last year at Camarero was approximately $1 million, according to Camarero’s President and Principle Owner Ervin Rodriguez.

“We were honored to host such an incredible event,” said Tim Ritvo, President of Gulfstream Park and COO of The Stronach Group. “This truly was the brainchild of our founder and honorary chairman Mr. Frank Stronach. This has been two years in the making. [The Stronach Group’s President and Executive Board Member] Mike Rogers and myself traveled to Panama and Puerto Rico the last couple years in hopes of bringing the Clasico Internacional del Caribe to North America and Gulfstream Park, and the response was incredible. We hope to continue building on our partnership with the fans and horsemen from Latin America and the Caribbean and we thank them for participating.”

Gulfstream has been great, everything has been great,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve been very pleased with the entire organization at Gulfstream. Gulfstream has taken care of everyone. They have been wonderful.”

Is Horse Racing Dead? Successful 2017 Del Mar Fall Meeting

Press Release

The highly successful first Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar – which has drawn rave reviews from coast to coast – got the track’s fall meeting off to a rousing start and that momentum carried through the four-week season, which concluded Sunday. The track’s fall meet numbers were the strongest since it began autumn racing in 2014.

All sources average daily wagering – which does not include the two-day Breeders’ Cup November 3 and 4 – was up a robust 7.5% as compared to 2016. Out-of-state handle increased 10.3% and on-track betting rose by 4%. Noteworthy, too, was the fact that the 14-day meet final wagering figure of $153.1 million exceeded the 15-day total of $152.5 million from 2016.

“We are, of course, very pleased with the results from our fall season,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and general manager Joe Harper. “The Breeders’ Cup got us off to a good beginning, but our fall meet has grown into a winner all its own and now has become a staple in California. With the support of our horsemen and our bettors, Del Mar’s fall run has become the most prosperous November meet in the country.”

Metaboss at Del Mar
copyright Gary Tasich

The two-day Breeders’ Cup extravaganza registered record betting numbers when $25,181,317 went through the tote on-track – best ever in the 34-year history of the championship event. It was an increase of more than 21% over the 2016 figures. The common pool handle over the two days was $166,077,486, the highest total since the 2010 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs when there were two additional BC races held.

Del Mar’s $3.3-million fall stakes schedule – with its emphasis on turf racing – again proved highly popular to horsemen both locally and nationally. Twelve of the track’s 22 stakes were of the graded variety consisting of two Grade Is, four Grade IIs and six Grade IIIs. A pair of special horses had a national spotlight shine on them when they turned in sharp performances in the Grade I races – Mo Town shipping in from New York and mowing them down impressively on the lawn in the Hollywood Derby and the crack mare Off Limits also shipping in to clicking smartly in the Matriarch.

Del Mar’s racing office was delighted with the response from its horsemen and the numbers registered at the entry box. In the end, the track’s field size for the 14 days was 8.5 runners per race, equaling last fall’s average, which was the highest in the state and among the highest in the country. Additionally, the track’s thriving “Ship and Win” program took another jump forward during the fall run. Last year in 15 days Del Mar lured 31 “S & W” horses to race at the meet. This year that number skyrocketed up 87% to 58 out-of-towners during the 14 racing days.

“No doubt the Breeders’ Cup helped expose Del Mar and our fall racing season to new parties,” noted the track’s executive vice president for racing Tom Robbins. “And no doubt that exposure can – and likely will – have positive benefits going forward. But the ultimate success of fall racing at Del Mar is in the hands of our local horsemen and they have responded in a most emphatic fashion to what we’ve had to offer.”

Robbins also noted the exceptional work done by the track’s two superintendents – Leif Dickinson with its turf course and Dennis Moore with its main track.

“We did more turf racing than ever this year and Leif and his crew were simply outstanding with the course,” Robbins stated. “And Dennis coming on board for the first time this year and remaking our dirt track was a huge advantage to all concerned. We’ve had some of the safest racing in Del Mar history this past year and those two gentlemen were the foremost reason why.”

Del Mar’s fall attendance numbers did dip slightly from the 2016 digits, checking in at 77,218 for a daily average of 5,516, a decline of 5.3%.

The seaside track will resume racing in 2018 with its popular summer meet from July 18 to September 3.

2017 Belmont Park Fall Meet – All Sources Handle Rises Significantly

Press Release

Average daily handle up 12.5 percent

Average field size up 7.5 percent

Despite racing three fewer days compared with 2016, and the full cancellation of the closing day card due to severe weather, the Belmont Park fall meet generated all-sources handle of $303,405,927, a 3.6 percent increase over the 2016 Belmont fall meet.

Average daily handle over the course of the 35 days of racing was $8,668,741, a 12.5 percent increase over 2016.

Average field size for the 329 races contested from September 8 to October 28 was 8.17, a 7.5 percent increase over 2016.

2017 Belmont Park Fall Meet

  • All-sources handle: $303,405,927
  • All-sources average daily handle: $8,668,741
  • Average field size: 8.17
  • Race days: 35
  • Races: 329
  • 2017 On-track handle: $37,259,201
  • 2017 Betting interests: 2,687

2016 Belmont Park Fall Meet

  • All-sources handle: $292,799,814
  • All-sources average daily handle: $7,705,258
  • Average field size: 7.60
  • Race days: 38
  • Races: 354
  • On-track handle: $37,566,563
  • Betting interests: 2,692

Laurel Park Handle Continues to Climb

For the third consecutive year and eighth consecutive meet, Laurel Park registered an increase in average daily handle during its recently-completed summer meet.

Source: Laurel Park Handle Continues to Climb

Is Horse Racing Dead? New Mexico Track Reports Gains

Press Release: Albuquerque Downs

Albuquerque Downs ended its 57-day Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse race meet on September 24, recording increases in total wagering handle and average daily purse distribution.

A total of $13,078,819 was wagered on Albuquerque Downs’ 543 live races, an increase of 3 percent over the $12,706,327 wagered on the track’s 582 live races during its 60-day season in 2016. Of the total wagered this year, $3,284,178 was bet on track and $9,794,641 was wagered at off-track sites.

horse racing blinkersAlbuquerque Downs’ average daily handle on its live races reached $229,453 per day, an increase of 8 percent over last year’s average daily handle of $211,772. The track’s average-per-race handle — $24,086 — was 10 percent higher than the 2016 average-per-race handle of $21,832.

Much of Albuquerque Downs’ handle increase can be attributed to the fact that, for the first time in its history, the track’s all-Thoroughbred Wednesday programs were featured on TVG starting on July 26.

Horsemen benefited from Albuquerque Downs’ brisk business, as the track paid $9,317,484 in purses for 57 days, down less than 1 percent from the $9,406,287 paid for 60 days in 2016. However, average daily purses in 2017 reached $163,465, up 4 percent over the 2016 average of $156,771, and the 2017 average-per-race purse of $17,159 was 6 percent higher than last year’s average-per-race purse of $16,162.

Albuquerque Downs’ 2017 season was scheduled for 58 days, but one date — Friday, August 11 — was canceled due to weather conditions.

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Alfredo Juarez Jr. was Albuquerque Downs’ leading Thoroughbred jockey with 51 wins from 160 mounts, nine more than runner-up Elvin Gonzalez, who rode 42 winners from 188 mounts. Juarez also led all Albuquerque jockeys with mount earnings of $708,540.

Albuquerque Downs’ leading Thoroughbred trainer, Justin Evans, prepped the winners of 39 races from 127 starters, 20 more than runner-up Henry Dominguez, who won 19 races from 105 starters. Evans also finished first in starter purse earnings at $561,075.

Jose Luna Silva topped all Albuquerque Downs Thoroughbred owners with 11 winners from 32 starters, five more than runner-up Solitaire Stable, which won six races from 30 starters. The father-and-son team of Sam E. Stevens and Sammy L. Stevens of Lamesa, Texas, topped the track’s owner standings with purse earnings of $115,795.

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On the Quarter Horse side, Isaias Cardenas was Albuquerque Downs’ leading jockey with 30 wins from 172, two more than J. Martin Bourdieu, who won 26 races from 132 Quarter Horse mounts. Agustin Silva topped all Quarter Horse riders in purse earnings with $458,538 from just 41 mounts.

Jesus Carrete topped all Albuquerque Downs Quarter Horse trainers with 30 wins from 76 starters, 16 more than runner-up Ernest Fennell, who prepped the winners of 14 races from 32 starters. The winner of the $252,515 La Fiesta Futurity on closing day with Strykr Force, Carrete also topped the track’s trainers in purse earnings at $502,939.

Jesus M. Estrada was Albuquerque Downs’ leading Quarter Horse owner with 10 wins from 19 starters, two more than Carrete, who won eight races from 17 of his own starters. Carrete, who is also the owner of Strykr Force, topped all Albuquerque Quarter Horse owners in purse earnings at $212,238.

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The many outstanding equine performances at Albuquerque Downs, which paid a track-record $1.5 million in purses during its closing weekend (September 23-24), were topped by reigning American Quarter Horse Association world champion Jessies First Down. A homebred 6-year-old gelding trained by Jimmy Padgett for owner Ted G. Abrams of Houston, Jessies First Down won the September 24, $250,000 Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship, which for the first time in its three-year history offered its winner a berth in the $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) at Los Alamitos.

Albuquerque’s richest and most prestigious stakes for Thoroughbreds, the 1 1/8-mile, $200,000 Downs at Albuquerque Handicap on August 5, was won by Richard Keith’s American Dubai. Rodney Richards trained the 4-year-old Virginia-bred colt.

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Live horse racing will resume at Albuquerque Downs on June 29, 2018. The scheduled 55-day season will run through September 23.

Is Horse Racing Dead? Louisiana Meet up 12%

Press Release

The 2017 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs concluded with a nine-race card on Wednesday, September 27. The 84-day meet, which got underway on May 6, wrapped with positive gains in handle and officials were pleased with the transition to a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday racing schedule.

Louisiana Downs handled $67 million throughout the meet, an increase of 12% in handle from the 2016 live Thoroughbred racing season.

“We are grateful for the continued support of our horsemen throughout the 2017 meet,” said Trent McIntosh, Louisiana Downs assistant general manager. “The change in our schedule was well received by horseplayers on track and by simulcast fans watching and wagering across the country.”

horses racingSunny skies graced both major racing events, the Louisiana Cup Day on Saturday, August 5 and Super Derby Day on Saturday, September 9. Flurry Racing Stables Mr. Misunderstood captured both the Prelude and $200,000 Super Derby and will make his next start in Saturday’s Jefferson Cup Stakes at Churchill Downs, according to trainer Brad Cox.

Joey Foster Repeats as Leading Trainer

Joey Foster has been firing on all cylinders this meet and defended his title in commanding fashion. The Vinton, Louisiana resident topped all conditioners with 301 starters and a record of 68 wins, 55 seconds and 48 third-place finishes. Foster was the meet’s top trainer last year with 41 wins, after finished third in the standings in 2015 with 39 wins. His stakes winners this year included Big Game Baby, in the $75,000 Elge Rasberry and Illusionofreality, who kept her four-race win streak alive in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Distaff.

“I am very blessed to have this success,” said Foster. “This meet has been great for me and my owners. Both track surfaces are well maintained and safe. I have to commend (track superintendent) Billy McKeever for doing a super job. To me, Louisiana Downs is the prettiest track in the state and I am grateful to have won the title again this year.”

H. B. Johnson finished in second place with 27 wins. Ronnie Ward saddled 18 winners and Sarah Delany rounded out the top four conditioners with 16 wins.

Gerardo Mora Wins His First Louisiana Downs Leading Rider Title

Gerardo Mora made the most of his second year competing in Bossier City topping a very competitive jockey colony to emerge as the meet’s top rider. The 25-year-old jockey is respected for his well-timed finishes and versatility in mastering both the turf and main track and finished the meet with a record of 477 starts, 77 wins, 81 seconds and 65 thirds.

Born in Palestine, Texas, Mora had family ties to racing as his uncle, Adrian Ramos, was a veteran rider on the Louisiana and Texas circuit. He made his debut at Sam Houston Race Park as an apprentice in 2011 and earned two leading rider titles there as well as Retama Park. Mora was third in the standings last year, but had plenty of business this year and was well represented by his agent, Ronald Ardoin, who was one of the most successful jockeys in Louisiana.

“I want to thank each of the trainers, owners for believing in me,” said Mora. “Last year was a good start for me at Louisiana Downs. When I started the meet, horsemen knew me and gave me a lot of opportunities and Ronald did a great job with my book. He’s the man!”

Aubrie Green continued her strong showing, beginning the meet as an apprentice, but losing no business once she lost her bug. She finished in second place with 64 trips to the winner’s circle. Richard Eramia, who was on top for much of the season before he departed to ride at Remington Park, was third with 59 victories. Jose Guerrero rounded out the top four with 57 wins.

Next up for Mora is Delta Downs for their meet which gets underway on October 18.

Jorge Gomez Honored as Leading Owner

The very tight battle for leading owner honors concluded on the final day of the meet with Jorge Gomez finishing on top with 12 wins. Horses owned by Gomez made 114 starts, with Ty Diesel, Blue Choice and Concho posting multiple wins. This was the first leading owner title for Gomez, who resides in Bossier City, Louisiana and will head to Fair Grounds next.

“I want to thank my crew and my jockey, Alexander Castillo,” said Gomez. “They each helped me in winning my first leading owner title.”

Red Rose Racing followed closely with 11 wins and Patti Turner, Beverly Burress, Jamie C. Pastor, William K. Harris, Dream Walkin Farms, Inc., Terrell Jarret, Jr. and Anthony Faulk each won nine races each in the 2017 Thoroughbred meet.

California Horse Racing Meet Rises

Press Release

Total mutuel handle generated in California for the Los Angeles County Fair meet at Los Alamitos, which concluded Sunday, Sept. 24, was up slightly over the 2016 season.

The total handle in California – including on-track, off track betting sites and through advance deposit wagering entities – was $41,982,620 compared to $41,690,533. Those figures represent a 0.7% gain. The all-sources total co-mingled handle for the meet, including sites outside of California, was $62,737,026, compared to $63,147,196, a slight decrease of 0.6%.

Daytime thoroughbred racing will return to Los Alamitos Thursday, Nov. 30 with the start of the Winter meet. The 12-day season will continue through Sunday, Dec. 17 with racing conducted on a Thursday-Sunday basis.

The meet will be highlighted by a pair of Grade I races for 2-year-olds. The $300,000 Starlet for fillies and the $300,000 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity will be run Saturday, Dec. 9.

Churchill Downs and Keeneland Want to Build Two Horse Racing Tracks in Kentucky

Churchill winner's circleIs Horse Racing Dead?

You may have heard … Churchill Downs and Keeneland are teaming up to propose two new “state-of-the-art” horse racing venues in Kentucky. It’s a “historic partnership” that will bring one to Corbin, Kentucky, in Knox County and another in Oak …

Source: Churchill Downs and Keeneland want to build two horse racing tracks in Kentucky

Strong Kentucky Derby results helped boost Churchill Downs’ profits – 2Q 2017

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Despite rainy weather, a “strong” Kentucky Derby week helped Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc. report net income of $78 million in the second quarter of the year, a 12 percent increase from the same period in 2016.

Source: Strong Kentucky Derby results help boost Churchill Downs’ profits