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Thursday, January 10, 2008


In today's news - some Canadians in action at Keeneland, many in action at Fair Grounds, Santa Anita hanging on so far and another study on slots and the track....
DON'T FORGET to vote on the poll about the top horse for 2008 in the US.....

(BEAR NOW has arrived at Palm Meadows to start training again for her 4yo campaign. The Grade 2 stakes winner is in Reade Baker's barn for owner Bear Stable.)


Much was made about the juvenile MINER’S CLAIM last year at Woodbine. A two-time winner in as many starts, the Mineshaft colt looked good in those wins, but certainly not at the level at which he was hailed.

In the Daily Racing Form, Marcus Hersh found out that Miner’s Claim is coming along slowly but is staying in Florida for now…

Casse in the fall had mentioned Fair Grounds as a likely comeback spot for Miner's Claim, who won both his starts last year at Woodbine, but Miner's Claim now is more likely to make his 3-year-old debut at Turfway Park.

"He isn't coming along as fast as I thought," Casse said. "I gave him a little time, and then he missed a little time, so we're going to run him in the Battaglia [Stakes], and then run him in the Lane's End. That's going to keep him on the Polytrack."

Turf War, who dead-heated for first in the Delta Jackpot, will probably ship into Fair Grounds, but is likely to make his next start in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn. Casse, however, is likely to have two starters for next month's Risen Star, with Briarwood Circle and the less accomplished Bonanza scheduled to ship in next week.

Shipping with the two colts will be Clearly Foxy, who is scheduled to make her 3-year-old debut in the Silverbulletday Stakes. Clearly Foxy won both her starts at Woodbine, including the Natalma Stakes, and finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in her most recent start.


D. Morgan Firestone, who won his first Queen’s Plate last year with Mike Fox, bought the mare SAUCY SUCCESS and her yearling filly by Action This Day for $47,000 and $42,000 respectively.

Firestone also bought HOLD THE STARCH, an unraced Rahy filly out of No More Ironing, for $60,000. The racing or broodmare prospect I a ½ to Sneaky Quiet and Sam-Son Farms’ good filyl Whiletheiron’shot.

The mare never race but is by Cherokee Run (no stakes winners from his daughters yet) out of stakes winner Saucy Deb.

JOSHAM FARMS bought consecutive yearling for $77,000 and $45,000. The former is a grey colt by Value Plus (first crop) out of Canadian stakes placed Western Resolve, by West by West. The colt is a Florida bred.

The latter is a Kafwain Kentucky bred out of Westwood, by Storm Bird and a ½ brother to Group 2 winner Clapton.

GAIL WOOD paid $15,000 for the 7-year-old mare FRILLERY (Glitterman-Biblical Sense, by Blushing Groom). The winner is carrying her first foal, by Pomeroy. The mare is a ½ sister to stakes winner Sense of Duty and graded stakes placed Winning Point.



Overseas track expert at Santa Anita today

By Art Wilson, Staff Writer

Article Launched: 01/09/2008 09:39:58 PM PST

Unless a synthetic-track expert from overseas can convince Santa Anita officials early today that a last-ditch effort to salvage its $10million Cushion Track is not a long shot, the track will announce this afternoon that it will rip up its artificial surface and replace it with a traditional dirt track to finish out the winter-spring meet, a Santa Anita source confirmed Wednesday.

The source preferred to remain anonymous because late-hour attempts to salvage Cushion Track were still ongoing, but an unprecedented three consecutive cancellations at Santa Anita last weekend because of heavy rain and drainage problems have management looking in another direction.

"I heard they had another person coming tomorrow from Europe that thought he had a quick-fix solution," said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who attended a meeting at Santa Anita on Wednesday morning between management and horsemen that lasted about an hour.

"They didn't have a lot of hope that he could make them feel confident to do it, but they are going to hear him out.

"I think after that probably the answer is they would take it (Cushion Track) off and put the best dirt they could find to get through the year."

California Horse Racing Board chairman Richard B. Shapiro has called a special meeting for Jan. 17 to consider a waiver to the board's 2006 mandate that all major thoroughbred tracks in the state have synthetic racing surfaces.

If passed, the move would allow Santa Anita to run the remainder of its winter-spring meet on a dirt surface.

The waiver has the support of Shapiro, who said, "We're dealing with a crisis on our hands."

It is hoped the renovation can begin after Monday's racing, and the estimate is that it could take about eight to 10 days.

In the meantime, a short schedule of all-turf cards is in the works.

"Some sort of a short meet on the grass, and then you'd miss a few days, I suppose," Mandella said.

"It would kind of help fill in the gap. You can fill a lot of grass races. You can probably fill those faster than dirt of any kind."

Cushion Track has mostly been a headache for Santa Anita officials since it was installed last August.

It has failed to drain properly virtually from day one because, according to president Ron Charles, the silt, which is a very fine sand, is absorbing the water and not allowing it to get down to the asphalt base.

Santa Anita began nearly three weeks of renovation in early December, and the main track has been open for training only two of the past six weeks, causing a logjam at Hollywood Park as many trainers shipped their horses across town to work.

"It's kind of a mess for them," trainer Mel Stute said of Santa Anita management. "Ron Charles looks like he aged a little already."

Stute said Charles, who led the meeting with horsemen Wednesday, asked for a show of hands to gauge how trainers felt about dirt and synthetic tracks.

"It was about like usual," Stute said.

"It was about half and half, I would say. I think most of the older guys were for dirt, really, and the younger fellows were more or less for synthetic surfaces."

By late afternoon, word had trickled down to the jockeys that Santa Anita most likely was going to be going back to dirt for at least the remainder of the meet, scheduled to end April 20.

"I hope they can get one in that works and at least gets us through the meet," said two-time Eclipse Award winner Mike Smith. "I mean, we've raced on dirt forever."

Said Jon Court: "We need to keep racing going. We've missed some valuable days that's been costly. It's a shame that it (Cushion Track) got washed out, but who can predict Mother Nature?

"They have to take the necessary procedures to put in an adequate, professional racing surface."

Charles has said Santa Anita is looking at sandy loam as one possible dirt surface.

Trainer Bruce Headley, a strong opponent of artificial surfaces, would like to see Santa Anita put in sandy loam and leave it there.

"It worked for 30 years until the '70s, and then they put wood products in it," Headley said.

"We didn't have the injuries, we didn't haul 'em off like we are now. I'm the only guy that saw how great the sandy loam tracks were."

Racing will resume today at Santa Anita for the first time in six days, with first post at 1 p.m.



Should state bet on slots? -Legislature will debate their effect on racetracks

By Gregory A. Hall

The Courier-Journal

If Kentucky approves casino gambling at its racetracks, will the crowds be at the slot machines or the betting windows?

That's a question expected to figure prominently as the General Assembly debates expanded gambling this session.

"While horse players may become slot players, there's very little evidence to indicate that there's crossover in the other direction," said John-Mark Hack, the spokesman of Say No To Casinos. "And what we'll be left with is no one to watch the races."

Say No To Casinos describes itself on its Web site as an educational organization of the Lexington-based cultural conservative advocate Family Foundation, but Hack says the two are allied only on the gambling issue.

Issues of cannibalizing on-track betting "will absolutely be part of the debate and they should be," said state Sen. Damon Thayer, a Georgetown Republican who previously worked for racetracks. "We're talking about a major decision here that will have a long-term effect and a paradigm shift in Kentucky's number one agriculture industry."

Thayer said he supports giving voters an opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment allowing expanded gambling but will not commit to supporting the amendment itself until details are settled.

Churchill Downs track President Steve Sexton said that the company would prefer having a casino at its 700 Central Ave. facility but is open to another site, possibly downtown, if that's what the legislature decides.

Losses to other states

Kentucky-based trainer Chuck Simon said he believes that if Kentucky doesn't allow gambling at its racetracks, the state will continue losing horses and trainers to other states where casino gambling has increased purses.

He said he will be racing during the winter at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas rather than Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., partly because its purses are supplemented by expanded gambling.

He said that by running in states with slots-aided purses, it means significantly more money. "If I'm running for $18,000 versus $10,000, that's a big difference," he said. "You know that's the difference between … making it with that horse and not making it with that horse."

Turfway President Bob Elliston has long argued casino gambling would help the track's purses. He also said he believes horse betting and casino gambling can work together and envisions integrating racing and a casino so that patrons have easy access to both.

He added that Turfway would use some of its expanded gambling revenues to upgrade its 50-year-old grandstand to attract more horse players.

"We want to build a first-class destination that, with racing, gives us a distinct advantage over just a casino by itself," Elliston said, alluding to nearby riverboat casinos in Lawrenceburg and Rising Sun, Ind.

Problems with 'racinos'

Many in the industry also say the existing "racinos" typically didn't do enough to promote or integrate racing with the additional forms of gambling. For instance, a significant portion of the casino at Mountaineer is on the opposite side of the track from the grandstand.

"I think it's fair to argue that a lot of those places (tracks with casino-style gambling) didn't expend a great deal of effort to try to promote the on-track business, because I don't know that any of them really believed that they could do so successfully," said Tim Capps, the executive in residence at the University of Louisville's Equine Industry Program.

Capps, who previously was an executive and lobbyist at Maryland tracks seeking slots, attributes the falling handle to the general decline in racing.

Woodbine's David Willmot said any decrease in live horse betting is more than compensated by the casino revenues since it added slots in 2000.

He added that Woodbine spent about $80 million rehabbing its tracks and increasing marketing at the same time it spent about $120 million adding slots.

"We made a concerted effort to not allow horse racing to become a second-class citizen," he said, helping lead to a slight increase in horse betting the first few years.

"We continue to do a lot of things to try and convert the slot player to betting on horses," he added, "but it is not easy."

Benton, Ky., resident Dean Williams is an example of the challenges that tracks face.

Williams said she often travels about 30 miles to visit the riverboat casino in Metropolis, Ill. While a casino at Bluegrass Downs in Paducah would be a little closer, she said she's not likely to bet much money on the horses there.

"I don't like to see animals put to the test," she said, adding that she also thinks the riverboat casino would have "a better atmosphere for me" than a track-based casino.

Sexton said whether Churchill would try to integrate a casino into its existing facilities or build something separate on its property would depend on whatever plan the legislature passes.

Read the full story at the


  • At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Cangamble said…

    Race tracks have done virtually nothing to make handicapping less intimidating for newbies (slot players), and since very few people win these days thanks to multi-track wagering and very high track takeouts, people just don't bring their friends in like the old days.

    I used to take friends to Woodbine and Greenwood, back when there was more dummy money bet on the horses, and there was a chance to win in the long run even. But the dummy money has gone to the slots, and now it is good handicappers versus good handicappers at ridiculously high takeouts.

    I tell my friends these days to open up accounts at rebate shops or open up Betfair accounts.

    Something the readers may like:
    Cost of owning a horse in Ontario, Fort Erie versus Woodbine.

  • At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I do not believe anyone Training horses at Woodbine it is costing-$56 day!I am guessing more like$70-
    75 a day.
    Firstly good grooms cost at minimum of $25-30 a day per horse by the time deductions are removed and paid+worker safety+holiday pay etc.
    hotwalker ok at $8
    Food&Bedding-at least $20 day per horse
    Exercise rider-6days @$15=$13 day
    ++ night check-watering-vet wraps-HP grass-walking after race-poultice-linaments-bandages-supplements-various machines-blankets-soap-water buckets-feed tubs-tie chains-liability insurance-fuel&expenses getting to work and being able to live

  • At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So to continue I am guessing costs are much closer to $75 a day and possibly higher--if a trainer wanted to make money on a day rate he would have to be charging $100 per day--this i believe to be much more realistic!

  • At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Loved your article on the cost of owning a horse. It really hit home when you see it in black and white. If you have a horse that runs for 5,000 at Fort Erie he pretty much has to win 5 races a year to break even (how many do that?).

  • At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Cangamble said…

    Good grooms, lets say $25 a day.
    Exercise riders, since horses go out 4-5 times a week, don't forget they walk for at least a couple of days after they run, etc. It works out to
    $10 a day tops over the year.
    Food and bedding isn't as high as $20.

    Vet wraps, etc. can run $3-$5 a day, but they usually aren't put on every day by every trainer.

    "-if a trainer wanted to make money on a day rate he would have to be charging $100 per day"
    LOL, if a trainer wants to make money, he should do well in the afternoon. That is when he or she should be earning the paycheck.

    If you have a horse that runs for 5,000 at Fort Erie he pretty much has to win 5 races a year to break even
    Who knows what the purses will be this year, but a horse needs to make close to $24,000 if it is in training and racing the whole year at Fort Erie, if you are paying 50 a day.

    As far as 75 plus a day. At Charles Town, the leading trainer is charging something like 40-45 per day there, no add ons.
    At Thistle, trainers charge as low as 35-45 a day. No one is losing money in the morning either at those rates or they wouldn't do it.

    An analysis was done a year ago at Fort Erie, and the break even point in the morning, if everything was done right was just less than $50, and that meant the trainer didn't have to groom, feed, or get on a horse either.

    If you are paying over 75 a day at Woodbine, I have a 6 letter word for you: S-U-C-K-E-R

  • At 4:29 PM, Anonymous LAKEAYS said…

    As an ignorant novice, could someone explain exactly what would be on the vet's pre-race invoice? Is there a fee also for the track vet's inspection pre-race? Isn't the jockey paid a minimum of $100 and a percentage down to 3rd?

  • At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just checking to see if my opinion got printed----IT DID--but obviously not liked--I don t think you could name 10 trainers at Woodbine that train and take care horses properly with 10 horses or morestabled at Woodbine that train for less than $75 day and if you can they are cheating on your horse somewhere!--maybe training 3 days a week with one groom doing 6 or 7 horses.Trainers do make money in the afternoon but if they wanted to make money on training--they would certainly be broke with you quickly unless you have very good horses or have a very very successful claiming operation.Other than the top trainers at the tracks mentioned many trainers have other income sources or are broke.Horses which go to these tracks you don t very often see back at Woodbine--THEY ARE GUTTED and that is because they race as if every time is there last race of there life because Trainers need 10% to survive!

  • At 3:52 PM, Anonymous divisionalchamp said…

    Ft Erie Trainers Do A Good Job !The Trainers There need The Chance To Have Better Horses.Many ,Many Horses Do Well Coming From Ft Erie To Run At Woodbine And other USA Tracks.Ft Erie Has A lot Of Trainers That Groom, Walk,Gallop So They Can Make A small Living.So Send some Horses To Ft Erie!PS GREAT BLOG cangamble.


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