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Monday, January 21, 2008

FROZEN TUNDRA (-22C today)


THOROUGHBLOG does not often relay whispers or rumours by sources from the south say that CURLIN could be headed to DUBAI immediately.

With the horse’s ownership in flux, two slow works under his girth, it seems more likely the horse is headed to the Sheiks in Dubai where he may race for that ruling family in the World Cup in March..

Stay tuned..



As DAILY RACING FORM columnist STEVE CRIST wrote last weekend, most the awards to be handed out tonight at the 27th Eclipse Awards are done-deals.

As for the 2 categories he was not sure of..older horse and trainer…well I believe LAWYER RON will win the older horse award, not INVASOR.

I voted for Kiaran McLaughlin for trainer of the year – not the likely top 2, Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen.

Here is my ballot:

Steeplechaser – Good Night Shirt

TwoYO Colt – War Pass

Two YO Filly – Indian Blessing

3yo colt Curlin

3yo filly Rags to Riches

Older horse – Lawyer Ron

Older mare – Ginger Punch

Male Sprinter – Midnight Lute

Male Turf - English Channel

Female Turf – Lahudood

Female Sprinter – Maryfield (Canadian-bred)

Horse of the Year – Curlin

Breeder – Adena Apring

Owner – Shadwell

Jock - Garrett Gomez

Apprentice -- Joe Talamo


Young Ontario stallion PAYNES BAY had a nice winner at Aqueduct when CRANE BAY won her maiden in a New York-bred maiden allowance. Owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk, Crane Bay is out of Callendars, by Boundary. It was the 3yo filly’s 3rd career start.

SCARY RACE at Fair Grounds when MERCANTILE broke down in the stretch in race 3, breaking an ankle. The $2,000,000 purchase, a Golden Missile gelding, was euthanized. Jockey Donnie Meche was injured.

Fading in that race was favoured STEWARD HILL, a Canadian bred from the Melnyk team.

Later at Fair Grounds, trainer JOSIE CARROLL sent out Louisana-bred first-time starter INCORPORATING (Gold Tribute-Sweet Mag by Candy Stripes) to win for $12,500 claiming. The colt, a 4yo, was ridden by Patrick Husbands, who was back to riding after missing days because of the flu.

Speaking of big ticket purchases, there must be tears over WAR CRY. The $2,700,000 yearling purchase (Unbridled-Words of War) was making his 2nd career start at the age of 6 at Tampa Bay yesterday and he was far back at the finish.

How ridiculous is it when a horse is wailed on with the whip when the runner is stopping badly? Watch race 4 at Oaklawn yesterday when HOCUS leads for half the 1 1/16 mile race in 22 and change, 45 and change and understandably stops badly in the stretch.

And his rider DYLAN WILLIAMS keeps on hammering on him even when they are virtually in last place at the eighth pole.

Oh yes, here is the EQUIBASE comment…

HOCUS, quick early, stopped, continued to give way while being briskly handled.

Why do stewards/judges allow this in racing?


Oaklawn report

Posted on Monday, January 21, 2008

HOT SPRINGS — If Smarty Jones was in the $ 50, 000 Smarty Jones Stakes, the field, undoubtedly, would be much smaller.

But with Smarty in Kentucky making babies — his first crop just turned 2 — today’s Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park is looking for a major player to emerge.

There are plenty of candidates to choose from.

A full field of 12 is entered in the inaugural Smarty Jones, a 1-mile event that honors the 2004 Arkansas Derby winner and serves as a major local prep for the $ 250, 000 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 18.

They’ve come from Texas, New Mexico, Illinois, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Canada to chase a Derby dream.

The colt from Canada is Yes It’s Bull, who will be making his conventional dirt debut after four starts at Woodbine in Toronto.

Trainer Lorna Perkins said Yes It’s Bull is the best horse she’s trained and one reason she’s wintering in Hot Springs for the first time.

“The hope is that he’s good enough to run in the Arkansas Derby,” Perkins said.

Also entered are Poni Colada, a stakes winner for trainer Steve Asmussen last year at Zia Park in New Mexico; Instill, an Illinois-bred stakes winner; Jeri Harper, winner of last year’s Razorback Futurity; and Rich Young Ruler, winner of his only career start last month at Sam Houston Race Park in Texas.

Racing begins at 1 p.m. today.

Paid admissions (while supplies last ) will receive a Smarty Jones bobble horse.

One of the most popular horses to race at Oaklawn, Smarty Jones also won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2004 and was named champion 3-year-old male.

Sunday’s feature A prep for the $ 100, 000 Essex Handicap on Feb. 9 might have instead yielded a starter for the $ 50, 000 King Cotton Stakes a week earlier.

Multiple stakes winner Spotsgone, owned by Robert Yagos of Jacksonville and trained by Jinks Fires of Hot Springs, posted a front-running three-quarter length victory over favored Gouldings Green in Sunday’s $ 42, 000 allowance feature for older horses.

Ridden by Joe Johnson, Spotsgone covered the mile over a fast surface in a meet-best 1: 36. 75 and paid $ 11. 80, $ 5. 40 and $ 3. 20.

Gouldings Green paid $ 3. 60 and $ 2. 60. Beta Capo, another 1 1 / 2 lengths farther back in third, paid $ 4. 60.

Alpha Capo, Beta Capo’s older half brother, finished fourth, followed by Sea of Trees, Perfect Vow and Forty Acres.

A 5-year-old son of Bright Launch, Spotsgone won the $ 100, 000 Grade III Hanshin Cup (at odds of 81-1 ) and the $ 150, 000 Sea O Erin Mile Handicap ( 16-1 ) last year at Arlington Park in suburban Chicago.

In his last previous start, Spotsgone finished fourth, beaten 9 lengths, in the $ 200, 000 Grade III Ack Ack Handicap on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

“He runs hard and trains hard,” Fires said. “Sometimes from it, he will get a little sore in his hindquarters. When this happens, I stop a while on him, then things are fine again.” Fires said he believes a mile is Spotsgone’s best distance, but he could cut back to 6 furlongs for the King Cotton.

Fires already is pointing Prom Shoes toward the 1 1 / 16-mile Essex.

Trainer Tony Reinstedler said multiple stakes winners Gouldings Green, also making his seasonal debut Sunday, is headed for the Essex.


Fat slot jackpots bolster Fair Grounds pony purses

Track officials hope one-armed bandits lure more gamblers

by Kelly W. Brown

The Fair Grounds is one of 45 U.S. racinos, which are combined race track-casino facilities.

It’s about noon Friday but time doesn’t matter to patrons focused on the 4-month-old slot machines at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course.

The room holds 250 slot machines, all periodically dinging with payouts, and about 70 percent are occupied. Customers feed $10 and $20 bills into blinking machines named “Mr. Cashman” and “Reel ‘Em In!” under a canopy of stale cigarette smoke. When the horses at this 149-year-old institution run by on the track outside, no one looks up.

The intertwined forms of gambling are supposed to be the future of horse racing. Slots appeal to an audience beyond hardcore horse racing fans, said track spokesman Lenny Vangilder.

“As for new fans, slots help that effort,” Vangilder said. “If there’s a couple here, maybe the man likes to bet on the horses and the woman likes to play the slots.”

Tracy Smith, 38, played the “Bonus Frenzy” slot machine at the Fair Grounds and was hooked.

“The first time I came, I played this machine here,” Smith said, patting it. “And my baby gave me $1,250.”

She attends “every chance I get because it’s so close” to home.

Rose Solomon, 35, sat on the side observing friends and family. The certified nurse’s aide said she doesn’t play the slots. She shrugged when asked what draws crowds to the slots on a Friday afternoon.

“The excitement of the bells, I guess,” she said. “The excitement of money.”

Fair Grounds and state officials say the slot room will make the track better, increase racing purses and attract higher quality horses.

Racinos, combination race track-casino structures, operate in 11 states with six more states considering legalizing them. lists 45 facilities nationally. In 2006, racinos garnered $3.6 billion in gross revenue and contributed $1.4 billion in state and local taxes, according to the American Gaming Association.

From Sept. 19 through November, more than 54,000 people played the Fair Grounds slots and kicked in $488,717 in tax dollars to the state treasury through the Louisiana State Police, which oversees gaming regulations.

Vangilder said the Fair Grounds is the national player on the horse racing circuit during winter months when it’s too cold for horses to run up north.

“The people come down here for winter horses from Canada, New York, Kentucky, the mid-Atlantic ... We’ve become a national product,” he said.

Being nationally competitive requires having large purses available for winning horse owners, he said.

“Racing revenue is flat but that doesn’t mean the racetrack’s bottom line is flat,” said Charles Gardiner, the executive director of the Louisiana Racing Commission. “The slot machines are a major product. Slot machines are really the driving force in purse structure.”

New Orleans voters approved the slot room in 2003. The permanent 15,000-square-foot facility with up to 700 slot machines is expected to open in November.

The Louisiana State Police report gamblers lost $1,602,781 on Fair Grounds slots in November for an average of $57.68 per person.

Adjusted gross revenue is parceled out with 15 percent to purses, 2 percent goes to the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Executive Committee and 1 percent to the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeding Association Executive Committee. These associations provide money to breeders and maintain registries of Louisiana-born horses.

After the remainder is taxed at 18.5 percent, what is left goes to the track.

The four slot machine rooms contributed $13.8 million in state taxes and took in more than $91 million from 1.5 million visitors from July through September. Fair Grounds competitors include Delta Downs in Vinton, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack in Bossier City and the Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino in Lafayette.•


  • At 3:42 PM, Blogger the_drake said…

    The count is on at Oaklawn for how many times Calvin Borel will get an even money favorite stuck behing an 80-1 shot and not be able to get out in time to win, with all kinds of horse. So far he's at 2. I've never seen such a hard headed rider before.

  • At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The test of a really good jockey is how he rides odds on favourites.The temptation for many of them is to try and save ground and then push the "go" button when they are ready.Of course it does not work that way,and they get beat time and again,and it is so annoying.Thats,actually,the way to ride the outsiders who need to get a trip.What always impressed me most about Jerry Bailey was how he rode Cigar to 16 wins in a row,many at odds on,and he never fell into that trap of over confidence and trying to be too clever.

  • At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well tell me 'drake' how many races have you rode? what track? how many wins? who did you ride for? ohhhhh you never rode a thoroughbred in your life! btw you sound like an idiot commenting on how a season veteran rides and how much touble he gets in, you are really pathetic.

  • At 8:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If He was one of the best riders, he wouldn't make all those mistakes,No need to bet on him...but the guy tries on all horses whether they are sound or not.

  • At 3:29 PM, Blogger the_drake said…


    Just because I have never rode a horse in a race doesn't mean I can't see 2 very bad over-confident rides and comment on them. Calvin does try hard and will ride for anyone which is great, but he relies on racing luck too much and it gets him into alot of trouble. Watch race 5 at Oaklawn on Friday(he's on the 9) and race 3 at Oaklawn on Monday (he's on the 4) tell me those are smart rides. Saving ground is fine but you have to know when to get out before you're trapped. Last I checked this was a forum about horse racing and when a rider who is notorious for not wanting to leave the rail gets 2 beat in the first 3 days of a meet he should own I think it's noteworthy. Just like when Jen or anyone else comments on rider or trainer mistakes here or at Turfway or anywhere else.

    Sorry Calvin, I didn't know you read and posted on this blog.

  • At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You dont have to direct a movie before you can express an opinion on a film,and you dont have to ride a horse before you can criticize a jockey.Drake's comment is fair game.Jockeys are high profile and handsomely paid and I am sure Borel has broad enough shoulders to handle such a mild rebuke.I 'm against screaming obscenities at them,but criticism goes with the territory

  • At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How about a new category in DRF-
    Jockey and Trainer record and per cent when Odds-on?Might be interesting.

  • At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i will take a jock that saves ground anytime.....borel is good at it and you will get your investment back!!!!!

  • At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nothing wrong with a thinking rider, Pat Day was famous for saving ground, he would get himself in traps on occasion and just get beat, yes i know Borel isnt a P.D but yes he is a thinking rider and you do not loose anything with a guy like that.


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