UPDATE!! EMMA-JAYNE WILSON GETS HONG KONG LICENSE
Champion jockey EMMA-JAYNE WILSON has been granted a license from the Hong Kong Jockey Club and will leave Tuesday to ride at Sha Tin and Happy Valley racecourses beginning Feb.2.
Wilson, who is currently riding at Fair Grounds, rode in the Cathay Pacific Jockey Challenge in December and made a good impression.
Here is a story (slightly out of date now) from the South China Morning News...Canadian rider Emma-Jayne Wilson may be called upon this week to alleviate the lightweight jockey shortage and become the first expatriate female jockey to be granted a club jockey licence in Hong Kong.
With suspensions cutting a swathe through the riding ranks, the Jockey Club is concerned at the shortage of lightweights available in the immediate future.
Sources say club officials, who were highly impressed with Wilson when she rode at Happy Valley in the Cathay Pacific International Jockeys Championship last month, see the Canadian as a solution.
The timing would be suitable for the 26-year-old as she is the leading rider at Woodbine track in Toronto, where temperatures are below freezing and the track is in recess for winter until racing begins anew in April.
She has been finding gainful employment nonetheless in the warmer south of the United States, based at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, and also competing in Miami, where she contested Group races last night.
On Friday evening, Wilson missed out on Canadian racing's biggest accolade when she was voted second in the Sovereign Awards jockey of the year there, but would get the chance to break totally new ground if granted a licence here.
American Julie Krone is the only foreign female jockey to have ridden winners in Hong Kong, landing two at the Ladies Purse meeting in October 1994.
But none has secured a contract to ride on a regular basis.
Wilson won plenty of admirers with her presentation and manner during the Happy Valley series, not to mention her narrow second on the generally difficult Vincere during the racetrack action.
FIGHT CLUB - Ginger Punch won her SUNSHINE MILLIONS race as expected yesterday - she paid $2.60. She won in front of her owner, Frank Stronach, who appears in a big feature story in Florida today (see below). GINGER PUNCH is out of the Canadian bred mare NAPPELON, a daughter of the Bold Ruckus stallion Bold Revenue. (phooto courtesy of EquisportPhotos.com through www.horse-races.net)
109 BEYER FOR THE PUNCH and ‘BLACK JACK’
from the PALM BEACH POST..
"Ginger Punch wins for Gulfstream owner"
BY HAL HABIB
HALLANDALE BEACH — The winning owner had no trouble finding the winner's circle and no trouble grasping what the victory meant.
Frank Stronach runs Gulfstream Park and came up with the idea for the Sunshine Millions six years ago, so it was only fitting that Stronach's Ginger Punch lived up to her billing as a 1-5 favorite Saturday by cruising to a 63/4-length victory in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff.
It was Stronach's first victory in the series, which figured. His week began with Ginger Punch being named the top older female horse for 2007, giving Stronach his seventh Eclipse Award.
Just about everything else went Stronach's way Saturday. The eight-race series, pitting Florida-breds vs. California-breds, went off without a hitch after several days of rain jeopardized Santa Anita's four-race share of the action. The track's maintenance crew removed 2 inches of the wet top layer of Cushion Track and added some of the original synthetic material.
In California, Bill Mott's Go Between captured the featured $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic, paying $12 to win. Florida trainer Edward Plesa's entries of Electrify and Gottcha Gold finished eighth and ninth, respectively. The highlight of the Santa Anita races came when Dearest Trickski won the Filly and Mare Sprint and her time of 1:07.66 set a world record for 6 furlongs.
The Gulfstream crowd also saw Benny the Bull win the $300,000 Sprint, followed by American County taking the $250,000 Oaks, giving jockey Edgar Prado two victories in the first two events.
Gulfstream's final event was the $500,000 Turf, and when War Monger hit the wire, it gave Mott three wins on the day. Mott also trains Quite a Bride, who took the Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita. "You imagine days like this," Mott said.
Stronach did when he created the Sunshine Millions, even though he believes Ginger Punch's race marked the first time he even entered one of the races.
"Racing needs superstars," Stronach said. "Racing needs great events. And I think we can do so much better yet in the Sunshine Millions to really make it a great event. Eventually I look down the road where Maryland runs against Texas and so on. It's got to be more exciting."
Ginger Punch was exhilarating enough when she broke poorly out of the gate but took the lead coming out of the turn in the 11/8-mile race for fillies and mares 4 years old and up.
"When I came to the turn, I saw my horse wanted to explode," jockey Rafael Bejarano said. "Good feeling."
Stronach thought so, regardless of any desire to protect his home turf as chairman of Magna Entertainment, Gulfstream's parent company.
"I think to win a race, anyplace, anywhere, it's a thrill," Stronach said.
It had been a busy few minutes for the track owner. He escorted around guest Donald Trump, whose presence drew a crowd of about 50 fans trailing his moves. Trump Towers sponsored the Oaks, allowing The Donald a trip to the winner's circle to honor American County.
"I love coming to the races, more so than anything else," Trump said. "I love it that much."
Stronach was just glad that he and trainer Bobby Frankel decided to keep Ginger Punch on the track rather than retire her, as they did Sugar Shake.
"I was debating it with Bobby," Stronach said. In the end, "We said, 'It would be nice to keep one.' "
Benny the Bull won the 6-furlong sprint over 41/2 lengths over Santana Strings for trainer Rick Dutrow, who couldn't believe his horse ran so well so close to the front.
"I can't explain it," Dutrow said. "It's not anything that I've changed his training in any kind of way."
Noteworthy: Florida breds won seven of the eight races and outpointed California 58-14. ... Bob Black Jack was California's lone winner, taking the $250,000 Dash.
SANTA ANITA SPEEDWAY
Scrape scrape scrape….2 inches comes off, 2 seconds come off
3YO CALIFORNIA BRED RUNS 6 FURLONGS IN 1:06.53
It’s been tough what has been going on at Santa Anita with the bad Cushion track, the unfortunate weather etc. But racing horses over this surface yesterday sure looked ludicrous.
FROM THE LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS
Not just a sport of kings at Sunshine Millions
By Art Wilson, Staff Writer
ARCADIA - Thoroughbred racing is often referred to as the Sport of Kings, but you don't have to be as rich as a Saudi prince to succeed in the game.
Bob Black Jack, a $25,000 private purchase as a 2-year-old, won the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash on Saturday at Santa Anita. The lone California-bred winner in the eight Millions races has earned $268,925 for owners Tim Kasparoff - trainer James Kasparoff's brother - and Jeff Harmon while winning three of five starts.
Two races earlier, Dearest Trickski, a $32,000 claim at Del Mar in August, ran her victory streak to five with a 4-1/4-length win in the $300,000 Filly & Mare Sprint for trainer John Sadler while setting fractions of 20.52 and 43.39 en route to a six-furlongs clocking of 1:07.66.
The 4-year-old Proudest Romeo filly has provided owner Tom Mankiewicz a healthy profit on his investment, earning $315,000 with her past two victories alone. Overall, she's won five of six for Mankiewicz, finishing second once.
Mankiewicz also claimed Grade I winner Victory Encounter for $32,000 out of a maiden race in April 2003.
"I don't know one owner who's claimed two horses that have won the races that Tom's won," Sadler said.
Bob Black Jack, ridden by David Flores - who won his record seventh Sunshine Millions race - blazed through splits of 20.92 and 42.46 en route to running the six furlongs in 1:06.53 and scoring by 3-1/2 lengths as the 4-5 choice.
The 3-year-old Stormy Jack colt lost the lead briefly to Winsome Charm at the head of the stretch but rallied back along the rail to win his second stake of the meet. He won the $138,375 California Breeders' Champion on opening day by 6-1/4 lengths.
"Turning for home, it looked like he (Winsome Charm) was going on with it. And I'm like, `Oh no,"' said James Kasparoff, who operates a three-horse stable. "And then all of a sudden, he (Flores) shook the reins at him and really laid him down, and this horse said, `No, no, no, no, no, no. I've got way more left in the tank.'
"It's really nice to have a horse that can do that."
Dearest Trickski, also sent postward at 4-5 under jockey Mike Smith, came in off a 1-1/2-length victory in the $250,000 La Brea Stakes on Dec. 29 and has now won 9 of 13 overall, including eight of her past nine. She had been claimed for $10,000 and $12,500 previously before Mankiewicz grabbed her, and she's won four of five on synthetic surfaces.
More rain forecast
Today's nine-race card is likely to get canceled because of a storm that was expected to hit late Saturday and drop 3-to-4 inches of rain by tonight.
A rainout, coupled with Monday's and Thursday's cards that already have been canceled to enable workers to begin mixing in new materials in the Cushion Track to fix the drainage problem, would bring the meet total to eight. That would match the total number of cancellations in the track's 71-year history.
BIG BIG LOVE – MORE STUFF FROM YESTERDAY
HORSEPLAYER INTERACTIVE went ont he fritz again yesterday afternoon (2nd time this month) and no one could bet on the telephone or on the computer for a while around 2:30...
AUTOBAHN GIRL, an A.P. Indy filly out of Canadian champion SAORISE won the Marie Krantz Memorial Stakes yesterday at Fair Grounds for trainer Malcolm Pierce. Pierce, who has owned Fair Grounds in recent years, had the filly spot on to win the 1 1/16 mile race in the slop (it was originally carded for grass). The 4yo is owned by Live Oak Stud. It was her 6th win in 14 starts.
BIG LOVE BILL, a Kentucky bred by Salt Lake owned by Canada’s Donver Stable and trained by Josie Carroll, won at 23 to 1 yesterday at Fair Grounds.
In the slop, Big Love Bill stalked the pace 3 wide and then powered home by ¾ of a length under Patrick Husbands in the 6 furlong maiden allowance.
The dark bay is out of Gender Bias and was a $92,000 2yo purchase. Big Love Bill was 2nd at Woodbine in his debut at 9 to 2 and 7th in his Fair Grounds opener.
Fair Grounds had at least 2 break downs yesterday.
*LAYNE GILIFORTE won a race at Laurel Park for Eugene Melnyk. The Florida-bred EBSWORTH won the $10,000 claiming race by 14 ¼ lengths. The gelding is by Graeme Hall.
*ROVING ANGEL, a Canadian-based mare, finished last in the Nellie Morse Stakes at Laurel Park.
*A report in DAILY RACING FORM said Turfway Park was happy with its Polytrack this winter. That is good news but it sure looks bad on the television. Can horses actually run into that blizzard of surface?
*A first-time starter at TAMPA BAY DOWNS yesterday won at 40 to 1 from the 12 post. The 5yo by Hazaam, named QUESHUA had the following workouts showing:
103B Classic Mile Jan 5; 52B Classic Mile Dec 11; 38B Classic Mile Dec 3.
ELLIS TO RIDE IN JAMAICA IN 2008
The Jamaican Gleaner reports today that SHANE ELLIS, who rode 3 winners at Caymanas Park yesterday, will not return to Woodbine to ride this year. He has 10 winners in Jamaica this season and will ride there throughout the year.
GOOD FEATURE ON DERBY PREPS RUN ON SYNTHETIC..
From the Louisville-Courier Journal
Derby could be 1st dirt race for many
All California preps on synthetic tracks
By Jennie Rees
A basic principle in handicapping race horses is never bet a horse to do something it's never done. Come the May 3 Kentucky Derby, horseplayers will have to assess those horses who have never raced on a true dirt track before going to the post at Churchill Downs.
With California's major tracks required to install synthetic surfaces by 2008, an increasing number of Derby starters won't ever have raced on dirt. Last year -- when Turfway and Keeneland offered the only Polytrack preps -- fifth-place Sedgefield was the lone Derby starter who had not raced on dirt.
The El Camino Real Derby will be California's only dirt prep for the Kentucky Derby because Bay Meadows got an exemption. Leading California horses -- including CashCall Futurity winner Into Mischief, CashCall runner-up Colonel John and unbeaten San Rafael victor El Gato Malo -- are scheduled to have all their preps on Santa Anita's Cushion Track.
"That's a huge wrinkle," East Coast-based trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said of the 134th Derby. "… How can you go bet money on a horse who has won on the turf 10 times when he's running on the dirt for the first time? Now you're talking about a horse who's been only 'poly' and is on the dirt. I certainly couldn't bet or be high on them as a trainer going in without knowing."
"It's definitely a question mark," said California trainer Bob Hess, who hopes to get Limestone Edge to the Derby. "When we're buying horses to run out here, I'm looking for a different stride and different foot configuration than I used to."
Of course, Santa Anita's new Cushion Track remains a big question mark itself because of its severe drainage problems. Five cards have been canceled since Jan. 5 in the wake of unusually heavy rain and hail. Santa Anita will try to fix the problem this week by reconstituting the surface with material made by synthetic rival Pro-Ride. But some trainers are at least starting to think about contingency plans.
The top five finishers in last year's Derby all had at least one major work over Churchill's sandy loam. Eventual winner Street Sense had his final prep over Keeneland's Polytrack, but he had raced on dirt and was stabled at Churchill.
"I think maybe Derby training might be a lot more important," said trainer Rusty Arnold, whose Breeders' Futurity winner Wicked Style was drilled in the Breeders' Cup in the slop at Monmouth Park after going 3 for 3 over Polytrack. "You're going to see horses come in early and get more than one or two works at Churchill, would be my guess."
Nick Zito, trainer of 2-year-old champion War Pass and Kentucky Jockey Club winner Anak Nakal, said he won't be prepping on a synthetic surface.
"Definitely not," he said, amending, "I see myself running at Keeneland in the Blue Grass (Stakes) if it's the only alternative, but I don't see myself doing well. First of all, we don't have any grass pedigrees."
That's a reference to the fact that many grass horses who struggle on dirt handle Polytrack.
"If they don't have any dirt form, it's going to be very difficult" to evaluate, trainer Todd Pletcher said. "You might have horses who are overachieving on the synthetics, and they show up on the dirt and they don't run well. Then you might have some horses who are flying just underneath the radar screen who are maybe getting a little piece of it (in synthetic races), and they're the ones who are going to improve the most when you get to dirt."
Others think it won't be a big deal, noting that most horses are bred for dirt. Mark Casse -- whose Woodbine division trains over Polytrack -- believes California might actually produce better Derby horses.
"You might see a truer test (in the Derby), because the true stayers -- horses who can really stay a mile and a quarter -- will be the ones who are successful on synthetic tracks going farther," he said. "No more shooting to the lead and speeding away and nobody can catch you."
HOW DID THEY DO?
Two key Derby preps were run on the synthetic surface Polytrack last year. A look at how the first three finishers fared in the Derby:
Toyota Blue Grass Stakes
2. Street Sense
Lane's End Stakes (Turfway)
1. Hard Spun
3. Joe Got Even
FEATURE IN THE FORT LAUDERDALE SUN SENTINAL
“Gulfstream Park owner has turned passion for horses into losing proposition”
By HANAH CHO
The Horse Wizard was a hybrid of a slot machine and a live race telecast, in which images of horses instead of cherries spun on the screen. Win, and listen to the sound effects of coins dropping.
It was Frank Stronach's pet project. To the founder of Magna Entertainment Corp., the Horse Wizard took the thinking out of betting, while offering the excitement and instant gratification of casino gambling to a new generation of patrons.
But if Stronach, the owner of Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, expected others around him to embrace his enthusiasm, he didn't hear it. "I remember sitting there, and he had some test ones, and I tried them and said, 'This is really bad, Frank,'" recalled Gino Roncelli, a former Magna director.
"'Oh no, they're going to get used to this. This is going to be great,'" Roncelli remembered Stronach saying. "I said, 'Frank, this is a terrible loser.'"
Undeterred, Stronach authorized spending $15 million to $20 million to build and install Horse Wizards at Magna's major thoroughbred tracks. At Laurel Park in Laurel, Md., officials built a new room with flat-screen TVs, faux-velvet ropes and nightclub lighting to hold 36 of the slot machine look-alikes. But the device had little of the appeal of either slots or live wagering.
The result: Virtually no one played. Less than a year after the VIP debut party in January 2005, Laurel shut the Horse Wizard lounge. The machines still sit in the roped-off room.
The Horse Wizard was, in microcosm, the story of Magna Entertainment under Stronach. Fueled by the auto parts magnate's passion for horse racing, Magna's eight-year run as a public company has been marked by autocracy and misplaced risks that have disappointed even some of Stronach's allies in the fight to save horse racing, according to more than a dozen interviews with people in the industry and a review of thousands of pages of federal and state financial filings.
Magna has lost more than $400 million since 2002 and survives on infusions from Stronach personally and his other businesses, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show.
Read on at…