The Thoroughbred industry’s two largest sales companies, Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton, swiftly condemned a racist post on social media by Kentucky horseman Tom VanMeter, but both companies stopped short of saying it would affect VanMeter’s ability to conduct future business at their auctions.
Three organizations, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, said they were disassociating themselves from VanMeter.
VanMeter, an owner and breeder who is a longtime consignor to both Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton, is the owner of VanMeter Sales and Stockplace Farm, birthplace of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
Two offensive comments on Facebook attributed to him began to circulate on Monday.
With Lone Star Park officials having little to say about the abrupt shut down of racing after Sunday’s first race, it was unclear when racing would resume at the Dallas area track or if the meet will be canceled.
Citing a conversation with racing secretary Tim Williams, the Daily Racing Form reported Monday that the three days of racing scheduled for this week would not be held.
Lone Star’s decision to stop racing may be related to the news that jockey Gerard Melancon has tested positive for the coronavirus. A regular at Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs, Melancon last rode June 28 on shipper Mocito Rojo (Mutadda) in the Lone Star Mile.
Like all sports, racing is facing challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but with extensive coverage on national television, fans are finding the sport.
Those fans wagered nearly $1 billion on available racing in June 2020 as handle for the month actually was up 0.76% to $998,448,300 when compared with June 2019. That bump in handle occurred despite a near 40% reduction in race days to 300. While race dates have been lost as tracks adjust to COVID-19 restrictions, fans are supporting available racing as average wagering per race day jumped 68% in June to $3,328,161.
The available racing product is an upgrade for fans as tracks have spread out their schedules to fill available days—like Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday cards. And, a reduction in racing opportunities has helped increase average field size, up 14% in June to 8.11 starters.
Breeder: Georgia Farms Inc
Owner: L. William and Corinne Heiligbrodt
Trainer: Steven M. Asmussen
Jockey: Joel Dominguez
2nd Southern Liaison
Breeder: Earl Hernandez, Keith Hernandez & John Duvieilh
Owner: Earl Hernandez, Keith Hernandez & John Duvieilh
Trainer: Sam B. David, Jr.
Jockey: Timothy Thornton
3rd Quikfast N Ahurry
Closing Argument–Wynning Ride
Breeder: Carrol J. Castille
Owner: Whispering Oaks Farm LLC
Trainer: Steven B. Flint,
Jockey: Jansen Melancon
Louisiana Legends Mademoiselle S
Evangeline Downs, 7-4-20, 5.5 furlongs
Accredited Louisiana Bred, Three-Year-Olds and Upwards, Fillies and Mares, $60,000
SNOWBALL Apriority – Inner Peace
Breeder: 4M Ranch
Owner: Tin Roof Farms LLC
Trainer: Samuel Breaux
Jockey: Ty Kennedy
2nd Saints N Muskets
Musket Man–Laughing Saint
Breeder: J. E. Jumonville Jr. & Bunny Jumonville
Owner: Rodney J. Verret
Trainer: Allen Landry
Jockey: Timothy Thornton
3rd Play Unified
Exchange Rate–Carson City Sham
Breeder: Keith Hernandez, Earl Hernandez & John Duvieilh
Owner: Ivery Sisters Racing, Larry J. Romero, Dorby Racing, LLC and Winalot Racing, LLC
Trainer: Ron Faucheux
Jockey: Diego Saenz
Midshipman–Passion for Words
Breeder: Paul Pruett
Owner: Paradise Farms Corp., Terry Raymond and Jana Wagner
Trainer: Michael J. Maker
Jockey: Gerard Melancon
Power Broker–Tensas Salt
Breeder: J. Adcock & Montgomery Equine Center
Owner: Baronne Farms, LLC
Trainer: Edward J. Johnston
Jockey: Diego Saenz
3rd Jax Man
Breeder: Earl Hernandez & Keith Hernandez
Owner: Alston Thoroughbreds, LLC, E. Hernandez, K. Hernandez, and J. Duvieilh
Trainer: Sam B. David, Jr.
Jockey: Timothy Thornton
JOCKEY JOEL DOMINGUEZ AND TRAINER STEVE ASMUSSEN TEAM UP FOR TWO STAKES WINS ON THE PROGRAM
OPELOUSAS, LA – Evangeline Downs hosted Louisiana Legends Night, its annual celebration of the Louisiana-bred Thoroughbred, on Saturday night. There were six stakes races on the 10-race program, each with a $60,000 purse.
The evening began with a stylish victory in the $60,000 Cheval for 3-year-olds by the 1-9 betting favorite, Relentless Dancer. The colt, who has run against the likes of Belmont Stakes winner, Tiz The Law, and runner-up, Dr. Post, scored a 1-3/4 length victory covering the mile in 1:38.21 over the fast main track.
Relentless Dancer sat just off the comfortable pace set by longshot Unwanted Intruder, who led through a quarter-mile of 24.69 seconds and a half-mile of 48.91. Jockey Ty Kennedy then sent him to the lead on the far turn, but he was challenged there by Sydster. Sydster hung in through the lane, but Relentless Dancer withstood his effort to claim the victory. Relentless Dancer paid $2.20 to win, $2.10 to place and $2.10 to show. Sydster paid $2.20 to place and $2.10 to show, while Jax Man returned $2.10 to show.
Relentless Dancer is by 2002 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, Midshipman, and is out of the Benchmark mare, Passion For Words. He was bred in Louisiana by Paul Pruett and is owned by Paradise Farms Corp. and trained by Mike Maker. Relentless Dancer earned $36,000 for his victory, which increases his lifetime earnings to $155,838, and he has won three of seven career starts.
The $60,000 Turf Distaff was considered a three-horse race by the betting public and they were proven correct as the three favorites were the first three finishers. Mariah’s Galaxy prevailed in a stirring stretch drive to win by a head over Net A Bear in a final time of 1:37.15 for the one mile distance on the firm turf course.
Mariah’s Galaxy was expertly handled by jockey Kevin Smith as she sat just off a three-horse pace battle through early fractions of 24.60 seconds for the quarter and 49.22 for the half. She was moved aggressively to challenge the leaders on the far turn and took the lead entering the stretch. Is Too tried to hang on after being part of that pace set-up, but could not go with Mariah’s Galaxy and Net A Bear, who trailed early on but rallied to be with Mariah’s Galaxy when it counted. Mariah’s Galaxy won at off odds of 7-2 and paid $9.20 to win, $4.40 to place and $2.10 to show. Net A Bear returned $3.20 to place and $2.10 to show, while Is Too paid $2.10 to show.
Mariah’s Galaxy is a 6-year-old mare bred in Louisiana by Margie Averett. She is owned by Riley Blanchet and Todd Matte and trained by Victor Arceneaux. Mariah’s Galaxy is by Greeley’s Galaxy and is out of the Devil His Due mare, Black Mariah. Her $36,000 first-place check bumps her lifetime earnings to $420,985. She has now won 11 of 27 career starts.
The first big upset of the night came in the $60,000 Mademoiselle, a race that featured a furious finish with five horses across the track inside the final furlong. Snowball was the horse on the far outside and she was the winner, coming through at odds of 12-1 and holding off fellow longshot, Saints N Muskets was came home second at odds of 23-1. Snowball finished the 5-1/2 furlongs in a time of 1:05.15.
The character of the race was altered slightly after the 9-5 betting favorite, Play Unified, missed the break slightly, and was last in the field of ten at the outset. A three-horse pace war developed between Our Lost Love, Dr. Liz and Echoesoftime as they tussled through a quarter of 22.02 seconds and a half of 45.79. The closers started to reel in the pace-setters as the field entered the stretch with Tensas Thought in with a chance in addition to Snowball and Saints N Muskets. Snowball simply outfinished everyone else to win by a half-length.
Snowball paid $26.20 to win, $10.80 to place and $4.20 to show. Saints N Muskets returned $22 to place and $9.40 to show. Play Unified managed to rally after her poor start to finish third and she paid $2.80 to show.
Snowball is by Apriority and is out of the Value Plus mare, Inner Peace. She was bred in Louisiana by 4M Ranch. Snowball is owned by Tin Roof Farms, LLC and trained by Sam Breaux. Ty Kennedy was aboard for his second stakes win of the evening. Her $36,000 first-place purse increases her lifetime earnings to $175,100 and she has now won three of her 20 career starts.
Shang was able to wear down the competition and come through in the $60,000 Turf as a 4-5 betting favorite. The early pace of the Turf was set by three horses as In The Navy broke on top, but was challenged by both Grand Luwegee and Trevilion through early fractions of 24.44 seconds for the quarter and 48.03 for the half. Shang sat right off that pace in fourth position as the field went to the turn and was sent up to challenge by jockey Joel Dominguez. He seized the lead in mid-stretch and withstood a late charge from Treys Midnite Moon and Trevilion to win by a half-length in a final time of 1:36.63 for the mile on the turf.
Shang paid $3.60 to win, $2.80 to place and $2.20 to show. Treys Midnite Moon won the photo for second and paid $11.80 to place and $7.40 to show. Trevilion paid $6 to show.
Shang is by Shanghai Bobby and is out of the Humble Eleven mare, Humble Janet. The 4-year-old colt is owned by Corinne and William Heiligbrodt and trained by Steve Asmussen. The win was his seventh in 14 career starts and the $36,000 first-place purse increases his lifetime earnings to $356,200.
The story in the $60,000 Sprint entering the evening was the attempt of Monte Man to successfully win the race three years in a row. That did not happen as the 7-5 betting favorite, Laughingsaintssong, grabbed control of the race on the far turn and went on to score an impressive victory in a final time of 1:04.22 for the 5-1/2 furlongs.
A 60-1 longshot, A Flash Of Copper, set the early pace and was prompted by Scarlettsblackjack and Reckless Ransom through the early fractions of 22.28 for the quarter and 45.77 for the half. Laughingsaintssong was sent up into the fray by jockey Tim Thornton on the far turn and was able to power away through the stretch for a 1-3/4 length victory over Scarlettsblackjack, who stayed on well for second, while Monte Man was not a factor and finished third.
Laughingsaintssong paid $4.80 to win, $3.60 to place and $2.60 to show. Scarlettsblackjack paid $10 to place and $6.20 to show, while Monte Man returned $3.40 to show.
Laughingsaintssong was bred in Louisiana by J.E. Jumonville, Jr. and Bunny Jumonville. The 6-yeaar-old gelding is owned by Rodney J. Verret and trained by Allen Landry. He is by Songandaprayer and is out of the Vindication mare, Laughing Saint. The win was his 10th in 26 career starts and the $36,000 first-place check boosts his lifetime earnings to $363,010.
The final stakes race of the evening, the $60,000 Soiree, started off in a measured fashion as 95-1 longshot, Gator Proud, assumed the early lead and slowed things right down through a quarter-mile of 26.04 seconds and a half-mile of 51.54 seconds. Things picked up significantly as the field reached the far turn as the even-money favorite, Vacherie Girl, made her move. She was immediately challenged by Quikfast N Ahurry and Southern Liaison. That threesome fought all the way through the stretch before Vacherie Girl was able to prevail by a head in a final time of 1:41.39 for the mile on the main track.
Vacherie Girl paid $4.20 to win, $2.80 to place and $2.20 to show. Southern Liaison settled for second and paid $2.80 to place and $2.20 to show, while Quikfast N Ahurry paid $2.80 to show.
Vacherie Girl was the second winner of the night for the connections of owners Corinne and William Heiligbrodt, trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Joel Dominguez. She was bred in Louisiana by Georgia Farms, Inc. Vacherie Girl is by Tapiture and is out of the Officer mare, Saucey Officer. The win was her fourth in six starts and the $36,000 first-place purse raises her lifetime earnings to $179,307.
Live racing at Evangeline Downs will resume on Wednesday night with a nine-race program. Post time on Wednesday will be 5:50 pm Central Time.
Evangeline Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel is owned by Boyd Gaming Corporation, a leading diversified owner and operator of 29 gaming entertainment properties located in Nevada, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Boyd Gaming press releases are available at www.prnewswire.com. Additional news and information can be found at www.boydgaming.com, or www.evangelinedowns.com.