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Songandaprayer Pensioned from Stud Duty

Songandaprayer, a grade 1 winner and sire of 38 black-type winners, has been pensioned from commercial stud duty, according to Journeyman Stud near Ocala, Fla., where the stallion stood in 2018.

Bred in Kentucky by Donna Wormser, the son of Unbridled’s Song was purchased by agent Buzz Chace for $470,000 at the 1999 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale. Pinhooker Robert Scanlon later sold the colt for $1 million at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale to basketball star Bobby Hurley and his wife, Leslie.

Hurley and his wife, along with D.J. Stable, won the 2001 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G1) and placed second in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) with Songandaprayer. He was retired at 3 with 3-1-1 record out of eight starts and $380,480 in earnings.

Songandaprayer entered stud in Florida in 2002 at Marablue Farm, which bought D.J. Stable’s interest. He stood at Marablue for three seasons before being transferred to Hartley/DeRenzo, Walmac South (also in Florida) for a season and then was sent to Walmac Farm in Kentucky. He stood five seasons at The Stallion Station@Copper Crowne before ending his stud career at Journeyman.

Songandaprayer was Florida’s leading freshman sire in 2005 with over $1 million in progeny earnings and three black-type winners, including multiple graded stakes winner What a Song. As a sire, he had 63% winners from foals and 90 black-type performers, which included three champions. His 15 crops to race earned more than $51.5 million and averaged $58,021 per starter.

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UNDERPRESSURE POWERS HOME IN LA CHAMPIONS DAY CLASSIC

By Meredith Daugherty

 

Underprressure_12-8-2018-F
Underpressure with Corey Lanerie aboard wins the 28th running of the Louisiana Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

With storm clouds looming over Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Dec. 8, a sloppy track and the threat of continued rain did nothing to deter Underpres- sure, who claimed his first stakes win since 2017 in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic Stakes.

Sent out from post 2 in the headlining race on the Champions Day card, Underpressure broke well under jockey Corey Lanerie and settled back on the rail off the pace in fourth.

First to the front from the break, Ready Prospector maintained a comfortable 1 1/2-length lead and set fractions of :23.83, :47.98, and 1:13.34 for the first
six furlongs. Zenucci tracked the pace in the three path on the outside, a slim head in front of Autumn Warrior in third.

Still well back by 3 1/2 lengths as the six-horse field entered the final turn, Underpressure ignored the onslaught of mud kicked back from his competition and angled out four wide to make his bid for the lead. Taking command in the stretch, the 4-year-old colt drifted toward the rail and wobbled as Grande Basin moved up to his
outside to issue a late challenge.

Coming under the left-hand whip, Underpressure dug in and turned back Grande Basin to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Final time in the 1 1/8-mile test for Louisiana- breds was 1:52.82.

Grande Basin took second, followed by Mageez another five lengths back in third. It was another four lengths back to Autumn Warrior in fourth, a neck ahead of Ready Prospector in fifth. Zenucci rounded out the order of finish, more than 19 lengths behind the winner.

 

It was the third win of the year for Underpressure,
a three-time stakes winner owned by Mallory Greiner and trained by Chris Richard. The son of Birdstone took a pair of allowance races at Canterbury Park over the summer. Underpressure finished third in last year’s Classic behind Mobile Bay and Grand Basin.

Bred in Louisiana by James McIngvale out of the Charismatic mare Charming Colleen, Underpressure is a half brother to the stakes-winning filly Goodprofit. He improved his record to 8-6-6 from 25 starts, with earnings of $468,132.

The 13-race Champions Day card awarded a total seven Thoroughbred stakes winners Saturday. The 2-year-old filly Midnight Fantasy took the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie Stakes in Race 5 for trainer Joe Sharp to remain unbeaten in two starts. Valene Farms’ Classy John ran away with the Juvenile Stakes two races later by 4 1/4 lengths. His victory was followed by that of Magic Vow in the Turf Stakes.

Al and Bill Ulwelling’s Remember Daisy followed Underpressure’s runaway success with her own impressive triumph in the Ladies Stakes. It was the third consecutive victory for the 3-year- old daughter of Misremembered, who entered the race off a win in the Nov. 15 Tom Benson Memorial Overnight Stakes at Fair Grounds.

 

Givemeaminit and Ours to Run closed out the day with wins in the Sprint Stakes and Ladies Sprint Stakes. BH

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Wide-Open Classic Headlines Louisiana Champions Card

Seven Thoroughbred stakes are part of 13-race lineup.

A wide-open field of seven, including stakes winners Underpressure, Grande Basin, and Mageez, is set for the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic Stakes—the featured race on the Dec. 8 Louisiana Champions Day program at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

The 13-race Champions Day card (beginning with three Quarter Horse races) features seven stakes for Thoroughbreds, highlighted by the 1 1/8-mile Classic. With two-time defending race winner Mobile Bay retired, the path is clear for another state-bred to add more black type to his résumé.

Grande Basin and Underpressure were second and third, respectively, behind Mobile Bay in the 2017 edition of the race. That runner-up effort is a part of a 15-race losing skid William Deckwa Jr. and John Carbo’s Grande Basin is attempting to snap. The 6-year-old Good and Tough gelding most recently finished second in the Nov. 16 Mr. Sulu Overnight Stakes on the turf at Fair Grounds.

Mallory Greiner’s Underpressure, a 4-year-old son of Birdstone , has won two of 10 starts this season but has dropped his past five outings. The Chris Richard-trained colt enters off a sixth-place finish in the Nov. 17 Delta Mile Stakes at Delta Downs.

Double Dam Farm’s Mageez also is trying to get back on the winning side of things. The 5-year-old son of Musket Man won an optional-claiming allowance race at Fair Grounds in February but has lost his seven starts since.

Other notable horses on the Champions Day program include the Al Stall-trained Minit to Stardom, who won her first three starts by open lengths, including a 7 1/4-length win in the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie Stakes at Fair Grounds last December. The daughter of Star Guitar  was sixth in the Longines Test Stakes (G1) in August and, in her first start since that effort, is the 9-5 morning-line favorite for the $100,000 Ladies Sprint Stakes.

Grade 1-placed Givemeaminit, another offspring of Louisiana legend Star Guitar, is part of a field of 10 entered for the six-furlong, $100,000 Sprint Stakes.

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GEMOLOGIST RELOCATED TO LOUISIANA FOR 2019

WinStar Stallions June 2014 2nd Monday  Gemologist

Grade 1 winner Gemologist, who won a grade 2 race in his perfect juvenile sea- son, has been relocated from WinStar Farm to Acadiana Equine @ Copper Crown in Opelousas, La., for the upcoming breeding season.

In the deal brokered by David Tillson and Docatty Stables, the 9-year-old stallion will stand for $4,500.

A top five first-crop sire in 2016, a top 10 second-crop sire in 2017, and a leading third-
crop sire by winners for 2018, Gemologist sired Frizette Stakes (G1) winner Yellow Agate in his first crop and also is represented by Futurity Stakes (G3) winner Theory and
grade 3 winner Golden Diamond. The son of Tiznow also is the sire of promising 2-year-old colt Federal Case, an impressive maiden special weight winner at Keeneland in October, who was a $650,000 acquisition by Robert and Lawana Low out of the WinStar Racing consignment at the recent Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.

Winner of the Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) at 3, Gemologist capped an undefeated juvenile campaign by capturing the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. He was bred in Kentucky by G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and Louise Ireland Humphrey Revocable Trust – 2, andretired in 2012 with five wins from seven career startsand earnings of $794,855.

 

Out of the Mr. Prospector mare Crystal Shard, the regally bred stallion is a half brother to stakes winners Sydenham and Clear Destiny and hails from a rich female family cultivated by breeder Ned Evans.

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Trainer Brad Cox Gets Win No. 1,000

Brad Cox was pretty anxious to get his 1,000th victory, but the two-time defending leading trainer at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots finally reached that milestone in the fifth race Nov. 18 in New Orleans with Play On.

“It seemed like over the last few weeks, we had a hard time getting there, but it was big to finally get it done,” Cox said. “When you first start, you don’t think it’s ever going to happen. It takes a while to get going. I’m glad it’s behind us. It’s a great achievement. Thanks to the crew, our assistants, foreman, grooms, and exercise riders.

“It’s definitely not a one-man show at all. There are a lot of people who work extremely hard. It’s not just me. It’s a team effort. I’m proud of everyone involved and what they give to the organization. Now we’ll start working on getting to 2,000.”

A native of Louisville, Cox grew up a couple of blocks away from Churchill Downs in Louisville’s South End and began working on the backside for trainers Jimmy Baker and Burt Kessinger before he became an assistant for trainer Dallas Stewart. He went out on his own in 2005 and has enjoyed a banner year in 2018, with six grade 1 victories, including the Longines Kentucky Oaks and Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff with likely champion 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl. He is the fifth-leading trainer in North America in earnings and is fourth in wins.

While Cox is still overseeing his string of horses at his Churchill home base, his assistant Ricky Giannini saddled Play On to the trainer’s milestone victory.

“It’s always exciting,” Giannini said. “It’s been a steady climb to the top, so hopefully we get a thousand more.”

Owned by Klein Racing, Play On is a full sister to graded stakes winner Will Call. The 2-year-old daughter of Country Day was making her turf debut Sunday in the second start of her career. Country Day is standing in Louisiana at Peach Lane Farms for the 2019 breeding season.

“They don’t look a lot alike, but they both are horses that are obviously very nice,” Cox said. “Will Call broke his maiden earlier, but he was precocious. She showed some ability on the dirt, and we gave her a shot. She ran well that day and showed speed but got a little tired late after that race, so we thought we should target a turf sprint. She has a lot to accomplish, but she has a bright future.”

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Keeneland Bans ‘Indian Charlie’ Newsletter From Grounds

Keeneland officials have notified Ed Musselman not to distribute newsletter

Keeneland officials have notified Ed Musselman, creator of the popular “Indian Charlie” newsletter, that the one-sheet humorous bulletins he writes and distributes are not welcome on Keeneland’s grounds.

Musselman received a letter Oct. 1 that was dated Sept. 20, 2018, from Keeneland director of security Phillip E. Gardner, and signed by Gardner, Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason, and Keeneland vice president and chief operating officer Vince Gabbert informing him the newsletter, which  is distributed during race meets and sales, “is not allowed to be distributed, by any fashion, on Keeneland grounds … indefinitely.”

The ban includes Keeneland’s main grounds, the Rice Road training center, Red Mile Horse Racing Center, the Thoroughbred Club, and the Thoroughbred Training Center, all owned and/or operated and maintained by Keeneland management.

Gardner states that any failure to follow Keeneland’s request will result in a formal ejection notice being served to Mussleman and any of his employees.

“Once a formal ejection notice is served, and subsequently violated,” said the letter, “the Lexington Police Department will be asked to intervene, and Keeneland management will pursue criminal procedures against all ejected parties as applicable.”

The “Indian Charlie” newsletter and Musselman himself had been ruled off Churchill Downs in 2014 after a controversy arose over a piece Musselman wrote about backstretch workers. Keeneland honored that ban, according to Bob Elliston, Keeneland’s vice president of racing and sales. Eventually, Churchill Downs relented and Keeneland followed suit, but, according to Elliston, Keeneland made the stipulation that Musselman not distribute the newsletter on its grounds.

“When our director of security observed Musselman distributing the newsletter during the recent September sale,” said Elliston, “he was reminded not to do so.”

Musselman maintains that Keeneland officials have known for the past several years that he has been distributing “Indian Charlie” around the Lexington track, and that the newsletter has been available in the track kitchen, racing office, and barn area.

“Keeneland officials are reacting to specific recent articles in the newsletter,” Musselman said. “Keeneland is a great place and I can’t knock it. I respect its private property rights and I will go paperless for any editions that come out during Keeneland events.”

Musselman, who has been producing the “Indian Charlie” sheets since 1994, said the next “Indian Charlie” newsletters are scheduled for Oct. 21-23 around the Fasig-Tipton October Sale.

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Sports Wagering Symposium Outlines Changing Landscape

By

 

In a gravelly voice that clearly has spent many hours cheering teams and horses, race and sports book legend Victor Salerno offered racing some verbal encouragement as it prepares for fast-emerging legal sports wagering.

Salerno, a 40-year veteran of the race and sports book industry in Nevada, offered that encouragement at the Sports Wagering and Impact on Horse Racing Symposium presented by BloodHorse and Breeders’ Cup Sept. 6 at Keeneland. Three panels at the symposium outlined the opportunities and potential challenges for racing, as legal sports wagering comes online throughout the country. Racing relies on pari-mutuel wagering as its economic engine.

“You shouldn’t be afraid to do this,” Salerno said of tracks also offering sports wagering, noting tracks that do so will increase their foot traffic, providing opportunities to reach new customers. “Racing’s a great sport; we have to keep it going.”

At the three-hour presentation, panelists touched on wide-ranging topics related to sports wagering, including the benefits and challenges of offering sports wagering at tracks; opportunities for current advance-deposit wagering companies to expand to sports wagering or partner with sports wagering sites to cross-promote one another; an opportunity for racing to provide needed content for wagering in this new environment; the addition of non-pari-mutuel wagers in racing, like fixed-odds bets; and challenges that could include a competitive disadvantage as high-takeout racing in an atmosphere where low-takeout sports betting will be readily available.

Monmouth Park vice president of business operations Bill Knauf offered some firsthand experience since the New Jersey track brought in William Hill to operate on-track sports wagering in June. Knauf said the sports betting crowd is largely male and younger than the typical horseplayer. He noted the sports betting crowd has helped the track improve its simulcast handle as bettors are showing up early and staying late to watch West Coast baseball games.

Knauf said tracks have plenty of available parking, interior space that readily can be used to build first-rate sports books, and through their simulcast operations are familiar with bringing in multiple TV signals. He noted tracks routinely offer more such signals than even a Las Vegas sportsbook.

Panelist Victor Bigio, an online gaming marketer at Sportech, said tracks also have the space to host eSports events that are quickly gaining in popularity with young people. He said tracks should take advantage and offer those events and accept wagers on them.

Many states soon will be making these decisions. Beyond the three racing states that have already launched full sports wagering this year—New Jersey, Delaware, and West Virginia—Sara Slane of the American Gaming Association noted another 19 states have had bills proposed.

William Hill U.S. executive Dan Shapiro noted the planning that went into Monmouth has produced a facility where sports betting and race betting are well-integrated. He said a sports betting facility at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is in the casino and separated from racing. He thinks the Monmouth model has a better chance of success for both sports wagering and race handle.

“What Monmouth has done with that integrated experience is the model we think tracks should look at in the future,” Shapiro said.

Just hours after TVG (FanDuel Group) announced Thursday plans to add a pair of Sunday morning shows that will largely focus on betting the NFL, FanDuel Group general counsel John Hindman said that variety should bring a more diverse group to the racing channel and its various sports and race wagering platforms.

He said the FanDuel platform will market race wagering, noting it will be presented in a way that will make sense to sports bettors. He also noted the benefits of cross-marketing—millions of dollars have been spent promoting FanDuel, initially a Daily Fantasy site, in recent years.

One aspect of betting sports those customers understand, on some level, is takeout in the 5% or 6% range. Ed Hannah of The Stronach Group said with those expectations, racing will need to thoroughly examine its much higher takeout (the amount of money not returned to bettors in winnings, which in racing is retained largely for tracks and purses) as it tries to attract new customers and retain current players.

“Lesson No. 1 is the takeout rate is too high. We need to figure out a more optimal takeout rate,” Hannah said. “There’s a little more wiggle room on multi-race or multi-interest wagers.”

He noted that in the online atmosphere, sports bettors will quickly notice the difference.

“People putting money in their deposits will notice that difference,” Hannah said, explaining that because of takeout, the average sports bettor can make a $100 deposit last much longer than the average horseplayer. “We have to do a lot of thinking about (takeout).”

Sports betting faces its own battle for customers, many of whom currently wager through illegal bookmakers, local or offshore. Panelists noted that one way legal operators will be able to compete is by offering a greater variety of wagers and events. They said the frequency of races, offered throughout the week, should prove attractive to sports betting sites.

Hindman noted that race wagering routinely is one of the top sports in terms of handle in other countries that already allow sports wagering.

While panelists offered a wide variety of opinions and ideas, all acknowledged the fast-changing landscape and racing’s need to be innovative rather than shrink away.

“We can take (the emergence of sports wagering) and put it toward the enhancement of the racing industry here,” Salerno said. “Don’t be afraid.”

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Churchill Downs Inc. Hopes to End Racing at Calder

Horsemen note that such a move would cost some $10 million in purse money.

Florida industry groups have lined up to oppose a plan by Churchill Downs Inc. to end Thoroughbred racing at its Calder property, a move that could cost horsemen about $10 million a year in purses generated by slot machines at Calder Casino.

In February, CDI was awarded a pari-mutuel jai alai license from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. With that approval, CDI currently holds pari-mutuel licenses for both jai alai and Thoroughbred racing at Calder, but the latter will expire in 2020.

In documents submitted to the DPMW, CDI said it wishes to switch from racing to jai alai, a move that would reduce its expenses associated with statutory purse fund requirements. On July 31, Calder submitted an email to the DPMW requesting a declaratory statement from the regulator about whether the switch would jeopardize its casino license.

Under state law, the casinos at Gulfstream Park and Calder both pay into a single Thoroughbred purse fund, a commitment of 10% of their slot machine revenues. Even though Gulfstream owner The Stronach Group has taken over racing operations at the former Calder Race Course property—now run as Gulfstream Park West—the Calder casino generates revenues for purses and breeder awards all year. The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association estimates revenue from the Calder casino committed to the purse fund will reach $9 million-$10 million this year.

The Florida HBPA has filed motions with the DPMW opposing CDI’s plans to change the Calder pari-mutuel license from Thoroughbred racing to jai alai. Late Aug. 23 in a joint release, Gulfstream Park, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, and the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company each expressed opposition to CDI ending racing in favor of jai alai.

The Florida FTBOA noted that voters approved casino gaming at Calder with the understanding that it would support Thoroughbred racing. It said that support has allowed CDI to successfully operate slot machines at its Calder property since 2010.

“Now, Churchill Downs apparently sees the opportunity to pull a ‘bait-and-switch’ in the interests of increasing its profits, with little regard for the economic harm its moves will cause to the faithful Florida trainers, owners, and breeders that have long supported its racing program, as well as the other Florida tracks and participants in Florida’s Thoroughbred industry,” the FTBOA noted.

Calder officials believe that under the language of the state law, a move from racing to jai alai should be allowed. Under the company’s interpretation, it’s not a high bar to clear for such a switch. It said the law only requires the property be located in Miami-Dade County, existed at the time added gaming was adopted, and conducted live racing in the calendar years 2002-03—all standards Calder meets. If the DPMW agrees with the company’s assessment, Calder plans to offer summer jai alai and discontinue Thoroughbred operations.

The Florida HBPA noted that following the 2004 state-wide vote that allowed slot machines at Calder and six other pari-mutuel facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the legislature recognized the “importance of protecting and promoting Florida’s Thoroughbred racing industry against the possibility that Calder and Gulfstream Park, the state’s two Thoroughbred tracks eligible for slot machine gaming, would abandon their Thoroughbred racing activities and instead offer patrons slot machine gaming only.”

In a filing with the DPMW, the Florida HBPA noted that in 2004 it committed $1 million to Calder to help campaign for the approval of slot machine gaming at tracks. It also outlined the far greater interest in Thoroughbred racing, as opposed to jai alai.

“The division knew, or should have known, that the substantial interests of FHBPA and its members would be or would likely be adversely affected,” the FHBPA argued.

In the release, Florida industry groups said if Calder is allowed to abandon Thoroughbred racing, the negative impact will be significant.

“It is extremely disappointing to watch Churchill Downs continue its effort to extricate itself from the racing business in Florida while adding millions more to its bottom line in slot revenue,” OBS officials said, before referencing the elimination of the grandstand and barns on the Calder property. “Calder’s Florida mission is illustrated by its past performances, which include bulldozing over half of the barn area, taking a wrecking ball to the grandstand, and supporting decoupling. Its latest attempt to exit racing via jai alai is a backdoor effort to continue operating slots and reopen its card room without horse racing. If Churchill gets its wish, the implications will stretch far beyond the Florida borders, and ripple effects will be felt nationwide in the sales ring, on the racetrack, and in the breeding shed.”

Decoupling is a proposal being debated that, if adopted, would allow operators to cease pari-mutuel wagering but retain their casino license.

In terms of casino operations, Gulfstream noted that if Calder eliminates its commitments to racing, that reduction in expenses will provide its casino a competitive advantage in the South Florida area. It also said Thoroughbred racing and breeding in the state would be hurt.

“We are obviously worried about the unlevel playing field and advantage Calder would have, along with the loss of breeders’ awards and purse money that has helped grow the industry,” Gulfstream officials said. “The ability just to change the use of a license after being granted slots under a different license would undermine all the growth we have achieved.”

On Aug. 24, a CDI spokesperson declined to comment on the Florida industry release.

Calder began advertising a part-time position on the company website and on LinkedIn for a jai alai player manager/trainer Aug. 6 and a position Aug. 9 for a cesta and pelota maker. A cesta is the basket a jai alai player wears on his or her hand to throw and catch the ball, and the pelota is the ball.

Since 2014, The Stronach Group has run the racing operations at Calder, which races as Gulfstream Park West. According to the DPMW, in fiscal year 2016-17, Gulfstream Park West offered 37 race dates and 346 races, with total purses of $7,593,910.

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Study: Betting Could Help Sports Attract Younger Fans

For horse racing, this crowd should provide target for some crossover.

Sports-betting adults are more affluent, younger, more diverse and better educated adults than the general population, according to an American Gaming Association commissioned study from Nielsen Sports.

The research identifies groundbreaking demographic and behavioral characteristics of self-identified bettors who the AGA believes will populate the future legal U.S. betting landscape. A second, forthcoming element of the project will estimate the amount of revenue this demographic can help unlock for the major U.S. sports leagues.

For horse racing, the crowd should provide a target for crossover.

Experts: Horse Racing Left at Gate in Digital Marketing

Among this crucial demographic for sports leagues and broadcasters, 71% of those research participants who currently bet with a bookie say they would shift some or all of their betting activity to a regulated market if they had access to a legal platform.

According to Nielsen Sports, 44% of sports bettors are adults under the age of 35, as opposed to 31% of the general population. Looking at household income, 29% earn $100,000 or more, almost double the proportion of the general population.

“The Nielsen Sports data supports what we’ve long expected: access to legal sports wagering will increase fan engagement in major sport contests and enable a significant revenue generation opportunity for major sports leagues and teams,” said Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for the AGA. “Expanding access to legal sports betting will bring millennial audiences back to sports broadcasts and stadiums, which is a huge benefit for sport enterprises across the country.

“However, this potential will only be realized with proper policy frameworks that empower consumers with competitive odds, access to all bets, and the ability to tap into modern platforms including mobile. Without this focus on consumers, the illegal market will continue to thrive.”

Nielsen Sports surveyed more than 1,000 adult sports fans—including fans of the National Football League, major league baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League—and self-identified sports bettors nationwide, identifying demographics and consumption habits to quantify the value of the legal sports betting market.

Additional research is underway to quantify how much each league can realize from widely available, legal, regulated sports betting. Topline findings from the research are available here.

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Breeders’ Cup Host Sites Announced Through 2021

Breeders’ Cup officially announced Santa Anita Park, Keeneland, and Del Mar as the host sites for the next three editions of the World Championships.

In a press conference Aug. 17 at Santa Anita, it was announced the Arcadia, Calif., track would host the two-day event for a record-setting 10th time Nov. 1-2 in 2019. Keeneland, which hosted its first Breeders’ Cup in 2015, will welcome the 2020 edition Nov. 6-7. Del Mar—a first-time host in 2017—gets the event back Nov. 5-6 in 2021.

All three tracks planned press conferences Friday to announce Breeders’ Cup plans.

“Everybody knows how great Santa Anita is, so it’s never a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when’ for this place,” Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Craig Fravel said after the announcement Friday at Santa Anita. “Given the success of Del Mar and Keeneland, the same holds true for those.”

Churchill Downs is hosting the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Nov. 2-3, the ninth time the Louisville oval has put on the fall spectacle. With Friday’s announcement confirming a California-Kentucky rotation for the next three seasons, the two states will have combined to host 14 consecutive editions of the event.

“The Bluegrass served as the ideal backdrop for the 2015 Breeders’ Cup, and we could not be more excited to have Keeneland serve as the host of the 2020 edition of the World Championships,” said Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason. “Building on the success of the event for the industry and the community, we anticipate an even greater spectacle in 2020 and look forward to the Breeders’ Cup returning home once again.”

The last time the Breeders’ Cup was held at a track outside of Kentucky or California came in 2007, when Monmouth Park hosted the first year the event was expanded to a two-day format, and Fravel said Friday there is still interest from tracks outside of the two states.

“When I started in 2011, there was an option of two places, and there wasn’t anybody else in the mix to hold an event like this. One of the things we tried to do with Keeneland and Del Mar was to validate the different track model for holding the event, and that’s what happened,” Fravel said. “To me, we have greater and greater options going forward. We have inquiries from Laurel Park, who has made no secret of their interest, and our friends at Monmouth Park, now that they have sports wagering and some new dollars coming in … I think they’d like to be considered, and obviously we’ve talked about New York.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a static rotation. I hope to create an environment where people are wanting us to be there, asking us to be there, and doing what’s best for racing to encourage us to come.”

Tim Ritvo of The Stronach Group, which owns both Santa Anita and Laurel, said he would have liked for Laurel to be one of the three future sites but was hopeful for a 2022 bid for the Maryland track.

“We were hoping to get (Laurel) involved in this round, but we’re eager to make a strong bid for 2022,” Ritvo said. “We weren’t really ready yet, with the facility, but we had a great meeting yesterday about the build-out will look like, and the state is going to put together an advisory committee to give a really big push for 2022.”

Ritvo also said there will be $5 million in renovations at Santa Anita before the 2019 Breeders’ Cup, including new open-air suites in the grandstand and improvements to the upper levels of the clubhouse area. He said the upper-level grandstand suites would be like a “deck at your house, where you can sit and be casual.”

Regarding a potential Breeders’ Cup at a New York Racing Association track, Fravel said “capital improvements” would likely be required for a successful bid.

“I know they have a plan. It’s just the timing that’s unclear,” Fravel said. “I’m hopeful that within the next six months or so, we’ll have a clear picture of what their plan is. … There would have to be more concrete indications of what would happen and when. The experience, unfortunately, in New York is that best-laid plans get waylaid by factors outside of people’s control.”

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