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Oaklawn Trims Purses at Start of Meet

Approximate 15% reduction in overnight purses from first condition book.

Overnight purses have been reduced in advance of the start of the Oaklawn Park meet, a 57-day run which will begin Jan. 22. The Arkansas track is making the move due to limiting attendance because of social distancing requirements because of COVID-19. The news was first reported by Mary Rampellini of Daily Racing Form, who reported average daily purses will be about $600,000 instead of the originally projected $700,000, for about a 15% reduction. Stakes purses will not be altered.

An Oaklawn spokesperson confirmed the track’s first condition book is being reprinted with the new overnight purse structure.

JOCKEY KENNY BOURQUE DIES AT 67

Funeral services have been established for longtime jockey Kenny “Chopper” Bourque, who died Dec. 29 in Taylorsville, Ky., at age 67 from liver cancer.

According to his daughter, Tiffany Bourque, a funeral and mass will be held at St. Michael Catholic Church in Louisville Jan. 11 at 10 a.m. ET. A memorial will be in the spring.

The oldest of six siblings, Bourque was born in Abbeville, La., not far from Lafayette, where many Cajun-born riders learned to ride at unsanctioned racetracks called “bush tracks.” He and his youngest brother, Curt, became successful riders.

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Longtime Horseman Ken LeJeune Dies at 60

LeJeune had a 40-plus-year career as a jockey, trainer, and bloodstock agent.

Longtime horseman Ken LeJeune, 60, died at home Dec. 4 after a brief illness, according to his wife, Carey. Throughout LeJeune’s 40-plus-year career as a jockey, trainer, and bloodstock agent, his family said he never lost his enthusiasm as a fan of horse racing.

“He quietly went about his business—no advertisements, no parties, rarely a mention in the trade papers. That wasn’t his thing,” Carey LeJeune said. “His involvement in horse racing reached far and wide. There are not too many people I can think of in the business who have not asked him to train, examine, fix, buy, sell, evaluate, or shelter a horse. He loved every minute of it. It was his life’s blood.”

Ken and Carey LeJeune met at Delta Downs in the winter of 1980. He was scraping by riding Thoroughbreds until the Quarter Horse meet started in the spring. They lived in a tack room and were married four months later. LeJeune even rode a match race the day of their wedding. After Ken spent years moving from racetrack to racetrack as a rider, the couple eventually moved to Ocala, Fla., with $65 and a tank of gas, recalled Carey LeJeune. Ken LeJeune started breaking Thoroughbreds for various farms, getting his first job with the legendary Fred Hooper. LeJeune became the rider of eventual champion sprinter Precisionist.

 

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Weanling Son of Bradester Tops Texas Mixed Sale

The first standalone Texas Winter Mixed Sale in nearly a decade was held Dec. 6 at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, topped by a weanling son of Bradester .

TTA reported 50 horses sold for gross receipts of $223,000, an average price of $4,460 and a $2,600 median. There were 67 horses that went through the ring not sold.

Top price of $16,000 was paid by Highlander Training Center for the Bradester colt (Hip 78) from the Benchmark Training Center consignment. Bred in Texas by Haynes Stables, the colt is out of the winning Street Boss  mare Blasted Boss. The colt’s third dam, grade 1-placed Shooting Party, produced millionaire Breaking Lucky  (by Lookin At Lucky ) a grade 3 winner in Canada who finished second in the 2016 Clark Handicap (G1).

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Amoss Honored With 2020 Big Sport of Turfdom Award

Amoss has won more than 3,800 races and $107 million in prize money.

 

Trainer Tom Amoss received the 2020 Big Sport of Turfdom Award, the Turf Publicists of America announced Dec. 5. The award recognizes a person or group of people who enhances coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with media and racing publicists.

The announcement was made as part of NYRA’s “America’s Day at the Races” on Fox Sports.

Amoss has amassed more than 3,800 victories and earnings of more than $107 million, highlighted by Serengeti Empress, the winner of the 2019 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) and this year’s Ballerina Stakes (G1) and Azeri Stakes (G2); Woody Stephens Stakes Presented by Claiborne Farm (G1) winner No Parole; and Ohio Derby (G3) winner Dean Martini.

 

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Louisiana-Bred Program Changes Bylaws to Grow Foal Crop

A bylaw change eliminated requiring breeding back to Louisiana-based stallions.

 

The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association’s board of directors made two bylaws changes last week it hopes will make the state’s breeding incentive program more attractive to breeders outside its borders and bolster the population of accredited Louisiana-bred foals.

One change allows resident Louisiana mares to be bred to a stallion outside the state for consecutive years and still permits the resulting foals to become accredited Louisiana-breds. Previously, breeders could send a mare to an out-of-state stallion, but that foal could not be an accredited Louisiana-bred unless the mare was bred back to a Louisiana-based stallion.

Under the new rule, breeders may have access to better stallions, but the resulting foals by out-of-state stallions will be eligible to receive half of any breeder’s award incentive money. A Louisiana-bred foal by a Louisiana-registered stallion is eligible to receive full breeder’s awards, which are 20% of total purses earned for horses that finish 1-2-3 in any race in Louisiana or 1-2-3 in any stakes race outside Louisiana (purse capped at $200,000).

The other change applies to nonresident mares being bred to Louisiana stallions. They now only need to remain in Louisiana for 90 days or at least until Aug. 1 and then can be returned to an out-of-state breeder’s farm until they get close to foaling. Prior to the rule change, a mare would have had to stay in Louisiana and deliver her Louisiana-sired foal for it to be eligible as a Louisiana-bred.

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North American Foal Crop Trends and Market Share

MarketWatch: North American foal crop trends

 

Even as the North American Thoroughbred foal crop continues to contract, down 6.9% over the last three years and down 45.4% since 2000, the top five producing states have remained a constant.

Kentucky, California, and Florida have been the steady top three joined by New York and Louisiana that flip-flop their rank from year to year. The recently released figures on the 2020 North American foal crop show New York slightly ahead this year with 652 reported foals to Louisiana’s 647, but both at even with 3.3% of the overall foal crop for the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

 

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Gemologist Daughter Horologist Upsets Dunbar Road in Beldame

Longest shot on the board was an easy winner by three lengths.

 

 

Horologist, the longest shot on the board in the $136,500 Beldame Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park Oct. 4, posted an easy victory over three rivals in the 1 1/8-mile main-track race for older fillies.

Owned by There’s A Chance Stable, Parkland Thoroughbreds, Medallion Racing, and Abbondanza Racing, Horologist rumbled home a three-length winner under jockey Junior Alvarado.

The New Jersey-bred 4-year-old daughter of Gemologist  is trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who enjoyed a stellar weekend at Belmont Park. On Oct. 3, he won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (G1T) with Channel Maker and the Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2) with Frank’s Rockette.

 

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Pedigree Notes
Gemologist stands in Louisiana at Acadiana Equine@Copper Crowne for $4,500 (2020).

Texas Commission Approves 42-Day Lone Star 2021 Season

The Texas Thoroughbred Association sought a longer meet from Lone Star Park.

During a teleconference meeting Sept. 29, the Texas Racing Commission approved a schedule for 2021 race dates in which Sam Houston Race Park and Lone Star Park will be the only tracks to run Thoroughbred meets in the state. The state’s other major track, Retama Park, will run exclusively Quarter Horses next year.

Because Retama Park agreed to transfer some of its Thoroughbred purse money, Sam Houston extended its application and was approved for seven more days than what it had originally planned. The track will now run a 46-day Thoroughbred meet from Jan. 8-April 3 before Thoroughbred racing in the state shifts to Lone Star Park for a 42-day race meet from Apr. 16-July 18. Both Sam Houston and Lone Star will also run shorter Quarter Horse meets.

The 42-day meet by Lone Star is a reduction of approximately seven race days from historical averages since 2012, Mary Ruyle, executive director of the Texas Thoroughbred Association, told commissioners before their vote, while opposing the shorter schedule.

 

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Albarado to Ride Swiss Skydiver in Preakness

Trainer Kenny McPeek has assigned a new jockey to Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) runner-up Swiss Skydiver for the Oct. 3 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course. Robby Albarado will have the call on Peter Callahan’s Daredevil  filly.

Tyler Gaffalione piloted Swiss Skydiver to victory in the Aug. 15 Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course and was back aboard for the Sept. 4 Oaks at Churchill Downs. McPeek did not confirm Swiss Skydiver for the Preakness until Sept. 26 following the filly’s five-furlong breeze in 1:00 4/5 at the Louisville track. The Daily Racing Form reported that Gaffalione’s agent, Matt Muzikar, arranged mounts for his rider at the Keeneland meet, which opens Oct. 2, while waiting for McPeek to commit Swiss Skydiver to the Preakness.

The final jewel of the 2020 Triple Crown will be the first race Albarado will have on Swiss Skydiver. The jockey won the Preakness in 2007 aboard future Hall of Famer Curlin .

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