Minimum Purses Lowered for Non-Listed Stakes for 2020

The North American International Cataloguing Standards Committee voted May 21 to lower the minimum purse requirement for existing non-listed black-type races by 20% for the remainder of 2020. Because of the impact of COVID-19 on live race meets and casino operations that support purse funds, the NAICSC lowered the minimum purse for non-listed black-type races that ran prior to 2019 from $50,000 to $40,000 for the remainder of 2020, and the minimum purse value for non-listed black-type races that ran for the first time in 2019 will be reduced from $75,000 to $60,000 for their second running in 2020.

Requests to receive black type for any new races will continue to be reviewed by a subcommittee of NAICSC and require a minimum purse of $75,000. These changes provide racetracks with some flexibility in continuing to offer their black-type stakes without either putting a race’s black-type status at risk or forcing them to not offer a race at all.

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La-bred Chimney Rock Digs In for Churchill Allowance Score

 

Three Diamonds Farm’s Chimney Rock, fourth in his season debut, rebounded with a fighting effort to eke out a narrow win May 17 in a turf sprint allowance for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

The 5 1/2-furlong dash was Chimney Rock’s first race back against Four Wheel Drive, who went 3-for-3 as a juvenile and defeated Chimney Rock by three-quarters of a length in the Nov. 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2T). While Four Wheel Drive was away slow from the rail as the 3-5 favorite, Chimney Rock stalked the pacesetter and fought for a head victory. Four Wheel Drive finished seventh. Jack and Noah, who showed the way through fractions of :22.85 and :46.20, proved to be a challenger to Chimney Rock but had to settle for second. Guildsman rallied from 10th to finish third, 3 1/4 lengths behind Jack and Noah.

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Boyd Gaming Applies for Evangeline Downs Race Dates

Company requested 50 dates for delayed Thoroughbred meet.

Fifty dates for Thoroughbred racing at Evangeline Downs have been requested by track owner Boyd Gaming, the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association announced May 15.

The Opelousas, La., racecourse was originally set to open for its Thoroughbred season April 8 and race through Aug. 29, but the track has remained closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The revised schedule submitted to the Louisiana State Racing Commission lists June 5 as the new opening date, with racing four days a week on a Wednesday-through-Saturday basis. Closing day would remain the same.

Boyd Gaming management applied for 14 days of Thoroughbred racing in June, 19 days in July, and 17 days in August at Evangeline.

May 16 marked the first day horses stabled outside Evangeline Downs and Delta Downs were welcomed back through the stable gates at the two tracks. Since mid-March, no new horses were allowed to enter the racetracks. The horses already stabled there were allowed to remain in place after Boyd Gaming reversed course after originally telling horsemen March 16 they had 48 hours to vacate the premises. Horses resumed training April 13 for the first time since the lockdown after Louisiana District Court judge Sharon Wilson on April 9 dissolved a temporary restraining order obtained by Boyd Gaming that resulted in no racehorse training.

“We’ve had some positive steps in the last month,” said Benard Chatters, the president of the Louisiana HBPA and a trainer at Evangeline Downs. “We were able to get the horses back training, and then today we were able to bring some of the horses back to the racetrack that had been locked out. The regular workout people were back, the outriders were back, and it was a really joyous and refreshing day for me.”

Chatters, who was at Evangeline on Saturday morning, said people were eager to get their horses back to the racetrack, including trainers who ship their horses in for workouts on the track.

Racing has not taken place in Louisiana since Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots ended its meet about a week early March 21.

 

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Horses Arrive at Churchill Downs From Fair Grounds

About 175 horses were scheduled to be on the grounds by the end of May 11.

The first horse vans began arriving at Churchill Downs‘ stable gate in the early morning May 11 from Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, with approximately 175 horses scheduled to be on the grounds by the end of the day, according to senior director of the stable area Steve Hargrave.

“We’re so glad to be coming home,” said trainer Greg Foley. Foley, whose family lives in Oldham County, Kentucky, experienced an unplanned, extended stay in New Orleans following the COVID-19 pandemic that delayed entry to the backside at Churchill Downs by nearly two months. Foley is annually one of the first trainers to arrive at Churchill Downs, and he held to tradition Monday as part of his string of horses were the first to arrive at 6 a.m. ET.

Other trainers to have horses that arrived Monday included Tom Amoss, Steve Asmussen, Mark Casse, Bret Calhoun, Steve Margolis, and Al Stall Jr.

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Commission Approves Louisiana Downs to Open June 6

Money from the canceled Super Derby (G3) will be directed toward overnight purses.

 

Louisiana Downs received authorization by the Louisiana State Racing Commission during a May 5 teleconference to begin its Thoroughbred meet June 6 and continue until Sept. 23. The commission also approved the cancellation of the track’s lone graded race, the Super Derby (G3), which carried a $300,000 purse last year.

“We decided to take care of the local horsemen and put all that money toward overnight purses,” David Heitzmann, director of racing at Louisiana Downs, said in an interview after the commission meeting.

Purses in Louisiana are heavily subsidized by revenue from racetrack casinos, which have been suspended due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Determinations are still being made regarding the track’s purse structure, according to Heitzmann.

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Storm the Court Completes Final Work for Arkansas Derby

Juvenile champ is one of Peter Eurton’s two Arkansas Derby (G1) contenders.

Juvenile male champion Storm the Court completed major preparations for the Arkansas Derby (G1) with a quick half-mile work April 27 at Santa Anita Park. The Peter Eurton trainee worked the four furlongs on a fast main track in :47 3/5, the fourth fastest time of 41 at the distance.

“I was pretty pleased with it. Just something short; we’ve been doing some longer ones and he ships tomorrow so I didn’t want to do it,” Eurton said. “But he looked really good getting out there stretching his legs.”

Monday’s exercise followed a six-furlong drill in 1:13 3/5 April 20 and a five-furlong work in 1:00 3/5 April 15. The Court Vision  colt is scheduled to fly to Oaklawn Park  Tuesday morning ahead of the May 2 Arkansas Derby.

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No Parole Sprints to Victory in Oaklawn Allowance

Son of Violence rebounded from eighth in March 14 Rebel Stakes (G2).

 

The decision to return No Parole to shorter distances proved to be a good one for owners Maggi Moss and Greg Tramontin as the son of Violence  aired in a $61,000 allowance optional claiming race going six furlongs April 24 at Oaklawn Park.

Seeking to rebound from an eighth in the March 14 Rebel Stakes (G2) over a 1 1/16-mile trip, the Tom Amoss trainee was sent off as the even-money favorite in a field of 10 3-year-olds. He ran to his odds under Joe Talamo, finishing under wraps in a final time of 1:09.34 on a fast track.

 

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No Parole Returns to Sprinting in Oaklawn Allowance

Violence colt last finished off the board in the Rebel Stakes (G2).

Maggi Moss and Greg Tramontin took a gamble with their talented Louisiana-bred sprinter No Parole in March when they entered him in the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park. Described as an “experiment” by trainer Tom Amoss, the move was designed to give the 3-year-old Violence  colt, who had already proved himself as a more-than-competent sprinter, a shot at the Triple Crown trail.

But an off-the-board finish in the March 14 Rebel told the team all they needed to know. With six furlongs comfortably in No Parole’s sweet spot, the colt will return to Oaklawn for an allowance optional claiming race April 24 at his preferred distance.

No Parole was unbeaten in three starts upon entering the Rebel, his longest win coming at a mile in the Feb. 8 LA Bred Premier Night Prince Stakes at Delta Downs. Though the colt broke sharply in the 1 1/16-mile Rebel, he managed only a brief duel with winner Nadal before fading at the six-furlong mark to finish eighth.

 

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Storm the Court Confirmed for Arkansas Derby

Juvenile champion finished third in San Felipe Stakes (G2) last out.

 

Southern California-based trainer Peter Eurton said April 21 that he plans to have two entrants in the $750,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) May 2 at Oaklawn Park, including juvenile champion Storm the Court.

The Court Vision  colt worked six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 April 20 at Santa Anita Park in advance of the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby, which will mark his first start outside California. Storm the Court, campaigned by Exline-Border Racing, David Bernsen, Susanna Wilson, and Dan Hudock, secured an Eclipse Award as the 2019 champion 2-year-old male with a frontrunning victory in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at 45-1.

Eurton said he also plans to enter ERJ Racing, Exline-Border Racing, and Hudock’s Shooters Shoot, a first-level allowance winner at a mile April 11 at Oaklawn, in the Arkansas Derby.

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Arkansas Derby Attracts 99 Nominations

Large number of candidates could lead to split divisions of grade 1 stakes.

 

Based on nominations alone, the $750,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) figures to have an overflow field.

The reality of the situation, with the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) moved to Sept. 5 and the Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) unlikely to be run in their traditional spots, also paints an equally compelling picture of a large field—and possibly two divisions—when the 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-olds is contested May 2 at Oaklawn Park.

A long list of 99 nominations for the race, pending late mail, was released April 18, and while the vast majority of them have no intention of running, the connections of a core group of about 20 candidates have expressed an interest in a stakes that stands at the moment as the final points race for the Kentucky Derby. It is also five weeks removed from the last grade 1 stakes for 3-year-olds at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused uncertainty about when the next major race for the division will be run.

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