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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New Jersey to Ban Riding Crop Use Except for Safety

The regulation, the strictest in North America, was opposed by the Jockeys’ Guild.

A regulation passed Sept. 16 by the New Jersey Racing Commission will prohibit jockeys and exercise riders in the state from using the riding crop “except when necessary to control the horse for the safety of the horse or rider” beginning next year.

The ruling makes it the strictest in North America following earlier decisions by some regulatory bodies that have limited the number of strikes a horse can receive from a jockey. According to Daily Racing Form, the riding-crop restriction will take effect when Monmouth Park opens in 2021. The track customarily begins its race meet in May.

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Longtime Racing Official Hooper Retires

He headed the Univerity of Arizona Race Track Industry Program in the early 1990s.

Dave Hooper, a longtime racing official and former head of the Texas Thoroughbred Association and University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, is retiring upon the conclusion of the Canterbury Park meet that ends Sept. 17.

Hooper, 85, has served on the Canterbury board of stewards the past eight years, he said, the last six as chief state steward at the Minnesota track. During his time there, he was one of several recipients of the 2018 Pete Pedersen Award, which is presented to stewards who have demonstrated professional excellence and integrity in the performance of their duties.

Hooper worked in the racing industry for approximately 60 years, nearly 30 in a regulatory capacity. He has also worked as an association or state steward in Kentucky, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington, and Texas.

He said Canterbury was one of his favorite stops, praising track management and the people of Minnesota.

“I couldn’t have finished at a better place,” he said.

Before wrapping up his career as a regulator, Hooper was appreciated for his contributions as executive director for three breed organizations and one horsemen’s association. He was also a favorite among students at the University of Arizona, where he served as coordinator of the Race Track Industry Program in the early 1990s.

He plans to retire to Georgetown, Texas with his wife of 22 years, Martha.

“We have some bucket-list items we’d like to check off,” he said.

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Jockey Hernandez Tests Positive for COVID-19

Rider off Churchill Downs mounts Sept 1.

 

Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. reported Sept. 1 that he had tested positive for COVID-19, but that he is no longer contagious since he is also positive for the virus antibodies.

Hernandez was taken off the four mounts on which he was named for the Tuesday card at Churchill Downs that kicks off the week leading up to the rescheduled Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), and it was unclear when he would be able to resume riding. He had 25 mounts lined up for Sept. 1-4.

“We got the antibody results back,” Hernandez wrote in a text message. “I am positive for the virus but positive for the antibodies as well, which means I am no longer contagious. Now we are waiting for Churchill and the health department to tell us when we can go back to riding.”

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Lone Star Park Closed Until at Least July 19

Texas track’s racing office continues to take entries.

 

Lone Star Park, which suspended racing after the first race July 5 after being notified an employee involved in racing operations tested positive for COVID-19, is expected to be closed until at least July 19, according to the racing office staff person and a Texas Racing Commission spokesperson.

Racing Secretary Tim Williams, reached via telephone late morning July 14, said he was readying to conduct a post position draw and was unavailable for comment. Messages left for Lone Star Park officials were not returned.

 

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Jockey Mena Records 2,000th Career Victory

Popular rider Miguel Mena hit milestone win number 2,000 after taking the fifth race July 3 at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. The victory came aboard Michael Langford’s Substantial ($6.80) in a one-mile maiden special weight on the turf for trainer Randy Morse.

“People on Twitter had told me I was one win away,” said Mena, a native of Peru. “I’ve been riding since I was 16 and I came to the U.S. when I was 17… so it’s been awhile … I’ve been here 15 years. I feel good about 2,000. I’ve put a lot of hard work into it and it has paid off. I came with a lot (of) dreams and I was very hungry and worked my ass off. I’m very grateful for this country and it has given me a better life, not only for me but (for) my family. I’m very grateful to America.

 

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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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Judge Sides With Louisiana Horsemen, Allows Training

Barring further legal action, training four days a week begins April 13.

The Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association announced April 9 that Louisiana District Court Judge Sharon Wilson has dissolved a temporary restraining order obtained by Boyd Gaming that resulted in no racehorse training at some state tracks.

Boyd Gaming, which owns Evangeline Downs and Delta Downs in Louisiana, had been allowing stabling at its facilities but not training, citing health concerns related to COVID-19 for staff, among other reasons. Louisiana Downs, owned by Harrah’s, another gaming company, also prohibited training recently.

Under the terms of the court decision and barring further legal action, training on a four-days-a-week basis begins April 13, said Benard Chatters, the president of the Louisiana HBPA and a trainer at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La. He estimated there are 500 horses stabled there who have been limited to walking since mid-March.

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Amoss to Self-Quarantine After Interaction With Payton

Trainer added in his tweet that he “will be tested at the earliest possible time.”

Trainer Tom Amoss tweeted March 19 that he would self-quarantine for 14 days after learning that New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton—who was in the winner’s circle with him at Oaklawn Park March 14—tested positive for COVID-19. The trainer added in his tweet that he “will be tested at the earliest possible time” but feels great and has no symptoms.

Amoss, whose primary winter training base is Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans, was at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark., to watch Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress win the March 14 Azeri Stakes (G2) by 6 1/4 lengths under Joe Talamo. Fair Grounds and Oaklawn raced last week, mostly without spectators.

 

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Partial Interest Sold in Louisiana-bred 3-Year-Old No Parole

Moss said a decision on an upcoming race would likely not be made until next week.

 

Unbeaten Louisiana-bred 3-year-old No Parole will have an additional owner when he races next, perhaps a prep race toward the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). Majority owner Maggi Moss said Feb. 13 she has sold a minority interest in the Violence  colt to Greg Tramontin.

No Parole—3-for-3 in state-bred competition—won his first two races at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in six-furlong sprints before stretching out to two turns in the Feb. 8 Louisiana Bred Premier Night Prince Stakes at a mile at Delta Downs. Spurting to the lead, he relaxed and cruised under the wire 6 1/2 lengths in front under regular rider James Graham.

 

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