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Horse Racing Viewership on Fox Networks Rises 300%

Network will show the Runhappy Travers (G1) and two other stakes Aug. 8.

 

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Finding something positive amid the COVID-19 pandemic is surely as difficult as finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Yet for Thoroughbred racing and, in particular, the New York Racing Association, the loss of numerous racing dates and on-track wagering at many venues has also created a situation in which the sport has gained far more television exposure with professional and collegiate sports shuttered than it would have in a traditional and less turbulent year.

“Looking across the whole portfolios of sports properties we have across sports television, the two properties that have managed the circumstances (during the pandemic) the best are NASCAR and horse racing. They are the two that have risen to meet this moment and have put themselves in a better position for the future,” said Michael Mulvihill, Fox Sports’ executive vice president of research, league operations, and strategy. “I think horse racing and our NYRA programming has really stepped up to fill the void, and it’s been beneficial to horse racing and to us.”

Mulvihill’s Aug. 6 comments came two days before the $1 million Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course will be presented on a 90-minute, 5-6:30 p.m. (ET) show on the main Fox broadcast channel, providing an added half-hour of coverage this year.

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Negative COVID-19 Tests Required for Keeneland Sale

Tests must be performed on attendees within five days of the sale.

 

In a July 29 announcement targeted toward those planning to attend the upcoming Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Keeneland president-elect Shannon Arvin informed patrons and horsemen that any party entering the grounds will be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Further requirements state that the negative test must be performed within five days of arriving at the sale, which starts Sept. 13 and runs through Sept. 26. For any sales participant who does not have access to testing ahead of the auction, Keeneland has made arrangements for onsite testing to be available.

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Catalog Now Online for Texas Summer Yearling and Horses of Racing Age Sale, Online Bidding to Be Offered

A catalog of 175 head is now online for the Texas Summer Yearling and Horses of Racing Age Sale set for August 24 at 12 noon CDT at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie. Sponsored by the Texas Thoroughbred Association and Lone Star Park, the sale will welcome bidders on site with enhanced safety protocols and for the first time will also offer live online bidding for those who cannot attend in person. Online Bidders must be registered at one week before the sale, no later than 12 noon on August 17.

“We had to cancel our 2-year-old sale due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ve been working since then to ensure we are able to conduct this sale because of its importance to the region,” said Mary Ruyle, executive director of the TTA. “We normally wouldn’t have a horses of racing age session at this sale, but we are happy to offer that this year to fill the needs of consignors and buyers. The HORA section is quite impressive.”

Ruyle credited higher purses in Texas and a new consignor incentive program as two of the reasons that this year’s sale has twice the number of yearlings as last year.

“In addition to boosting purses in Texas, the passage of HB 2463 allows the horse industry to create new ways to grow, so we were able to provide consignors with a rebate of up to half the consignment fee,” she said. “We saw a great response to that incentive, which resulted in more consignors bringing their horses to sell in Texas.”

The sale will utilize a live online bidding system along with improved online video. 

“We made an investment in technology to allow buyers to bid from anywhere,” said Tim Boyce, sales director. “Starting in early August we will allow online bidders to register in advance, so we encourage anyone who is interested to do that on our website.”

The sale will kick off with a horses of racing age session including 2-year-olds in training by top sires such as Too Much Bling, Texas Red, Astrology and Twirling Candy. Among the older horses on offer are Herbs Love, a daughter of Etesaal who in her most recent start won the $75,000 San Jacinto Turf Stakes at Lone Star Park.

The yearling session will include 151 head by leading regional sires such as Too Much Bling, Star Guitar, Flat Out, Court Vision and My Golden Song. Top national sires including Tonalist, Sky Mesa, Bayern, Honor Code and California Chrome are also represented.

The online catalog and more information are available at www.ttasales.com.

 

For more information, contact Mary Ruyle at maryr@texasthoroughbred.com or 512-458-6133

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Lone Star Approved for Two Additional Race Dates

Aug. 5 and Aug. 12 will be added to the Thoroughbred meet.

 

The Texas Racing Commission approved July 21 two extra Thoroughbred race dates for Lone Star Park. The racetrack near Dallas recently lost nearly eight whole race days after a racing operations employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Lone Star was granted the requested dates of Aug. 5 and Aug. 12, the first two Wednesdays of next month, for its Thoroughbred meet. The track was originally slated to conduct a 44-day meet April 16-Aug. 11, but did not get underway until May 22 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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LTBA Earmarks $100,000 Contribution to Enable Running of Louisiana Cup Day at Louisiana Downs

The Board of Directors of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association, voted at their June 16th meeting to earmark $100,000 dollars to be used for Louisiana Cup Day at Louisiana Downs in hopes that a card will be put together.

Louisiana Cup Day is a day of racing designed to showcase accredited Louisiana bred thoroughbreds at Louisiana Downs.  The event  includes multiple Louisiana bred stakes races.

Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, and its effects on racing, Louisiana Downs cut the stakes program from its condition book this year in order to keep overnight purses at a solid level. Consequentially, Louisiana Cup Day was suspended for 2020.

Not satisfied with this turn of events, Roger Heitzmann, Executive Director of the LTBA; Ed Fenasci, Executive Director of the HBPA and David Heitzmann, director of Racing at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, put their heads together to work on a plan to revive the Louisiana bred stakes day.  “We have been working on possible ways to bring back Louisiana Cup Day,” said Roger Heitzmann. “I believe we can get there, but a lot depends on handle. We can’t count on the funds we normally receive from slots and video poker. Hopefully field size remains at a good number. Larger fields will help entice the patrons to wager on Louisiana Downs.”

“Roger presented us with a plan which we believe will work,” said Warren Harang III, President of the LTBA. “We will be creative and work outside the box to accomplish this. We will be utilizing funds that we don’t normally use for purse supplements. Helping the horsemen of Louisiana is always our mission. Adding back six black-type races helps the the breeders, the horsemen participating in the races, as well as the track itself.”

Each  of Louisiana’s four racetracks has a day designated for Louisiana bred thoroughbred stakes. In addition to Louisiana Cup Day at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, there is Louisiana Premier Night at Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana Legends Night at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, as well as Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

Louisiana Downs has opened the meet with good number so far. If Louisiana Cup Day is added back to the schedule, it will likely be run near the end of the meet in late September.

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Racing Resumes at Lone Star Park

The track has raised purses and added racing Aug. 5 and Aug. 12, per the TTA.

 

Lone Star Park, which suspended racing after the first race July 5 when officials were notified an employee involved in operations tested positive for COVID-19, resumed July 19, according to a statement from Kym Koch Thompson, a track spokesperson.

Texas has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than 310,000 confirmed cases in state and in excess of 3,700 deaths.

The track has carded four stakes July 22 that were delayed as a result of its suspension of racing.

According to the Texas Thoroughbred Association, Lone Star has increased purses 18%, effective with its reopening Sunday. The TTA-announced increase is not reflected in the purses listed on the track’s drawn races through July 22. Maiden special weight races are shown carrying a purse $34,000, for example, as they were earlier this meet.

The TTA also states that the track will add two additional race days: Aug. 5 and Aug. 12.

Both divisions of the $100,000-estimated Texas Thoroughbred Futurity have been rescheduled for Aug. 11, but the second legs of the Texas Stallion Series have been canceled due to “necessary changes to the race schedule,” the TTA wrote on its website. The TTA said the hope is to run those races in January at Sam Houston Race Park.

Lone Star began a COVID-19-delayed meet May 22 that had originally been scheduled to end Aug. 11.

 

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Del Mar Cancels July 17-19 Racing After 15 More Jockeys Test Positive For COVID-19

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With caution its primary concern, Del Mar has preemptively canceled its next three days of racing, July 17-18-19, after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19. All of Del Mar’s jockeys and jockey room personnel were tested on Tuesday by San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency staff as requested by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif.

“Assuming these individuals continue to show no symptoms, they will be isolated for a total of 10 days and should be able to resume their usual activities, including riding after that time,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, Medical Director, Epidemiology & Immunizations Services, County of San Diego.

“Racing will return on July 24,” said Joe Harper, Del Mar’s CEO. “Canceling this weekend’s races will give us additional time to monitor the situation and give the individuals who tested positive additional time to recover.”

On Tuesday, based on DMTC protocols, as well as direction from medical advisers and county public health officials, the testing was administered by county medical staff. Fifteen of the jockeys tested positive and all were believed to be asymptomatic. Contact tracing procedures are underway in conjunction with the San Diego Health & Human Services Agency. However, a common factor among all but one of the riders that tested positive is that they rode at the recently concluded Los Alamitos meet.

Del Mar officials ordered the testing of all the jockeys and jockeys’ room personnel after two riders, Flavien Prat and Victor Espinoza, tested positive for COVID-19.

“Even though our jockey colony did not exhibit symptoms when they arrived at Del Mar, we made the decision to test everyone as part of protocols we have developed in conjunction with local medical experts and the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency,” said Josh Rubinstein, Del Mar Thoroughbred President and COO. “We put these measures in place to help ensure the safety of all workers at Del Mar and our surrounding community.”

Because of the Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act (HIPPA), Del Mar is not allowed to release the names of the affected riders.

In a further safety measure, only jockeys based in California will be permitted to ride at Del Mar for the remainder of the meeting. Jockeys from jurisdictions outside of California will not be allowed to ride at Del Mar. The measure to restrict the riding colony follows a similar announcement Tuesday by the New York Racing Association concerning jockeys at Saratoga Race Course. Under Del Mar’s new policy, until further notice, local jockeys who leave the track to ride at other venues will not be allowed to ride again at Del Mar for the remainder of the summer racing meeting.

Additionally, Del Mar officials are re-configuring and expanding the track’s jockeys’ quarters, including moving some of the functions that normally take place in the jockeys’ room to an adjacent area.

Del Mar has been providing health screening, monitoring and testing resources for barn area workers and essential personnel during its summer meet, which is being held for the first time in the track’s 81-year history without spectators. The meet began Friday July 10th and will conclude on Labor Day, September 7.

Del Mar’s health and safety protocols have been formulated with direct input from medical experts in the community.

“We have worked with Del Mar to apply practical health protocols for its essential personnel and we applaud the track’s continued vigilance to help provide a safe environment for its work force,” said Dr. Ghazala Sharieff, MD, Corporate Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at San Diego’s Scripps Health. “We can reasonably expect that there will be some additional positive tests. The key is to provide strategies and protocols for testing, quarantining, containment and management, all of which Del Mar is doing in cooperation with local public health experts and officials.”

Del Mar’s racing officials have said that many of the races that had been scheduled for the upcoming weekend will be shifted to the following weekend. That includes the Grade 2, $150,000 San Diego Handicap and the Grade 2 $200,000 Eddie Read Stakes.

The Thoroughbred Owners of California said they are in agreement with Del Mar’s measures. “TOC strongly supports the actions taken today by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in conjunction with the San Diego County Department of Health. The health of our riders is our top priority now.”

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Speedy Louisiana Bred Half Ours Colt Purchased for $185,000 at OBS

With the Two-Year-Old sales somewhat delayed due to the pandemic in full swing, it is obvious that there is still the demand for good horses. Today at the Ocala Breeders Sales Company sale, Dennis O’Neill paid $185,000 for a colt by Half Ours who had recorded the fastest quarter of a mile of any horse at the sale when he got the distance in 20:1. O’Neill typically buys horses that are trained by his brother, Doug O’Neill, who has trained two Kentucky Derby winners in I’ll Have Another and Nyquist. Consigned by Blue River Bloodstock, Inc., Agent IV, the colt was bred in Louisiana out of the winning Into Mischief dam, All About Ju Ju, by the Summer Hill Equine of William Andrade.

Clear Creek Stud and others will be offering yearlings by Half Ours at the upcoming Equine Sales Company Consignor Select Yearling Sale scheduled for August 20th in Opelousas, Louisiana, and the Texas Thoroughbred Summer Yearling  Sale scheduled for August 24th at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, Texas.

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HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS ANNOUNCES RESTRICTIONS FOR JOCKEYS DUE TO COVID-19

Policy Set for Riders Leaving to Take Mounts at Other Racetracks as well as Mandated Quarantine and Testing Upon their Return

 

Bossier City, LA – Harrah’s Louisiana Downs announced an updated policy, effective Wednesday, July 15, regarding riders leaving and entering the racetrack.

The following restrictions have been implemented.  If a rider accepts a mount at another racetrack, he or she must quarantine for a 14-day period and submit a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning to Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. Jockeys who have ridden at other racetracks must self-quarantine for 14-days and present a negative COVID-19 test before gaining access to Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. This policy will be in effect until further notice.

“After careful consideration, we felt it was necessary to implement these restrictions at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs,” said David Heitzmann, Director of Racing. “The health and safety of everyone involved must be protected; we join other racetracks in North America by enacting these measures.”

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs has continued to follow the policy set by Governor John Bel Edwards and protocols regarding COVID-19 on the OpenSafely.la.gov website. Prior to the opening of the meet, the jocks room was expanded to ensure proper social distancing. Additionally, patrons are required to enter via a specially marked designated entrance and temperature checks are conducted. Face masks are required and no more than three people are permitted in the saddling paddock.

The 64-day Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred meet began on Saturday June 6. Live racing continues Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday through September 23.

 

About Harrah’s Louisiana Downs

Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and was purchased by Caesars Entertainment in December, 2002. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000 square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing.

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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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