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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Texas Governor’s Order Allows Simulcasting, Live Racing With Fans To Begin May 22

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order no. GA-23, issued this Monday, will allow for the reopening of the state’s simulcast racing on May 22. The order, relating to the expanded opening of Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster, states that facilities may “operate at up to 25 percent of the total sited occupancy of the establishment.”

At 9 p.m. ET Monday, Lone Star Park has not made an official announcement regarding whether or not it is prepared to begin live racing on the 22nd, this coming Friday.

Executive Order No. GA-23, reads, in part:

“Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 22, 2020, for all Texas counties except Deaf Smith, El Paso, Moore, Potter, and Randall counties:

D. Bowling alleys, bingo halls, simulcast racing to the extent authorized by state law, and skating rinks that operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the establishment; provided, however, that (i) bowling alleys must ensure at least six feet of social distancing between operating lanes; and (ii) components of the establishments that have video arcades must remain closed.
E. Rodeos and equestrian events that operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy or, for outdoor areas, at up to 25 percent of the normal operating limits as determined by the facility owner; provided, however, that this authorizes only the rodeo or equestrian event and not larger gatherings, such as county fairs, in which such an event may be held.”

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HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS 2020 THOROUGHBRED LIVE RACING SEASON TO GET UNDERWAY ON SATURDAY, JUNE 6

 

The 64-Day Meet Will Run Through Wednesday, September 23

 

Bossier City, LA – The 2020 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, which was originally scheduled to begin on Saturday, May 2, will commence on Saturday, June 6. An emergency meeting of the Louisiana State Racing Commission took place on May 5 and unanimous approval for the revised opening date was granted.

Due to state mandates regarding COVID-19, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs concluded its 2020 Quarter Horse meet on Monday, March 16, two days ahead of the scheduled final date. Thoroughbreds have been training here since Monday, April 13 when a judge ruling allowed horsemen to be permitted on the grounds.

The stable area will open on May 6 for horsemen who have been allocated stalls for the 2020 Thoroughbred season.  Ship in hours will be from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm and trainers must contact Natalie Moses at (318) 820-8324 prior to shipping. No exceptions will be permitted.

“We appreciate the patience of all of our horsemen and wish them a safe transition in shipping their runners to Harrah’s Louisiana Downs,” said David Heitzmann, Director of Racing. “This has been an incredibly difficult time for our industry, and we will all be grateful to see the return of live racing here next month.”

The meet will be run spectator-free, until further notice, in accordance with sanctions by Governor John Bel Edwards.  Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is in constant communication with the Louisiana Department of Health on procedures and protocols to ensure the safety of horses, horsemen and essential employees.

The first condition book will be available on Equibase in the near future. Further information on the Thoroughbred stakes schedule will be forthcoming, but officials have confirmed that the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby will not be contested in 2020.

The 64-day meet will continue through Wednesday, September 23 with live racing to run Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at 3:15 pm (Central).

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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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NYRA Seeking To Resume Racing At Belmont Without Fans, Continue Model At Saratoga

by

 

After statements by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a Wednesday press conference cast doubt on the likelihood of Saratoga running a 2020 summer meet with spectators, the New York Racing Association released the following statement:

NYRA joins the entire racing community in applauding Governor Cuomo’s steady leadership throughout this unprecedented public health crisis. We recognize that decisions about large scale events are rightly left to our elected leaders and public health officials. At the same time, horse racing is in a unique position as a sport that can be safely staged without attendees.

Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo encouraged sports entities to consider how they could operate without fans in attendance that would be economically viable while providing much needed entertainment. By closing to spectators and reducing employees and support staff to only those who are required under the rules of racing, the running of races would support the small businesses and hourly workers who form the backbone of the sport.

NYRA held races at Aqueduct Racetrack safely and securely under these conditions through March 15. Our experience during this period of time, as well as our ability to continue the training operation at Belmont Park throughout the pandemic, informs the strict safety protocols that we currently have in place at Belmont Park and would seek to implement at Saratoga Race Course.

As such, NYRA is seeking to resume live racing at Belmont Park in the absence of fans and we have prepared operating plans that follow the same model for Saratoga. These plans prioritize the health and safety of employees, horsemen and the backstretch community and include a broad array of risk mitigation strategies developed according to the most updated heath guidance. By closing to the public, layering additional health and safety protocols to our ongoing practices, and reducing the number of employees on-property, NYRA is in a position to provide a small sense of normalcy for fans across the country who can watch on television and online. At the same time, this model will enable NYRA to preserve its ability to serve as the cornerstone of an industry that generates more than 19,000 jobs in New York and $3 billion in annual economic impact.

This is a delicate balance, and one that must always prioritize health and safety. NYRA has experience finding that balance and we are committed to taking every step possible to keep our communities safe while providing entertainment and contributing to the New York economy as we collectively begin the return to a new normal.

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Santa Anita Plans to Issue Condition Book Thursday

By Dan Ross

Santa Anita will put out a condition book April 30 which will target May 15 for the resumption of live racing under strict protocols with no fans present, according to a letter issued by track management Wednesday.

The TDN obtained a copy of the letter, which was sent to Greg Avioli, the President and CEO of the Thoroughbred Owners of California; Alan Balch, the Executive Director of California Thoroughbred Trainers; and Darrell Haire, Regional Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild.

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Churchill Backstretch to Open May 11, Fair Grounds Horses Will Be First In

By T. D. Thornton

Churchill Downs has been cleared by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear to open its backstretch area May 11 so long as the track adheres to enhanced pandemic precautions approved by the state.

Beshear announced the clearance Wednesday at his daily COVID-19 video press conference as part of a phased-in reopening for various state industries. Churchill followed up about an hour later with a press release that included specifics pertinent to horsemen.

Neither Beshear nor the track pinpointed an exact date for the return of live racing. But the Churchill release stated “it will be staged at a minimum of four days per week,” Thursday through Sunday.

The following is a listing of racetracks and when horses based there may return to the Churchill Downs stable areas between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.:

  • Fair Grounds (May 11-13)
  • Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and horses based at Florida training centers (May 14-16)
  • Oaklawn Park (May 17-19)
  • All other locales (May 20 onward)

 

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Lone Star Stable Area Will Open May 4; New Protocols To Be Announced

On April 28, the Lone Star Park Racing Department sent out the following notice regarding the reopening of the stable area:

Dear Horsemen,

We are happy to let you know that Lone Star Park will be able to start accepting horses into our stable area on Monday, May 4 beginning at 6:00 am.

During this initial stage of opening up we will only accept horses between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm so please plan accordingly.

Masks or face coverings will be required for all people in the common areas of the stable area, basically this means any area outside of your dorm room. So please be prepared to have masks or face coverings to use. Also all people in the stable area must follow social distancing guidelines at all times. And please note that the stable area is limited to essential personnel only. There are no guests allowed.

The racing office will reopen on Friday, May 1. But note that the racing office will operate under strict social distancing guidelines. Meaning the door will remain locked and business will be conducted only over the phone. Foal papers and any other documents can be dropped off using the mail slot which is to the right of our lobby entrance door.

The stall man will start on Monday and we ask that you respect social distancing guidelines when dealing with him. His office will be open but we ask that you do not enter the office but instead interact with him from the doorway.

There will be many other new procedures, restrictions and announcements to come over the coming days.

Please visit the horsemen’s information section of our web site (lonestarpark.com) for further information and please let us know if you have any questions. Our email address is racing@lonestarpark.com. Our phone numbers are (972) 237-1130 or (888) 4RACING. Thanks for racing with us.

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COX ENJOYS BANNER FAIR GROUNDS MEET

Season cut short six racing days due to COVID-19 pandemic
 

New Orleans (March 23, 2020) – Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots returned to the traditional Thanksgiving Day opening for the start of the 148th racing season, but the meet concluded six racing days prior to the scheduled March 29 closing date due to a “stay-home” order issued by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, following public health concerns in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some eight days earlier on Friday, March 13, Fair Grounds was ordered to conduct live racing with no patrons, only essential employees, licensed horsemen (including owners) and credentialed media were allowed on track.

On what would be the final racing day of the meet, in front of an empty grandstand with only essential employees and horsemen with a horse in the race allowed to be present, Clint Gasaway, Lance Gasaway, Madaket Stables, and Wonder Stables’ Wells Bayou captured the 107th running of the Twin Spires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) in front-running style, earning 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which a week earlier was pushed back to Saturday, September 5. Extended to the 1 3/16ths-mile distance for the first time, the Louisiana Derby drew a full an overflow field, and 14 horses started.

Trainer Brad Cox won the final three stakes, and four races in total, on the Louisiana Derby Day card, taking the Mervin Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) with Gaining Ground Racing’s Factor This and the Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks with Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Bonny South (G2) prior to her Derby win with Wells Bayou.

Earlier in the meet, Cox won the first division of the Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford-Linclon with Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, and Doheny Racing’s Mr. Monomoy, a half brother to 2018 champion 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl.

The Risen Star, which was extended to 1 1/8-miles for the first time, drew 23 entrants and thus was split into two divisions. The original $400,000 purse and Kentucky Derby qualifying points (50-20-10-5) remained the same for both divisions.

Cox, who led all trainers with 12 stakes wins at the meet, took home his third consecutive trainer’s title winning with 40 of his 147 starters. Locally-based Ron Faucheaux, who won his 500th career race during the meet, finished second with 34 wins. Tom Amoss (29), Steve Asmussen (26) and Bret Calhoun (22) rounded out the top five.

James Graham (63 wins) held off Mitchell Murrill (60) and Colby Hernandez (60) to take down his second Fair Grounds’ jockey title, with the first coming during the 2014-15 meet.

Florent Geroux, who finished fourth in the standings with 56 wins, led all jockeys in purses earned with $2,939,706 and stakes victories with ten. Shaun Bridgmohan was second with nine stakes scores.

Brian Hernandez, Jr., who completed the top five in the standing with 45 wins, scored career victory 2,000 on December 19, when guiding the Jimmy Baker-trained Afleet Roger to the winner’s circle.

In what was a tight owner’s race, Winalot Racing, LLC edged Maggie Moss 13-12, with Godolphin, LLC (11), Earl J. Hernandez, Keith J. Hernandez and John Duvielh (11) and Calumet Farm (10).

Prior to her disappointing fourth place finish as the 1-5 favorite in the Fair Grounds Oaks, Winchell Thoroughbreds and Thomas Reiman, William Dickson, and Debbie Easter’s Finite won both the Silverbulletday and the Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton. Her victory in the Silverbulletday represented the 1,000th career stakes win for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who joined D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher as the only trainers to achieve this feat.

Fourteen horses won three races at the meet. In addition to Finite, Factor This (both graded), Bobby’s Wicked One, Play On, Hieronymus, and Louisiana-bred Net a Bear, Vacherie Girl, Ninety One Assault and each won two stakes.

Allied Racing Stable’s By My Standards returned to the scene of his 2019 Louisiana Derby win to take the New Orleans Classic (G2) for trainer Bret Calhoun and jockey Gabriel Saez.

Prior to finishing fifth in the Louisiana Derby and second in the first division of the Risen Star, John Oxley’s Enforceable won the Lecomte (G3). The race was extended from 1 mile and 70 yards to 1 1/16-miles.

For the 2019-20 racing season, Fair Grounds eliminated handicap conditions for stakes races. These races are now weighted under allowance conditions.

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