Fix to Delta’s Light Woes Might Not Arrive by End of Meet

By T. D. Thornton

A new lighting system at Delta Downs that was only operational for three races on the first night of the season back in October and has been repeatedly tweaked since then might not end up being deemed safe or usable for racing by the time the current Thoroughbred meet ends Mar. 5.

Ironically, after more than three months of debate over alleged shadows and perceived inconsistencies with how the patterns fall on the racing surface, the lighting installer and a consulting firm retained by Delta are now trying to rectify the problem not by increasing candlepower, but by actually turning down the intensity of the lighting from about 90% of full illumination to around 60% on each of the poles around the six-furlong track.

 

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Fair Grounds Not Definite on Dates Reduction

By T. D. Thornton

Jason Boulet, the Fair Grounds director of racing, was repeatedly pressed by Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) member Tom Calvert Tuesday about whether or not his track would once again seek a statutory change to reduce its required number of race dates from 80 to 75 when the state legislature convenes its 2022 session Mar. 14.

The exchange did not yield a definitive answer beyond Boulet’s disclosure that the Fair Grounds and its corporate parent, the gaming firm Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), would be in favor of participating in discussions among stakeholders that might reduce race dates in Louisiana with the goal of making it easier to fill entries at the state’s four Thoroughbred tracks.

The dates statute wasn’t on the agenda for the Jan. 18 LSRC meeting. But Calvert brought it up after Boulet reported that so far through the November-through-March meet, the number of starters per Fair Grounds race has dipped from 8.3 to 7.6 in a year-over-year comparison, a decrease Boulet termed “alarming.”

 

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Wagering On U.S. Racing Highest Since 2009

By Bill Finley

According to figures released Wednesday by Equibase, $12,218,407,637 was wagered on horse racing in the U.S. in 2021. The figure marks the first time betting has topped $12 billion since 2009 when $12.315 billion was bet.

“Against an extraordinarily difficult backdrop, the resiliency of Thoroughbred racing was on full display in 2021, as we concluded the year with significant growth in purses and total handle of more than $12 billion, the highest since 2009,” NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Rooney said in a statement. “We thank our customers for their ongoing support, as their wagering dollars continue to fuel our industry. As we turn the page to 2022, we look forward to the beginning of a new era for U.S. Thoroughbred racing with the launch of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) and an even greater focus on equine safety and welfare and the integrity of America’s oldest sport.”

Wagering peaked in 2003 when $15.18 billion was bet.

Wagering was up 11.86% over 2020, when $10,922,936,290 was bet during a year in which the pandemic kept several tracks closed for parts of the year. A better comparison may be 2019, when $11,033,824,363 was wagered. The 2021-versus-2019 numbers show a 10.74% increase.

Are you Maximizing Your Tax Deductions and Minimizing Your Taxes?

By Len Green

By Len Green, CPA and John Wollenberg, CPA

In horse racing, the contest is not over until the horse crosses the finish line. The same is true with maximizing your tax deductions and minimizing your taxes. For those who think it is too late to save on your 2021 taxes, we are here to tell you, it is not!

With over 40 years’ experience saving our clients taxes along with our knowledge of the new tax laws, we are confident the following information will help you as you approach the 2021 home stretch and allow you to hit the wire a winner.

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Dispute Over Safety of New Lights Keeps Delta Dark at Night

By T. D. Thornton

Strenuous safety-related objections from Delta Downs jockeys about the allegedly inconsistent lighting from a new system that has been installed and tweaked over the course of several months kept the Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) from approving a return to night racing when regulators met for an emergency session to address that one item Monday morning.

Mindy Coleman, an attorney representing The Jockeys’ Guild, told commissioners on the Dec. 13 Zoom call that while the Delta-based riders recognize and appreciate the efforts track management has made to try to improve the situation, “there are still some grave concerns” with the recently installed light-emitting diode (LED) system, which was necessitated by the old lights getting wrecked by a hurricane in August 2020.

 

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Veteran Jockey Robby Albarado to Retire

By Bill Finley

Robby Albarado | Sarah Andrew

Jockey Robby Albarado, a winner of more than 5,000 races and the regular rider of Hall of Famer Curlin, has decided to retire. The 48-year-old rider will end his career Saturday at Turfway Park, where he has a mount in the seventh race.

The news of his retirement was first reported by Daily Racing Form’s Marty McGee.

“It’s time,” Albarado told DRF. “I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while now.”

 

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Delta Downs Could Be Back Under Lights By Nov. 12

By T. D. Thornton

A two-phase fix to the allegedly unsafe new lighting system at Delta Downs is underway that could allow the Louisiana track to switch back from afternoon programs to traditional weekend night cards by Nov. 12.

The recently installed light-emitting diode (LED) system, which was necessitated by the old lights getting wrecked by a hurricane in August 2020, was only operational for three races on the first night program of the season Oct. 15 before a horse fell at the top of the stretch.

Fueled by complaints from some jockeys and trainers that areas on the turns were dangerously dark and shadowy, the remainder of that card and the Oct. 16 program were cancelled. Delta resumed racing during afternoons without lights Oct. 20-23.

 

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Returning Worker Exception Act Aims for H-2B Relief

By Dan Ross

New federal legislation has been introduced that, if passed, could prove a fillip for trainers struggling to find and hold on to immigrant grooms, hotwalkers and exercise riders in a labor market already squeezed thin.

The H-2B Returning Worker Exception Act of 2021, introduced Tuesday, is designed to “develop a long-term solution to permanently address” the annual H-2B visa cap.

According to the bill as currently written, it amends the definition of “returning worker” to include anyone who has entered the U.S. on an H-2B visa in any one of the three previous years.

 

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Louisiana-bred Picks Up Pieces to Stay Unbeaten in Jersey Girl

GI Belmont S.-winning conditioner Brad Cox grabbed one more stakes win for the road Sunday as unbeaten Australasia rallied past rivals to earn a first black-type victory out of Louisiana-bred company. An 8 1/4-length MSW winner at Fair Grounds last November, the dark bay reeled off a pair of dominant stakes scores at Delta Downs before annexing the two-turn Crescent City Oaks back in NOLA Mar. 20. She picked up another big check when shortening up for a GI Kentucky Oaks day allowance at Churchill Apr. 30, but was facing four talented foes who each owned a recent figure edge over her.

Australasia caboosed the field early after a brief delay when favorite Miss Brazil broke through the gate. Bella Sofia clicked off splits of :22.55 and :45.68 and the chalk challenged that one in upper stretch as Australasia still had work to do out wide. It still looked like it’d be one of those two to midstretch, but Australasia soon caught the eye and came flying with a well-timed ride to score by a widening margin.

 

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