Gulfstream will be first to use Out-of-Competition Testing Grant Fund
The Jockey Club and The Stronach Group jointly announced on Tuesday that Gulfstream Park will become the first racetrack to use the "Graded Stakes Out-of-Competition Testing Grant Fund," which was announced at the 2013 Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing last August.
The fund provides for financial assistance from The Jockey Club to help defray qualifying expenses associated with out-of-competition testing programs. In both 2014 and 2015, The Jockey Club is making available up to $250,000 in funding.
"We owe it to our horsemen and our fans to provide fair competition," said Tim Ritvo, president, COO and general manager of Gulfstream Park, a property of The Stronach Group. "Out-of-competition testing is a way for Gulfstream Park to achieve that and the Florida Derby will be the first race in our program."
"The Jockey Club strongly believes that out-of-competition testing promotes the integrity of Thoroughbred racing and over time will better the breed," said James L. Gagliano, president and COO of The Jockey Club. "We are extremely pleased that Gulfstream Park has stepped forward to become the first to participate in this program and we look forward to working with other interested tracks that wish to take advantage of it."
A Thoroughbred racetrack's participation in the Graded Stakes Out-of-Competition Testing Grant Fund is voluntary. Thoroughbred racetracks that elect to participate in the fund may receive reimbursement to defray some of the costs associated with out-of-competition testing subject to certain criteria.
Racetracks interested in participating in the Graded Stakes Out-of-Competition Testing Grant Fund and obtaining the eligibility criteria should contact The Jockey Club for more information.
The Graded Stakes Out-of-Competition Testing Grant Fund is also available to state regulatory authorities seeking to enhance their existing testing programs by applying directly to the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) for funds.
Turfway to increase allowance, maiden special weight purses
Turfway Park will increase purses for allowance and maiden special weight races through the end of the current meet, racing director Tyler Picklesimer announced on Wednesday.
The increases reflect Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) money available for those categories.
KTDF money already allotted to eligible races will be increased by 50 percent; for example, the previous maiden special weight purse of $20,500 included a $12,000 KTDF supplement. Going forward, the purse will be $26,500 and include an $18,000 KTDF supplement.
"Due to the unusual number of weather-related cancellations this year, we would have ended the meet with a large surplus of KTDF money," Picklesimer said. "After meeting with the KTDF Advisory Committee, we were encouraged to offer the additional KTDF funds during the current meet's remaining allowance and maiden special weight races, which are the only races to which we can add it. That will allow Kentucky-bred horses the opportunity to earn more for their owners and trainers and allow horsemen to make up some of the opportunities for income lost to this difficult winter."
"Anything we can do to make racing more lucrative at Turfway is positive," Turfway Park general manager Chip Bach said. "This decision helps mitigate the impact the winter had on our horsemen. We believe this added incentive will increase interest in the race days remaining this meet."
Turfway scheduled live racing on Fridays and Saturdays in March, with Sundays approved as optional days. The track has already used one optional day, March 2, and plans to race an additional Sunday, March 30, to close out the winter/spring meet.
Tapiture breezes for Rebel
Points of 50-20-10-5 will be awarded to the top four finishers in the Rebel.
Mucho Macho Man named Florida-bred Horse of the Year
Also celebrated for their outstanding accomplishments on the season were all the 2013 Florida-bred champions, as well as their breeders, owners and trainers.
Co-headliner on the year-end honor roll was Gilbert G. Campbell, who was named the 2013 Florida Breeder of the Year. Campbell was also recognized as the breeder-owner of Scandalous Act, who garnered the 2013 Florida-bred champion two-year-old filly title.
Other Florida-bred divisional champions honored were Egg Drop, champion older female and turf female; Ruler of Love, champion three-year-old male; Wildcat Lily, champion three-year-old filly and female sprinter; Dance With Fate, champion two-year-old male; Sahara Sky, champion male sprinter; and Jeranimo, champion turf male.
Nine fillies to dash six furlongs in Cicada
McLaughlin also entered Sustainable in the Cicada. Sustainable broke her maiden by a nose in her third start, a 5 1/2-furlong race on December 31 at Aqueduct, and enters the Cicada off a second, beaten 10 1/4 lengths by Gracer, in the Dearly Precious.
"Sustainable broke her maiden and then ran well (when second to Gracer)," Maguson said. "This is a nice spot for her."
Miss Behaviour is set to return to New York from Maryland after making a pair of starts at Belmont Park in the fall. She remained unbeaten in three starts when she took the Matron by one length in September before suffering her first loss when second by three-quarters of a length in the Sharp Cat overnight stakes in October. After finishing fifth in the one-mile Delta Downs Princess in November, she was shut down for the remainder of the year with the intention of focusing on sprint races in 2013. The Cicada will be her three-year-old debut.
"We turned her out (after the Delta Downs Princess) because she had some nagging problems," trainer Phil Schoenthal said. "We think six furlongs is her ideal distance, and we're trying to find the right spots for her. We're Maryland guys, so the Miss Preakness (in May at Pimlico) is our first main goal, and we want to get two races in her before then, with races like the Prioress and the Test possible later in the year."
Schoenthal said he and the owners tried to change Miss Behaviour's running style in the Sharp Cat and Delta Princess, which he admits was a mistake. She'll return to her front-running ways in the Cicada, Schoenthal said.
"We want her to show the speed she has (in the Cicada)," Schoenthal said. "In her last race in New York and in the Delta Princess we tried rating her from just off the pace, but it proved to not be a good idea. It was a case of an owner and a trainer trying to change nature."
The third choice on the morning line is Jonesin for Jerry, who comes in off a triumph in an allowance at Laurel. After opening her 2013 campaign with a third in the Marshua and a fifth in the Wide Country, she drew off by 5 3/4 lengths when dropped into an allowance on February 28. As a two-year-old, she won the restricted Maryland Million Lassie.
The field also includes Inspired Say Eye, Go West Marie, Red Minx, Alpaca Fina, and Rock Me Mama.
Honor Code entered in Gulfstream allowance
As the Remsen winner, Honor Code will carry the top weight of 124 pounds in the $75,000 allowance. Javier Castellano, aboard for both of his stakes efforts, will guide him from post 4.
Fellow Triple Crown nominee Social Inclusion just began his career on the Fountain of Youth undercard, wiring a six-furlong maiden by 7 1/2 lengths. The Manuel Azpurua pupil set fast fractions of :22, :44 3/5 and :56 3/5 en route to finishing in 1:09 1/5. The Pioneerof the Nile colt now steps up in class and trip, but looms as the controlling speed from the rail. Luis Contreras retains the mount.
The only other Triple Crown nominee in the five-horse field is We're All Set, whose most notable result was a distant third in last October's In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Stakes. The Bill Kaplan runner has been well beaten in his last three, all in salty Gulfstream allowances. Fourth to Coup de Grace and Hy Kodiak Warrior in a one-mile contest on December 15, We're All Set was third to Top Billing and Surfing U S A on January 25 and fifth to Constitution, Tonalist and Mexikoma on February 22. The latter two came at this 1 1/16-mile trip.
Rounding out the quintet are Specialnightaction, 10th in a turf event where he ran for a $75,000 tag, and Ta Bueno, sixth in a $25,000 claimer in his latest.
The Name's Jimmy, winner of the 1992 American Derby (G2) and Will Rogers H. (G3), died March 7 at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, Kentucky. The 25-year old son of Encino was undergoing treatment for mobility issues. Due to their increased severity, Dr. Joan Gariboldi of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute and Old Friends president Michael Blowen determined that humanely euthanizing the horse was in his best interest. The Name's Jimmy, who earned $404,090 during his career, had resided at Old Friends since 2007. He entered stud at Pope McLean's Crestwood Farm in Kentucky and later stood at Hill 'N Dale near Barrington, Illinois, and Elite Thoroughbreds in Folsom, Louisiana. "When Hurricane Katrina came through, Jimmy was lost," said Brian Burns, who owned the horse with his wife, Jan. "He stayed out in the bayou for two days before Pope McLean Jr. found him. It's a wonder he wasn't eaten by an alligator or bitten by a snake. After that, Pope and I called him 'The Survivor.'" The Name's Jimmy sired earners of nearly $6 million, including four stakes winners and five stakes-placed winners. "The Name's Jimmy was blessed to have owners like Brian and Jan Burns and we were lucky to have Jimmy at Old Friends," Blowen said. "It's always difficult to euthanize one of our great retirees but Jimmy made it easy. The look in his eye spoke volumes and we were able to help him in his final hour. We're very grateful for all he gave us."...
Night School, the racing industry's national online fan education program, welcomes one of the game's premier on-air handicappers and analysts, Kurt Hoover, to the program this Tuesday. It marks Hoover's first appearance in Night School, and the tireless evaluator of replays will discuss "Preparing for a Day at the Races" as this week's lesson topic. Horseplayers know Hoover as a longtime Santa Anita and Hollywood Park simulcast handicapper, current HRTV analyst and frequent national telecast contributor to programming on networks such as ESPN and Fox Sports Network. Week 2 of the 40-week Night School season once again will be a 90-minute, multimedia presentation that begins at the standard 8:30 p.m. (EDT) start time. In addition to Hoover's input, students will learn from Fair Grounds racing analyst Brian W. Spencer about his approach to handicapping preparation. Spencer has provided on-track analysis at meets such as Fair Grounds and Arlington Park in recent years and has been a front-line fan educator and handicapper for Horse Player NOW as well. Hoover and Spencer will join Horse Player NOW hosts Jeremy Plonk, Caton Bredar and renowned radio personality Steve Byk. The lesson will feature live-streamed audio among the guest panelists and fans can participate by calling into the show or asking questions directly through the live chat interface that accompanies the Night School program each week. Students who wish to attend Night School can do so by logging on to any one of more than 40 websites throughout the racing industry that simulcasts the weekly online tutorials. For those who cannot attend live, the Night School archives always are available free, immediately following the session and beyond...
Time to Ride, an initiative of the American Horse Council in partnership with Thoroughbred interests represented by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Keeneland and The Jockey Club, is launching an aggressive grassroots effort designed to engage 100,000 new people with horses in a 100-day period. The 100-Day Horse Challenge is a nationwide effort intended to expose at least 100,000 new people to horses while providing $100,000 in cash and prizes to participating stables, organizations and businesses. The program will enlist 1,000 stables, horse clubs, racetracks, organizations or individuals to register as an official Time to Ride "host" and compete in the 100-day challenge, which kicks off June 1. Participating hosts will be divided into small, medium, and large divisions by size, and challenged to provide a hands-on, interactive horse experience to as many new participants as possible. Activities may include education, riding, grooming, learning about horsemanship and more. "NTRA, Keeneland and The Jockey Club have worked on the development of this new owner program for the last 18 months and already hosted a successful event at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club this past summer," said Bryan Pettigrew, Senior Vice President at NTRA. "We're enthusiastic about opening the doors to first-ever horse experiences for thousands of people. This initiative involves many national organizations and stakeholders collaborating on creating new horse owners in the United States." Individual cash prizes up to $25,000, as well as stable equipment, feed, veterinary supplies, and more will be awarded to the hosts that garner the greatest number of new, verified horse enthusiasts. The Challenge is open to the first 1,000 hosts capable of growing the horse industry, including stables, instructors, clubs, events, recreational riders, equine service professionals, veterinarians, racetracks and more. Registered hosts will receive extensive marketing support from Time to Ride, including listing on the Time to Ride Map with special denotation as an official Time to Ride Host. Hosts can register for the Time to Ride "100-Day Horse Challenge" online starting April 1 at www.timetoride.com. The registration deadline is May 15.
For Tuesday or Next Raceday
MARCH 12, 2014
Hall of Fame missing an Old Hat
by Vance Hanson
Among the four Thoroughbred finalists on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot, announced last week by the National Museum of Racing, is Ashado, who was named champion three-year-old filly in 2004 and champion older mare in 2005.
Whether Ashado is inducted this year or at some future time, she would join a lengthy list of fillies and mares in the Hall of Fame who secured divisional championships in multiple years. Members of this group currently include Azeri, Bayakoa, Bed o' Roses, Bewitch, Cicada, Desert Vixen, Flawlessly, Gallant Bloom, Gamely, Go for Wand, Miesque, Paseana, Ruffian, Shuvee, Susan's Girl, Ta Wee, Tosmah and Two Lea.
Over the next several years this list is likely to swell as Zenyatta, Goldikova and Royal Delta become eligible for induction after the mandatory five-year waiting period following their retirement.
Noticeably absent from the aforementioned list is Old Hat, who was twice named champion older mare but whose exploits on the track have largely been forgotten. It's long past due for the Hall's Historic Review Committee to consider her for induction.
Though there is a stakes run annually at Gulfstream Park in her honor, few apparently remember how good Old Hat was. One possible explanation is that she rarely competed on the turf's biggest stages. Old Hat raced in New York only twice, losing by wide margins to Hall of Famers Tosmah and Affectionately, and not at all in California. Suffice it to say her performances in the 1964 Maskette Handicap and 1965 Top Flight Handicap do not begin to tell the whole story.
Old Hat raced 80 times, winning 35 starts and placing in 27 others. In her last three seasons of racing, when she was at her peak, Old Hat was first or second in 29 of 38 starts and was out of the money just five times. Two of those unplaced efforts were on turf, a surface she never quite mastered.
Old Hat broke into the national consciousness in 1963 in an abbreviated (by her standards) campaign which saw her beat or finish ahead of that year's champion older filly, Cicada, twice in three meetings. Though she was getting weight in both instances, it was no small feat to upset a horse who would become the first filly to win championships at ages two, three and four.
In 1964 Old Hat was named champion older mare in the Thoroughbred Racing Association (TRA) poll based on wins in the Delaware Handicap (at the time the richest race in the country for fillies and mares), the Spinster and the Falls City Handicap. She also finished second in the Arlington Matron and Maskette to Tosmah, a three-year-old rival who was named divisional champion in both major polls as well as Daily Racing Form's "Handicap Mare" category, which three-year-olds were eligible to be considered for at the time.
It was in 1965, at age six, when Old Hat clearly establish her Hall of Fame credentials. Not only did she defeat members of her own sex in the Columbiana, Black Helen, Suwannee River, and Arlington Matron, but she also defeated males twice, including the one who would be voted Horse of the Year in the DRF poll.
Old Hat was no stranger to facing and beating males. Prior to 1965, she had won four of six starts against males, albeit all in allowance sprints. But in her second championship season, she proved her mettle three times in stakes company against the boys.
In her first attempt, the seven-furlong Appleton Handicap at Gulfstream, she was beaten a mere neck by Ampose while conceding that foe, who subsequently won the 1 1/4-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap, seven pounds. Later in the year, in the Michigan Mile and One-Eighth Handicap at Detroit, Old Hat defeated Roman Brother by a half-length. Old Hat carried 115 pounds to Roman Brother's 118, essentially equal weight on the scale when the three-pound sex allowance is considered.
Roman Brother, a leading three-year-old the previous year, would go on to win the Woodward, Manhattan Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup by a combined margin of 23 lengths. In a close vote, he was named 1965 Horse of the Year in the DRF poll.
Old Hat's third and final stakes attempt against males that season was in the Fayette Handicap at Keeneland. Again carrying equal weight on the scale with her closest pursuer, she won by a neck over Lt. Stevens, later to be famous as the broodmare sire of Hall of Famer Alysheba.
Two disappointing efforts prevented Old Hat from being a serious Horse of the Year candidate in 1965. In her final appearance in New York, Old Hat conceded seven pounds to Affectionately in the Top Flight, and that rival got an easy lead which she never surrendered. And 12 days after winning the Fayette, Old Hat ran a puzzling fourth in the Spinster at odds of 2-5. Nonetheless, Old Hat was awarded champion older mare honors by both the DRF and TRA.
"Hattie" was not in championship form in 1966, but her campaign had its moments. The highlights included a second win in the Falls City at Churchill Downs and a second-place effort in the Spinster, where she finished between Open Fire and Summer Scandal, the respective DRF and TRA champion older mares of the year. Old Hat's racing career ended following an allowance score against males at Tropical Park on December 2, 1966. She died in 1987 at the age of 28.
Old Hat was the quintessential champion mare of an earlier era. She was durable, excessively so by modern standards, a winner going short and long over 10 different racetracks, and was one of the very few fillies in history to have defeated the best male of her year straight up. It's these attributes that make her worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame.
SANTA ANITA NOTEBOOK
MARCH 12, 2014
by John Mucciolo
Some of the best horses on the grounds competed during a huge weekend at Santa Anita.
Santa Anita H. (G1): Diamon Pride LLC et al's GAME ON DUDE (Awesome Again) sped to the front end and was ultra-game in holding off a real good one to win this race for an unprecedented third time for trainer Bob Baffert. The Kentucky-bred gelding finished 1 3/4 lengths clear under the wire while earning a new stakes mark of 1:58 beneath Mike Smith.
Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1): Heerensperger and Nelson's WINNING PRIZE (Pure Prize) seized the lead soon after the start and never wavered en route to a half-length score under the guidance of Corey Nakatani. The Neil Drysdale trainee stopped the teletimer in a sharp 1:32 2/5 for the firm, one-mile grassy test.
San Felipe S. (G2): Coburn and Martin's CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit) proved that he surely belonged with open foes after wiring this field by a widening 7 1/4 lengths under Victor Espinoza. The California-bred sophomore sped 1 1/16 miles in 1:40 2/5 (the second-fastest San Felipe ever) for trainer Art Sherman, posting his third straight romp.
San Carlos S. (G2): Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and Sweetwater Stables' SAHARA SKY (Pleasant Tap) had only two runners beaten in midstretch but rallied with a fury to roll past his foes to a half-length tally beneath Joel Rosario. The six-year-old endured seven-eighths on the fast main oval in 1:20 4/5.
Las Flores S. (G3): Trainer Wesley Ward's JUDY THE BEAUTY (Ghostzapper) tracked the pace early and showed her class late in drawing away from this field beneath John Velazquez, who came out to ride her. The five-year-old mare, who was a game second in the Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) in her previous run, sped six panels in 1:08 1/5 while 4 3/4 lengths clear at the finish.
From a total of 36 races held at the Arcadia, California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 28 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 64 percent of the wins. From 24 frays contested on the dirt oval, seven animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (29 percent), while three of the 12 grassy tilts were taken all the way on the front end (25 percent).
The Thursday card produced four winners leading at every call on the dirt from six races, but a trio of those was very logical. There was some talk of a bias on the main strip because of the very fast times produced Saturday, but we saw plenty of horses showing a nice turn of foot on the oval and will squash that talk. For the week, three of the wire jobs came in route races, and the other four in one-turn events.
HORSES TO WATCH
5TH -- The Melody Conlon-trained TOMMY'S STYLIN (Thewayyouare) had a poor post and equally poor start at first asking, but the sophomore colt recovered and finished a close third in what we thought was a fine debut try. We're not sure what was in this field quality-wise, but we will give the colt a big chance to graduate in his return.
7TH -- We were big fans of JOELITO (Rock Hard Ten) during his three-year-old campaign and we have a hunch he will evolve into a stakes player again this season following this finale allowance tally. The colt showed nice improvement in his second start for the Jerry Hollendorfer barn and topped what we thought was a solid little field under Corey Nakatani.
7TH -- HEAVENS STAIRWAY (Decarchy) broke best and never looked back in posting a most facile 2 3/4-length score for conditioner Joshua Litt. The smart and speedy filly left no doubt under Victor Espinoza and will always be a major player in these ranks.
1ST -- We had a hunch that SATIRICAL (Distorted Humor) was live in this debut and the filly made us look good with a fine closing score at first asking. The Richard Mandella trainee, who is out of a full-sister to champion Funny Cide and is a half-sister herself to multiple graded victor Rule, appears to have a very bright future.
3RD -- PASS THE PICO (Exchange Rate) was well behind a clear leader on an oval that might have been playing well to speed horses, so the late run that saw the gelding finish more than seven lengths clear of third has to be considered a big effort. We'll tab the Julio Canani pupil going forward.
5TH -- MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute) had no chance with the impressive winner of this race, though the Bob Baffert charge was still tons second best in the field and the sophomore has been very honest to this point of his career. We'd never count him out with his talent and consistency.
6TH -- DIVERSY HARBOR (Curlin) remained unbeaten by making the maiden-to-stakes, and sprint-to-route jump, for conditioner Tom Proctor. This sophomore miss has now rallied from way back at the top of the lane and is a very exciting prospect on the lawn.
1ST -- KEYBOARD COURAGE (Speightstown) rallied from off the pace this time but the result was the same, as the Peter Miller won for the second straight time, being geared down late. We were very surprised no claims were put in on the class dropper and he will be tough right back in a similar spot.
6TH -- MYTHICAL STORM (Fusaichi Pegasus) was done no favors drawing the rail in this debut run going down the hill, but the Mark Glatt trainee rallied from last-to-first and won going away like a good thing. The California-bred three-year-old could surely be one to watch with expected improvement.
A Look Ahead
Saturday's feature at Santa Anita is the Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Margarita Stakes, while the Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Ana Stakes tops the Sunday card.
MARCH 11, 2014
Taking on the Twinspires.com Mob to Win $1 million
by Ed DeRosa
If you're one of the TwinSpires.com players still alive for the $1-million prize in our Road to the Kentucky Derby SHOWdown game, then you probably feel like the "one" Bob Sagat is always cheerleading against a mob of diminishing stature.
Going into the Rebel Stakes this weekend, the game is one versus 81, as each of the remaining 82 players hope to outlast the 81 others for the $1-million top prize as well as the best chance at 2015 Kentucky Derby and Oaks tickets plus more shares in the $10,000 prize pool.
The 82 players going into the Rebel represent 3.5 percent of the starting group, for an average attrition rate in each of the 8 races of 65.9 percent. The favorite hit the board in seven consecutive races before finishing fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby.
If this average attrition rate continues, then there is a 56 percent chance that at least one person will be alive for the $1 million going into the Kentucky Derby and a 42.4 percent chance that at least one person will score the top prize.
Personally, I'm five-for-eight, having missed the Risen Star (Rise Up), the Gotham (Harpoon), and the Tampa Bay Derby (Hy Kodiak Warrior). Five-for-eight doesn't sound great when 3.5 percent of players are still a perfect eight-for-eight, but it's actually the most likely outcome from eight trials with any one success having a 65.9 percent chance of occurring.
And while eight-for-eight is fantastic, it's statistically more likely than someone going zero-, one, or two-for-eight combined.
One aspect of SHOWdown that did conclude this past weekend was our "last longest" Twitter contest in which @JBOswald68 and @fakemaven split the $500 prize after both advanced past the San Felipe Stakes with Midnight Hawk and California Chrome, respectively, but were eliminated in the Tampa Bay Derby with Conquest Titan and Cousin Stephen, respectively.
MARCH 11, 2014
Pumped Up as Cheltenham Looms Boldly
by Peter Fornatale
It's hard to explain Cheltenham to the uninitiated because in some ways it must be experienced in the flesh to truly appreciate it.
But that doesn't mean you can't try, and what better way to take in the greatest, most fun, most exciting race meeting in the world than from the comfort of your home or office and with TwinSpires.com?
Today, I am going to outline four reasons why American racing fans should pay attention to Cheltenham. I encourage everyone to check back in this space frequently over the next five days, as I'll be giving out tips for a bunch of races and hopefully put some of what's happening over at Prestbury Park in the Cotswolds in context for the American audience.
1. Great Racing
Suffice it to say that in the UK and (especially) Ireland, jump racing is a really, really big deal. The Cheltenham festival is kind of like the Olympics of jump racing. All the major divisions have championship races and horses participate from around the world. Heck, this year there's even a major contender for the Arkle (two-mile novice chase race) owned by an American (Riverdee Stables' Valdez).
Here's the basic breakdown: there are two types of races: hurdles (small obstacles) and chase fences (larger obstacles). There are less experienced jumpers (novices), who have their own set of races, and more experienced jumpers who compete at the highest levels in races like the Champion Hurdle and, naturally, the Gold Cup. Don't get the idea that the novice races are really any less prestigious though -- it's more like the Triple Crown races here. Yes, they are restricted, but they are still a very big deal.
2. England vs. Ireland
I recall walking by a pub in the vicinity of Cheltenham a few years ago and there was a chalk sign out front that indicated its TVs were showing football (Tottenham vs. Man City), Rugby (Scotland vs. Italy), and Horse Racing (England vs. Ireland). The latter was of course referring to the Cheltenham Festival. The rivalry is friendly for the most part and no smart gambler would be so prejudiced as to refuse to bet a horse from the other country, but the England vs. Ireland stuff does add an intriguing subplot to the Festival for sure.
3. The Ultimate Expression of Horse Racing as Sport
The greatest part about jump racing is that the big stars compete year after year. A given star horse might well compete in several of the Festival's signature races during in his career as he wends his way from the bumper (a flat race for jump prospects) potentially all the way to the Gold Cup. As a result, the fans develop a connection to the horses that's much deeper than in flat racing, except in the most extraordinary circumstances (horses like Frankel or Zenyatta). It's more akin to how we follow our favorite sports teams. It's a beautiful thing to watch the horses come back into the winner's enclosure and no matter who they are -- a 6-to-5 favorite backed by half of Ireland or a 40-to-1 longshot that few have -- they get a heroes' welcome.
4. Great Betting Opportunities
With huge fields, good-sized commingled tote pools, great horses, and unique betting opportunities, Cheltenham represents an opportunity for bettors to make a score. I'll be doing my best to give you the best information I can and I'll be playing along. If nothing else, it should be a fun week. If things break right, we'll make a few bucks.
Top Speed/Class ratings
TOP BRIS CLASS RATINGS
(through March 10, 2014)
Note: Figures are for North American-based racing
At a Glance
AT A GLANCE SCHEDULE
*all times Eastern
HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.
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