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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

H-2B Call to Action - We Have 10 Days to Make a Difference!

We have 10 days to make a difference!

Congress must address federal spending bills for the remainder of fiscal year 2017 by April 28 to avoid a government shutdown. The primary opportunity that we have for getting the Returning Worker Exemption reenacted and saving the H-2B visa program for this season is by inclusion of the language in the spending bill that must be passed by that date. Congress needs to hear a steady drum beat from H-2B users across the country if we are going to be successful in reinstating the returning worker exemption through a year-end spending bill. Your help is crucial in this endeavor.

Please call both of your Senator's offices and ask him/her to sign on to Senator Flake’s (R-AZ) letter to leadership in support of the returning worker exemption being included in the appropriations measure for the remainder of fiscal year 2017. The letter will be sent on Friday so they must sign on THIS WEEK. 

You can reach your Senators through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121. To find out who your two Senators are please go to this website:

Call your member of Congress and ask the member to please contact Speaker Ryan’s office and ask that the Speaker ensures that the H-2B Returning Worker Exemption is included in any appropriation measure to fund the balance of FY 2017.


You can reach your Representative through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121.  To find out who your Representative is please go to this website:

Even if you have already made multiple phone calls and visits to your member of Congress and your Senators, please call again today, tomorrow, and every day until April 28th. Please let me know what you are being told by the staffers that answer the phone. Thank you!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Race Track Chaplaincy of America Announces Board of Directors for 2017

Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA), a ministry that serves the horse racing industry at racetracks and training facilities across the United States and beyond, has announced this year’s board of directors:

Elliott Walden (President)- President & CEO, WinStar Farm.  Has served RTCA on many levels, working closely with both the KY. and NY. Chaplaincies.

Rich Gimmel (Vice President)- Owner and chairman of Atlas Machine and Supply, Inc., currently Executive Director of the Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy Council.

Chaplain Humberto Chavez (Secretary)- Senior Chaplain for the New York Race Track Chaplaincy since 2003, serving Saratoga, Aqueduct, and Belmont Park.

Chaplain Darrell Winter (Treasurer)- Chaplain at Ruidoso Downs for 17 years and the RTCA National Treasurer for the past 2 years.

Arnie Frazee (Region Director’s Representative)- Has served on various committees and Board positions within RTCA, based out of the Remington Park Race Track Chaplaincy.

Karen Chavez (Women’s Ministry Representative)- Leads women’s ministry for the New York Race Track Chaplaincy and has previously held the position on the RTCA National level.

Jody Parmenter (Council President’s Representative)- Serving as the Council President for the Emerald Downs Chaplaincy in Washington state.

Chaplain Dwight Brown (Chaplain’s Representative)- Chaplain at Evangeline Downs for the last six years.  Also serves as a Pastor of a church in Louisiana and Police Officer with the Opelousas Police Department.

Allyn Mann (Industry Representative)- Director of the Animal Health Division of Luitpold Animal Health.  Has committed the past 29 years to working in the animal health industry.

Dan Waits (Executive Director)- Began role of RTCA Executive Director in 2016.  Previously served as Executive Pastor in two Kentucky churches.  Prior to ordination, served in the KY. Governor’s Office and as a Program/Account Manager in the automotive industry.

Executive Director Dan Waits expressed enthusiasm about working with the new RTCA Board. “I’m grateful to have served with those board members whose terms have ended and welcome our newest board members.  It’s a great balance of folks that are involved every day in the horse racing industry and care deeply about the ministry.  I look forward to working together as we continue to improve RTCA’s ability to serve.”

Since 1972, the Race Track Chaplaincy of America has served the horse racing industry through the work of Chaplains, Councils, and volunteers at horse tracks and training facilities across the United States and beyond.  The mission of RTCA is to minister to the spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and educational needs of those persons involved in all aspects of the horse racing industry.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Interactive, Electronic Edition of The Horsemen’s Journal Spring 2017 Issue is Now Available

The interactive, electronic version of The Horsemen’s Journal’s Spring 2017 issue is now available online. It is an enhanced version of our Spring issue, which is currently being mailed. To view it, click here.

Features in the issue include:

Horsemen gather in Las Vegas for the National HBPA’s Annual Convention with a theme of working together

A look at what new policies and executive orders mean for the racing industry

How supersensitive testing and contamination are affecting horsemen

Ingredients in over-the-counter cold medicines can wreak havoc on a trainer’s livelihood and an owner’s prized racehorse

Much more than a PDF, the interactive electronic edition of The Horsemen’s Journal includes the ability to save, print, email, or share content on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Please enjoy this exciting offering from the National HBPA and share it with anyone you think might enjoy it.

All hyperlinks/URLs and email addresses in the electronic edition are working, clickable links. So be sure to click on some of them – especially those in the advertisements to get more information on the great products and services being offered by the companies supporting your horsemen’s organization.

"Salty" Roberts, Founder of National Chaplaincy, Dies at 85

"Salty" Roberts
Horace William “Salty” Roberts, founder of Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA), passed away Friday at the age of 85. Salty died at a hospice care center in Hollywood, Florida, located near his home in Cooper City, following a sustained illness.

Salty witnessed and experienced firsthand the needs of what he considered to be his family—the workers who care for horses on a daily basis on the backside of racetracks. Following a dramatic spiritual conversion, he began ministering to track workers in the late 1960s. Salty took the first step toward establishing the first recognized worship services on the backside of a thoroughbred race track in 1970.

His efforts spread to other race tracks and led to the establishment of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA) in 1972. From that early beginning, the RTCA today supports chaplains ministering at 39 racetracks and training centers throughout the nation.

“Salty had a real burden on his heart for the people that he worked with,” said long-time friend Pat Day, a Hall of Fame jockey and currently president of the Kentucky chapter of RTCA. “He eagerly shared that burden by establishing a ministry to serve them right where they worked and often live—on the backside of race tracks.”

Of the passing, Dan Waits, Executive Director of Race Track Chaplaincy of America said, “Countless lives and generations to come have been and will be impacted by the Christ-centered work of Salty Roberts. We stand on his shoulders, and RTCA will continue to honor his legacy by carrying out the mission he established.”

Of his efforts to share Christ with racetrack workers, Salty once said, "I never did become a top jockey or a leading trainer, but God has given me something better than all that. He gave me the gift of salvation through his Son, and at the end of my life, when I hear him say, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant,' I'll know I've won my race. That's the greatest honor I could ever receive."

The Race Track Chaplaincy of America which Salty founded continues to serve the horse racing industry today with Chaplains, Councils, and volunteers at horse tracks and training facilities across the United States and beyond. The mission of RTCA remains the same: to minister to the spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and educational needs of those persons involved in all aspects of the horse racing industry.

Salty is survived by his wife, Dallas; six children: Mark Roberts, Lygia Colton (Kevin), Mary McKeever, Chris Roberts (Melissa); Paul Roberts, and Alicia Gargiulo (John); nine grandchildren; and three great grandchildren.

For more information on the work of the ministry that he started, go

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Kentucky HBPA Endorses EquiLottery as ‘Important Innovation’

The Kentucky HBPA, one of the country’s largest horsemen’s organizations, has endorsed EquiLottery, the innovative lottery product based on the results of live horse racing.

Brad Cummings, EquiLottery’s founder and chief executive officer, called the stamp of approval from the Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association “an important piece in moving the game towards adoption in its home state of Kentucky and beyond.

“We are delighted to count the Kentucky HBPA as core supporters of our mission to bring the excitement of live horse racing to the masses through our unprecedented lottery experience," Cummings said. “This organization has been a friend of EquiLottery since our public unveiling, and their support has been foundational to our continued momentum. We thank their entire leadership team for standing with us while we have dedicated ourselves to creating this new distribution and revenue opportunity for horse racing and increasing returns to the good causes supported by state lotteries around the country."

The Kentucky HBPA represents about 6,000 owners and trainers racing at the commonwealth’s five Thoroughbred tracks, working on issues such as funding and increasing race purses, ensuring safety measures at the track and assisting in services that take care of the professional and personal needs of their members. The Kentucky HBPA is the second such organization to show public support for EquiLottery, following the endorsement of West Virginia Racing United, which is made up of horsemen’s associations in the Mountain State.

"We have been thrilled to support Brad and his vision for EquiLottery over the years," said Kentucky HBPA president Rick Hiles. "It is so vital that we bring new people into the sport for this industry to have the bright future we all know it can enjoy. While we welcome any new revenue opportunities, the HBPA is most enthusiastic about the chance to introduce millions of people across the country to the excitement of live horse racing through this important innovation. EquiLottery is by far the best model we have seen to accomplish this goal. We wholeheartedly back this product and ask state leadership in Kentucky to do the same."

Since its public announcement over the summer of 2014, EquiLottery has worked diligently to develop its lottery product based on the results of live horse racing. The company has structured agreements with lottery-industry leader IGT Global Solutions and tote-system leader AmTote International to deliver a cohesive lottery experience for state lotteries and their players.

EquiLottery recently announced its first racetrack agreements with Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Eldorado Resorts’ Mountaineer Park, both in West Virginia. The Kentucky-based company is also in development on its IOS and Android mobile app that will allow players to watch races live and on replay, scan tickets and set push notifications for upcoming races — all from the convenience of their mobile devices.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

First International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses Conference Set for May 2017 in Washington, D.C.

The International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses (IFAR) will hold its first conference in Washington, D.C., on May 17 and 18, 2017, coinciding with the Pan American Conference.
 “This aftercare conference provides horse racing representatives from around the world with the opportunity to discuss the aftercare of our Thoroughbred racehorses,” said James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club. “In addition to the major racing nations, we hope to include racing and aftercare representatives from smaller countries and emerging racing nations who share our mission to provide proper care of Thoroughbreds during their lifetimes.”

Speakers will represent many aspects of Thoroughbred aftercare and welfare, from promoting and retraining to connecting aftercare to bettors and developing non-racing agreements for owners.

Boyd Martin, a three-day event rider, is the keynote speaker on Wednesday. He has finished in the top 10 at every four-star event in the world except Badminton (England). Originally from Australia, Martin moved to the United States in 2007. One of his best-known horses is Blackfoot Mystery, an off-track Thoroughbred.

Thursday’s keynote address will be given by Michael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends and former film critic of the Boston Globe. Old Friends is a Thoroughbred retirement facility consisting of two farms, one in Kentucky and one in New York, that provide homes for pensioned stallions and other Thoroughbreds whose careers in racing and breeding have come to an end.

Representatives from prominent groups such as the American Association of Equine Practitioners (Kathleen Anderson), Au-delĂ  des Pistes in France (Lisa-Jane Graffard), International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, Japanese Racing Association (Takahiro Nishio), Racing Queensland (Dr. Eliot Forbes), Racing Victoria (Raelene Harrison), Retired Racehorse Project (Steuart Pittman), Retraining of Racehorses in the United Kingdom (Di Arbuthnot), The Humane Society of the United States (Wayne Pacelle), The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program (Kristin Leshney), and Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (Stacie Clark Rogers) will provide their perspective insights on Thoroughbred aftercare.

IFAR is an independent forum that recognizes geographical and industry differences among racing countries and is designed to enhance Thoroughbred aftercare worldwide. Working with the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, IFAR will raise awareness of the importance of welfare for Thoroughbreds, improve education on lifetime care, and help increase demand for former racehorses in other equestrian sports.

Attendance at the IFAR conference, which is hosted by The Jockey Club and supported by Godolphin, is open to all racing jurisdictions, aftercare organizations and other interested parties.

“We hope to promote the versatility and adaptability of Thoroughbreds globally,” said Di Arbuthnot, chief executive, Retraining of Racehorses.  “We want the world to know that Thoroughbreds can excel in other equestrian sports as well as they excel in racing, and they also make fantastic companions, hacks, therapeutic horses – the list goes on.”

IFAR has also announced the launch of its website,, which is a resource for anyone interested in the welfare of Thoroughbreds. The website features the IFAR Principles of Aftercare, which have been developed in collaboration with IFAR steering group members and welfare specialists drawing on the expertise of international governing bodies. It will also provide educational resources, expert support, and updates on IFAR and its members. 

“IFAR is committed to bringing together the organizations from around the world that facilitate and promote the retraining of racehorses to share expertise and best practices,” said Dr. Eliot Forbes, CEO, Racing Queensland, chair, Racing Australia, Retirement of Racehorses Committee. “In addition to information and resources focusing on aftercare, the website will provide inspirational content and showcase achievements on a global scale.”

To sign up for the conference or for more information on IFAR, visit or contact  
Those who wish to attend only the IFAR meetings, send an email to indicating so. There is no cost to attend the business meetings themselves of IFAR.
For those who wish to attend the remainder of the Pan American Conference, including the Gala Dinner featuring the Longines Ladies Awards and Preakness Stakes (see the Pan American Conference Program), the cost will be $500. Please use the same address above for registration information. 

The Pan American Conference, hosted by The Jockey Club and the Latin American Racing Channel, is a mix of business and social events that will take place in Washington, D.C., May 17 - 20, 2017, in the days leading up to the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. Attendance of the IFAR Conference includes the social events of the Pan American Conference on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. For more information on the Pan American Conference, visit

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

An Open Letter to the Industry on Environmental Contamination

National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback and Dr. Steven A. Barker, one of the world’s foremost experts in equine drug testing and research, have written an important open letter to the industry on environmental contamination.

The letter begins, "On behalf of owners and trainers in every jurisdiction, we would like to address comments made during a recent Kentucky Horse Racing Commission meeting regarding the dismissal of several dextrorphan cases. Dr. Mary Scollay, who serves in an advisory capacity for the KHRC as its equine medical director, told those regulators that environmental contamination as a source had nothing to do with three violations for the presence of dextrorphan in urine being thrown out.

After publicly thanking the KHRC last month for taking the lead on the significant issue of environmental contamination, something horsemen deal with on a day-to-day basis, we find Dr. Scollay’s comments disappointing. We believe Dr. Scollay is mistaken regarding elements of environmental contamination. Yet in explaining why the cases were dismissed, she also established a sensible policy change."

To read the complete letter published in the Thoroughbred Daily News, click here.

Friday, February 24, 2017

KEEP Day Connects KEEP Members with Friends in the Legislature, Old and New

Senator Steve West (left) with National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback
Kentucky equine-industry participants and supporters got the chance to emphasize the important impact horses have on the state and local economies during visits with state legislators on Wednesday’s KEEP Day in Frankfort organized by the Kentucky Equine Education Project.

Several dozen stake-holders in Kentucky’s $4 billion horse industry told an array of lawmakers their individual stories and advocated for state sales tax exemption for feed, equipment and supplies, equal to that provided to other livestock.

Edmonton County’s Linda Starnes, a team leader in KEEP’s state-wide grassroots network who owns, trains and shows Tennessee Walking Horses, said the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund (KBIF) is a tribute to all breeds in the state working together to enhance the overall horse industry. The KBIF, whose creation was spear-headed by KEEP working with legislators, provides funding for non-racing breeds and is largely financed by sales tax on Thoroughbred stud fees. This month, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission released $940,000 from the KBIF to non-race breeds, bringing the total distributed since the fund’s 2005 inception to $10.8 million.

“If it wasn’t for the horse-racing industry, we wouldn’t have the Breeders’ Incentive Fund program,” Starnes said. “And if we didn’t have the Breeders’ Incentive Fund Program, this kind of horse-showing wouldn’t be happening; it would be gone.”

Sen. Robin Webb of Grayson County, a member of the executive committee of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, said the KBIF is attracting horses from non-racing breeds to Kentucky, resulting in a huge surge in competitions.

“It helps infuse money into our local economies, maintains facilities and provides opportunity to show and utilize your horses and equines of all kinds,” Webb said. “… The numbers don’t tell the tale of the impact. You can’t look at that ledger book and make a valid assessment of the impact, because it’s so far greater than that.”

Said Rep. James Kay of Versailles: “We absolutely benefit from the horse industry every day in ways that people don’t always understand. We need to do a better job articulating that, and showing the economic driver that the industry is for our people.”

Agreed Rep. Adam Koenig, whose district includes Turfway Park: “There are so many jobs associated with horses, horse racing. People like green space and open space. It adds to the economy in so many ways through direct and indirect jobs. Obviously it’s our signature industry - in large part our identity.”

Rep. Kelly Flood of Lexington said KEEP has done a good job focusing on the economic benefits of the industry.

“That’s what it’s about, if you don’t have horses in your district,” she said of the legislature. “Not everybody has the bourbon industry in their district. But the bourbon industry is good for the whole commonwealth. You have to do the same thing with all our signature industries.”

Eric Hamelback, chief executive officer of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, told Sen. Reggie Thomas of Lexington that, “What Kentucky does is viewed by every other racing state there is…. This state is the measure of what every other state tries to get to. Very important for us.”

“It was a great day in the capitol for Kentucky’s horse industry,” said Joe Clabes, KEEP executive director. “Our members were able to visit with some longtime friends and also get acquainted with some of the new legislators. These interactions with our members are critical to helping legislators understand the beneficial role horses have in our state. KEEP will continue to create opportunities for our grassroots horse folks to develop relationships with elected officials. It will be a year-around effort, not just during the legislative session.”

The Kentucky Equine Education Project is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky's signature horse industry. Support for KEEP’s activity comes directly from the horse industry and horse industry supporters. To learn more about how you can become a member or make a contribution, please visit

Pennsylvania HBPA's New Start Re-homing Program Wins Zoetis Equine Charity Sweepstakes

From left to right: Megan Lapp, Zoetis; Dr. David Marshall; Lauren Zagnit, New Start; Sandee Martin, PA HBPA president; Todd Mostoller, PA HBPA executive director.
New Start, the Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolence and Protective Association (PA HBPA) retired racehorse re-homing program, was named grand prize winner in the Zoetis Equine Charity Sweepstakes. The equine charity in Grantville, Pennsylvania, received a $5,000 cash donation from Zoetis on behalf of the nominating veterinarian, Dr. David Marshall. Dr. Marshall nominated New Start while attending the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Annual Convention. He practices veterinary medicine at Penn National Race Course.

“This is the first sweepstakes I’ve ever won – it’s a wonderful contest to win because I can pass on the value to an organization in need and help support the equine industry,” said Dr. Marshall. “My responsibility at the racetrack, in part, is to secure the health and welfare of the horses that race here. While the career of a racehorse is limited, racehorses have many valuable years to give following their time at the track. That’s why I nominated New Start, they help provide temporary homes for racehorses before beginning their second careers.”

As a part of the PA HBPA, New Start has helped re-home more than 350 former racehorses over the past three years. The program focuses on placing horses where they will succeed in second careers as show horses, barrel racers, eventers, polo mounts, pleasure horses and more.

“Once a horse is donated to our program by an owner, our committee’s veterinarian and I examine the horse. Our findings determine which one of our foster farms will be most suitable for transitioning the horse to a successful second career. The vast majority of our Thoroughbreds excel in a wide range of riding disciplines but a few go to a sanctuary we help support,” said Lauren Zagnit, program coordinator, New Start. “We are so appreciative of the support Zoetis has provided and the opportunity to utilize these funds to help more horses find second careers.”

“Zoetis is committed to working together with veterinarians, horse owners and equine professionals to help improve health and wellness for all horses,” said Sally Amtmann, senior equine marketing manager, Zoetis. “We are pleased to extend our industry support to provide New Start with resources to assist in managing the horses in their care.”

Building on a six-decade history and a singular focus in animal health, Zoetis colleagues work every day to be a comprehensive resource for the equine industry. Zoetis is a proud educational partner of the AAEP, the American Horse Council, the American Quarter Horse Association and a supporter of Time to Ride, A Home For Every Horse and many other equine community initiatives. For more information on how Zoetis supports the equine industry and works to help horses live long, healthy lives, visit

The Zoetis Equine Charity Sweepstakes was held at the 2016 AAEP Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida, from Dec. 3-7, 2016. Convention attendees nominated any equine 501(c)(3) charity of their choice at the Zoetis booth, and one grand prizewinner was drawn at random following the show.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kentucky HBPA and Turfway Park Team Up to Present Happy Hour Handicapping

Turfway Park and the Kentucky HBPA are teaming up March 3 for Happy Hour Handicapping, an interactive event where people who love racing, horses or just a good time can learn the basics of playing the races and take a first look at Kentucky Derby contenders.

The free event is part of that week’s Rockin’ Dollar Friday at Turfway, featuring live racing, one-dollar draft beer, hot dogs and bets as well as live music. Happy Hour Handicapping will begin on Turfway’s third floor at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 45 minutes after the first race, and conclude an hour before the popular band DV8 takes the stage at 9:30 p.m.

Mike Battaglia, Turfway associate vice president and Kentucky Derby oddsmaker, who last year retired from the Turfway announcer’s booth after 43 years, and award-winning turf writer Jennie Rees will share simple handicapping strategies for those new to betting on races. Battaglia and Rees also will discuss their top picks for the Kentucky Derby and its Turfway preps: the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes on March 4 and the $500,000 Grade 3 JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes on March 25.

Those who attend Happy Hour Handicapping will receive free general admission to the showcase Spiral card, also featuring the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks, a prep for the Kentucky Oaks.

“We are always looking for ways to team with our track partners to promote horse racing,” said Martin Maline, executive director of the Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, which represents about 6,000 owners and trainers racing in the Commonwealth. “Those who come to Turfway primarily for the band can learn simple techniques for handicapping that will enhance their trip to the track. Plus, it’s never too early to decide who you like for the Derby.”

“It’s fun to be at the races, and the excitement increases as you learn how to pick horses,” said Turfway general manager Chip Bach. “Mike and Jennie will share their knowledge in a casual, fun environment. We look forward to all of our participants then joining us for the Spiral to see who earns a coveted spot in the Kentucky Derby this year.”

Happy Hour Handicapping also includes drawings for prizes, including tickets to the Spiral’s VIP tent; a Woodford Reserve 2016 Kentucky Derby commemorative bottle featuring the work of equine artist Thomas Allen Pauly; a print of Pauly’s bottle painting; reserved seats at Keeneland’s spring meet; racing-themed merchandise from All Pro Championships; and 13” X 19” prints of the 2015 Eclipse Award-winning photo taken by Courier-Journal photographer Michael Clevenger just after Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and jockey Victor Espinoza crossed the finish line of their historic Belmont Stakes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ohio HBPA Donates $50,000 to Support New Vocations’ Aftercare Efforts

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program announced today that the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) has donated $50,000 to support the program’s aftercare efforts at their Ohio facility. In 2016, New Vocations took in over 450 retired racehorses, 66 of which came directly from an Ohio racetrack or farm.

“It is important to the Ohio HBPA that our retired Thoroughbreds be given a chance to thrive in a second career. We are proud to continue our partnership with New Vocations, an organization that began 25 years ago right here in Ohio to give our horses that chance," said Dave Basler, Ohio HBPA Executive Director.

“We are extremely grateful to the Ohio HBPA for their generous donation and ongoing support of our aftercare efforts in the state. Their support over the last several years has allowed us to expand our rehabilitation program and ultimately help more horses. The funding is greatly needed and will help us continue to serve horses retiring from Ohio racetracks,” said Anna Ford, New Vocation Program Director.

The Ohio HBPA donation comes during New Vocations’ 25-year anniversary of operations in Ohio. With seven facilities in Kentucky, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the program has grown into the largest racehorse adoption organization in the country. Its mission to rehabilitate, retrain and rehome retired racehorses has led to the placement of over 6,000 horses. New Vocations serves over 40 racetracks and focuses on working directly with owners and trainers in need of racehorse aftercare options. To learn more about the program, visit

About the Ohio HBPA: The Ohio HBPA is a multi-jurisdictional, benevolent and trade association. It provides financial assistance to members in need, educational and informational programs, health fairs, social events, services to members, representation before the Ohio General Assembly and the Ohio State Racing Commission, and negotiates contracts and resolves disputes with tracks.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Complete Starts Information and Top Horses by Jockey, Trainer, Owner, now Available on

Equibase Company today announced the expansion of racing statistics available on with the addition of complete starts information for every jockey, trainer and owner as well as the top horses ridden, trained or owned, respectively, by each person.

In addition to the statistical expansion, has also transitioned to a responsive design technology to enhance the user experience when viewing the data from a mobile device.

“Fans now have easy access to the detailed history of every single start for jockeys, trainers and owners,” said Jason Wilson, president and chief operating officer for Equibase. “This comprehensive data can now be viewed in a more user-friendly way through our responsive site, regardless of whether individuals are using a desktop, tablet or phone.”

Complete lifetime starts information for jockeys, trainers and owners can be accessed by year and are searchable and sortable by the following categories: track name, race date, race type, purse, horse name, and finish position.

Individual profile pages for jockeys, trainers and owners now offers a “Top Horses” section that provides the Top 20 horses lifetime (ranked by purse earnings) that the person rode, conditioned or owned. Users also have the option to view the Top 20 horses by year and to rank the data by other categories.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Sunshine Millions a "Huge Success," Sees $900K Handle Increase

Hallandale Beach – 2017 Sunshine Millions Classic, the last race of the day, Hy Riverside, longshot Nauset Beach and heavy-favorite Awesome Slew battle down to the wire, nip and tuck, head to head, in a super tight photo finish! And the winner…

Hy Riverside trained by Antonio Sano, owned by Mar Racing Stable and expertly ridden by jockey Jose Ortiz.

The perfect finish to a thrilling day of Florida-bred championship racing at Gulfstream Park.

In the winner’s circle light bulbs were flashing, and high-fives were flying. Handle for the 2017 Sunshine Millions jumped from $13,403,368 in 2016 to $14,309,524. A healthy 6.761% increase.

But the real winners were Florida-based owners, trainers, and breeders.

Bill White, President of the Florida HBPA, who for many years participated as a trainer in this benchmark event, was impressed with the quality of races and crowd participation.

“Huge, huge success,” he said. “Better than we expected. I’m thrilled we could keep the races as Florida Bred races. The FHBPA looks forward to expanding and supporting racing opportunities like this one for Florida-breds in the future.”

For those unfamiliar with the background story, the 2017 Sunshine Millions came perilously close to not running, due to the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) declining to fund and participate at the last moment. But working together with Gulfstream Park the FHBPA struck a deal in which not only would the races run, but most importantly they were kept as restricted to Florida-breds.

A very competitive mix of Florida-breds showed up to battle for $600,000 in total purse money, with the Sunshine Classic purse totaling $200,000.

Sunshine Millions winners were:

Filly and Mare Turf: Family Meeting by General Quarters, trained by Thomas Proctor, owned by Glen Hill Farms and ridden by Jose Lezcano.

Distaff Sprint: Mia Torri by Sky Mesa, trained by Jorge Navarro, owned by Phillip Sagan and ridden by Javier Castellano.

Sprint: Early Entry by Keyed Entry, trained by Kathleen O’Connell, owned by Tommy Roberts Racing Stable LLC and ridden by Paco Lopez.

Turf: Our Way by Keyed Tizway, trained by Harold James Bond, owned by William L. Clifton Jr. and ridden by John Velazquez.

Classic: Hy Riverside by Macho Uno, trained by Antonio Sano, owned by Mar Racing Stable. and ridden by Jose Ortiz.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Join Us in Las Vegas for the National HBPA Convention

Topics include horsemen’s relations, aftercare, ADWs; Kentucky Downs’ Johnsen delivering keynote address

Racetracks developing strong relations with their horsemen is good for business. So is the sport’s stake-holders investing in thoroughbred retirement.

Those are two panel discussions during what promises to be a lively and informative National HBPA Convention March 7-10. at Las Vegas’ South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa. The Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association is the world’s largest organization representing Thoroughbred owners and trainers, with close to 30,000 members across the United States and Canada.

The convention kicks off with a reception the evening of March 7, with full days of programming March 8-10 open to all attendees. In addition, the complete HBPA board will meet March 11. It is the only convention the HBPA will stage in 2017 after having two in prior years.

Registration is now open at for the event, at which elected officers and board members of the 28 state and five Canadian affiliates will discuss the issues and challenges facing the sport through committee meetings, panels and presentations. The assembly is open to anyone involved in the racing industry, including handicappers and fans. Sponsored by Xpressbet and the National HBPA, the convention for the first time includes a handicapping tournament that serves as a qualifier to the 2018 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship.

Corey Johnsen, president and part-owner of Kentucky Downs as well as an owner and breeder, will deliver the keynote speech on March 8. He’s also part of a panel titled Horsemen’s Relations: Building Positive Momentum Working Together, a session that also includes The Stronach Group’s Mike Rogers and Canterbury Park’s Randy Sampson, with Virginia HBPA executive director Frank Petramalo moderating.

Johnsen, Ray Reid and their partners in Kentucky Downs began operating Historical Horse Racing terminals on Sept. 1, 2011, and have used that innovative pari-mutuel technology as a game-changing force for the good. In the last five years, the track’s purses have mushroomed from $746,810 for the meet to $7.8 million in 2016. Kentucky Downs also is using its economic firepower to benefit the entire state circuit, including working with the Kentucky HBPA to transfer $1.35 million in purses to Ellis Park for its 2016 meet.

“One thing that I have tried to bring to the National HBPA’s platform is the importance and proclamation of being positive in our industry,” said Eric Hamelback, the National HBPA’s chief executive officer. “Corey Johnsen clearly fits that bill.”

Kentucky HBPA president Rick Hiles, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association president Rick Violette and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance’s Stacie Clark will share their experiences and thoughts in the session TAA: Protecting Your Investment in Retirement.

Other topics and presentations include what the growth of advance-deposit wagering platforms means for the sport; medication updates, including hair and out-of-competition testing; equine nutrition and veterinary topics, exchange wagering, equine research and legal updates and member benefits. Ed Martin and Judy Wagner, the CEO and chairman of the board for the Association of Racing Commissioners International, will summarize the racing regulators’ town-hall meetings and results of its survey of racing participants.

“Our convention provides an excellent opportunity for individuals and affiliates to network, discuss concerns and solutions, and hear a variety of topics affecting our national horsemen,” said Leroy Gessmann, the National HBPA president and chairman. “The NHBPA is committed to helping shape the future of the Thoroughbred racing industry and representing the interests of its owners and trainers.”

At the Races with Steve Byk will broadcast live from the convention with live streaming at and on Sirius 220/XM 206.

Registration, agenda and more information at

The National HBPA ( based in Lexington, Ky. is the largest racing horsemen’s representative organization in North America with 30 affiliate organizations and over 30,000 member horsemen. Big Dee’s Tack & Vet Supplies, Lavin Insurance Group LLC, Xpressbet, NTRA Advantage,, Finish Line Horse Products Inc., Horseman Labor Solutions and Omega Alpha Pharmaceuticals Inc. are proud corporate partners of the National HBPA.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Registration Now Open for National HBPA Convention in Las Vegas

Registration is now open for the National HBPA Convention set for March 7-11, 2017, at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa in Las Vegas. The tentative agenda is also posted. Click here for information about the convention and registration.

The NHBPA March event will be the only convention in 2017. Elected HBPA horsemen from across the country will, through committee meetings, panels and presentations, discuss issues and challenges the industry is facing. The NHBPA is the largest Thoroughbred horsemen’s association in North America. It represents approximately 30,000 owners and trainers throughout the United States and Canada. The NHBPA’s goal is to provide leadership and help shape the future of the Thoroughbred racing industry.

Discussions at the convention will revolve around topics such as equine nutrition, exchange wagering, equine veterinary topics, equine research and legal updates, member benefits, matters regarding equine aftercare, and media relations.

Corey Johnsen, president and part-owner of Kentucky Downs, will give the keynote address.

The NHBPA Convention will be open to anyone involved in the racing industry as an owner, trainer, veterinarian, rider, racetrack official or operator, fan or in any other capacity.

“This convention is an excellent opportunity for individuals and our state affiliates to network, share concerns and become educated on topics affecting our national horsemen” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the organization. “The NHBPA represents the important perspective of its owners and trainers in addressing and helping shape the future of the Thoroughbred racing industry.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

When a Positive Brings Good Results: National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback's Op/Ed in Thoroughbred Daily News

National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback penned an Op/Ed that ran in the January 8 edition of Thoroughbred Daily News.

"As a horseman tasked with navigating the complex political waters on behalf of many of the horsemen and women of horse racing, I am in constant search of positive news in our great industry. We regularly are assaulted with unflattering reports which don’t provide all the facts, including “bad” tests and the perceptual blurring of lines when necessary, therapeutic medications are proclaimed by some as performance-enhancing drugs."

Read the complete Op/Ed by clicking here.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

National HBPA Sets up Horse Cents Fund for Eric Reed after Barn Fire in Kentucky

Eric Reed - Photo by Coady Photography
The National HBPA Foundation and HBPA state affiliates are rallying to assist trainer Eric Reed and his wife, owner Kay Reed, after 23 horses in their care were killed in an early-morning barn fire Sunday.

The large barn, believed to have been struck by lightning, is one of three at the Reeds’ Mercury Equine Center on Russell Cave Road in Lexington, Kentucky. Another 13 horses were saved by the Reeds’ employees who risked going into the burning barn at the private training facility.

Through its charitable foundation, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association will match HBPA affiliated-organizations contributions to help the Reeds. The foundation’s contribution will cap at $10,000, but the hope is that much more than $20,000 is donated overall.

While Reed is based in Kentucky, he also races extensively in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Illinois. He told Kentucky HBPA Executive Director Marty Maline that he had lost almost everything, including substantial tack and supplies.

The HBPA contributions will go into an account for the Reeds at Horse Cents tack shop in Versailles, Kentucky, where the trainer does considerable business, allowing him to buy what he needs.

“Benevolence is the core of what the National HBPA stands for,” said Leroy Gessmann, president of the National and Iowa HBPA and chair of the organization’s National Assistance Committee. “We are first and foremost here to help horsemen. In this instance, Eric Reed and his stable have undergone a severe tragedy, a nightmare for any trainer. We are here to help him, as we know he would do for us.”

There are several ways that individual horsemen and the public can help:

  • Donations to Reed’s fund through the National HBPA, a tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) fund, are tax deductible. Contributions can be made online via credit card at Checks made out to the National HBPA Foundation, with “Eric Reed fund” written in the memo, can be mailed to the National HBPA, 870 Corporate Dr., Suite 300, Lexington, KY 40503-5419.
  • Donations also can be mailed to, or dropped by, Horse Cents, 199 Markham Drive, Versailles, KY, 40383. Such checks should be made payable to Horse Cents-Eric Reed fund. Credit card contributions can be made over the phone by calling Horse Cents at 859-873-4707. These donations are not tax deductible.
  • Donated tack and supplies can be dropped off at Horse Cents or any of three Kentucky HBPA offices: the main office at 3729 S. Fourth Street, Louisville, 40214, or the backside offices at Turfway Park in Florence and The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington.
  • A GoFundMe account has been set up by the Reeds’ close friends Mike, a steward in Ohio and the 1970 Kentucky Derby-winning jockey, and Kitty Manganello at

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Interactive, Electronic Edition of The Horsemen's Journal Winter 2016 Issue is Now Available

The interactive, electronic version of The Horsemen's Journal's Winter 2016 issue is now available online. It is an enhanced version of our Fall issue, which is currently being mailed. To view it, click here.

Features in the issue include:

The 18th running of the Claiming Crown proves how far the event has come

Marketing and promotion do not have to be dirty
words to horsemen

The first Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards
in America gets off to a great start

What the RMTC isn’t telling us about its proposed

Much more than a PDF, the interactive electronic edition of The Horsemen's Journal includes the ability to save, print, email, or share content on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Please enjoy this exciting offering from the National HBPA and share it with anyone you think might enjoy it.

All hyperlinks/URLs and email addresses in the electronic edition are working, clickable links. So be sure to click on some of them - especially those in the advertisements to get more information on the great products and services being offered by the companies supporting your horsemen's organization.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Kentucky Downs’ Johnsen to deliver keynote address at National HBPA convention

Corey Johnsen (Reed Palmer photo)
Corey Johnsen, president and part-owner of Kentucky Downs, will give the keynote address at the National HBPA’s 2017 convention March 8-11 at Las Vegas’ South Point Hotel and Casino.

Johnsen heads the management team that has taken Kentucky Downs from novelty to industry leader, offering some of the most lucrative purses in America during its boutique all-grass meets. Johnsen, Ray Reid and their partners in Kentucky Downs began operating Historical Horse Racing terminals on Sept. 1, 2011, and have used that innovative pari-mutuel technology as a game-changing force for the good. In the last five years, the track’s purses have mushroomed from $746,810 for the meet to $7.8 million in 2016.

Kentucky Downs also is using its economic firepower to benefit the entire state circuit, including working with the Kentucky HBPA to transfer $1.35 million in purses to Ellis Park for its 2016 meet. That largesse, enticing trainers and jockeys to stay in Kentucky for the summer, sparked the best racing at Ellis Park in years, if not ever.

Eric Hamelback, chief executive officer for the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, said he wanted a keynote speaker in the mode of Tampa Bay Downs president Stella Thayer and Oaklawn Park general manager Eric Jackson, who gave the featured addresses the past two conventions.

“One thing that I have tried to bring to the National HBPA’s platform is the importance and proclamation of being positive in our industry,” said Hamelback. “It’s unfair at times to our owners and to our participants that all they hear is negativism. We have got to get out of that mindset. That’s been my goal in setting up our conventions, starting with Mrs. Thayer and Mr. Jackson.

“Corey Johnsen clearly fits that bill. He is positive. He is upbeat and believes in being a team player and working together with horsemen and other tracks. He is very appreciative of the participants and our national owners and trainers, what they go through and what they have to give to this sport. Being a horseman himself makes him ideal to set off our convention. If everybody had his attitude, racing would be in great shape.”

Johnsen calls being the HBPA’s keynote speaker one of the biggest honors in a career that saw him start as a teenage $2 bettor at Longacres Racetrack in Renton, Wash., and groom at Centennial in Littleton, Colo., the summer before his graduation from Arizona State University.

He shot up the management ranks through the publicity and marketing departments at Turf Paradise, Arlington Park, Louisiana Downs, Remington Park and Lone Star Park, being instrumental in the development, construction and launch of the latter two. Johnsen, who rose to become president and part-owner of Lone Star Park before its sale, also has been involved in the opening or re-opening of four tracks in the Americas, including in Mexico City and Uruguay.

An innovator, Johnsen helped build Louisiana Downs’ Super Derby into one of the country’s top 3-year-old races at the time and was a key player in getting slot machines at Oklahoma horse tracks, bringing the Breeders’ Cup to Lone Star Park in 2004 and Historical Horse Racing to Kentucky. At every track stop, he has been immersed in the local market’s civic and charitable works and tourism.

Johnsen has owned horses since 1979, when he began putting together partnerships to race claiming horses. He and Reid were so enchanted with Kentucky Downs when there for the first time to watch their Argentine mare Honey Rose make her U.S. debut (narrowly losing the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf) that they wound up buying the track in 2007.

Since the Kentucky Downs purchase, Johnsen has been heavily involved with the Kentucky Equine Education Project, including succeeding co-founder Brereton Jones as KEEP’s second chairman. The multi-breed coalition, created to increase awareness of the benefits of the commonwealth’s horse economy and to promote jobs and economic influences for Kentuckians through the world-class industry, was a driving force in creating an additional $190 million to be paid out through the Kentucky Breeders Incentive Fund, purses and Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund since 2006.

“When I was grooming horses the summer before my senior year in college, to even dream that I would have the honor to address the National HBPA conference was beyond comprehension,” said Johnsen, who also is a breeder. “Throughout my career, I’ve always tried to remember that this is about the horse and all the participants involved in the sport. That’s been my guiding light. So it’s really gratifying to have this opportunity.”

Johnsen also will be part of a convention panel comprised of track operators discussing how strong working relationships with their owners and trainers is good for business.

“There are so many things positive about our sport, sometimes we get lost in all the negativity,” Johnsen said. “I think it’s important that we all discuss those positive advantages we have over other sports and entertainment to allow us to work together and maximize our success.”

Founded in 1940, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association is the world’s largest thoroughbred horsemen’s organization, representing approximately 30,000 owners and trainers throughout the United States and Canada. The responsibilities of the NHBPA and its affiliates have greatly expanded as the racing industry has become more complex. In addition to its original general benevolence mission, the HBPA is the leading force for horsemen in negotiating contracts with tracks as well as the advancement of the sport through safety and integrity initiatives, promoting racing and assisting in the development of aftercare programs for retired racehorses.

 The National HBPA is proud partner with its corporate sponsors: Lavin Equine Insurance Services, Xpressbet LLC, Jockey Club Information Systems, Big Dee’s Tack & Vet Supplies, Finish Line Horse Products, Horseman Labor Solutions, Omega Alpha Pharmaceuticals Inc, NTRA Advantage Program and Equine Savings Group.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Royal Posse Claims a Second Jewel During Record-Breaking Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park

Royal Posse (Photo by Coglianese Photos)
The Claiming Crown celebrated its 18th renewal on December 3 at Gulfstream Park, and just like a young adult, the event for the sport’s blue-collar horses seems to have reached maturity after debuting in 1999 at Canterbury Park in Minnesota. Hosted for the fifth time at the South Florida track, the $1.1 million event set an all-time handle record of $11,115,864 with perfect weather conditions, continuing the trend of increased wagering every year at Gulfstream while becoming an increasingly important fixture on the national racing schedule.

A joint venture between the National HBPA and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the Claiming Crown has reached new heights over the past five years thanks in large part to the efforts of the Florida HBPA and Gulfstream Park in making it the signature event to kick off the Championship Meet at the Hallandale Beach oval. Earlier this year, it was announced that Gulfstream will host the Claiming Crown through at least 2018.

This marked the first Claiming Crown since the passing of NHBPA First Vice President Tom Metzen Sr., one of the founding fathers of the event. The richest race on the card, the $190,000 Claiming Crown Jewel won by Royal Posse for the second consecutive year, was presented as the Tom Metzen Sr. Memorial in the track program.

“The success of the Claiming Crown is a testament to the vision of Tom and all the others who helped launch this event at Canterbury Park,” said NHBPA CEO Eric Hamelback. “It wasn’t easy to establish a new program like this from scratch, but it has proven to be a very important day of racing to recognize the horses and horsemen who are so vital to our industry.”

One of the constants in recent years has been the participation—and winning—of owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker. The all-time leading Claiming Crown owners and trainer added another victory to their tally, as they teamed to win the final race on the card, the Emerald, with Keystoneforvictory to run their total to 15 wins apiece.

This year also marked an expansion of the races leading up to the Claiming Crown as three tracks—Kentucky Downs, Laurel Park and Gulfstream Park West (formerly Calder Race Course)—held preview races with the winners earning free entry and transportation expenses to the main event.

The Claiming Crown races were run under starter allowance conditions for horses who had started for a specified claiming price since January 1, 2015, save for the Express and Iron Horse, which were open to horses who started at the $8,000 level or below anytime in their careers. With nine races on dirt and turf at a variety of distances and for both sexes, there was an option for virtually any kind of racehorse.

“We’re extremely pleased with the opening of what promises to be an historic Championship Meet,” said P.J. Campo, vice president of The Stronach Group and general manager of Gulfstream Park. “The support from horsemen throughout North America for the Claiming Crown was extraordinary. We had full, competitive fields and some spectacular performances by horses and riders.”

Distaff Dash • Spectacular Me
The first of the Claiming Crown races, the $106,700 Distaff Dash for fillies and mares who had started for $25,000 or less, featured a Claiming Crown Preview Day winner putting on an encore performance for the big money as Spectacular Me followed her Laurel Park victory with another at Gulfstream. Ridden by Jose Ortiz for trainer Steve Klesaris and owner Winning Move Stable, the 6-year-old daughter of Catienus came from off the pace to win by 1 ¾ lengths in a time of :56.91 for five furlongs on the turf.

“I really had no instructions,” said New York-based Ortiz, the leading North American rider in 2016 by wins with 335 after the Claiming Crown card. “I talked to Steve last Tuesday at Parx when I saw him there. He told me that I know the filly well and to ride her with confidence and that she is ready.”

Ortiz had ridden the mare to victory twice last summer at Saratoga Race Course in turf sprints, but this marked his first trip aboard her in more than a year.

Bred by the University of Kentucky in the Bluegrass State, the 9-5 favorite easily towered over the field in terms of starts, wins and earnings, and she extended that margin by picking up her 15th career victory from 47 starts. Her bankroll now stands at $471,234. Not bad for a horse who originally sold for just $1,600 as a yearling.

Steven Bertrando and Paul Trapani’s My Sister Caro, a West Virginia-bred daughter of Bop trained by Clyde Martin, had the lead in the stretch and held on to finish a game second. Lady Coventry, running for Zoom and Fish Stable Inc. and trainer Ralph Nicks, rallied late to take third.

Rapid Transit • Shaft of Light
Monster Racing Stables’ Shaft of Light came into the $105,600 Rapid Transit with a history of winning races by open lengths, and the 5-year-old gelding continued that tradition with an impressive 6 ¾-length score in the seven-furlong contest for horses who had started for $16,000 or less.

Jockey Emisael Jaramillo hustled the Ontario-bred to the lead right out of the gate, and the Jorge Navarro-trained runner cruised home with a final clocking of 1:21.84 as the 7-5 betting choice.

“My horse had a hard campaign for the summer, and we backed off running him because of this race,” Navarro said. “He had some issues and we worked on him, and he came around. He was training really good in the morning.”

The gelding was bred by Sam-Son Farm, the storied Canadian operation that has bred and raced notable horses like Dance Smartly, Sky Classic and Smart Strike, the sire of the Rapid Transit winner.

Shaft of Light began his career in his native country but really didn’t flourish until this spring in South Florida, where he won a conditioned $12,500 claimer by 9 ¼ lengths and a $16,000 optional claimer by 11 ½ at Gulfstream. This win improved his record to 15-6-2-2 with earnings of $211,280.

“The main focus was to break well, and we had to be on the lead,” Jaramillo said. “That’s the way I wanted to ride him and the way the trainer told me to ride. The fractions were fast but he was going very easy and was very comfortable on the lead, and when I called on him at the eighth pole, he exploded. The faster the better.”

Flashy Jewel, who was claimed out of his last start for $25,000 by owner/trainer Eddie Kenneally, nearly earned back that purchase price with a second-place effort. Patrick Maguire’s Day of Fury, a Street Sense gelding conditioned by David Fawkes who was claimed in five consecutive starts this year, crossed the wire third.

Glass Slipper • Tormenta de Oro
The biggest upset on the Claiming Crown card came in the $110,000 Glass Slipper for fillies and mares who had started for $12,500 or less when Tormenta de Oro prevailed by a neck at odds of 44-1. Owner/trainer Patrick Marcondes claimed the Benny the Bull filly for just $6,250 in August at Gulfstream and earned a return of $60,500—nearly 10 times her claiming price—for the victory at one-mile timed in 1:38.53 under jockey Luca Panici.

This was easily the biggest career win for Marcondes, who moved to the United States with his family from Brazil in 1995 and interrupted his racing career to study for a civil engineering degree at Barry University near Miami. He always wanted to train Thoroughbreds, but in his first year as a trainer in 2015, he failed to find the winner’s circle in 15 starts. His record improved in 2016, but he entered the Claiming Crown with just five career wins from 65 starts.

“I worked for a few guys here and then stopped for college,” he said. “I came back and quit everything. I said, ‘This is going to be my profession.’ ”

Bred in the Sunshine State by the University of Florida Foundation, Tormenta de Oro has won seven of 33 starts with earnings of $145,345.

“I had a perfect trip; I could save ground, and this filly, the last time, ran huge against Esken Lady and Arella Princess, and they were both favorites in this race,” said Panici about the November 6 starter allowance at Gulfstream Park West that produced four starters in the Glass Slipper. “I was pretty confident. I was able to save ground and when she got between horses, she had more heart. She ran huge.”

Esken Lady, who was also taken for $6,250 over the summer at Gulfstream, just missed out on the victory for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. and owner Drawing Away Stable. Roger Moore’s Amaluna, trained by Aubrey Maragh, came from far back to take third.

Express • Defer Heaven
Trainer Jorge Navarro, jockey Emisael Jaramillo and owner Monster Racing Stables scored a Claiming Crown double as Defer Heaven captured the $108,900 Express exactly one hour after those connections teamed to win the Rapid Transit with Shaft of Light. This was another decisive win with a favorite, as Defer Heaven defeated by 1 ¾ lengths a field of horses who had started for $8,000 or less in their lifetimes. The Defer gelding covered six furlongs in 1:09.77.

“I tried to make the lead, but when I saw those other two horses hook up, I decided to just lay right behind them and try to come get them at the head of lane,” Jaramillo said. “He ran a great race.”

“[Emisael] knows him better than me, and he made the right move,” Navarro said. “I told him, ‘Send, send, send.’ I guess he couldn’t make the lead. He did make the right choice. Also, the horse loves this track. This is a cool horse all around; he’s got 19 wins now.”

Bred in Kentucky by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, the 6-year-old gelding won for the eighth time in 11 starts on the year while racing at Gulfstream, Monmouth Park, Delaware Park and Parx Racing. Defer Heaven was claimed for $16,000 at Keeneland Race Course in his last start of 2015, and he banked $195,690 in 2016 alone. While the gelding seems to win everywhere he goes, Gulfstream might be his favorite after picking up his sixth win there in seven trips to the post. All told, he has won 19 of 35 starts with earnings of $324,678.

Proper Freud, who came in off consecutive victories at Parx Racing and Laurel Park, grabbed second for trainer and owner David Jacobson. Bersalu Farm Inc.’s Express Jet, who was a maiden until this past July and had won two of his last three starts, rallied to finish third.

Iron Horse • Chepstow
The $110,000 Iron Horse lived up to its name as the two favorites, Chepstow and Goodtimehadbyall, with a combined 20 career wins, battled almost right from the start of the 1 1/16-mile contest for horses who had started for $8,000 or less at any time. At the wire, Chepstow and rider Edgard Zayas prevailed by a half-length in a time of 1:43.90.

“I hoped he would be on the lead,” said winning trainer Ralph Ziadie, who saddled the 6-year-old Harlington gelding for GLAB Racing Stable LLC. “When he was being pressed, I thought he was going to be beat. I was worried my horse was going to be tired when he straightened up for home, but he had a big heart and he ran super.”

Chepstow, who was bred by Eugene Melnyk and becomes the second Ontario-bred winner in this year’ s Claiming Crown, improved his lifetime bankroll to $205,284 with his eighth career win from 34 starts. He started his career at Woodbine in Canada but has raced exclusively in South Florida since the end of 2013. The gelding raced well mostly in sprints through the end of last year, but running exclusively in two-turn events this year he has had even greater success with four wins, a second and two thirds from nine starts.

“My horse, he loves to fight,” Zayas said. “Whenever he gets the lead, he’s just a different horse. You have to ride him and ride him. He looks like he’s always beat, but he always keeps trying. Whenever they get close to him, he’s a grinder. He just keeps going.”

Goodtimehadbyall, an earner of nearly $600,000 trained by Jorge Navarro and owned by Ten Strike Racing, finished a clear second after coming in off a victory at Monmouth Park. GTG Racing LLC and Intuition Racing’s Chiseled, trained by Fernando Abreu, got third.

Canterbury • Super Spender
Six years after his sire Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby (G1), Super Spender rallied to win a race that could not be any different than the 1 ¼-mile classic on the Churchill Downs dirt. The $107,800 Canterbury for horses that had run for a tag of $25,000 or less was over in just :56.54 when Super Spender and jockey Nik Juarez hit the wire a neck in front after running five furlongs on the turf at odds of 5-1.

“He’s kind of a funny horse because he runs like he’d like 5 ½ or 6 furlongs, but every time you stretch him out, he doesn’t run well,” said Jane Cibelli, who conditions the 4-year-old gelding for Goodwood Racing V. “So I think I’ll stop trying to reinvent the wheel and keep him at five-eighths. That’s what he wants to do.”

Super Spender, a $30,000 Keeneland September yearling bred by Three Lyons Racing LLC, has won six of 11 starts at five furlongs on the turf but is just one-for-nine in other situations. That still ads up to a solid record of 20-7-3-1 with earnings of $218,320. His most recent victory before the Canterbury came on Claiming Crown Preview Day at Gulfstream Park West, making him one of three horses to win a preview race and come back to win the big money.

“He responded so well coming out of his last race,” Juarez said. “We know he is a come-from-behind sprinter. Jane told me to let him do his thing and settle and make one run. Luckily, everything opened up in the lane. Jane told me to be patient until we turned for home and then to pop to that lead. I was waiting for the opportunity, and he just shot right through there.”

Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Partly Mocha, from the Mike Maker barn, rallied from the back of the pack to run second as the 5-2 favorite. Divine Warrior, owned by Carl Hurst and trainer William “Buff” Bradley, took the show position.

Tiara • Marabea (GB)
The $125,000 Tiara at 1 1/16 miles on the grass for fillies and mares who had started for $25,000 or less had a distinct international flavor as a horse bred in Great Britain that broke her maiden in Italy ended up in the winner’s circle. Farfellow Farm Ltd.’s Marabea, trained by Maryland-based Lacey Gaudet, closed with a rush to win by a neck at odds of 6-1 with Jose Lezcano aboard.

“I was nervous,” said Gaudet after winning her first-ever race at Gulfstream. “She broke fine, but then they kind of came over on her. I thought she was going to be in trouble, but you’ve got to be confident with a rider like Lezcano. He put her in the spot where he knew she needed to be, and he figured out the right moment and got there in time. He did a great job.”

Gaudet’s first Gulfstream victory was even sweeter as she shared it with her sister Gabby, the on-air host for the Maryland Jockey Club who was also making her Gulfstream debut as an on-air host for the Championship meet.

Although Marabea, who was bred by Charley Knoll Partnership, showed promise as a 2-year-old with two easy wins and a Group 3 placing in Italy, she went out of form in the United States and dropped to the $25,000 claiming level this summer at Saratoga. But the 4-year-old found her form again at Laurel Park, where on November 6 she won a Claiming Crown Preview race for her first win in more than a year.

“I’m not sure what kind of filly she is,” said her trainer. “She’s a very, very nice filly. She clearly ran a race back to what she did last time. She could be any kind of filly.”

William Cubbedge’s Lobelia, conditioned by Carlo Vaccarezza, hit the board for the eighth time in 10 starts with a runner-up finish. Seeking Treasure, owned by Steven Frum and trained by Doug Matthews, finished third.

Emerald • Keystoneforvictory
Trainer Mike Maker and owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey have made no secret of the fact that they are constantly on the lookout for potential Claiming Crown horses, and 14 times prior to the $125,000 Emerald they ended up in the winner’s circle with a Claiming Crown winner. But Keystoneforvictory was a little different in that he wasn’t a horse that the powerful connections claimed or one that was bred by the Ramseys, who are Eclipse Award winners as Outstanding Breeders and Owners. Instead, their 15th Claiming Crown win came via a $25,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase who subsequently ran for that same price in a Gulfstream maiden claiming race in January.

The 3-year-old colt by Shakespeare, who was bred in Kentucky by Dell Ridge Farm LLC, quickly developed into a stakes horse after that maiden win and took the $75,000 Forty Niner Stakes at Gulfstream in June. The Emerald, run at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for horses who had started for $25,000 or less, included the added challenge for Keystoneforvictory of facing older horses for the first time, but the colt passed the test with a neck victory as the tepid 3-1 favorite under Jose Ortiz.

“Every race we win is important, obviously, but we love the Claiming Crown,” Maker said. “We love coming to it and love being part of it. I’m glad we didn’t get shut out again this year. I thought I had won a couple earlier today and it didn’t work out so I was due, I guess.”

The Ramseys and Maker have won at least one Claiming Crown race every year since 2008, except for 2011 and last year.

Bruce McCrea’s Flashy Chelsey, a Churchill Downs invader trained by Robert O’Connor II, surged to take second at odds of 23-1. Another horse coming from Churchill, Market Outlook, finished third for owner Hot Scot Stable and trainer Gary Contessa.

Jewel • Royal Posse
The words “claiming horse” and “millionaire” normally do not go together, unless you are talking about Royal Posse, who won the $190,000 Jewel for the second consecutive year and pushed his bankroll into seven-figure territory. Of course, it could be argued that the New York-bred son of Posse is not the same horse taken for $20,000 out of a May 2015 race at Belmont Park, and he’s unlikely to see the claiming ranks again anytime soon.

Since being claimed, the gelding has turned into a bonafide star with a total of six stakes wins, including three straight coming into this renewal of the Claiming Crown. He benefited from his status as a New York-bred, with four of those six stakes wins coming against state-bred foes, headlined by the $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap at Belmont. After the Rudy Rodriguez trainee crossed the finish line a half-length in front at Gulfstream as the 7-10 favorite in the Jewel, his earnings stood at $1,011,245 with a record of 34-11-10-0. He covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.84 under Luis Saez. Racing’s newest millionaire was bred by Richard Troncone and Richard Troncone Jr.

“We claimed him at the right time,” said Rodriguez, who trains the 5-year-old for Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables LLC and Gary Aisquith. “When we got him, he was a pretty sound horse. He’s like an ATM. You put him in [a race], and he gives it to you. You don’t have to put much back, just keep him happy.”

The outcome of the Jewel, however, looked far from certain on the far turn as the favorite still had plenty of work to do from fifth place.

“I wasn’t worried,” Rodriguez said. “I know when he’s outside, he’s a grinder. Luis said as soon as he took him outside, he started grinding and grinding. That’s what he does most of the time.”

A three-peat in the Jewel is highly improbable for Royal Posse, as he would have to be entered again for a tag of $35,000 or less to become eligible to defend his title.

Diamond Bachelor, a two-time stakes winner on the Gulfstream turf for Diamond 100 Racing Club LLC, Robert Trussell and co-owner/trainer Patrick Biacone, put in a valiant effort but came up just short of pulling off a 38-1 upset. John Jones, a winner of four straight races including a Claiming Crown Preview race at Laurel Park, took third for owner Matthew Schera and trainer Lacey Gaudet.