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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Trainer Mark Casse Explains Why Race-Day Lasix is Essential in America

Trainer Mark Casse
(Woodbine photo)
Trainer Mark Casse, a seven-time winner of Canada’s Sovereign Award as outstanding trainer who has also had great success in the United States, including two Breeders’ Cup wins this year, gave his opinion on Lasix in an interview by Karen M. Johnson published on Thoroughbred Racing Commentary.

Among the topics Casse addressed was the view of bettors when it comes to Lasix, saying, “I read so much about how our bettors don’t like Lasix, and that’s all baloney. The recent Daily Racing Form survey would agree with me. I know some of the biggest bettors in North America, and I’ve asked them, and they said, ‘No. We’re more concerned with the on and off Lasix, because if everybody is on Lasix, it’s a fair playing field.’”

Casse also added, “The day they come up with a better idea than Lasix, I’m fine with that. But first we have to have it.

“The other thing, to sit and listen to all this nonsense about how Lasix has made our horses not able to run much. There are no statistics that confirm that.”

To read the complete article, click here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Claiming Crown Attracts 309 Nominations

Scheduled to be hosted by Gulfstream Park for the fourth consecutive year, the $1.1 million Claiming Crown received 309 nominations for the nine-race event that will highlight the opening-day program for the 2015-2016 Championship Meet Dec. 5.

“We’re extremely pleased with the nominations and appreciate the participation from horsemen throughout the country,” said P.J. Campo, Vice President of Racing for The Stronach Group and General Manager of Gulfstream Park. “We’re looking forward to another exciting Claiming Crown and another great Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park.”
Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who have won a record 14 Claiming Crown races, are represented by 12 nominees for this year’s event, while trainer Mike Maker, the all-time leader with 14 victories, nominated 21 horses, including eight owned by the Ramseys.
California-based trainer Jerry Hollendorfer nominated eight horses, while Todd Pletcher, the 12-time defending training champ for Gulfstream’s Championship Meet, is represented by four nominations. Both trainers nominated two horses for the $200,000 Jewel, the centerpiece of the event created in 1999 to honor the blue-collar horses that are the foundation of the racing industry nationwide.
The Jewel, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that have raced for a claiming price of $35,000 or lower, attracted 32 nominations, including the Pletcher-trained African Fighter and Village Warrior, Hollendorfer-trained Perfect Set and Prime Issue, and the Maker-trained Flashlight, Lieutenant Seany O and Private Tale.
Rudy Rodriguez-trained Royal Posse, who won the Evan Shipman Stakes at Saratoga in September and finished no worse than second in four starts since being claimed for $20,000, is on the list of prominent Jewel nominees, including Danny Gargan-trained Indycott, who captured the ‘Win & You’re In’ Jewel starter stakes at Laurel Park Nov. 1.
The $125,000 Emerald, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up that started for a claiming price of $25,000 or lower, proved to be the most popular, attracting 55 nominations, including six trained by Maker. Roman Approval, a graded-stakes placed winner of the ‘Win & You’re In’ Emerald starter stakes at Laurel, and Quiet Force, a Grade 3 stakes winner, top the Maker contingent.
The $125,000 Tiara, a 1 1/16-mile turf event for fillies and mares that raced for a claiming tag of $25,000 or lower, received 35 nominations, including the Hollendorfer-trained trio of Bottle Blonde, French Alps and Mon Petite. The Ramseys’ Maker-trained St. Borealis, who scored by 1 ¾ lengths in last year’s Tiara, has been nominated to defend her title.
St. Borealis is one of four 2014 Claiming Crown winners nominated to make title defenses Dec. 5.
Stanley Gold-trained Grande Shores, who captured the $110,000 Rapid Transit by three-quarters of a length last year, is among 42 nominees for the seven-furlong sprint for horses that started for a claiming price of $16,000 or lower. The Rapid Transit also attracted Ramon Preciado-trained Trouble Kid, who was disqualified from a victory in the $350,000 De Francis Dash at Laurel last weekend. He has finished first in all five races, including the Gallant Bob (G3), since being claimed for $12,500.
Jorge Navarro-trained Loverbil, who notched a victory by a neck last year in the $110,000 Express, is among 28 nominees for the six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up that started for a claiming tag of $7,500 or lower.
Duane Swingley-trained Buster Rose, a half-length winner last year, is among 41 nominees for the $110,000 Canterbury, a five-furlong turf dash for 3-year-olds and up that started for a claiming price of $25,000 or lower.
The $110,000 Glass Slipper, a mile event for fillies and mares that raced for a claiming price of $12,500 or lower, received 28 nominations. The $110,000 Iron Horse, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that raced for a claiming price of $7,500 or lower, attracted 23 nominations. The first running of the $110,000 Distaff Dash, a five-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares that raced in for a claiming tag of $25,000 or lower, received 25 nominations.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

OwnerView Creates Award for New Owners

OwnerView today announced the New Owner of the Year Award, which will honor a new Thoroughbred owner who has been successful in the sport and has had a positive impact on the industry. The award will be presented at the Thoroughbred Owner Conference at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., in January 2016.

Nominees for the New Owner of the Year Award must have owned Thoroughbreds for less than three years, have had an interest in a horse at the time it won a stakes race in 2015, and have had a verifiable owner’s license in 2015.

Anyone, including current owners, can nominate an individual who meets the criteria for the award. Thoroughbred performance as well as a nominee’s promotion of the sport and humanitarian activities will also be considered. A selection committee that includes industry personnel and established owners will choose the winner.

“There are awards for owners who have been in the industry for a long time, but we wanted to recognize someone who is new to the sport and is making a difference in the industry,” said Gary Falter, vice president of operation for OwnerView. “The Thoroughbred Owner Conference, which is intended for new and long-time owners and will be held during the week leading up to the 45th Annual Eclipse Awards Dinner, is the perfect venue to honor such an individual.”

The deadline to nominate an owner for New Owner of the Year is December 7. To submit a nomination, please contact Gary Falter for a nomination form at (859) 224-2803 or

The Thoroughbred Owner Conference will be held January 11 through 14 and will feature two days of conference presentations, a welcome reception at Gulfstream Park’s paddock, a gala dinner at Turnberry Isle Resort, a day of racing, and multiple opportunities to network with panelists and industry personnel.

Jim Rome, a prominent Thoroughbred owner and the host of “The Jim Rome Show” on CBS Sports Radio and “Jim Rome On Showtime,” will deliver the keynote address.

More information about the Thoroughbred Owner Conference, including online registration, can be found at

OwnerView is a joint effort spearheaded by The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association to encourage ownership of Thoroughbreds and provide accurate information on trainers, public racing syndicates, the process of purchasing and owning a Thoroughbred, racehorse retirement, and owner licensing.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

NHBPA CEO Eric Hamelback Responds to Charles Hayward's Commentary on Medication Policies

Charles Hayward, president and publisher of the website Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, wrote a piece published today entitled "This patchwork system of medication polices will be U.S. racing's downfall," which can be viewed here.

Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA, would like to address several items in the column. The following is Hamelback's response:

I appreciate the intent of the article that Mr. Hayward has put forth. I would, however, like to address a few points that I believe he fails to address.

Mr. Hayward clearly states that horsemen’s groups are comprised of only trainers and gives no credence to the fact that the National HBPA for instance has a weighted licensed membership comprised of 70% owners. Not to mention that the TOC in California is the Thoroughbred Owners Association and it is a completely separate entity from the California Trainers Association (CTA). Mr. Hayward then points to two politically charged state scenarios involving a complete shutdown of racing, one in Pennsylvania and one in Texas. The implication made by Mr. Hayward is that these two situations would have been avoided under the proposed Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act. These two very specific circumstances, revolving around a shortfall of funds to support racing, would not be addressed by HR 3084, as it is intended to be laid out as a MEDICATION piece of legislation. To the contrary, the bill is an unfunded mandate, which would require jurisdictions to lay out money for drug testing outlined by USADA, an organization which has no stake in the industry and with no incentive to keep costs under control, likely spawning additional crises like those seen in PA and TX.

In contrast to the allegation made recently by Jim Gagliano in a Q&A within The Blood-Horse, where he referred to those who oppose the HR 3084 as “misinformed,” it seems as if it is actually the bill’s supporters such as Mr. Hayward who may be “misinformed.” I take great offense to that label. The inference here is that “if USADA” were in charge the financial woes in these two jurisdictions would be resolved or better yet, not even an issue. Really? A simple read through of HR 3084 very clearly conveys that the “intention” of the bill (as one attorney for the coalition stated to me) is to only govern those issues dealing with medication. So then, Mr. Hayward, how at all would these two issues relate towards the allowing of a private organization such as USADA to be in control? In fact, I, as an informed participant in opposition to HR 3084, can clearly see that the funding mechanism as outlined in the bill (completely established by a weighted board of directors) that will allow USADA to be in control will likely cause true “shortfalls” within racing jurisdictions.

The article then references two issues that have arisen with two high profile trainers. What Mr. Hayward fails to mention to his reading audience, but those of us that are informed picked up on, is that both of these instances would have occurred exactly the same way under the proposed legislation. Why, you ask? Because the Motion case deals with a protocol and threshold established by the RMTC, and the Mott case deals with questioning an overage of Lasix given by a third party. Both of these issues that Mr. Hayward brings up are rules held within the ARCI model medication rules. HR 3084 would not have changed the outcome, and in fact, HR 3084 would initially implement the same set of rules which permit these types of problems to occur. Perhaps if our legislators looked more carefully into the reasons why national uniformity has not been adopted, they would pause before charging full steam ahead into forcing federal legislation into place.

It is misinformed articles such as this that mislead our public into perceptions which simply do not reflect reality. While often not conveyed clearly enough, I will tell you that there is not one horsemen’s group out there today that does not stand up for and want to achieve national uniformity. Additionally, we want strict enforcement of testing procedures, harsh penalties for cheaters, and zero tolerance on performance enhancing drugs. We have worked and will continue to work with the ARCI and the RMTC to ensure uniformity is achieved through research and applications that can be properly established with owners and trainers best interest in mind. While I feel that I could go on, hoping to educate further, I will close with your implication of the situation dealing with Mr. Gorajec in Indiana. Mr. Hayward, if you or others believe that any horsemen’s group would have the financial means to politically affect the termination of a state official, I would say respectfully sir, you are misinformed.  Horsemen’s groups are fighting for the rights of horsemen and horsewomen throughout the country and are leaders in the health and welfare treatment of our beloved athletes, the horse. We do this feverishly for the love and preservation of our industry, and I will make sure that message reaches the public. #WheresThePositive

Monday, November 2, 2015

Indycott Holds Off Mr Palmer to Win Claiming Crown Jewel

Indycott (inside) earns a berth in the $200,000
Claiming Crown Jewel at Gulfstream
(Photo courtesy Laurel Park)
(from Laurel Park news release)
Headed at the eighth pole after setting a modest pace, Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Indycott re-rallied on the inside to emerge from a three-horse finish in front and win the $70,000 Jewel by a head on Claiming Crown Preview Day Sunday at Laurel Park.

The 1 1/8-mile Jewel was the eighth of nine preview races designed to mirror the 17th running of the $1.1 million Claiming Crown that kicks off the 2015-16 Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park on Opening Day Saturday, Dec. 5. All nine winners earned an automatic berth to the Claiming Crown and free shipping to Gulfstream.

Claimed for $50,000 out of a neck victory going nine furlongs Aug. 10 at Saratoga Race Course, Indycott was making his second start for New York-based trainer Danny Gargan and first since finishing third in the Temperance Hill Sept. 12 at Belmont Park.

“We’re very happy about this horse. He’s been training so good,” said Gargan’s assistant, Luis Matos. “We decided to bring him over here and the jockey did a good job. I want to say congratulations to everybody.”

Breaking from post 1 as the 8-5 favorite in the field of six, McCarthy relaxed Indycott, a 5-year-old A.P. Indy gelding, through a quarter-mile in 25.52 seconds, a half in 50.36 and six furlongs in 1:15.03 while tracked by 40-1 long shot Tru Greek, with Mr Palmer and Lieutenant Seany O in close pursuit.

Indycott was still in front after a mile in 1:39.18, as Mr Palmer and Lieutenant Seany O moved up to apply pressure. McCarthy called on Indycott at the eighth pole and he responded with enough to hold off Mr Palmer, with Lieutenant Seany O another neck back in third. Behemoth, Noteworthy Peach and Tru Greek completed the order of finish.

“It actually was awesome to have some pressure for him,” said McCarthy, following his second straight win on the card. “He can be a bit lazy and it really pushed him up and got him up to the wire on time.”

Indycott now has eight wins and $245,154 in purse earnings from 31 career starts.

John Rigattieri's and Stephen Derany's Twocubanbrothersu, a 1-5 favorite, survived a stewards inquiry and rider objection to earn his trip to Gulfstream with a 2 1/2-length victory in the Iron Horse.

Jockey Daniel Centeno rated Twocubanbrothersu behind the 90-1 pacesetter Real Awesome down the backstretch and entering the final turn before taking the lead entering the stretch and surviving an objection and inquiry for drifting in. Twocubanbrothersu covered the 1 1/16 mile in 1:45.51.
A 5-year-old gelded son of Harlington, Twocubanbrothersu was claimed by Rigattieri for $6,250 in Tampa in May. The gelding has since won six of six of eight starts. Two of the gelding's first two career starts in 2013 took place at Gulfstream.  
In the Glass Slipper, a mile event for fillies and mares, Primo Via, confidently ridden by Eriluis Vaz, took the lead from Blisstikus inside the final sixteenth to earn a trip to Gulfstream with a three-quarter length victory.
Owned by L.A. Thoroughbreds and trained by Philip Aristone, Primo Via, a Parx-based 6-year-old daughter of Candy Ride, came into the race off a second-place finish Oct. 10 in the $100,000 Plum Pretty at Parx. The mare, who has won 13 of 57 starts, covered the mile in 1:38.87.
Stephen Ferguson’s Maryland-bred Rockinn On Bye ended a string of narrow losses by sprinting down the center of the track to pass pacesetter Stolen Love in mid-stretch and pull clear to a 2 ¼-length victory in the Rapid Transit.

Beaten a nose in his previous start just nine days earlier, a Laurel optional claiming allowance at the Rapid Transit’s seven furlongs, Rockinn On Bye hit the wire in 1:23.48 for his sixth win in 28 lifetime starts.

Jockey Taylor Hole, aboard for the 10th straight race, kept 4-year-gelded son of Rock Hard Ten just off the flank of 6-5 favorite Classic Salsa, who chased Stolen Love through fractions of 23.32 and 46.57 seconds. Beach Hut came on late for second with Classic Salsa third.

In the Distaff Dash for fillies and mares, new to the Claiming Crown program, Estrada’s Girl and jockey Jevian Toledo dueled with Kingston Terrace and Chesapeake Spring for a half-mile before drawing off to win by 1 ¼ lengths after running 5 ½ furlongs on the turf in 1:02.42.

Claimed for $25,000 out of a runner-up finish July 5 at Presque Isle Downs, it was the third win in four starts for the Gerald Brooks trainee, owned by Ronald Clark. A pair of 45-1 long shots, See What Happens and Kaiser’s d’Light, ran second and third, respectively.

Racing three wide under jockey Nik Juarez, 18-1 long shot Proper Freud surged by Doddsprivatelabel in the final sixteenth of a mile for a one-length upset of the six-furlong Express. The 4-year-old son of Preakness (G1) and Belmont (G1) winner Afleet Alex covered the distance in 1:10.47 in his Laurel debut.

Owned and trained by Mark Gory, Proper Freud now has four wins and two seconds from nine starts this year, after going 1-for-9 in 2014. Multiple stakes winner and Grade 3-placed Galiana, the even-money favorite, was a distant ninth.

Sagamore Farm homebred De Marquee, making just her fourth lifetime start and first against winners, took the lead late and turned back a bid from 6-5 favorite Seeking Treasure to upset the Tiara at 11-1. Ridden by Inoel Beato for trainer Horacio DePaz, the sophomore Tiz Wonderful filly ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.62.

Unraced at 2, De Marquee debuted in a maiden claimer June 22 at Delaware Park before stepping up to maiden special weight company in July at Laurel. In her previous start, she came from well back to graduate by 5 ½ lengths Aug. 22 at Laurel. Seeking Treasure finished second, with pacesetting Tippie Tap third.

A return to his favorite surface meant a return to the winner’s circle for 5-year-old Holy Roman Emperor gelding Golden Emperor, who edged past Snowday in the last 50 yards to take the Canterbury for grass sprinters 3 and up. Winning time for 5 ½ furlongs was 1:01.74.

Trained by Mike Rogers, Golden Emperor now has five wins and a second from eight grass races, and eight wins in 21 lifetime starts for owners Car-Den Racing Stable. Rated in third by jockey Trevor McCarthy behind early front-runner This Ain’t No Bull, Golden Emperor ranged up to challenge Snowday at the eighth pole and steadily gained to hit the wire in front by three-quarters of a length.

Three Diamonds Farm’s favored Roman Approval overcame a troubled trip to run down Call First and hold off a late inside bid from Ghost Hunter to cap the afternoon with a thrilling victory in the Emerald.

Jockey Daniel Centeno rated Roman Approval on the inside but was forced to check as the field left the backstretch before swinging to the outside for the stretch run. Coming out of three straight graded stakes, placing in both the Stars N Stripes (G3) and Kentucky Turf Cup (G3), Roman Approval ran 1 1/16 miles on the turf in 1:41.03.

This will mark the fourth consecutive year the Claiming Crown will be contested at Gulfstream. Last year's Claiming Crown, which had total handle of more than $10 million, featured eight races. This year's Claiming Crown will feature a ninth race – a five-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares with a purse of $110,000. The feature event will again be the $200,000 Jewel, won last year by the 17-1 longshot Catholic Cowboy.
Created in 1999 to honor the blue-collar horses that are the foundation of the racing industry nationwide, the Claiming Crown historically has drawn entries from all parts of North America and from many of the country's leading stables.
The Claiming Crown is a “joint venture” between the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA). The Claiming Crown was created to be the claiming horse owner’s Breeders’ Cup; a special racing event, created for the “average owner,” and featuring some of the most competitive horses in the country. The Claiming Crown has been held annually since 1999.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Claiming Crown Nomination Forms and Conditions Available Online, Deadline is Nov. 8

Horsemen are reminded that nomination forms and conditions for the $1.1 million Claiming Crown on December 5 at Gulfstream Park are available online at

This will mark the fourth consecutive year the Claiming Crown has been contested at the Florida track. Last year's Claiming Crown, which had total handle of more than $10 million, featured eight races. This year's Claiming Crown will feature a ninth race - a 5-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares with a purse of $110,000. The feature event will again be the $200,000 Jewel, won last year by the 17-1 longshot Catholic Cowboy.

The nomination deadline is November 8 with a $100 fee for each race. Supplemental nominations can be made by December 2 for $5,000 for the Jewel, $3,000 for the Emerald and Tiara, and $2,500 for all other Claiming Crown races.

Horsemen are also reminded that Laurel Park on November 1 will host nine “Win and You’re In” races as a preview to Claiming Crown at Gulfstream. Entries for the preview day at Laurel close October 29. Each race winner receives an automatic berth into the Claiming Crown at Gulfstream with free shipping included. For more information about the Claiming Crown preview day at Laurel, click here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Laurel Park to Host Claiming Crown Preview Day on Nov. 1

Laurel Park on November 1 will host nine “Win and You’re In” races as a preview to the December 5 Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park. Entries for the preview day at Laurel close October 29. Each race winner receives an automatic berth into the Claiming Crown at Gulfstream with free shipping included.

The nine races will mirror the nine Claiming Crown races to be contested at Gulfstream on Opening Day of the 2015-2016 Championship Meet. Purses of the nine races at Laurel will be worth approximately 40 percent of the Claiming Crown races.

“We believe this is another way to draw attention to the outstanding event that is the Claiming Crown,” said Maryland Jockey Club President and GM Sal Sinatra. “We want to work with our sister tracks and support each other and this is another way of doing that. This is a great avenue for smaller guys who don’t have the money to ship to earn a trip to the Claiming Crown if they have a legitimate horse. I think it will also get some of our fans in the Mid-Atlantic excited about another big day of racing at Laurel and then Opening Day at Gulfstream.

“Speaking from past experience, we partnered with the Claiming Crown when it was at Canterbury and had ‘Win & You’re In’ races at Philadelphia Park and they were well received. We think this will be an exciting event for horsemen and bettors and will attract large fields.”

For more information and a complete list of race conditions, click here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Arkansas HBPA Announces Election Results

The Arkansas HBPA has announced the results of its recent board election. The organization would like to congratulate all those elected and thank all the candidates.

President: Linda Gaston

Owner Directors:
Terry Dunlavy
Jeanette Milligan
Robert Tucker
Bill Walmsley
Gary Woodall

First Owner Alternate:
Ron Ball

Trainer Directors:
Terry Brennan
Jinks Fires
Steve Hobby
Ron Moquette
Don Von Hemel

First Trainer Alternate:
Rick Jackson

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Charles Town HBPA Launches New Website

The Charles Town HBPA has recently launched a new website designed to provide a one-stop portal for information about the West Virginia track for the community and put tools and resources at the fingertips of the horsemen.

Features of the site include an embedded Facebook feed for immediate news and announcements; a forms page to make all of the forms and materials horsemen need readily available; a members' forum where CTHBPA members can discuss issues; and videos discussing the legacy of racing at Charles Town and the impact it has on the community and state.

Check out to see all that the new site has to offer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

SNL Financial Founder Reid Nagle Voices Opposition to Florida Horse Racing Decoupling

Reid Nagle
Before he started training Thoroughbred race horses in Florida five years ago, Reid Nagle had spent more than 30 years in the world of high finance. In 1987 he founded SNL Financial, the premier multi-industry business intelligence service that caters to Wall Street and public companies worldwide. Starting with four employees and a small office in Hoboken, New Jersey, today SNL has 3,300 employees, offices in 4 continents and was just sold last month to McGraw-Hill Financial for $2.25 billion.

Currently, Nagle has 20 horses in training, split between Oak Ridge Equine Training Center in Morriston and Gulfstream Park. He operates a high-end barn rental operation at Oak Ridge, and owns the largest manure removal and shavings delivery company serving the Ocala area—All-In Shavings and Removal. These rapidly growing horse-related enterprises collectively have 35 full-time employees in Florida.

Humble and soft-spoken, Nagle loves Florida and loves to train his Thoroughbreds here. But Nagle’s love for the Sport of Kings was why he’s stepping up and voicing his objection to any legislative consideration of “decoupling”–a misguided plan he agrees will trash horse racing in Florida, and forcing him to export horses and jobs to more horse-racing friendly states.

“Decoupling casinos from horse racing will cripple our businesses,” he explained from his Central Florida operation. “Opposing it is a no-brainer.”

“I’d very likely have to race my horses elsewhere,” he said, “because, at that point, Florida just won’t be able to compete effectively with the many other states that have kept the linkage between casino gambling and horse racing. Our other horse-related businesses would shrink dramatically as well.”

Florida horse racing industry officials have sounded the alarm at the recent surge of legislative interest in “decoupling,” which would effectively expand gambling by immediately creating stand-alone casinos and eliminating Florida’s competitive edge in attracting horse racing business from other states.

“Florida seems committed to doing anything and everything imaginable to compete with other states for business, and now some misguided legislators are considering changes that would cripple the State’s robust horse racing industry that attracts tourists and provides employment to tens of thousands of workers,” Nagle said.

For more information, go to

Friday, October 2, 2015

Schedule Set for TCA Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium for Retired Racehorses

One month from now the Breeders’ Cup Festival begins in Lexington, Kentucky. The week of festivities begins with the TCA Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium at the Kentucky Horse Park where $100,000 in prize money will be distributed to owners of 200 Thoroughbreds that have recently been trained in in 10 different riding sports. The event is sponsored by Thoroughbred Charities of America and organized by Retired Racehorse Project (RRP).

The weekend is a celebration of the talent and trainability of the off-track Thoroughbred and includes 10 seminars, 70 vendors, a marketplace of horses trained for the event, polo, show jumping, cattle work, dressage, barrel racing, eventing, competitive trail riding, show hunters, field hunters, and a freestyle event. A Sunday afternoon finale presents the top three scorers in each sport leading to the crowning of America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred.

RRP today released the official schedule, including 40 seminar presenters and 25 judges. Highlights include:

*Retired Jockey Rosie Napravnik competing on Makers Mark Secretariat Center’s Dare Me in the eventing competition,

*Premiere showing of Bernie Traurig and’s A Tribute to the Thoroughbred Sport Horse, featuring vintage footage of great Thoroughbred show horses with commentary from Hall of Fame riders,

*Seminars on soundness and pre-purchase exams, health, selling, managing aftercare organizations, a trainers’ forum, how racehorses are trained, tips for horse shopping on racetrack backsides, selecting prospects, England’s program to promote off-track Thoroughbreds, and re-training Thoroughbreds for a living, with presentations by Stuart Brown, DVM, Michael Blowen, Eric Dierks, Louise Robson, Laine Ashker, Tik Maynard, Patricia Cooksey, Denny Emerson, and many more,

*Judging with commentary by Maggi Moss, Michael Dignelli, Graham Motion, Elisa Wallace, David Hopper, Bernie Traurig, and others,

*Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine Launch Party at Horse Park Visitors Center with Shades of Grass Band, and

*A special demonstration by Olympian Phillip Dutton on Icabad Crane, the winner of the 2014 Retired Racehorse Project America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred Contest.

For more information, go to

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Florida Could “Decouple” Horse Racing, Breeding Right Out of Business

By Bill White, President, Florida Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association

Florida HBPA President Bill White
Governor Rick Scott has certainly been proactive when it comes to criss-crossing the globe in his efforts to relocate businesses and resulting jobs to Florida. But since millions of taxpayer dollars are spent annually to lure various corporations to the Sunshine State through agencies such as Enterprise Florida, it's hard to fathom why our elected officials are actually now entertaining the ill-advised notion of "decoupling" slot machines from horse racing--a lucrative industry that takes no public funds.

Indeed, Florida seems committed to doing anything and everything imaginable to compete with other states for business--except when it comes to horse racing.

Prior to 2005, the lure of other states' slot-fueled skyrocketing purses was quickly siphoning off Florida's leading stables, jockeys, owners, trainers and horses. Our balmy winter weather was no longer enough keep them--or wagering dollars they attracted--here during critical pre-Triple Crown training months. Those knowledgeable about horse racing's pari-mutuel economic cycle knew that something had to be done. So, with great resignation and plenty of trepidation, Florida's horse racing officials acquiesced to support slots, with the proviso that their proceeds would be used to lure good horses--inevitably generating business, jobs and economic prosperity.

When voters approved slot machines at sanctioned pari-mutuels to help us compete on the national horse racing scene--the mission was no different than that of Enterprise Florida's incentives.

It's been 10 years since the initial "deal" of Florida's slot referendum, the resulting revenues of which were earmarked to put Florida's horse racing industry on a level playing field with other states. By design, these funds spurred our breeding industry, creating jobs and increasing tax revenues in turn.

So just imagine our lawmakers' embarrassment once they realize--perhaps all too late--that by approving decoupling, they will have both inadvertently expanded gambling--almost overnight--as well as chased our horsemen right into the welcoming barns of more racing-friendly states.

For Florida, it's live horse racing, not stand-alone casinos, that creates million of dollars in yearly economic benefit through tourism, small businesses, jobs, taxes and a vibrant breeding industry the produces the same. Whether it's Thoroughbred racing in South Florida and Tampa, or Central Florida breeding and Ocala sales, racehorses in Florida are big business.

Recognizing this, Florida has traditionally gone to great lengths to provide additional economic and agriculture-based incentives to invest, buy, breed and sell racehorses here at home. Part of that includes ensuring that live racing days remain a mandatory part of the gambling equation with the economic incentive of revenue dollars from slots.

But to big casinos vying to rid themselves of Florida horse racing's tie to slot machines, live racing days are nothing but an inconvenient dent in their corporate bottom line. Hence the recent frenzy of private meetings and out-of-sight scurrying to cobble together a "decoupling" power grab insidiously disguised as "free enterprise."

Bandying cliches like "equal playing field" or "let the market decide," big casino executives are giddy, sensing imminent blood in a scheme they have carefully packaged to profit through Florida's inevitable loss when they finally convince legislators to decouple.

The bottom line: Our government should use gambling to create tax revenue and economic impact--not to pad the pockets of casino-only interests.

Over 10,000 Florida horse breeders, owners and trainers oppose "decoupling."

We urge Florida legislators to do the same.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Interactive, Electronic Edition of The Horsemen's Journal Fall 2015 Issue is Now Available

The interactive, electronic version of The Horsemen's Journal's Fall 2015 issue is now available online. It is an enhanced version of our Fall 2015 issue, which is currently being mailed. To view it, either click here or click on the flipping magazine icon above.
Features in the issue include:
  • MILE HIGH MEETING - The National HBPA elects Leroy Gessmann as president at its Summer Convention in Denver
  • WHERE IS THE POSITIVE? - The National HBPA and the racing industry should focus on the reasons to be optimistic
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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Claiming Crown Horse of the Year to be Awarded at TOBA National Awards Dinner

The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders announced today that a Claiming Crown Horse of the Year will be awarded at the 30th annual TOBA National Awards Dinner. This new award will be presented by the National Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association at the dinner on September 11 at Hill 'n' Dale Farms in Lexington, Ky.

The Claiming Crown, a joint venture between TOBA and the National HBPA, is racing's $1.1 million showcase for the country's best claiming horses. The National HBPA's Industry Awards Committee reviewed the 2014 past performances of all horses that ran in the 2014 Claiming Crown and evaluated the victories of those who won the eight races in the December event at Gulfstream Park. The committee narrowed down three finalists, and ultimately selected St. Borealis as the inaugural Claiming Crown Horse of the Year. Owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and bred in Kentucky by R-Cher Family Farm LLC, St. Borealis won three of her six starts and earned $96,152. Her three 2014 wins were under the Ramseys' ownership, and her most notable win was a 1 3/4-length victory in the Claiming Crown's $125,000 Tiara Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

"The $1.1 million Claiming Crown is an important event, not only to the National HBPA, but to our industry as a whole," said Eric Hamelback, chief executive officer of the National HBPA. "Claiming horses fill the vast majority of race cards at tracks everyday across North America, and the Claiming Crown was designed to showcase and reward those hard-working horses along with the owners and trainers who campaign them. We developed this award to further honor a deserving horse who exemplified excellence throughout the year culminating with the Claiming Crown."

"We are very proud to recognize the Claiming Crown Horse of the Year at the TOBA National Awards Dinner," said Dan Metzger, president of TOBA. "The dinner honors outstanding achievements in our sport and the Claiming Crown Horse of the Year award is very much deserved."

The dinner is sponsored by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms, Stoll Keenon Ogden, Stronach Group and Adena Springs, H.E. “Tex” Sutton Forwarding Company, Jackson Family Wines (Official Wine Sponsor of the 2015 National Awards Dinner), Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Woodford Reserve, Zoetis, National HBPA, FLAIR Nasal Strips, NTRA Advantage, Daily Racing Form, The Horse and Blood-Horse.

Tickets for the National Awards Dinner may be purchased at

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bright Future for Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding in Iowa

Country music superstar Toby Keith is among those who are convinced that blue skies remain ahead for the Iowa Thoroughbred industry and for racing at Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino (PMRC).

“I have the ability to race my horses anywhere in the country but I send them to Iowa because the purses are lucrative, the racing is competitive, the racing surface is safe and always well-maintained, the facility is fan-friendly and modern, and the staff does a great job,” said Keith, the owner of Dream Walkin Farms, who won the $100,000 Saylorville Stakes with Ghost Locket during the prestigious Prairie Meadows Festival of Racing on June 26th.

Over the past few years, and with bi-partisan support in both houses of the state legislature and from Governor Terry Branstad, a longtime supporter of racing, the Thoroughbred industry has stabilized in Iowa and continues to support the state-wide agricultural network.  Favorable legislation passed in 2011 established a minimum of 67 live Thoroughbred racing dates at PMRC each year and a minimum 11% of PMRC’s gross gaming revenues for purses each year.

Since those issues were resolved, the Iowa Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, which represents more than 1,200 Thoroughbred owners and trainers, and the management team of PMRC have moved forward in a spirit of cooperation with impressive results that bode well for the future:

In a single year- 2014 to 2015- the positive results include:
• Thoroughbred breeding in Iowa has increased 17%. This counters the national trend where foal crops have stayed flat.
• Combined on-track at PMRC and off-track wagering at PMRC increased 19%.
• Attendance on-track is up - year-to-date through June is above yearly projections 4.6%.
• Horsemen and women from out-of-state and around the country are coming to Iowa to participate in the Thoroughbred program and are contributing to the local and state economy.
• PMRC backside stall use is up 5% during its peak usage.
• Horses per each PMRC live race average 7.3 and remains stable, while other tracks in the region and across the country have difficulty filling races.

“The upswing we are experiencing is dramatic and every trend indicates that will continue,” said Leroy Gessmann, the president of the Iowa HBPA and a longtime owner and breeder in the state. “Although there were some tough issues we had to work through, the horsemen and track management have come together to ensure that the Thoroughbred industry not only survives, but thrives, in this state that has a long and proud history with horse racing.”

Gary Palmer, president and CEO of PMRC, said, “We see racing continuing to be a part of our overall business and don’t have any plans or desires to change that. Horse racing is integral to the state of Iowa’s agricultural business and benefits the state substantially by having this home-grown industry. While we may invest $20 million in purses and another $10 million in running the racing operation, the economic impact of horse racing in our state is significant.”

While there has been some recent opposition expressed concerning PMRC’s live racing schedule change, Palmer explained the reasoning. “Horse racing is an added incentive to bring fans and their families out to the entire complex, which is why PMRC advocated a Thursday through Sunday racing schedule,” he said.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Are We Positive HR 3084 and USADA are Good for Racing?

One day after The Jockey Club’s Round Table Conference, the press has been inundated with comments, criticism and concerns revolving around the support of The Jockey Club, along with the American Humane Society and others, for H.R. 3084.

As has been stated in several press statements, and after full review and discussion of the H.R. 3084 at the National HBPA (NHBPA) Summer Convention in Denver this past weekend, it can still be said definitively that the NHBPA stands opposed to the current Barr/Tonko bill, H.R. 3084. It can also be stated once again, the NHBPA, like other horsemen’s groups as well as the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI), wants to work toward all racing jurisdictions using uniform medication and violation rules. However, the NHBPA and its state affiliates collectively believe it cannot be put in the hands of a private organization.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) undoubtedly is a professional organization with experience. However, the reality is that the current makeup of the organization has no experience in equine testing. The number of human samples they test pales in comparison to the number of equine samples tested each year. To add to the complication, the new association will be comprised of board members clearly defined to have no industry ties. This component, along with six USADA members from the current USADA Board, equals 11 members with only periphery knowledge of our sport. Forgive us, but we see that as a significant issue.

Take into account H.R. 3084 also seems to put the regulatory actions currently conducted by state regulatory agencies into the hands of the created USADA entity. Thus laboratory testing programs, investigatory programs, and hearings conducted for rule violations all shift to a private entity given the power to trump state rights.

It must be understood that the most important aspect in all of this current media deliberation is the welfare of our equine athletes. Somehow that message is not being conveyed, and to the contrary, it seems as the voice of a small number of constituents is being viewed as the voice of the majority and they are controlling the message. Those who continue to publicize our industry as a sport riddled with doping and cheaters cannot prove nor backup these allegations with facts. The use of the word “doping” is unbelievably incorrect and shows ignorance on the topic. The usage of therapeutic medications is not doping in human or equine athletes. Neither of these allegations: “our sport is riddled with cheaters” or “doping runs rampant throughout Thoroughbred racing” can be substantiated through fact or science, and the NHBPA stands by facts and science.

It is time for those of us who have the knowledge and understanding of the truth and facts to stand together and contradict those who spread falsehoods riddled with unsubstantiated allegations. The NHBPA is, and continues to be ready, to answer the question “Where’s the positive?”

Monday, August 10, 2015

National HBPA Elects Gessmann as President

Leroy Gessmann
The National HBPA Board of Directors elected Leroy Gessmann as president of North America’s largest horsemen’s association during the NHBPA’s Summer Convention held Aug. 6-9 in Denver. Gessmann is president of the Iowa HBPA and most recently served as First Vice President and Central Region Vice President for the National HBPA. Gessmann takes over for Robin Richards after she served a three-year term.

Gessmann, who owns and operates several family-style restaurants in Iowa, raced Sure Shot Biscuit, the all-time leading Iowa-bred money earner and only millionaire with a bankroll of $1,025,480. Gessmann also owned graded stakes winner Miss Macy Sue, who finished third in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

“I thank the board for their faith in me and will do everything I can to keep this organization going in the right direction,” said Gessmann.

The board also elected regional vice presidents for the association: Tom Metzen Sr., president of the Minnesota HBPA, will serve as Central Region Vice President and First Vice President; Past President Robin Richards, who is on the board of the Virginia HBPA, will serve as Eastern Region Vice President; Rick Hiles, president of the Kentucky HBPA, will serve another term as Southern Region Vice President; and J. Lloyd Yother, president of the Arizona HBPA, will serve as Western Region Vice President.

In addition to the elections, the Summer Convention featured NHBPA committee meetings and forums for horsemen to discuss important topics in the industry.

“I am very pleased with the outcome of our National HBPA Summer Convention” said Eric Hamelback, who presided over his first convention as CEO of the National HBPA. “This convention gave our members a great mixture of organizational business and educational forums. The overall feeling of our members was that of positive energy and re-energized vigor. As horsemen, owners and trainers who pursue our profession in the racing industry, we understand that it is up to us to spread the message of the majority, and that message is filled with positive and factual information that needs to be heard. It will be up to the National HBPA to ensure the message of our affiliates and members is heard.”

In the Legislative Affairs Forum, the panel pointed out several issues with the recently introduced Barr/Tonko Bill H.R. 3084, known as the “Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015.” The bill calls for the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to take over equine drug testing from state racing commissions.

Panelists pointed out USADA’s lack of experience with equine drug testing, especially that USADA did not do the testing for equine athletes during the Olympics, and raised questions about how the testing would be paid for.

In the Medication Forum, panelists discussed the past, present and future of equine drug testing. Dr. Steven Barker of Louisiana State University mentioned how drug testing methods have become so advanced that “positives” are being called for tests that find trace levels of a substance that could not possibly affect performance and most likely was caused by environmental contamination.

“In fact, many (tests exceeding) current threshold levels could just as easily be caused by or exceeded by environmental contamination,” he said. “Our ability to test has exceeded what was intended by the laws. There is no pharmacological effect to these small levels.”

Linda Gaston, president of the Arkansas HBPA, was bestowed the National HBPA’s Industry Service Award, becoming the first woman to ever been so honored since the award began in 1999. Gaston was recognized for her dedication to helping horsemen both in her home state and across North America.

The Board also presented a resolution to outgoing Western Region Vice President and Washington HBPA President Ron Maus, thanking him for his years of service, particularly in the areas of financial planning and budgeting for the National HBPA.

The National HBPA will hold its Winter Convention in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Innovation Contest Headlines Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming

Innovation and technology touch every part of the racing industry from wagering platforms to video of the race to data collection of all forms. Developing innovative ideas is time consuming and costly and nurturing new concepts in a sport steeped in tradition are difficult at best. Other industries facing similar issues have encouraged and embraced innovation with pitch competitions like Shark Tank.

The University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, in conjunction with its partners Hai Ng and Vin Narayanan, today announced racing’s first pitch competition. The event, named the Innovators’ Circle, will be held at this year’s annual Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming. Participants will pitch their ideas and/or products to top executives in the racing and gaming world. The winning ideas will earn cash prizes; if a judge really likes the idea, an offer for a deal could be made.

The event is open to everyone, not just those already involved in the industry. The contest's website,, provides a background on racing and educational tools to help educate the racing newcomers who wish to participate. Full instructions on how to enter the contest are also found there.

“As racing strives to grow in an increasingly competitive gambling environment, we believe that inviting entrepreneurs - who may or may not be involved in horse racing - to pitch their ideas will create tremendous excitement and potentially some new visions for our industry,” said RTIP Program Director Doug Reed.

"We know there are thousands of entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators out there who have great products and ideas that could change the horse racing industry," said Hai Ng, event producer/partner, Neomancer LLC. "We want to create a platform that will let the best concepts rise to the top. Having worked with many start-ups in a wide variety of industries, we have discovered that some of the best innovations come from outside the target vertical; once that breakthrough idea takes hold, the industry latches on and blossoms with it.”

The 42nd annual Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming will be held from December 7-9, 2015 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.

Monday, August 3, 2015

National HBPA Summer Convention Kicks Off Aug. 6

The National HBPA’s annual Summer Convention will commence on August 6 and run through August 9 at the Grand Hyatt Denver in Colorado. The meeting of North America’s largest horsemen’s association is being hosted by the Colorado Horseracing Association.

The first full day of the convention on Friday will include a legislative affairs forum focusing on ways horsemen can effectively work with government officials to ensure their understanding of the impact and importance of horse racing.

The panel will be moderated by Brian Fitzgerald, the NHBPA’s government relations liaison. The speakers will include: Kelley Brooks, principal at the lobbying firm Stealey II Inc.; Daniel J. Hartman, division director for the state of Colorado’s division of racing events; William “Bill” White, president of the Florida HBPA; and Mark Hillman, a Colorado farmer and breeder and former Colorado State Senator.

Friday’s schedule will also include NHBPA committee meetings, forums on benefit providers and public relations, and industry awards.

On Saturday, Kent Stirling, chair of the NHBPA’s Medication Committee and executive director of the Florida HBPA, will moderate a medication forum covering a range of topics related to equine drug testing and regulation.

The panel will include: writer/handicapper Richard Halvey; Dr. Thomas Tobin, professor of veterinary science at the Gluck Equine Research Center and the Graduate Center for Toxicology at the University of Kentucky; Dr. Clara Fenger of Equine Integrated Medicine in Georgetown, Kentucky; and Dr. Steven Barker, professor of veterinary medicine at LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

The day will conclude with an afternoon of racing at Arapahoe Park.

“The National HBPA is honored to have Arapahoe Park and the Colorado Horseracing Association host our summer convention for 2015,” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA. “The events and forums will be such that our entire membership will be able to enjoy themselves, as well as have a chance to be educated on current affairs affecting our racing industry.”

On Sunday, the National HBPA Board of Directors will meet to elect a new president to take over for outgoing president Robin Richards.

Monday, July 20, 2015

TOBA to Hold Educational Events and Members Meeting in Saratoga Springs

The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association is holding two educational events, as well as its annual Members Meeting, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. the second week of August.

August 9-10: Pedigree & Conformation Clinic
Pedigree discussions include general theory, such as in-breeding, out-crossing and nicking as well as overall conformational factors. The clinic identifies common conformation faults and includes live conformation workshops of both Fasig-Tipton sales yearlings and horses in training. New features of this annual clinic are discussions on stride analysis, sales catalogue analysis and morning workouts, as well as an afternoon watching live racing at Saratoga Race Course. Speakers include Edwin Anthony, Carrie Brogden, Bob Feld, Sean Feld, Jay Kilgore, Tim Leith, Jason Litt, Tom McGreevy, Reid McLellan, Dan Metzger, Tom Morley and Mark Taylor.

August 12-13: Thoroughbred Ownership Seminar
This seminar features the owner/trainer relationship, options for acquiring horses, business topics, online resources, retirement and more. Attendees will also enjoy an afternoon of racing at Saratoga Race Course. New components to this annual seminar are the jockey and jockey’s agent panel, shoeing the racehorse, conformation and appraisal of sale horses and a tour of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Speakers include Ron Anderson, Jeffrey Cannizzo, Erin Crady, Ramón Dominguez, Jeremiah Englehart, Donna Freyer, Jamie Hill, Allen Katz, Bruce Levine, Robb Levinsky, Michael Levy, Mike Ryan, Anna Seitz and Carrie Asalon.

Wednesday, August 12: TOBA Members Meeting at Courtyard by Marriott
TOBA members wanting to become more informed about TOBA’s work in the Thoroughbred industry are welcome and encouraged to attend the open Members Meeting at 8:30 a.m. (EDT) at the Courtyard by Marriott. No RSVP is necessary.

The 2015 schedule and registration are available at TOBA members receive a discounted rate for each clinic and non-members can join TOBA today to take advantage of the discount.