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Thursday, March 7, 2019

National HBPA Convention: Finding Ways To Do Things Better

Finding ways for horse racing to do things better is the overarching theme of the National HBPA Convention March 12-16 at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater Beach, Fla.

That also is the mission of the new Thoroughbred Idea Foundation, a horse-racing think tank whose representatives form the March 13 keynote panel at the annual convention staged by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association and its affiliates in the United States and Canada. Launched last May, the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation already has issued a trio of white papers on horse racing and legal sports betting, when interference should result in a disqualification and rounding down to the penny in mutuel payoffs.

The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation’s stated goal is “to improve the thoroughbred racing industry for all stakeholders, especially its primary customers - gamblers and owners - through the exchange, curation and advocacy of sound, data-driven ideas, shared with and implemented by the sport’s existing entities.” TIF is funded by individuals and accepts no money from industry organizations.

Panelists are Glen Hill Farm president and think-tank founder Craig Bernick, along with TIF board members Jack Wolf of Starlight Racing and horse owner-breeder Corey Johnsen of Arizona Downs and Kentucky Downs. Moderating the panel will be Justin Nicholson, a TIF board member and co-founder of Equestricon.

“I continue to try to keep the keynote address about the positiveness and what’s working in the industry,” Hamelback said. “I certainly see this panel as that. This group and their board as a whole are very bright individuals who are all vested in the industry. They have a passion to make this industry as successful as possible, not just sit by and be status quo.

“We’re in a time where our industry is poised for growth if people will take heed of the changes that we should and could make…. These are people who want this industry not only to survive but to thrive.”

Other panels and presentations include:
  • “Putting the ‘We’ in Equine Welfare” kicks off the March 13 programming by exploring what animal welfare really means, who decides what is and isn’t good welfare and why the industry must get involved in the debate. The session will be presented by Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, the New York Racing Association’s chief examining veterinarian, an accredited steward, industry consultant and attorney.
“It makes you think about what some of these activists see and things we can do to make it better,” said Hamelback, who has seen Durenberger’s presentation. “It’s dependent on how we treat our equine athlete as to how our industry moves forward, as much as growing owners and handicappers.”
  • “Accessing Our Industry’s Stats Into The Future” will discuss owners asserting their rights to statistical data collected on their horses’ performances, including gaining input on how it is used. The panel comes as Equibase is testing GPS systems to collect race and workout data of horses.
  • Michele Fischer, president of the Darting Star consulting company whose expertise includes wagering systems around the world, will make a presentation about the future of fixed-odds betting at American racetracks, including the positive impact it has had in Australian racing.
  • John Marshall, senior vice president and general manager of Virginia’s revived Colonial Downs, is the guest speaker at the awards luncheon. Among those to be recognized is 2018 Claimer of the Year Persie, the Penn National-based winner of 10 of 17 starts in claiming and starter-allowance races for owner Bush Racing and trainer Lester Stickler.
  • Dr. Steve Vickner, an economist and associate professor in the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program in the College of Business and specialist in data analytics, will present factors affecting handle in thoroughbred and standardbred races based on extensive research at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack as part of the convention’s March 14 programming.
“That’s the kind of thing we need to know if we’re going to have pertinent industry discussions on how to change things, and what we’re doing already that is a win so we don’t have to focus on that part,” Hamelback said.
  • The public portion of the convention concludes the morning of March 15 with the annual Kent Stirling Memorial Scientific Panel, which will continue to delve into one of the most important topics facing horsemen: the dangers of environmental contamination and inadvertent transfer of impermissible substances to horses. This session focuses on naturally occurring substances in feed, forage and bedding and how horsemen can protect themselves.
“We have to be cognizant what’s in the barn,” Hamelback said.

The Tampa Bay Downs HBPA is the host affiliate, including sponsoring an afternoon at Tampa Bay Downs on March 15.

View the complete agenda, speakers and panelists here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Persie Wins National HBPA Claiming Horse of the Year Award

Persie (Photo courtesy Bush Racing Stable)
Persie, a winner of 10 races from 17 starts in 2018, has been named Claiming Horse of the Year by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

Persie was one of only five horses in the United States with 10 or more wins last year. Three other horses also achieved 10 wins, and only Arriesgado, who competed in Puerto Rico, had more with 11.

Persie was claimed by Bush Racing Stable for $8,000 on May 24 at Penn National in Grantville, PA, after winning three times during the year for owner Adam Staple and trainer Brandon Kulp. The Street Sense gelding then won seven of his next 11 races, including six straight, for trainer Lester Stickler Jr. William Otero rode Persie to all but one of the wins for Bush Racing.

From 17 starts in 2018, Persie earned $114,372 – more than double his previous lifetime earnings – en route to earning Penn National’s 2018 Horse of the Year award from the Pennsylvania HBPA. Bred in Kentucky by Elkstone Group LLC, Persie began 2019 right where he left off – the 6- year-old won a starter allowance at Laurel Park on January 24.

“Every owner and trainer knows that it’s hard enough to win just one race, so for a horse to win 10 in a year is quite an accomplishment,” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA. “We congratulate Persie and his connections on an outstanding season.”

The National HBPA also presents a Claiming Crown Horse of the Year Award to one of the winning horses from the $1.1-million Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park. The 2018 winner of that award will be honored at the TOBA National Awards Dinner later this year.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Iowa Horsemen to Leverage Gaming Experience for Benefit of Iowa

The Iowa Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) announced today their intent to become the single license holder in Iowa for sports wagering.

Their bill, which was recently released by the state government committees in both the Iowa House as HSB 124 and Senate as SSB 1100, demonstrates the horsemen’s unique ability to implement sports wagering in Iowa with simplicity, security, demonstrated prior success and an ability and willingness to keep all proceeds in the hands of Iowans.

“We believe this is the simplest option for everyone involved,” said Jon Moss, Executive Director of the Iowa HBPA.  “Having one contract to oversee and manage is much easier to execute than 10 or 20.  We can effectively bring one simple, unified wagering platform to everyone.  And we’ve proven we can successfully implement wagering in Iowa.”

The Iowa HBPA has been successfully conducting Advanced Deposit Wagering (ADW) in Iowa since 2012.  Many experts believe ADW will comprise over 50% of total sports wagers in Iowa, so proven experience is valuable.

Further, the Iowa HBPA bill uses existing language that proposes sports wagering only be offered by ADW and in Iowa’s casinos.  This gives assurances to the public and to the legislative body that wagering will be conducted with a high degree of security and integrity.  In its nearly seven years of ADW experience, the Iowa HBPA has been proven successful at mitigating the risk of underage or illegal gambling.

“We also believe one of the most persuasive pieces of our bill is the opportunity to keep all proceeds right here in Iowa,” says Moss.  “After all, if Iowans spend their money here, it should benefit our state economy.”

Moss continues, “We want to bring as many partners along as possible.  Local non-profits, casinos, the state of Iowa and our agricultural industry should all benefit from sports wagering.  Other options leave many of these behind.  We have established partners to implement sports wagering here, and we can do it for the benefit of everyone involved.”

With the Iowa HBPA as the unified license holder, Iowa can keep with the spirit of the original bill Governor Terry Brandstad signed to allow casinos to operate in Iowa.  That bill, which allows casinos in Iowa to exist today, was enacted to support horse racing and the core of Iowa’s economy – agriculture.  The Iowa HBPA is also following in the footsteps of other Thoroughbred horsemen bringing sports wagering to their states in a responsible manner.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the State of New Jersey and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) in a lawsuit that allowed the New Jersey horsemen to conduct sports wagering in New Jersey.  That legislation and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act allowed individual states the freedom to implement sports wagering however they deem appropriate.

The Iowa HBPA is a non-profit 501(c)(6) trade association that represents all horsemen and women who run Thoroughbred horses within the state of Iowa.  Currently there are 1,200 members, comprised of individuals who have raced Thoroughbred horses in the past two calendar years.  The Iowa HBPA is also an affiliate member of the National HBPA, based in Lexington, KY.  The National HBPA represents over 30,000 members in North America.

(from Iowa HBPA news release)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Interactive, Electronic Edition of The Horsemen’s Journal Winter 2018 Issue is Now Available

The interactive, electronic version of The Horsemen’s Journal’s Winter 2018 issue is now available online. It is an enhanced version of our Winter issue, which is currently being mailed. To view it, click here.

Features in the issue include:

One for the Record Books 
The 20th renewal of the Claiming Crown shatters the event’s handle mark at Gulfstream Park

Healing Horses and Humans
The Thoroughbred Makeover showcased the versatility and talent of Thoroughbreds after leaving the track

A Vital Purpose
The Man O’ War Project brings veterans and horses together to treat PTSD

Tackling the Lameness Problem
A collaborative study on joint injections between the National HBPA and veterinarians is bearing knowledge

Hitting the Threshold of Common Sense
The time for screening limits to guard against environmental transfer is now

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, August 2, 2018

August 15 is Deadline to Nominate for the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards

Just a reminder that nominations for the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards Presented by Godolphin close on August 15. The TIEA Awards recognize and reward the outstanding talent, diligence and commitment of the farm and racing stable staff who are at the heart of our sport. The awards themselves are separated into six distinct categories which carry a total prize-pool of $128,000, along with specially commissioned trophies for the winners.

Get more info and nomination forms at

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Summer 2018 Issue of The Horsemen's Journal Now Online

The interactive, electronic version of The Horsemen’s Journal’s Summer 2018 issue is now available online. It is an enhanced version of our Winter issue, which is currently being mailed. To view it, click here.

Features in the issue include:

Alphabet Soup: Still Beating the Odds
The Old Friends resident is benefiting from a new cancer treatment that is helping gray horses

The Power of Social Media
How the Kentucky HBPA is using social media to spread the word about racing

Embracing the Race
A passionate supporter of horse racing is trying to raise the sport’s profile

Trace-Level Identifications Are Not Positives
The scientifically correct and public relations-appropriate approach to medication regulation

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.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Jon Miller of NBC Sports to Deliver Keynote Address at Thoroughbred Owner Conference

Jon Miller - Photo courtesy NBC Sports Group
Jon Miller, the president of programming for NBC Sports Group, will deliver the keynote address at the fifth Thoroughbred Owner Conference, to be held from October 30 through November 1, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. The conference leads into the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which are scheduled for November 2-3 at Churchill Downs.

The goal of the Thoroughbred Owner Conference, which is co-hosted by OwnerView and BloodHorse and presented by Churchill Downs and Breeders’ Cup, is to educate, inform, and entertain new, prospective, and current Thoroughbred owners through a series of panels, networking opportunities, and social events.

As president of programming, Miller oversees nearly 9,500 hours of annual programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network (NBCSN), including the Triple Crown races, Breeders’ Cup, NFL, NHL, French Open, Notre Dame Football, Tour de France, IndyCar, and NBC’s golf properties.

In 2011, McKinsey & Company’s study, “Driving Sustainable Growth for Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding,” which was commissioned by The Jockey Club, found that horse racing was suffering from a lack of television coverage. Under Miller’s leadership, NBC Sports Group has significantly expanded its national coverage of horse racing from 23 hours in 2011 to 85 hours this year. For the fifth year, NBC and NBCSN are airing races from the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In, presented by America's Best Racing, and NBC hosted a record five hours of live coverage on this year’s Kentucky Derby day. In total, NBC and NBCSN aired more than 30 hours of coverage in support of this year’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.

“Jon Miller and his team at NBC Sports Group have been tremendous ambassadors for horse racing through their increased national coverage of our sport,” said James L. Gagliano, president and COO of The Jockey Club. “We are thrilled that he is able to speak at the Thoroughbred Owner Conference and share his insights on the most effective strategies for broadcasting horse racing and growing the sport.”

In addition to the variety of panels and speakers, conference attendees will have the opportunity to attend Breeders’ Cup events such as the post-position draw and reception and workouts from the Breeders’ Cup Trackside Breakfast Marquee. Attendees will also be able to tour farms in the Lexington Bluegrass region and are invited to an evening reception at the Kentucky Derby Museum. Conference registrations also include reserved seating tickets for both days of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

The full schedule of events is available at Registration for the conference is now open.

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 aspects of ownership such as trainers, public racing syndicates, the process of purchasing and owning a Thoroughbred, racehorse retirement, and owner licensing.

Additional information about OwnerView and the Thoroughbred Owner Conference is available at or by contacting Gary Falter at or (859) 224-2803.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Yavapai Downs gets Unanimous Approval to Move Forward

Photo by Coady Photography
Yavapai Downs took another important step toward bringing summertime horse racing back to Arizona as the Arizona Racing Commission unanimously approved a three-year temporary permit for the track’s new ownership group.

Plans call for live racing to begin at Yavapai Downs in 2019, running from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Simulcast wagering could begin as early as July 1 this year to build purses for the live season, with the first Off Track Betting facility to be at the racetrack site in Prescott Valley.

Yavapai Downs last conducted racing in 2010. The track was purchased out of federal bankruptcy court for $3.22 million by J&J Equine Enterprises LLC, an entity formed by brothers and Phoenix-based JACOR Partners principals Tom, Dave and Mike Auther and their partner Joe Jackson, along with longtime racing executive Corey Johnsen. J&J Equine Enterprises was granted a temporary permit to conduct live racing for fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021. A permanent permit is pending the Arizona Racing Commission staff completing its due diligence.

In its meeting last Thursday, the Arizona Racing Commission also approved veteran racetrack operator Ann McGovern as the track’s general manager.

Yavapai Downs sits on 120 acres on the northeast edge of Prescott Valley, located eight miles from downtown Prescott in a rapidly growing market.

(from JR Communications news release)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

New Full Tuition Scholarship Offered by the Race Track Industry Program

A new four-year, full-tuition scholarship award, the Odds On Racing Scholarship, has just been announced by the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program.

“This is such an incredible opportunity for students - who may have thought that attending the UA to prepare for a career in racing was financially out of reach - to take that first step toward their career goals,” said Wendy Davis, Director of the Race Track Industry Program.

The Odds On Racing Scholarship will be available to incoming freshmen or transfer students and will cover all tuition costs of attending the UA’s RTIP.

The scholarship is thanks to a very generous donation from racing enthusiast and horse owner Dana Parham and is named for his Standardbred racing operation, Odds On Racing Stable. Parham donated the funding for the scholarship to support an industry that he’s passionate about and has been involved with in a variety of areas over the years. Through this gift, he’s supporting the next generation of professionals who will steward the sport into the future.

“We are incredibly grateful for this gift and the doors it will open for the students who receive it. This award allows the best and brightest students, from any financial background, who are interested in racing to attend the UA and join the list of distinguished RTIP alumni,” said Davis.

Especially appropriate is the name of the scholarship – Odds On Racing. This gift will certainly allow the recipient to be the odds-on favorite to succeed in their career goals.

For more info go to

Thursday, February 15, 2018

ELD and CDL Webinar Recording Available from AHC

While registration filled up quickly for the American Horse Council's First Quarter 2018 webinar on the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and Commercial Drivers License (CDL) requirements, the AHC recorded the webinar in order to share with AHC members and horsemen.

This is a multifactorial issue, with requirements for a CDL varying from state to state. The AHC is planning on hosting a second webinar on this topic in the coming weeks, and will be meeting with the Department of Transportation this coming Friday to further address how to best communicate the complexities of the requirements to the equine industry.

The AHC recommends contacting your state Department of Transportation for specific questions on the CDL regulations for your state. To view a list of state by state contacts, please click here.

You can access the webinar recording by clicking here.

If you have any questions, please contact the AHC at

Monday, February 5, 2018

Topics Announced for National HBPA Convention in New Orleans

Sports betting and its possible effects on horse racing. Stemming the dearth of backside employees. Horses’ inadvertent exposure to recreational and prescription medications. Needing solutions, not just funding, for Thoroughbred aftercare. Where the trainer absolute-insurer rule stands. Horsemen as citizen marketers.

Those are among the discussions taking center stage at the National HBPA Convention, March 13-17 at New Orleans’ Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel in the fabled French Quarter. The convention is sponsored by the Louisiana division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association. Details on registration, hotel reservations and agenda are available at

Prominent owner-breeder Clay Whitham of Whitham Family Thoroughbreds will deliver the keynote address the afternoon of March 14. The convention features panels and presentations March 14 and 15, along with the morning of March 16, followed by an afternoon of racing at the Fair Grounds. Convention registration opens March 13, with the HBPA board meeting the morning of March 17.

“The HBPA Convention’s mission is to provide insight, information and a variety of perspectives to keep our horsemen up to date in a rapidly-changing world, to let our membership and their HBPA representatives know how owners and trainers are impacted by regulatory changes, technology advances and business trends and how they might better their operations and our sport,” said Eric Hamelback, the National HBPA’s chief executive officer. “As our motto says, we are ‘horsemen helping horsemen,’ while also providing ways for horsemen to help themselves and be leaders into the future.”

“The 2018 HBPA Convention will feature luminaries in such areas as equine law, drug testing, workers’ compensation, workforce issues and marketing. Our discussions promise to be informative and engaging,” said National HBPA president Leroy Gessmann. “Mr. Clay Whitham — horseman, businessman and banker — is the perfect keynote speaker, combining his family’s love, passion and perseverance in the sport with understanding of the challenges we all face.”

In addition to industry experts, the convention panelists include outside authorities bringing valuable insight into horse racing. Among them:

  • Greg Bensel, senior vice president for communications for the Tom Benson-owned NFL New Orleans Saints and NBA Pelicans, as well as general manager of Tom and Gayle Benson’s GMB Racing.
  • Joe Asher, CEO of the U.S. operation for the prominent British bookmaking concern William Hill. Asher joins the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Alex Waldrop and Michele Fischer of Sportech to discuss new challenges horse racing may face with the likelihood of sports-betting expansion.
  • Ted Shults, an international drug-test expert with background as an attorney and research toxicologist and who has worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of the Army and as corporate counsel and director of legal affairs for CompuChem Laboratories, which works with the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal and state agencies.
  • Dr. Scott Stanley, principal chemist at the University of California-Davis’ Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory that handles California’s horse-racing testing and who has worked nationally and internationally in the fields of equine pharmacology, analytical chemistry and anti-doping detection.
  • Dr. Emily Weiss, who oversees the strategic direction of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Equine Welfare program.

These and other speakers will highlight panels and presentations. Additionally the NHBPA will honor the life of longtime horseman and NHBPA leader Kent Stirling, as well as Nebraska horseman Bob Lee with formal resolutions.

The National HBPA Claiming Horse of the Year will also be honored with a presentation to the owners of Mended, Mr. and Mrs. Troy Onorato. The Northern California-based Mended, now 5, was claimed Jan. 6, 2017, for $12,500. She lost that day but went 10 for 10 the rest of the year for the Onoratos and trainer John F. Martin, capped by the $110,000 Claiming Crown Glass Slipper at Gulfstream Park.

About the National HBPA
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: Big Dee’s Tack & Vet Supplies, Lavin Insurance Group LLC, Xpressbet, NTRA Advantage,, Red Brand, Finish Line Horse Products Inc., Daily Racing Form and Horseman Labor Solutions.

NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance, RMTC to Present New Regulatory Vet Continuing Education Conference

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Safety & Integrity Alliance and the Racing Medication Testing Consortium (RMTC) today announced a new two-day continuing education conference for regulatory and official racetrack veterinarians. The inaugural Regulatory/Official Veterinary CE – set for June 25-26 at Keeneland, preceding the Grayson-Jockey Club Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit (WSS) on June 27 – will cover topics related to pre-race examinations, on-track protocols, test barn best practices, data and documentation, technology resources, and biosecurity.

“Regulatory veterinarians hold a unique position in the protection of the health and welfare of the horse,” said Dr. Dionne Benson, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the RMTC. “The goal of this CE is to provide training directly related to their mission.”

The agenda was developed by Benson and Steve Koch, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance in collaboration with a committee of Equine Medical Directors and racetrack veterinarians. Approval for veterinary CE credits is anticipated in advance of the conference.

“Consistency of protocols across North American racing is critical to protect the welfare of the traveling horse,” Koch said. “It is therefore crucial that every track and regulatory authority ensure their veterinarians participate in this one-of-a-kind event.”

Participation in #RegVetCE18 is limited to active official vets employed or sponsored by a racetrack or regulatory authority. Select additional participants may be admitted at the discretion of the organizers.

Registration is $250/person and includes all meals each day. The registration deadline is June 1. Online registration will be available in coming weeks but spots may be reserved immediately by contacting Julia Sisoumankhara of the RMTC at or (859) 759-4081.

Confirmed speakers and topics include:
  • Larry Bramlage D.V.M., M.S., D.A.C.V.S. (Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital); Dr. Tim Grande D.V.M. (California Horse Racing Board); Dr. Michael Hardy D.V.M. (Indiana Grand Racing and Casino, Indiana Horse Racing Commission); Dr. Mary Scollay D.V.M. (Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, University of Kentucky) Dr. Scott Hay, D.V.M. (Teigland, Franklin and Brokken Equine) on pre-race examination protocols including hands on practice in the barn areas
  • Dionne Benson Esq. D.V.M. (Racing Medication & Testing Consortium) on North American pre-race examination standards and medication regulation
  • Cathy O’Meara M.B.A. and Kristin Leshney, Esq. (The Jockey Club) on in-the-field implementation of the InCompass Solutions Veterinary Module
  • Dr. Jeff Blea D.V.M. (Von Bluecher, Blea & Hunkin Equine Medicine and Surgery), Dr. Christy Klatt D.V.M. (Minnesota Racing Commission, Arkansas Racing Commission), Dr. Lynn Hovda RPh, D.V.M., M.S., D.A.C.V.I.M. (Minnesota Racing Commission, Safety Call, Inc., University of Minnesota), and Dr. Greg Taylor D.V.M. (Veterinary Consultant for NTRA S&I Alliance) on order of raceday procedures
  • Dr. John Hubbell D.V.M., M.S., A.C.V.A.A. (Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital) on raceday emergency medications
  • Dr. Robert Hunt D.V.M., M.S., D.A.C.V.S. (Hagyard Equine Medical Institute) on providing the best outcome for an injured racehorse
  • Brad Beilly Esq. (Beilly & Strohsahl, P.A.) on the legal ramifications of test sample chain of custody
  • Steve Koch M.S. (NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance) on 2018 ARCI Model Rules changes including “Veterinary Practices” and “Trainer Treatment Records”
  • Dr. Tim Parkin BSc, BVSc, Ph.D., D.E.C.V.P.H., FHEA, M.R.C.V.S. (University of Glasgow) on the Equine Injury Database (EID)
  • Dr. Rick Arthur D.V.M. (UC Davis/California Horse Racing Board) on data opportunities outside of the EID
  • Dr. Roberta Dwyer M.S., D.V.M., D.A.C.V.P.M. (University of Kentucky) on infectious disease and racetrack biosecurity
  • Dr. Mick Peterson Ph.D. (University of Kentucky, Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory) on racing surface data valuable to the regulatory veterinarian
Each day will conclude with networking activities, including a Monday evening dinner at the Kentucky Horse Park with guest speaker Ed Bowen, president of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and noted racing historian.

Additional speakers will be announced as they are confirmed.

The Regulatory/Official Veterinary CE is designed to complement the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit (WSS) and all #RegVetCE18 attendees are encouraged to cross-register for both. More information on the WSS can be found at

“This Reg Vet CE opportunity will be an impactful lead-in and, in fact, a seamless component to the next day’s WSS, which is already an essential forum for those dedicated to improving safety and soundness for Thoroughbred racehorses,” said Koch.

Regulatory/Official Veterinary CE is made possible with generous support from Keeneland, the University of Kentucky Ag Equine Programs, NTRA Advantage, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Gun Runner Voted 2017 Horse of the Year

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced this evening that Gun Runner, a winner of four Grade 1 races culminating with the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, was voted the 2017 Horse of the Year at the 47th Annual Eclipse Awards Ceremony at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

The Eclipse Awards, honoring excellence in North American Thoroughbred racing, presented by The Stronach Group, Daily Racing Form and the Breeders’ Cup, are voted on by the NTRA, Daily Racing Form (DRF) and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB).

Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm and trained by Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner received 248 out of a possible 250 first-place votes for Horse of the Year. Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate, who was last year’s Champion 3-year-old, received two first place votes.

Gun Runner, who was also named the Champion Older Dirt Male earlier in the evening, won 5 of 6 starts during his 4-year-old season, including dominant victories in the Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April, the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in June, the Whitney and Woodward at Saratoga in August, and then finished the year with a front-running 2 1/4-length victory in the Classic at Del Mar. Gun Runner’s only defeat last year came in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, when he finished second to Arrogate. Gun Runner later turned the tables on Arrogate, who dead-heated for fifth in the Classic. Gun Runner, ridden in all of his races last year by Florent Geroux, finished the year with earnings of $6,950,700.

A chestnut son of Candy Ride (ARG) out of Quiet Giant by Giant’s Causeway, Gun Runner was bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables. Gun Runner is scheduled to make his final career start in Saturday’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, and then will be retired to stud duty at Three Chimneys Farm in Versailles, Kentucky.

With the crowning of Gun Runner, Steve Asmussen becomes the first trainer since the Eclipse Awards began in 1971 to train the Horse of the Year winner on four occasions. In addition to Gun Runner, Asmussen, a member of Thoroughbred Racing’s Hall of Fame, trained Curlin to Horse of the Year titles in 2007 and 2008 and the filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009.

In other awards tonight, two horses from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert captured the 3-year-old male and 3-year-old filly titles. Gary and Mary West’s West Coast, winner of the Travers and Pennsylvania Derby was named Champion 3-year-old Male, and China Horse Club’s Abel Tasman, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and the Coaching Club American Oaks, was named Champion 3-year-old filly.

The Champion 2-year-old Male title went to Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic, who is trained by Chad Brown, who was also named Outstanding Trainer for the second consecutive year.

Juddmonte Farms, which campaigned Arrogate to victories in the both the Pegasus and Dubai World Cups, was named Champion owner, and Clearksy Farms, breeders of Arrogate and Abel Tasman, was named the Outstanding Breeder. Jose Ortiz, who led all riders with more than $27 million in earnings, was named Champion Jockey.

The complete list of 2017 Eclipse Awards winners and vote totals appears below:

(Horse ages in parentheses where applicable; Country codes indicate a foreign breeding designation)

Two-Year-Old Male: Good Magic
Two-Year-Old Filly: Caledonia Road
Three-Year-Old Male: West Coast
Three-Year-Old Filly: Abel Tasman
Older Dirt Male: Gun Runner (4)
Older Dirt Female: Forever Unbridled (5)
Male Sprinter: Roy H (5)
Female Sprinter: Unique Bella (3)
Male Turf Horse: World Approval (5)
Female Turf Horse: Lady Eli (5)
Steeplechase Horse: Scorpiancer (IRE) (8)
Owner: Juddmonte Farms, Inc.
Breeder: Clearsky Farms
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Apprentice Jockey: Evin Roman
Trainer: Chad Brown
Horse of the Year: Gun Runner (4)
The Eclipse Awards
Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon the Thoroughbred horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements have earned them the title of Champion in their respective divisions. The Eclipse Awards are named after the great 18th-Century racehorse and foundation sire Eclipse, who began racing at age five and was undefeated in 18 starts, including eight walkovers. Eclipse sired the winners of 344 races, including three Epsom Derbies.

Voting Overview
In voting that concluded Jan. 2, 2018, Eclipse Awards voters cast their ballots to rank the top three horses and individuals in each Championship division on a 10-5-1 point system basis. This voting established the top three finalists in each division, whose names were released on Jan. 5, 2018.

The tallies below represent only first-place votes from members of the consolidated voting entities, NTRA, Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers and Broadcasters.

Voter participation rate: 250/269= 92.9%

Two-Year-Old Male (Name, First-Place Votes)
Good Magic, 131; Bolt d’Oro, 113; Catholic Boy, 3; Firenze Fire, 1; Mendelssohn, 1; Solomini, 1.

Two-Year-Old Filly
Caledonia, Road, 161; Rushing Fall, 68; Moonshine Memories, 17; Dream Tree, 2; Dream It Is, 1; Road to Victory, 1.

Three-Year-Old Male
West Coast, 229; Always Dreaming, 14; Battle of Midway, 5; Irap, 1; Mastery, 1.

Three-Year-Old Filly
Abel Tasman, 244; Unique Bella, 5; Elate, 1.

Older Dirt Male
Gun Runner, 247; Arrogate, 3.

Older Dirt Female
Forever Unbridled, 237; Songbird, 8; Stellar Wind, 4; Voter Abstentions, 1.

Male Sprinter
Roy H, 241; Imperial Hint, 5; Drefong, 1; Mind Your Biscuits, 1; Stormy Liberal, 1; Voter Abstentions, 1.

Female Sprinter
Unique Bella, 90, Paulassilverlining, 60; Ami’s Mesa, 41; Bar of Gold, 36; Lady Aurelia, 8; By the Moon, 5; American Gal, 3; Finley’sluckycharm, 1; Voter Abstentions, 6.

Male Turf Horse
World Approval, 211; Beach Patrol 20; Talismanic (GB), 11; Highland Reel (IRE), 8.

Female Turf Horse
Lady Eli, 203; Wuheida (GB), 33; Off Limits, 12; Cambodia, 1; La Coronel, 1.

Steeplechase Horse
Scorpiancer (IRE), 92; All the Way Jose, 70; Mr. Hot Stuff, 35; Modem (GB), 7; Diplomat, 4; Swansea Mile (IRE), 3; Voter Abstentions, 39.

Juddmonte Farms, 143; Winchell Thoroughbreds, 31; Godolphin Racing, 21; Sol Kumin, Head of Plains, Sheep Pond Partners, 19; Klaravich Stables, Inc., and William H. Lawrence, 11; Calumet Farm, 7; End Zone Athletics, 3; Charles Fipke, 2; Coolmore, 1; e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, 1; Fox Hill Farm, 1; Live Oak Plantation, 1; John Oxley, 1; Stonestreet Stables, 1; Voter Abstentions, 7.

Clearsky Farms, 141; WinStar Farm, 72; Charles Fipke, 8; Belisu Stables, 7; Live Oak Stud, 6; Godolphin Racing/Darley, 4; Brereton C. Jones, 3; Adena Springs, 1; Calumet Farm, 1; Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, 1; Voter Abstentions, 6.

Chad Brown, 215; Bob Baffert, 16; Steve Asmussen, 13; Mark Casse, 2; Todd Pletcher, 2; Voter Abstentions, 2.

Jose Ortiz, 189; Mike Smith, 45; Irad Ortiz, Jr.,10; Javier Castellano, 4; Voter Abstentions, 2.

Apprentice Jockey
Evin Roman, 232; Katie Clawson, 4; Jenn Miller, 1. Voter Abstentions, 13.

Horse of the Year
Gun Runner, 248; Arrogate, 2

Award of Merit
The recipient of the Award of Merit, voted on by a panel of representatives from the three presenting organizations and previously announced, is Frank Stronach. The Award of Merit is presented to honor outstanding lifetime achievement in the Thoroughbred industry.

Special Award
The recipient of the Special Awards, as voted by a panel representing the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters and Daily Racing Form, and previously announced, are San Luis Rey Downs/Camarero Racetrack Rescue and Response, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association for improvements in federal regulations for horseplayers and the industry.

Media Eclipse Awards
Media Eclipse Awards also are given in the categories of photography, audio and multi-media Internet, news/enterprise writing, feature/commentary writing, national television–feature and national television–live racing programming to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing. The 2017 Media Eclipse Awards winners, determined by a judges’ panel for each category and previously announced, are:

Live Racing Programming – NBC Sports – “2017 Kentucky Derby,” Rob Hyland, Coordinating Producer; May 6, 2017.

Television Feature – NBCSN –  “My Kentucky Home,” Tom Hammond, Narrator and co-producer; May 3, 2017.

Audio/Multi-Media and Internet – Daily Racing Form – “Chasing Man o’ War’s Ghost,” Barbara Livingston, writer, photographer and narrator, March 24, 2017.

Writing – News/Enterprise – Denise Steffanus – “A Call for Common Sense Testing,” Trainer magazine, February-March, 2017.

Writing – Feature/Commentary – Jason Frakes – “Gunnevera Trainer Kidnapped Twice, Now in Kentucky Derby,” which was published in the Louisville Courier-Journal on April 30, 2017.

Photography – Nancy Rokos – “Fractious Two-Year-Old,” Burlington (N.J.) County Times, October 7, 2017.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit VIII Scheduled for June 27, 2018

The Jockey Club and Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation today announced that the eighth Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit will be held Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in Lexington, Ky.

The summit, which brings together a cross-section of the breeding, racing and veterinary communities, again will be underwritten and coordinated by The Jockey Club and Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and hosted by the Keeneland Association.

The first summit was held in October 2006. Subsequent editions were held in March 2008, June 2010, October 2012, July 2014, July 2015, and July 2016.

“The discussions and presentations of the previous summits have resulted in numerous initiatives that have improved the safety and welfare of racing’s equine and human athletes, and we are so appreciative of Keeneland’s support of this event since its inception more than a decade ago,” said Edward L. Bowen, president, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. “The 2018 summit will not only update the industry on these efforts but will also delve into new projects and subjects of interest for anyone involved in the Thoroughbred industry.”

The summit will be held in the Keeneland sales pavilion, and it is open to the public; a live webcast will also be available. A formal agenda and a list of speakers will be announced at a later date.

Among the major accomplishments that have evolved from the previous seven summits are the Equine Injury Database; the Jockey Injury Database; the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, which provides science-based testing of racing surfaces to enhance safety for horse and rider; a uniform trainer test and study guide; the racing surfaces white paper and publication of educational bulletins for track maintenance; the publication of stallion durability statistics; the Hoof: Inside and Out DVD, available in English and Spanish; modifications to model rules that enhance the protocol for horses working off of the veterinarian’s list; and the movement by state racing commissions to create regulations that void the claim of horses suffering fatalities during a race.

Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation is traditionally the nation's leading source of private funding for equine medical research that benefits all breeds of horses. Since 1983, the foundation has provided more than $24.8 million to fund 346 projects at 43 universities in North America and overseas. Additional information about the foundation is available at

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Registration and Hotel Reservations Now Open for 2018 National HBPA Convention in New Orleans

Laissez les bons temps rouler!
The National HBPA will hold its 2018 convention at the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel New Orleans at the corner of Canal and Bourbon streets from Tuesday, March 13, through Saturday, March 17. Registration and hotel reservations are now open! A tentative agenda and complete information is available at and the highlights are included below.

Convention Registration
Online registration is now open. The member registration fee is $350 with a $150 fee for a spouse/significant other. The convention registration deadline is March 5. Registration fees can be paid online with a credit card, or new this year, you can register online and request to be invoiced if you prefer to pay by check. You can also download and mail a registration form.

Hotel Reservations
Please click here and book your hotel room soon. To guarantee the group rate, please book by Thursday, February 15.

Single/Double: $184
Triple: $204
Quad: $224
To book by phone, call 877-408-9661 and ask for the “NHBPA” rate.

Hotel Location
Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel New Orleans
739 Canal Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70131
(504) 962-0500 – Hotel

If you are interested in being a sponsor during our annual convention, please contact Tammy Wright with TRAO (Oklahoma HBPA) at about all options available for sponsorship and affiliate recognition.

**Just a note **
If your travel plans include driving to the hotel, please note that the daily parking rate is $46. The NHBPA will coordinate transportation to Fair Grounds Race Course and all French Quarter plans will be accessible via trolley, within walking distance, or van. Airport shuttle available for approximately $24 one-way.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Launches Foal Patrol

The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame will launch an innovative new project called Foal Patrol, a one-of-a-kind collection of live web cameras where people can view real-time streams of several in-foal mares during their pregnancy through the actual foaling. The live camera feeds will be available beginning Dec. 19 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST daily with extended hours as the expected foaling date approaches.

The live cameras can be accessed for free by visiting The website is optimized for viewing across all media platforms, including tablets and smart phones.

“We are delighted to be the first to offer this one-of-a-kind program that will build  new fans and strengthen insights for racing enthusiasts,” said Cathy Marino, the Museum’s director. “We are so thankful for the creative mind and generous heart of our president, John Hendrickson, who brought the Museum this opportunity. In addition to creating the concept of Foal Patrol, Mr. Hendrickson and his wife, renowned philanthropist and thoroughbred owner Marylou Whitney, are underwriting most of the project.”

“I am thrilled that Foal Patrol has become a reality. New fans, racing enthusiasts and young people will have their own virtual stable at their fingertips,” Hendrickson said. “They will get to know these magnificent athletes up close and personal and be an integral part of their lives through foaling and far beyond. One of my most-appreciated experiences is to be at Whitney Farm in Kentucky witnessing the foaling process. I truly believe, once you see a foal born, you will never be the same. I want everyone to feel ownership in this wonderful sport, with the magnificent beauty and tranquility of the farms as the backdrop. Foal Patrol will enable everyone to have unprecedented insight into a thoroughbred’s life and allow the followers to learn while having fun.”

Foal Patrol will debut with five mares: Sabbatical at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky. (in foal to War Front with an expected foaling date of Jan. 28, 2018); Stopchargingmaria at Three Chimneys Farm in Versailles, Ky. (in foal to Pioneerof the Nile with an expected foaling date of Feb. 2, 2018); Centre Court at Shawnee Farm in Harrodsburg, Ky. (in foal to Medaglia d’Oro with an expected foaling date of Feb. 19, 2018); La Verdad at Edition Farm in Hyde Park, N.Y. (in foal to Tapit with an expected foaling date of March 15, 2018); and Memento d’Oro at Old Tavern Farm in Saratoga Springs (in foal to Bodemeister with an expected foaling date of March 31, 2018).

Three additional mares are scheduled to be added to the Foal Patrol roster in March 2018: Via Veneto at Double Diamond Farm in Ocala, Fla. (in foal to Bodemeister with an expected foaling date of April 25, 2018); Bird Town at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Ky. (in foal to Empire Maker with an expected foaling date of April 26, 2018); and Arravale at Chanteclair Farm in Versailles, Ky. (in foal to American Pharoah with an expected foaling date of May 24, 2018).

Foal Patrol will provide viewers with unprecedented access to what daily life for a mare in foal is like. Each individual mare page will feature updates on the horse and extensive educational content, including information on breeding, nutrition, information about the stallion the mare was bred to and fun facts. There will also be a comprehensive background of each mare that includes its racing history, video and image galleries. Regular blogging, video content and audio interviews will keep fans of the horses updated on daily activities. Following the foaling, there will be updates on the development of the foal.

Fans following Foal Patrol can sign up for various contests, including opportunities to name some of the foals once they are born. There will be several prize packages announced throughout the duration of Foal Patrol that will feature unique racing experience packages. Whitney and Hendrickson have  donated their box seats for the 2018 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks as the grand prize. The box seats six and is located at the finish line at Churchill Downs.

People can also sign up for alerts when there is notable activity involving the mares such as new blog postings or when the mare is close to the foaling date. Countdown clocks for each mare’s expected foaling date will be included throughout the site.

“The development of Foal Patrol has been a collaborative effort within the racing industry. Everybody in the game is invested in it and wants to see it succeed and grow,” Hendrickson said. “The Museum has been fortunate to work with the talented teams at The Jockey Club, Keeneland Broadcast Services and Fingerpaint Marketing in this effort to bring Foal Patrol from concept to reality. We’d also like to thank all the owners and farms that are supporting this project and granting us such unprecedented access to these special horses. We are most grateful to everyone for their enthusiastic support of this initiative.”

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

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

Features in the issue include:

The Claiming Crown’s profile and handle continue to trend up at Gulfstream Park

The National HBPA Foundation provides financial assistance to horsemen in times of emergency

A total of 28 substances were identified in Charles Town ship-in stalls as a mix of human medications and recreational substances with some actual equine medications

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.

Friday, December 8, 2017

How You Can Help the Horses and Horsemen Affected by the California Wildfires

In times of need, horsemen have always reached out to help their fellow horsemen. This is one of those times, as you have probably seen the devastation caused by the wildfires in California, and in particular what transpired at the San Luis Rey Training Center where many horses were saved through the heroic efforts of horsemen and others who risked their lives to help. Sadly, approximately 25 horses are known to have perished, and many others are injured or displaced. Now is the time for horsemen to pitch in and help those affected.

The most critical need right now is money, rather than donations of tack, feed, bedding, etc. Donated money can be used to buy those needed supplies more efficiently and faster than trying to ship supplies to those affected. So, the National HBPA is asking all horsemen to please consider making a monetary donation to a GoFundMe account set up by The Stronach Group, Santa Anita Park and Del Mar. Any amount helps, and 100% of the donations will go directly to those affected by the Lilac Fire.

“The National HBPA stands with all the horsemen impacted by these fires, and we salute everyone who has offered to help,” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA. “The horses and horsemen in California need our help now and in the coming weeks, so please give what you can to support them.

“The National HBPA Foundation will also be stepping up to help, and horsemen can donate to that as well,” Hamelback added.

To make a donation to the GoFundMe account, go to, or to donate to the National HBPA Foundation, go to

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Maker holds strong pair for Claiming Crown Jewel at Gulfstream Park

Having dominated the event like no trainer in its history, Mike Maker can add to his record 15 career Claiming Crown victories when he sends out both Capital Letters and Flashy Jewel in Saturday’s $200,000 Jewel at Gulfstream Park.

The 1 1/8-mile Jewel for 3-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2016 is the richest of nine stakes on the 11-race $1.11 million Claiming Crown Day program that kicks off Gulfstream’s 2017-18 Championship Meet. First race post is noon.

This marks the sixth straight year in South Florida and 19th overall for the Claiming Crown, created in 1999 to honor the blue-collar horses that are the foundation of the racing industry nationwide. Total handle for the Claiming Crown has surpassed $10 million each of the past three years, topped by a record $11.1 million in 2016.

Also on the Claiming Crown program are the $125,000 Emerald at 1 1/16 miles and $110,000 Canterbury at five furlongs, both on turf; the $110,000 Iron Horse at 1 1/16 miles, and the $110,000 Rapid Transit and $110,000 Express at seven and six furlongs, respectively, all for 3-year-olds and up.

Fillies and mares 3 and older take center stage in the $125,000 Tiara at 1 1/16 miles and $110,000 Distaff Dash at five furlongs, each contested on the grass, and the $110,000 Glass Slipper at one mile on the main track. First race post time Saturday is noon.

Other highlights of Gulfstream’s 89-day Championship Meet include the $600,000 Clasico Internacional del Caribe program Dec. 9, the first time the event has been held in North America since its 1966 inception; second running of the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1), the world’s richest horse race, Jan. 27; 67th renewal of the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) for 3-year-olds, Gulfstream’s signature race, March 31; and the 47th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony, being hosted in Sport of Kings Theater for the sixth straight year Jan. 25.

Maker, 48, won his first Jewel with the prophetically named Miami Sunrise at Ellis Park in 2007, repeating in 2010 and 2012, the latter part of a four-win day with primary clients Ken & Sarah Ramsey in the Claiming Crown’s Gulfstream debut. Like Maker, the Ramseys own a record 15 Claiming Crown wins.

Douglas Nachman’s Capital Letters has won two of three starts since being claimed by Maker for $30,000 out of a third-place finish July 21 at Ellis Park. He was a gutsy neck winner in the first start for his new connections Sept. 22 at Churchill Downs then came back to run ninth – beaten less than four lengths – in his turf debut Oct. 19 at Keeneland.

Last time out, the 5-year-old Afleet Alex gelding rolled by 3 ¼ lengths in an off-the-turf optional claiming allowance going 1 1/16 miles Nov. 16 at Churchill, prompting Maker to keep Capital Letters on dirt for the Jewel.

“His last race was spectacular and we’re expecting another big effort from him,” Maker said. “When we claimed him, he was bred for the turf but he wasn’t running terrible on the dirt. We kind of caught some soft going at Keeneland though he didn’t run a bad race. We felt we’d hold off on the experiment until after the Claiming Crown. He’s a very versatile horse, which is a nice asset to have.”

Michael Hui’s Flashy Jewel ran second in the seven-furlong Rapid Transit during last year’s Claiming Crown for previous trainer Eddie Kenneally. Maker claimed the 5-year-old Flashy Bull gelding for $80,000 this summer at Saratoga, and he was seventh in the Lukas Classic (G3) Sept. 30 at Churchill Downs in the lone start for his new connections.

Flashy Jewel ran four times during last winter’s Championship Meet, winning the 1 1/16-mile Old Hickory Feb. 20, finishing third by 3 ¼ lengths in the March 25 Skip Away (G3) and second to Grade 1 winner Greenpointcrusader in an optional claiming allowance Jan. 27.
“The horse is doing well. Though it’s going to be a very competitive field he’ll get a bit of a class relief. The biggest concern there is the distance and whether he can get the mile and an eighth,” Maker said. “We know he likes the track and he’s faced some tough customers in his previous races so hopefully the class relief will carry him a little bit further.”

Corey Lanerie has the call on Capital Letters from Post 7 in the field of 13, while Tyler Gaffalione is named onFlashy Jewel from Post 12.

Trainer Jorge Navarro will counter Maker with two contenders of his own, Chunnel and Flowers for Lisa, who together have won 13 of 74 career starts. Final Turn Racing Stable’s Chunnel, a 6-year-old son of champion grass horse English Channel, takes a three-race win streak into the Jewel, the most recent a 6 ¼-length romp over optional claiming allowance foes going one mile Oct. 14 at Parx.

Overall Chunnel has won four of eight starts for Navarro since being claimed for $16,000 in February. Third in each of his three career tries at Gulfstream, he will be ridden by Nik Juarez from Post 1. He shares the 124-pound topweight with Canadian-based Gigantic Breeze, winner of the Presque Isle Downs Masters in his most recent start Sept. 14, but who has never raced on dirt.

Flying P Stable’s Flowers for Lisa, bred by the Ramseys, was taken for $20,000 out of a runner-up finish July 21 at Navarro’s summer base of Monmouth Park. The Flower Alley gelding has been worse than third once in seven lifetime tries at Gulfstream, including three wins, but will be trying 1 1/8 miles for the first time. Paco Lopez rides from Post 13.

Diamond Bachelor returns to the dirt for just the third time in 10 starts since finishing second by a half-length to repeat winner Royal Posse in last year’s Jewel. The 6-year-old War Front gelding is winless in nine starts this year, seven of them in stakes, three of them graded. Last out he was fifth behind such Jewel contenders as Dreaming of Gold and Indian Guide in the Bull and Whistle Handicap Oct. 1 at Gulfstream.

Grade 1-placed Dream Saturday will making his first start since being claimed for $20,000 out of a seven-furlong victory Sept. 29 for Mike Anderson and trainer Peter Walder’s Aventura Stable. Third in the 2015 Carter (G1), the Any Given Saturday gelding has placed in four stakes through his 25-race career, running third in the Trinniberg and Perfect Season Stakes at Gulfstream this summer and fall.

Dream Saturday has tuned up for the Jewel with three works at Gulfstream since mid-November, including back-to-back five-furlong bullets in 59.78 seconds Nov. 18 and an eye-catching 58.37 Nov. 25, the fastest of 34 horses.

“Since I’ve had him he’s been great. I gave him a little bit of time with this race in mind,” Walder said. “I think horses tout themselves and his last few works have been great. He continues to do well. I know it’s a bit of a stretch looking at his PPs whether he can go the distance or not, but he’s got the back class and sometimes those horses – when you get them mentally right – they’ll run for you.”

Gladys Martinez’s Clubman has won four of his last five starts for trainer Jonathan Maldonado, the exception coming when he came from next-to-last in a field of 11 to run fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Maryland Million Classic Oct. 21 at Laurel Park. He bounced back with a two-length triumph in an open six-furlong entry-level allowance Nov. 6.

“He’s ready to run,” Maldonado said. “He worked very impressive the other day, going five-eighths in a minute flat. He’s doing really, really good. We’re looking forward to the race.”

Completing the field are stakes winners Dreaming of Gold and Turco Bravo; multiple stakes-placed Indian Guide; Fearless Dragon and Jay’s Way.

(from Gulfstream Park news release)

Gianna’s Dream Looks to Conquer Gulfstream in $125,000 Claiming Crown Tiara

Well-traveled Gianna’s Dream, whose 17-race career has taken her to 10 tracks in eight states, is set to make her Gulfstream Park debut attempting to extend her recent win streak in Saturday’s $125,000 Claiming Crown Tiara on Opening Day of the 2017-18 Championship Meet.

The Tiara, contested at 1 1/16 miles on the grass, is among nine stakes worth $1.11 million in purses on the 11-race Claiming Crown Day program and one of three for fillies and mares 3 and older, along with the $110,000 Glass Slipper at one mile on the main track and the $110,000 Distaff Dash, a five-furlong turf sprint.

This marks the sixth straight year in South Florida and 19th overall for the Claiming Crown, created in 1999 to honor the blue-collar horses that are the foundation of the racing industry nationwide. Total handle for the Claiming Crown has surpassed $10 million each of the past three years, topped by a record $11.1 million in 2016.

First race post time Saturday is noon.

Jordan Wycoff’s Gianna’s Dream, a 4-year-old Oklahoma-bred daughter of Twirling Candy, enters the Tiara off back-to-back stakes victories at Remington Park, where she has earned four of her nine career victories.

Each of her last four wins have come at the Tiara’s 1 1/16 miles, including an optional claiming allowance triumph July 15 at Laurel Park and the Oklahoma Classics Distaff Turf Stakes last fall at Remington. In her only other try at the distance, she was third in the Winter Memories Stakes last November at Aqueduct.

Trainer Mike Maker claimed Gianna’s Dream for $25,000 last summer at Saratoga, wheeling her back nine days later for the first of six wins from 10 starts for her new connections, four of them in stakes. She also finished third by 1 ¼ lengths in the 1 1/8-mile Violet (G3) Aug. 19 at Monmouth Park.

“She’s been in good form so we’re looking forward to the race,” Maker said. “She’s been keeping some good company and Gulfstream should fit her well. She’s run well wherever she’s gone and we aren’t expecting anything different on Saturday. She’s a very laid-back, classy filly that takes it all in stride. Nothing seems to bother her.”

Maker-trained stablemate Peru, bred in England and owned by Ken & Sarah Ramsey, is also entered to make her second start since being claimed out of a neck victory going seven furlongs July 16 at Belmont Park. In two starts since, she came from dead last to finish fourth by less than two lengths in a one-mile allowance Oct. 27 at Keeneland, and came up a nose short following a slow start in a one-mile claiming event Nov. 17 at Churchill Downs.

The Ramseys and Maker each hold the record in their respective categories with 15 career Claiming Crown victories.

“We claimed her over the summer with the Claiming Crown in mind,” Maker said. “The distance won’t be an issue at all for her. She was super unlucky to lose her last race, but she’s doing well and she’s ready to go.”

Tyler Gaffalione rides Gianna’s Dream from outside Post 12, while Julien Leparoux is named on Peru from Post 5.

Based in Canada with trainer and co-owner Kevin Attard, Starship Jubilee returns to Gulfstream where she owns six wins from 11 career starts and kicked off a five-race win streak over the winter that included the one-mile Nassau (G2) and 1 ¼-mile Dance Smartly (G2) at Woodbine. The 4-year-old Florida-bred Indy Wind filly hasn’t raced since finishing third by less than two lengths in the Canadian (G2) Sept. 16.

Starship Jubilee will carry topweight of 124 pounds including jockey Jose Lezcano from Post 9.

Martini Glass, owned by Vince Campanella and trainer Keith Nations, has been first or second in seven of eight races this year including runner-up finishes behind Songbird in the Delaware Handicap (G1) and Romantic Vision in the Spinster (G1), both on dirt. She has raced twice on the grass this year, winning a 1 1/16-mile starter in April at Tampa Bay Downs and running sixth in the All Along Stakes Sept. 16 at Laurel Park.

Stirrup Trouble’s Temple Fur is the lone horse returning from last year’s Tiara, where the 4-year-old daughter of  Temple City ran eighth by 3 ¾ lengths. All five of her career wins have come at Gulfstream, where she won the 1 1/16-mile Mary Todd in February.

Also entered are multiple stakes winner Dynatail, stakes-placed Quebec; Arthemisa, Flattermefabulous, Judy’s Chance, Valedictorian and Vendita.

Mended Seeks 10th Straight Victory in $110,000 Glass Slipper

Troy and Maritza Onorato’s Mended, riding a nine-race win streak, ships in from Golden Gate Fields for the $110,000 Glass Slipper in what will be the 4-year-old Broken Vow filly’s first career start outside of California.

Regular rider Ricardo Gonzalez will be making the cross-country trip to remain aboard Mended, undefeated since being claimed for $12,500 by trainer John Martin out of a fourth-place finish Jan. 6 at Golden Gate – the only blemish on her 2017 record.

During her streak Mended has won by a combined 36 ¼ lengths, racing on dirt, turf and synthetics. Her two victories came in optional claiming allowances going a mile July 27 at Del Mar and a mile and 70 yards Sept. 23 during the Oak Tree at Pleasanton meet.

Tormenta de Oro and Moonshine Promise, the past two winners of the Glass Slipper, are set to meet in the one-mile race for fillies and mares 3 and up which have started for a claiming price of $12,500 or less since Jan. 1, 2016.

Owned and trained by Patrick Marcondes, Tormenta de Oro is winless since last year’s Glass Slipper, where the Benny the Bull mare rated just off the lead before forging a short advantage late and emerging by a neck in a three-way photo finish. In her most recent start, she was no factor running sixth behind Glass Slipper rivals Ventina and Amaluna.

Loooch Racing Stables’ Moonshine Promise is a hard-knocking 8-year-old Will He Shine mare with 21 wins from 74 lifetime starts including the 2015 Glass Slipper, a race where she dueled for the lead before pulling away to score by five lengths – one of three wins from five career tries at Gulfstream.

Moonshine Promise put together a four-race win streak this spring and summer at Tampa Bay Downs and Thistledown, where she has made each of her last six starts, the most recent coming Oct. 24. She is reunited with trainer Peter Walder after finishing eighth in last year’s Glass Slipper for trainer Anthony Rini, beaten 2 ¼ lengths.

“It’s two years later so I don’t know if she’s the same horse, but she’s been training good,” Walder said. “I sent her to the farm for a little bit. I know she’s happy to be back in the barn.”

Roger Moore’s Amaluna was third by two necks in last year’s Glass Slipper, a half-length ahead of New Life Stable’s Arella Princess, who also returns Saturday. Amaluna has won two of her last three starts for trainer Aubrey Maragh, while Arella Princess will be making her debut since being claimed by trainer Gerald Procino for $6,250 out of an Oct. 28 win at Gulfstream Park West.

Babie Monster, Battle Tale, Delusional K K, Falina’s Song, Northern Screamer, Star Eighty and Sugar Cube and Untrue round out the field.

Nicks Trio Takes Aim at $110,000 Distaff Dash

Ralph Nicks-trained stablemates Eila, Mojo’s Queen and Shakakan are among a competitive field of 13 set to line up in the $110,000 Distaff Dash for females 3 and up that have run for a tag of $25,000 or less.

Eila, also owned by Nicks, was fourth by 2 ½ lengths in last year’s Distaff Dash. She spent the spring and summer racing in Maryland and New York without success but returns to Gulfstream since an optional claiming allowance win April 13 – one of five victories and two seconds from eight career tries over the local turf.

Hallmarc Racing’s Mojo’s Queen won her lone start at Gulfstream, a five-furlong maiden claiming turf sprint last December. Nicks also had her up north in the spring and summer but she returned to run third in a five-furlong optional claiming allowance Nov. 3 on the Gulfstream Park West turf.

Bell Racing’s Shakakan will be making just her third start of 2017 and first since a front-running neck victory Aug. 12 at Gulfstream in an optional claiming allowance going five furlongs. She beat older horses in a similar spot at Gulfstream Park West last October in her first try back on the grass since breaking her maiden in July 2016 at Gulfstream.

Six other horses enter the Distaff Dash off last-out victories – Blue Bahia, Imnaha, In Mid Heir, Island Reward, My Sister Caro and My Sweet Dove. Rounding out the field are 2017 Xtra Heat Stakes winner Ring Knocker; Kasuga, second by a head in the Royal North (G3) July 29 at Woodbine; Heart Astray, who has finished in the top three in seven of eight starts this year; and World Gone Wright.

(from Gulfstream Park news release)