It hasn’t been a good week for a couple of Hall of Fame trainers, a Hall of Fame jockey–or for an award-winning turf writer for that matter. And that’s too bad because horse racing has proven a great distraction during these troubled days and nights.
So there has been much news, much of it mixed: Laurel Park opened and once again there is Thoroughbred racing in Maryland. Belmont Park finally opens its delayed meet on Wednesday with a great card and full fields. And The Meadowlands is getting the bikes ready for their Friday opener.
Ironic, and not in a good way, when it comes to field size and how we’ve been preaching that less-is-more for years that it only took a once in a century world wide pandemic to prove the point. But let’s stay positive.
There will be a 2020 Royal Ascot meet, as British racing resumes tomorrow. Monmouth Park got their dates and Keeneland got Ellis Park’s dates, in a good deal for both.
The Ellis Park Derby is a Kentucky Derby qualifier this year with 50 points to the winner, giving Keeneland another qualifier to go with its storied Blue Grass.
The Ohio Derby is in the prep mix, too, although 20 points to the winner for a $500,000 nine-furlong Grade 3 makes it seem hardly worth the effort. But what about racing near the Chicago market?
Will there even be racing in Illinois in 2020? Will the great Arlington Park survive? Maybe not if Churchill Downs Inc. “recaptures” $4.5 million dedicated to Arlington’s purse account and pays it to CDI shareholders instead.
Potentially good news, should suits brought by The Jockey Club, Breeders’ Cup and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association against the Kentucky HBPA succeed. The horsemen’s group seeks to abolish “house rules” regarding the use of raceday Lasix.
“I want my Lasix,” they cry, completely tone deaf to the rest of the international racing world and wishes of the American public alleging that Lasiux use it’s in the best interests of the horse.
The three groups supporting a track’s right to institute “house rules” are arguing there is no “empirically sustainable” evidence proving Lasix is a beneficial to an otherwise healthy racehorse. While tracks need horsemen, vice versa applies, too, or “you can take your horses someplace else.”
Alas, I forgot: Competition generally wins the day over cooperation. So if some competing track is not considering the bigger picture and the sport’s ultimate survival when major league anything returns, it likely will step into that breach.
The opening of the Oklahoma training track across the street from the storied race course on Union Avenue this week was good news. So is the prospect of a Saratoga race meet, without fans if need be. Saratoga racing is something the racing office wants and what several economies demand.
The good news for New York fans is when Belmont opens Wednesday, it will do so following the strict guidelines in effect at Santa Anita–although there is no requirement that jockeys will be required to pitch a tent in the infield.
All that remains is for the major horsemen and owners, those who have made their reputations and a good deal of value to the stallion and broodmare prospects they train, keep the lion’s share of their operations in New York.
Everyone knows how the business works. It is fair and expected that operations be able to ship wherever they want in their self interests. But everybody knows, too, how these outfits traditionally conduct their operations. Tradition, working in concert with loyalty, matters.
Bets ‘N Pieces
Some equine house cleaning from the last holiday weekend that was pushed aside because of the record pace of developments through Saturday’s races
Dunbar Road showed high class to win her four-year-old debut with a wide brush on the final turn and won driven out. It wasn’t sexy but his Shawnee score looked like a great effort to build on…
At the moment it’s way too early to call her a great turf filly but Sharing just might be on her way. The Juvenile Filly Turf winner was well prepared for her three-year-old debut by Graham Motion, which surprises no one, but to beat a very solid field in the Tepin with her class was eye-opening. Manny Franco sure rides her with a lot of condidence…
If his effort in the Blame is any measure, Owendale, a very good second in his three-year-old finale to older Tom’s D’Etat in the G1 Clark, is going to make himself heard in the handicap division…
We discussed Maxfield‘s superb return in the Matt Winn last weekend but must give some props this week to Pneumatic, who did all the dirt pace work while pressured and battled to the end, understandably tiring in the final jumps. Lightly raced, he rates to improve with racing.
Last weekend’s G1 Shoemaker Mile lived up to its legend. Raging Bull put it all together under perfectly timed handling from Joel Rosario… Stablemate Without Parole suffered through overly cute handling from Irad Ortiz Jr. When saving ground a rider can be a hero or a goat. Less heroism was called for here… Next Shares is an obvious stable mail note, check the video: Race 9, Santa Anita, May 25.