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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Keeping jockeys' diets on track

Fowler prepares meals for Harvey and three dozen other mule, quarter horse and thoroughbred racing jockeys each day at the San Joaquin County Fair's racetrack.

Fowler is a self-taught cook who moves from fair to fair throughout California, catering to jockeys, trainers, groomers, valets, owners and anyone else who comes into Don's Winner's Circle Cafe.

Fowler focuses on meals high in protein and garnished with fresh fruit, and he serves a lot of salads - chef's, shrimp and grilled chicken are among the favorites.

For weight-conscious jockeys, Fowler holds a special place as both dietitian and fan.

"Don's been around for a couple years to assist us with our health, diet and food," Harvey said.

Jockeys tend to eat before races and afterward, when they may grab a sandwich from Fowler for their trips home.

"He always makes me an egg sandwich right after my race, with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and toasted bread," Harvey said. "He knows how I like my sandwiches."

It isn't always easy catering to jockeys with finicky appetites.

"They eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, chicken and tuna. Every now and then, they'll have a cheeseburger if they have a few pounds to spare."

Fowler began touring regional fairs in 2002, but he fell in love with the world of horse racing at a young age.

His occupation has brought him home.

"We lived in Stockton in the early '60s, when I was 7 or 8. I remember the first day my dad took me to the races. ... I couldn't wait for the races to come back every year," the 52-year-old Fowler said.

Harvey, who has spent 12 years on the fair circuit, also is a familiar face in the close-knit world of horse racing. At 46, he has been racing longer than many jockeys on the track. Most retire before they reach 30.

Harvey runs five miles and performs a battery of stretches to warm up before each day's races. Like most jockeys, he is also particular about his diet.

"I like salad and fruits. I don't like to eat starchy food before I ride. At night I like to cook fish, chicken and steak on the grill sometimes."

Regional produce reminds Harvey of the tropical foods he enjoyed in Jamaica. Fowler reports that riders enjoy local avocados and jalapeños, as well as raw lemons and limes, which some jockeys believe suppress their hunger.

The pressure placed on jockeys to maintain a low body weight can be intense. Many riders use saunas to sweat off excess water, and some induce vomiting to purge themselves after eating in a process known as "flipping."

Fowler said such eating disorders are not as prevalent today as they once were on the racing circuit. Medical personnel and valets are present at every venue to ensure that jockeys are well-hydrated.

Fowler said he has the utmost respect for the jockeys he serves, and he understands the strenuous nature of their profession.

"(The jockeys) work hard, and they're very dedicated. When they come in from a race, it's like they just ran a marathon," Fowler said. "I take my hat off to them."

Shuffling back and forth in his tiny kitchen, calling out orders and greeting old friends, Fowler is a large and indispensable part of the region's horse racing world.

Contact reporter Heather Ross at (209) 943-8576 or at hross@recordnet.com.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Veteran jockey Faul retires

"I'm in good health and thank the Lord I've never been seriously injured," Faul said. "I've had a long and productive career, and even though I still love race riding and enjoy the game, there comes a time in every professional athlete's life when you have to step aside and now is the right time for me. I give all the credit to my wife, Donna, my family, and my many friends and supporters."

Faul rode his first winner in 1978 at Delta Downs. In addition to winning a riding title at that oval, the 48-year-old native of Sunset, La., has been leading rider at the old Evangeline Downs, Birmingham Race Course, Hoosier Park, and the now-defunct Jefferson Downs in suburban New Orleans, where he accounted for no less than 10 titles.

Faul is one of three brothers to ride races. Jeff has been leading rider in Michigan and Louisiana, and Dee Dee became a jockey agent after a brief career in the saddle. Their mother, Betty, is a longtime mutuel employee at Evangeline.

"I'm still going to be involved in racing," Faul said. "Starting next week I'll become a jockey's agent for Joe Stokes. My long-term goal is to help teach the new guys not only how to succeed in this demanding game but in life as well."
Jeff Taylor/Daily Racing Form
Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dining With The Dynasties Fund-Raiser

 The Dining With The Dynasty, a ticketed luncheon event, affords event attendees a once in a lifetime chance to gather, dine and converse with legendary jockeys from Thoroughbred racing’s glorious past and who have created some of the most exciting moments in horse racing history. 

 The luncheon will feature many special events including both a silent & live auction for racing memorabilia and other classic items; legendary jockey autograph sessions and special appearances on both the day of the event and the following day, Sat., Aug. 8, which is Arlington Million Day will accompany the Dining With The Dynasty luncheon on Friday.

 This year’s luncheon will provide ticket purchasers with a unique chance to dine and share stories with 23 legendary jockeys. Scheduled to appear are: Stacy Burton, Jackie Fires, Dennis Keenan, Ron Turcotte; Braulio Beaza, Jerry Bailey, Walter Blum, Bill Bolland, Don Brumfield, Angel Cordero Jr., Pat Day, Dave Erb, Earlie Fires, Julie Krone, Chris McCarron, Laffit Pincay Jr., Randy Romero, John Rotz, Jose Santos, Gary Stevens, Jorge Velasquez, Bobby Ussery and Ray Sibille.

 Well known equine artist Thomas Allen Pauly is designing the event invitations, a collectable program with inserts that will feature each of jockey’s biography and caricature. In addition, he is designing a limited edition collectable poster.

 Tickets, which includes an extravagant food buffet, open bar and collectable program designed by Thomas Allen Pauly go on sale on Wednesday, July 1, 2009 for $300 online at the website of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund www.pdjf.org or can be purchased in person at Arlington Park in the administrative offices from Jody Musielak.  

 Tickets are expected to move fast as this event is limited to 100 attendees. Proceeds from the event benefit The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America.

 For more information visit the websites of The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund www.pdjf.org; the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America at www.rtcail.org; Arlington Park’s website at www.arlingtonpark.com or call Tony Petrillo at (847) 385-7755.
Arlington Park Communications Department
Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kentucky Rally: 'Revolution Starts Tonight'

 “This is my home, and I really want to stay, but I’ve got to think about some things,” Bradley said. “It may be too late. I hear there are people planning to leave after the Churchill meet and go to Delaware Park.”

Two hours later, he hadn’t necessarily changed his mind, but his outlook had greatly improved. He was one of about 1,000 people that participated in a horse industry rally, the likes of which hadn’t been seen before in Kentucky, and perhaps anywhere.

“It gets you pumped up,” Bradley said. “I’m glad I came here tonight. They do know how much this means to us. I might just have to have a tentative plan for a year or so; I can do that if I have to. But if they’re going to stand up and fight, I want to fight, too.”

The rally, designed to tell the horse industry the fight for assistance in the form alternative gaming isn’t over, came together in about a day. Organizers said they were shocked at the standing-room-only turnout. There were farm owners and employees, racetrack executives, trainers, breeders, and even fans.

It turned into a raucous bipartisan political rally with more than 20 legislators who support the horse industry in attendance. Keeneland lobbyist Judy Taylor said she simply dropped off invitations at their offices, and they showed up in force only hours after a special session of the General Assembly had concluded.

The legislation to authorize video lottery terminals at the state’s racetracks died June 22 in a Republican-heavy Senate committee. Sen. Tom Buford, the only Republican that voted to send the measure to the Senate floor, received a standing ovation during the rally.

The bill had bipartisan support in the House, which it passed on a 52-45 vote. Legislators and racing industry officials said the measure had the votes—Republican and Democrat—in the Senate, but never had a chance to get there.

“This is not a partisan issue,” said Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who attended the rally with his wife, Jane. “In the Senate, it’s not a partisan issue, but it takes on a partisan twinge. We won’t know (the outcome) because they were afraid to vote. I believe it would have passed the Kentucky Senate.

“There is one of two things you can do. You can change the senators’ minds, or you can change some of the senators. Let’s get this done.”

Former Kentucky governor Brereton Jones, chairman of the Kentucky Equine Education Project and owner of Airdrie Stud, likened Republican Senate President David Williams to a “third-world dictator.” Williams is largely blamed for blocking the racetrack VLT bill from a full Senate vote, and earlier in the day told the Louisville Courier-Journal the VLT issue is already dead for the 2010 session.

Others would disagree. Laughter turned to wild cheers when Jones said: “The only way to get rid of a dictator is with a revolution, and the revolution starts tonight. We are going to make this happen. It may take a little longer than we’d like, but we’re sticking together, and we’re going to get this done.”

The General Assembly convenes in January 2010 for its next regular session. Legislative elections will be held later next year. Still, it appears the racing industry plans to wield its influence in the coming months, because it’s likely the racetrack gaming bill will resurface, despite Williams' claims, given the fact it passed the House for the first time ever during the special session.

Democratic Sen. Ed Worley, who supported the bill, blasted the Senate as it wrapped up business during the special session. In a video shown during the rally, Worley said the Senate used a “smokescreen”—an alternative plan to generate purse money by taxing the lottery and pari-mutuel wagers—to blame failure of the bill on the governor.

The VLT bill, Worley said, was “killed and declared dead before it arrived. The majority of the members in the Senate would have liked to vote.”

During the rally, Worley said the sale of Thoroughbred horses in Kentucky’s number one cash crop, and the industry deserves legislative attention. “If they vote against the horse industry, you need to remember them on Election Day,” he said.

KEEP executive director Patrick Neely said each member of the Senate received about 5,000 e-mails over the weekend urging them to vote on the VLT bill. KEEP also collected about 12,000 signatures on a petition.

Neely said in the next few months, town hall meetings will be held around the state to lobby support for the gaming plan and the horse industry. Overall, he said the special session was a major success even though the bill failed to get a full Senate vote.

“They have heard our voice in Frankfort,” Neely said.

Many of the legislators on hand for the rally are Democrats.

Members of the House recognized from the floor were Rocky Adkins, Linda Belcher, Leslie Combs, Bob Damron, Kelly Flood, Reginald Meeks, David Osborne, Sannie Overly, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Carl Rollins, John Will Stacy, John Tilley, Robin Webb, and Susan Westrom.

Members of the Senate recognized from the floor were Walter Blevins, Tom Buford, Perry Clark, Denise Harper Angel, Gerald Neal, Joey Pendleton, Kathy Stine, Johnny Ray Turner, and Ed Worley.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who sponsored the gaming bill, was unable to attend, officials said. by Tom LaMarra//The Blood-Horse

Thursday, June 25, 2009

CHURCHILL DOWNS JOCKEYS VISIT KOSAIR CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL ON THURSDAY, JUNE 25

 
           The roster of jockeys participating in Thursday’s visit include Calvin Borel, who rode Mine That Bird to victory in Kentucky Derby 135 and Rachel Alexandra to triumphs in the Kentucky Oaks and Preakness Stakes, and retired Hall of Fame rider Pat Day, the all-time leading jockey at Churchill Downs.
 
        Other jockeys scheduled to participate include Robby Albarado, Jesus Castanon, Jon Court, Tony Farina, Joe Johnson, Corey Lanerie and Miguel Mena.
 
        Kosair Children’s Hospital and its predecessor hospitals have provided children of Kentucky and Southern Indiana with the best health care available without regard to their families’ ability to pay for more than 117 years.  Kosair Children's Hospital is Kentucky's only free-standing, full service pediatric care facility dedicated exclusively to caring for children and is an advocate for the health and well being of all children.  Information on Kosair Children’s Hospital is available  on the hospital’s Web site at www.kosairchildrens.comChurchill Downs Communications Department
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

KEEP Rally Draws Nearly 1,000

 With a special session currently underway that could pass a bill that would allow video lottery terminals at Kentucky racetracks, the Kentucky Equine Education Project urged members of the horse industry to make their voices heard.

“If we wait to act a year from now (to pass this bill), there will not only be a number of our tracks closing, but there will be many thousands of jobs at the farms that will be gone,” said former Kentucky Gov. Brereton Jones, chairman of KEEP and owner of Airdrie Stud near Versailles, Ky. Jones spoke from a podium on the capitol steps, as the rally crowd was too large to fit inside the rotunda.

Entire farm staffs, families with small children, businessmen and women, trainers, and jockeys, including this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I)-winning rider Calvin Borel, populated the front of the capitol. Many held various signs reading: “We Love Horses,” “Horses=Jobs,” “Horses Bleed Kentucky Blue,” and “Save Our Racing Industry.”

 

A little girl standing with her siblings and parents had large a sign taped to her chest bearing the words: “Don’t Move Me to Indiana—Save Our Farm.” A bus load of 50 employees from Ellis Park in Henderson was also present. Without the passage of the VLT bill, the racetrack will likely close as it cannot stay competitive with surrounding states with boosted revenue from slots.

Patrick Neely, executive director of KEEP, said the June 17 rally had nearly five times as many attendees as a 300-person anti-casino gaming rally that took place in the capitol rotunda the day before.

While those that are against the bill have said casino gaming at racetracks would require Kentuckians to engage in an “explosion of gambling,” Jones said the statement is simply not true.

“In order to meet our projections of revenue to double our purses and greatly help our farming community that is dependent upon the success of this community, no Kentuckian needs to gamble more than a dollar more than they did last year,” he said. “They only need, if they individually choose to gamble, to do it in Kentucky to help our own people.”

Jones also expressed his disapproval of a proposal by Kentucky State Senate President David Williams to raise taxes on out-of-state wagers and put a 10% tax on all lottery ticket sales instead of VLTs.

“I would remind him that all the lottery proceeds go to educational scholarships for Kentucky’s young people,” said Jones. “Raising taxes on these tickets would reduce the available money for education. Together, if we are united as we have been for many months, we can get this legislation passed, and we will make this happen.”

First Lady Jane Beshear, as well as her husband, Gov. Steve Beshear both gave their thoughts on the VLT issue.

Jane Beshear talked about the monetary impact of the thousands of people who are associated with and provide services to the horse industry.

“All these people contribute to the commonwealth through their money in how they live, where they work, the homes they have, and the taxes they pay,” she said. “Do we want to lose that? The trickle-down effect (of this bill) is huge.

“Your job is to get the legislators to understand it’s in their hands. Let’s make our voices loud and clear.”

Added Steve Beshear: “People have told me not to support this bill, because it won’t win, and it will hurt my political future. But folks, I did it anyway, because this is not about politics. This is not about Steve Beshear’s future; this is about the future of the commonwealth of Kentucky and its signature industry. This issue has been debated for a decade. It’s time for an up or down, yes or no vote so we know where everybody stands when it comes to the horse industry.”

Other prominent industry figures at the rally included jockey Jon Court; Keeneland president Nick Nicholson; John Asher, vice president of communications at Churchill Downs; and Rep. Susan Westrom.

The following are thoughts from some additional supporters of the VLT bill:

Patrick Neely, executive director of KEEP:

“Other states have passed this type of legislation to help their horse industries, but no state has passed a bill that has helped the industry as a whole and has given assistance to race breeds and non-race breeds alike. Attending this rally is an important first step to demonstrate our unity and our resolve on behalf of this issue. As a further show of support, today we’re going to deliver over 12,000 signatures to the legislature. The most important thing you can do today is going talk to your legislator. At the conclusion of this rally, everyone move back inside the capitol. Let them see your faces; let them hear your voices.”

Dallas Stewart, local trainer

“(The passage of this bill) totally affects me personally. If this thing doesn’t get done and I don’t get dates settled of where we’re going to be next year, I have owners asking me what we’re going to do. They’re not going to come back her for four-day-a-week racing…I can’t lose my business. We’ve got to be somewhere where there’s money and there’s racing. This is a very serious issue for us. If I have to pack up and move out, I’ll do it. (Support for the bill) looks good, but we’ve got to keep rolling. It’s just like a horse race.”

Jockey Calvin Borel:

“We need to help this racetrack (Ellis Park) and keep it going and help the people who live here. I want to ride (in Kentucky); this is my home.”

On how Kentucky’s industry has changed: “When I was 10 or 12 years old, I would see a lot more people at the racetracks. Now, you don’t see half the people you used to see. A lot of jockeys, trainers, and owners have to move from place to place. They spend so much money (traveling), and then they have a meet (Ellis) that only runs three days a week…that’s tough.”

Owen Ryan, Ashford Stud broodmare manager:

“(Without the VLT bill) there is going to be a reduction in the number of horses (at farms). That’s going to have a follow-down effect. Farms are going to hurt, and there will be loss of employees.  If the horses continue to leave the commonwealth, people are going to have to follow them, and it’s going to be an overall downturn for everyone involved.”

Ron Geary, owner/president of Ellis Park:

“People love Ellis. We’ve been racing 88 consecutive years, and all of a sudden this summer, this could be it. (The horse industry) impacts so many people’s lives. It’s an integral part of our fiber, and I think we somehow have got to convince our legislators that this (VLT bill) is not a bailout, not a guarantee, not a loan. All we’re doing is asking to be competitive with surrounding states, who are trying to take our industry away from us.”
 



Copyright © 2009 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hundreds rally to support expanded gaming

The rally came a day after about 300 opponents of the idea held a similar even in the Rotunda.

Both groups are pressing legislators on the issue of video lottery terminals at racetracks, for which Gov. Steve Beshear called a special session – now underway – to have legislators decide the issue.

Beshear and the horsemen argue the terminals are needed to help the industry boost purses and breeding in Kentucky, which bills itself as the Horse Capital of the World, that are suffering because of other states using expanded gambling to help their horse industries.

The opponents say the social consequences will be too great and some argue that a constitutional amendment would be required to allow the slot-like video terminals.

The rally organized by the Kentucky Equine Education Project featured Calvin Borel, the two-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey who also has ridden this year's Kentucky Oaks and Preakness Stakes winner Rachel Alexandra.

During the rally, which KEEP organized, Rep. David Osborne, a Republican horse owner from Prospect, took a different tact on two of opponents' arguments: that expanded gambling isn't about horses, but is about a money grab by tracks; and that lottery terminals will have unintended social consequences.

Osborne said passing the lottery terminal bill is about money, but said the money is jobs that would be lost as horses ship out of Kentucky to states where expanded gambling assists purses and breeding.

"It's about money that's leaving this state one horse van at a time," he said.

He also said rejecting expanded gambling has meant that racetrack employees at Churchill Downs have lost income because the track eliminated seven days of racing this spring because enough entries couldn't be found. Ellis Park in Henderson cut back its meet in half and will close, its owner says, after this summer if the lottery terminal bill fails.

"Tell the people down at Ellis Park who this year will see half their income go away and next year see all of it go away that they are not a negative consequence," he said.

First Lady Jane Beshear, who with the governor owns a Clark County farm and six horses, said the bill is important to ensuring that people across the world still think of a horse when they think of Kentucky.

Kentucky is a center of equine medicine and research and that allowing the industry to suffer would result in a brain drain, she said.

Reporter Gregory A. Hall can be reached at (502) 582-4087./Louisville Courier-Journal


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jockey Calvin Borel joins hundreds at rally for slots at tracks

But with the Louisville track closed Wednesday because of a lack of racing horses, Borel joined a crowd of several hundred on the front steps of the state Capitol to rally for video lottery terminals at state race tracks.

Though Borel was not in the speakers’ lineup for the hour long rally that included Gov. Steve Beshear, first lady Jane Beshear and former Gov. Brereton Jones, the colorful jockey was the focus of attention at his first trip to the Capitol.

Borel, who has voiced a radio ad for the horse industry’s efforts to get slots at tracks, said he came to the rally on his own.

“I want to be here. We need this bad,” he said to a throng of reporters.

Asked how his business in Kentucky has changed since tracks at other states implemented expanded gambling, Borel said, “You see less people at the race tracks.”

The horse industry contends it cannot compete with other states that have expanded gambling.

Beshear is pushing in the current special legislative session a bill to allow slots only at race tracks. He has sweetened the measure with tax breaks for active military personnel and motor vehicle owners.

House Democratic leaders also are considering adding to the bill using revenue generated by slots at the tracks to finance school construction projects.

Opponents of the bill claim it is bad public policy and would create more social ills with increased gambling. Several hundred attended a rally Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda against the slots legislation.

Former Gov. Jones, who runs Airdrie Stud, a thoroughbred horse farm near Midway, said at Wednesday’s rally that he was not asking Kentuckians to gamble any more but to gamble in Kentucky and not in other states.

Such a move could double track purses in Kentucky, he said.

Jones, a Democrat, also said he thought a proposal by Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, to raise purse supplements through a tax on lottery ticket sales without expanded gambling is highly questionable.

Gov. Beshear promised the crowd that his wife and he “would stand by” the horse industry as long as he is governor.

She said the industry involves more than track owners, mentioning gate companies, paint companies, farm implement dealers, mowers and rural grocery stores.

Debbie Averill and Angela Albin, suite attendants at Churchill Downs, said many workers in the horse industry are not rich.

They said they are losing 20 percent of their paychecks with the track shut down on Wednesdays.

Patrick Neely, executive director of the Kentucky Equine Education Project, said the horse industry is “more unified than we’ve ever been” by the slots legislation.

KEEP has obtained more than 12,000 signatures in the last two weeks in support of the legislation, he said.

–Jack Brammer/Lexington Herald-Leader

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Velazquez/Ward Win Again At Ascot

 On Tuesday, Strike the Tiger, trained by Ward, became the first American-based horse to win at Royal Ascot when the Tiger Ridge gelding captured the Windsor Castle Stakes.

Jockey John Velazquez immediately sent Jealous Again to the front of the 13-horse field in the five-furlong sprint for two-year-old fillies. Once on the lead, the Trippi filly pulled away from the field en route to an emphatic win by about five lengths.

Jealous Again entered off a runner-up finish to Aegean in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes (G3) on April 30 at Churchill Downs. Ward will saddle Aegean in the Albany Stakes (Eng-G3) on Friday.  The Thoroughbred Times

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jockeys' Guild in support of expanded gaming at Kentucky racetracks

June 16, 2009

 

Members of Kentucky State Senate

702 Capital Annex

Frankfort Kentucky 40601

 

Members Kentucky State House

702 Capital Annex

Frankfort Kentucky 40601

 

 

  Kentucky remains one of only a handful of states in which current law prohibits racetracks from installing slot machines at racetracks and is adjacent to states that have gaming.  Neighboring Indiana has allowed multiple casinos to be built along the border it shares with Kentucky, three of which are in close proximity to Kentucky racetracks.  As a consequence, Kentucky racing has seen a serious decline in the number of horses racing in the state and gambling money is flowing from Kentucky into other states.  The Kentucky breeding industry, the backbone of Thoroughbred racing internationally, cannot afford a collapse of the state’s racing industry.  Revenue is being lost and jobs are at stake.

 

Churchill Downs racing officials were forced to omit an entire racing card from its weekly program due to lack of entries.  Other tracks in the state such as Ellis Park in Henderson and Turfway Park in Florence are on the verge of collapse. Ron Geary, owner of Ellis Park, states that unless expanded gaming legislation is passed, Ellis Park will be forced to shut down permanently.

 

For many jockeys who call Kentucky home, the closure of Ellis Park and the decreased racing dates proposed by Turfway Park for its fall and winter meeting would have a direct effect on their ability to compete on the Kentucky racing circuit year-round.

 

Our Kentucky-based Guild members offer the following comments in support of VLT legislation in their own words:

 

“Churchill Downs and Keeneland are two of the top tracks in the country, but we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of Kentucky Downs, Ellis Park and TurfwayPark.  Together, these tracks provide a year-round racing circuit that keeps horses in Kentucky.  Without access to racing, horses and the people that depend on this circuit for their livelihood will have no choice but to go where they can make a living.  We need to make sure Kentucky’s Thoroughbred industry stays ahead of the curve.” -- Jon Court

 

 “I moved two weeks ago from Erlanger, Kentuckyto Greenfield, Indiana.  I used to look forward to the Keeneland and Churchill meets.  Now I look forward to the IndianaDownsand HoosierParkmeets.  The purses are much better and I still get to ride for the same people.  Everyone from Kentuckyis coming here because the money is better.”Orlando Mojica

 

“I’ve called Kentucky home since 1995 and I say now is the time to act.  I think people just assume since we are the home of the Kentucky Derby we are safe, but the mobility of this industry leaves Kentucky in a very dangerous position if we fail to keep pace with the other racetracks." – Calvin Borel

 

Kentucky’s Thoroughbreds are second to none.  However, with other states using expanded gaming to lure horses and farms away, Kentuckycould lose a significant advantage.  Once it’s gone, it would be nearly impossible to bring back.  Kentuckyneeds to do something to help keep its racing on top.” – Julien Leparoux

 

 “Every state around us is seeing its racing improve because of expanded gambling.  The list of owners, trainers, and breeders that are leaving Kentuckyfor other states is growing.    Kentuckyneeds to enable its tracks to compete or Kentuckywill no longer be known as the horse capital of the world.  I love it here.  This needs to happen.” – Shaun Bridgmohan

 

“I moved here from Louisianafor the opportunity to ride better horses.  Now those horses are leaving for states with better purses.  We have to do something so the tracks here can compete and Kentuckyracing can continue to attract the best horses and the best horsemen.  I have made my home here and love Kentucky, I want Kentuckyto remain on top.”  -- Jamie Theriot

 

 

Beyond the racetrack, the budget deficits in the state of Kentucky have forced cuts in many social programs throughout the state. One rider in particular has first-hand knowledge of the hardships posed by cuts in these programs.  Robby Albarado, one of Kentucky's most notable and established jockeys, founded the Robby Albarado Foundation three years ago with the intention of reaching out to the underprivileged in the Louisville area. 

 

"The reduced spending in education and social services we have seen recently has severely undermined the opportunities made available for young people to break the cycle of poverty.   I fear that unless we come up with a solution to the budget deficits we are currently facing, the problems I see on an everyday basis will worsen. Expanded gaming will not only help the horsemen and racetracks and provide jobs in the Louisvillearea, but it will also fund education programs and other services that are essential to ensuring that those who live below the poverty line are given every opportunity to rise above it." -- Robby Albarado

 

Thanks you for your consideration of this important matter.

 

Respectfully,

 

Terence J. Meyocks (National Manager)

Jeff Johnston (Regional Manager)

Robby Albarado (Board Member)

Jon Court (Board Member)

Orlando Mojica

Calvin Borel

Julien Leparoux

Shaun Bridgmohan

Jamie Theriot

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Velazquez Rides First U.S. Winner At Ascot

Stepping up from a 3 3/4-length debut score in a Churchill Downs maiden claimer on April 28, Strike the Tiger is only the third American-trained horse to win a flat race in Europe in history. The Bert Mitchell-trained Reigh Count, winner of the 1928 Kentucky Derby, won the Coronation Cup at Epsom a year later. In 1991, Leo O'Brien trained Fourstars Allstar to win the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh.
The Daily Racing Form
Monday, June 15, 2009

Ruling: Slots at KY Tracks Are Constitutional

 

A constitutional amendment isn't necessary if the state legislature passes a law putting the Kentucky Lottery Corp. in charge of the proposed video gambling terminals, Conway said in an advisory opinion released Monday.

"My staff and I simply followed the law and allowed it to lead us to the proper legal conclusion on this issue," Conway said.

State Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, had asked the attorney general's opinion whether a constitutional amendment would be necessary to expanding gambling opportunities at horse tracks.

State leaders have debated for years whether Kentucky, a state with a long tradition of betting on horse races, can offer casino-style gambling at the tracks.

Gov. Steve Beshear has called lawmakers into special session beginning June 15 to consider allowing Kentucky horse racing tracks to offer video slot machines.

Beshear and gambling advocates contend that the state's horse industry is in crisis. They say it needs extra money from other forms of gambling to survive.

Twelve other horse racing states - including Kentucky neighbors West Virginia and Indiana - allow bettors to wager on video gambling machines, slot machines or other casino-style games at the track, according to the American Gaming Association's 2009 State of the States report.

Beshear released a proposal last week calling for Kentucky's horse tracks to buy 10-year licenses to operate video lottery terminals. Revenue from the slots would be divvied among purses and breeders' incentives, state government and the tracks, with the track keeping the bulk of the money.

But gambling opponents, motivated largely by moral and religious objections, claim gambling's negatives won't infuse enough cash to sustain the horse industry.

A summary of the opinion from Conway's office outlined the following highlights:

--This most recent opinion synthesizes the previous five Office of the Attorney General opinions.

--It rejects then notion that comments from one legislator express the legislative intent of the entire General Assembly.

--If allowing other types of gaming under the auspices of the Kentucky Lottery Corporation were unconstitutional, then the General Assembly would not have passed a statute in 1990 prohibiting the corporation from operating casino-style games.

--The opinion notes that the General Assembly, by enacting statutes, can restrict or expand the types of games offered by the Kentucky Lottery Corporation. 

--The opinion relies heavily on the ruling of Kentucky highest court in the Jockey Club case of 1931 – the binding legal opinion on the issues of gaming and lotteries.

--West Virginia, Missouri, Kansas, Oregon and New York have expanded gaming under similar provisions upheld by the courts.

According to his office, before issuing the opinion, Conway sought input from stakeholders – including the Kentucky Equine Education Project and the Kentucky Citizens Against Gambling Expansion. KEEP responded to the request with its legal analysis. CAGE did not respond to the request.

An opinion of the attorney general is advisory and is not legally binding.  By statute, if the attorney general is asked by a member of the legislature to provide a legal opinion on an issue, he or she is required to do so.  The Blood-Horse/Associated Press

Read the full opinion (PDF)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Haskin's Triple Crown Wrap: Final Thoughts

 

 

Before we get to that, a lot has been written about Calvin Borel throughout the Triple Crown, beginning with his masterful ride on Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), continuing with his unprecedented move of taking off the Derby winner and then defeating him in the Preakness (gr. I) with Rachel Alexandra, and concluding with his controversial ride back on Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

 

Borel was criticized in many circles, including here, for not taking any mounts before the Belmont, despite his inexperience over the testing mile and a half oval. It has been learned that the decision was not his, and that he was unable to land any mounts. It is hard to believe not a single New York trainer would want the red-hot Borel on their horse and that not one mount was available from Wednesday to Saturday. Borel did manage to get named on one horse, but was advised to take off that particular mount.

 

If Borel indeed attempted to secure mounts and was unsuccessful, then the criticism was not justified. Borel is one rider whose work ethics have never been questioned. This information was never made public. At the Tuesday media luncheon, he was asked about not having any mounts and insisted it was not a big deal and that he had enough experience at Belmont, which led one to believe the decision was his.

 

But if he tried and was not able to get any mounts, then it is unfortunate, because the belief, as stated here on several occasions, is that a jockey who is inexperienced at Belmont, not having won a race there in 10 years, should have a few mounts prior to a race of this magnitude to get acquainted with the track, which has been the undoing of many a rider.

 

The wide trip around the turn definitely contributed heavily to Mine That Bird’s defeat. I am in the minority who believe Borel did not move too soon, and if he did it was inconsequential. The horse was in a position to win the race, but the ground loss (5-6 wide) from the five-eighths pole to the quarter pole left him empty in the final furlong. It has been brought up that the horse was too wound up before the race and was not as relaxed during the running as he had been in the Derby and Preakness. It must be noted that Mine That Bird’s neighbor in the detention barn was Summer Bird, who required about 10-15 minutes of walking before he was able to settle down. Did that unnerve Mine That Bird? Summer Bird also was on his toes before the race, dancing around the paddock. Dunkirk totally lost his cool going to the detention barn, bucking and kicking during the walk over.

 

It’s also possible Mine That Bird simply was not quite the same horse following the five-week grind of the Triple Crown. As for his inability to settle as he did in his earlier races, from our observation, the horse did not appear to have run on his mind until he was steered to the outside down the backstretch. The expanse of Belmont often does that to a horse when confronted with those wide open spaces, especially down the backstretch. But again, that is one opinion based on observation. Borel obviously felt that was the best place for him.

 

Whatever the reason for Mine That Bird’s defeat, the gelding proved himself to be a top-class, game, and exciting horse, who no doubt will provide many thrills for several years to come. And he has a personality that will endear him to racing fans wherever he runs. Trainer Chip Woolley, after a bit of a rocky start, made a complete transformation and became one of the most personable, well-liked, and accommodating trainers ever in the Triple Crown.

 

As for Borel, if he did not have any mounts because no one would give him any, then comments made about that should be retracted, which we do now. Whatever one may think about his ride or his “guarantee of victory,” the bottom line is that he was the face of the Triple Crown and provided it with a jolt of electricity – on and off the track -- powerful enough to put the sport on the cover of Sports Illustrated and all over the major nighttime talk shows and morning shows.

 

Unsung heroes

 

Let’s not forget some of the other names that helped make this year’s Triple Crown one that will be talked about for a long time.

 

We all hope that Dunkirk makes a successful return to the races, especially after his gutsy performance in the Belmont, in which he was taken out of his running style and set a testing pace, then fought back the length of the stretch after being confronted by Mine That Bird and Charitable Man to snatch second away from the Derby winner. It was this performance alone that justified his $3.7 million price tag as a yearling. We all knew he was a brilliant and talented colt, but he proved in that final quarter mile that he possessed something more defining than brilliance and talent and indeed is something special. And let’s also recognize John Velazquez, who was able to nurture him along on the lead and kept him going when everyone thought he was finished.

 

And how about Dunkirk’s trainer Todd Pletcher, who in the last four Belmonts finished second and third in 2006, first in 2007, and second in 2009. Pletcher has proven in this day and age you don’t have to train a horse long and hard to get him or her ready for a mile and a half race.

 

Also, kudos to Musket Man, the $15,000 yearling by the sprinter Yonaguska, who defied his pedigree and the odds by finishing a game third in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He’ll be waiting to take on all comers, including Summer bird for sure, over his home track of Monmouth Park in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I).

 

Let us also give a tip of the cap to Big Drama, who was cast in his stall the morning of the Preakness, luckily escaping injury, and then became fractious, rearing in the gate before stumbling badly at the start. Breaking from the rail, he was forced to go head and head with Rachel Alexandra through quick fractions and still hung tough all the way to finish a respectable fifth, beaten only 5 1/2 lengths. And this was having only one seven-furlong race in five months and not having run in almost two months leading up to the Preakness. Watch out for this guy later on.

 

I miss Gary Stute, trainer of Papa Clem, fourth in the Derby and sixth in the Preakness. Stute brought with him a constant smile and infectious laugh, and gave the first two legs of the Triple Crown a cheery face and a number of humorous quotes. With cigar in hand, he became a ubiquitous presence at Churchill Downs and Pimlico, and we all hope he makes it back.

 

Finally, despite his poor showing in the Preakness, congratulations to Pioneerof the Nile on his courageous second-place finish in the Derby -- his first start over a dirt track. One bit of advice to all his future foes: if he’s in front of you in the stretch, it would be wise to stay as far away from him as possible. This is one horse you don’t want to look in the eye.

 

So, to all these horses and personalities, especially newcomers like Chip Woolley and Tim Ice, and Wooley’s travel companion/groom/exercise rider Charlie Figueroa, who was always available for a great quote, thanks for all the memories.
Steve Haskin/The Blood-Horse

 

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission adopts new safety vest regulations

 The adoption of the new rule will expand the range of safety vests permitted for use by jockeys at Kentucky racetracks.  The rule not only will require safety vests to meet specified minimum standards, but also will permit jockeys to use vests, which exceed these standards.  The Commission also agreed with the committee to require that a safety vest be worn by any person mounted on a horse or stable pony, all assistant starters, and any person handling a horse in a starting gate. 

        “This is a very important step in assuring the safety of everyone who rides a horse at a location under the jurisdiction of the Commission,” said Lisa E. Underwood, executive director of the KHRC. “Expanding the types of vests that may be worn and encouraging all riders to go beyond the minimum standards will be important in helping reduce injuries not only for the jockeys but for others on horseback or working the starting gate.”

        "We are pleased that the rule includes vests that are specifically designed to meet the needs of jockeys,” said Jeff Johnston of the Jockeys’ Guild.  “Safety vests that are lighter and more flexible are more suitable to race riding than those used in other horse-related activities.  They have been independently tested and are consistent with international racing standards. We appreciate the work of Ms. Betsy Lavin and the KHRC Safety and Welfare Committee in allowing the Jockeys' Guild to present views and opinions of jockeys during this process.  We are sure the rule will provide for safer vests and accommodate the everyday needs of the riders."

        The new rules must go through an administrative regulations review process and could be in effect later this year.
 

Information Officer

Energy & Environment/Labor/Public Protection Cabinets

Office of Communications and Public Outreach

5th Floor, Capital Plaza Tower

Frankfort, KY USA 40601

502-564-5525 (Phone)

502-564-3354 (Fax)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Borel voices support for expanded gaming in Ky.

 

Revenue generated from this form of expanded gaming would supplement purses and breeders’ incentives. Nearby states in the region such as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia use alternative forms of gaming to support the racing industry.

Borel, who rides regularly at Churchill Downs in May-June and in November, is featured in a radio commercial and upcoming mail piece promoting the gaming legislation.

“I moved to Kentucky 12 years ago to be in the middle of the horse capital of the world,” Borel said. “Now all I see are horses, trainers, and jobs leaving to go to other states. If we don’t do something soon, our industry will disappear.”

Governor Steve Beshear recently called a special session to propose video lottery terminals at racetracks as an effort to preserve Kentucky’s equine industry and generate new revenue. The special session will convene June 15.  The Thoroughbred Times

Friday, June 05, 2009

OUR HORSE IS ONE HOT COMMODITY

After we were interviewed on CNBC, the stock traders on the floor started chanting, "Cal-vin! Cal-vin!" It was exciting to know that the people out there love racing as much as we do.

Earlier in the morning, Mine That Bird had his first gallop at Belmont Park. It's a very large place. When you walk up there and look at the oval, you can't see the whole thing. When he'd been out loping for about 15 minutes, I said, "My God, he ain't going to make it all the way around there."

But he got over the track like he owned it. The track was deep and muddy, and watching some other horses struggle on it, it kind of made me concerned as he was backtracking (going backwards around the track). But when he turned around and galloped by me, you couldn't hear him hitting the ground. I was really, really happy.

You spend a lifetime looking for a horse like this one. I've been at it 25 years, and I'm fortunate it's me. It could have been somebody else.

It's the pinnacle of your career, and we're taking it all in. But I'm the same guy I was when I got here; a guy that works just like everybody else. There's just a little more fanfare.

I just hope this ride doesn't end any time soon.

June 5 - Bennie "Chip" Woolley Jr., 45, trains Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, a fast-closing second in the Preakness, and the favorite for tomorrow's Belmont Stakes. This week Woolley shares his observations with New YorkPost readers. As told to Ed Fountaine.


Friday, June 05, 2009

Jockeys Ride Into The Hearts of Families at The Ronald McDonald House of Long Island

 Just days before the running of the 141st Belmont Stakes, Amanda Casey, Alan Garcia, Paco Lopez, Edgar Prado, Rudy Rodriguez, Maylan Studart and John Velázquez showed up in their colorful silks, mingled and took photos with children at the House. The jockeys also came bearing gifts, hats and riding goggles, which were autographed for all in attendance.

 “This is a very exciting event for our children and their families,” said Executive Director Joanne Reda. “Meeting the jockeys is always fun for everyone. We wish them good luck on Saturday and look forward to seeing them again next year.”

 Garcia, Prado and Velazquez will be riding in the 1 ½ mile Belmont Stakes. Garcia will be aboard Charitable Man, second choice in the field of ten 3-year-old horses. Velazquez, who won the 2007 Belmont, will ride Dunkirk; while Prado, a two-time Belmont winner, will ride Mr. Hot Stuff.

 The Ronald McDonald House of Long Island is a ‘home-away-from home’ for families who are caring for seriously ill children undergoing medical treatment in area hospitals. Located on the campus of Schneider Children’s Hospital, the House accommodates families in a warm and supportive environment. Since opening in 1986, approximately 13,000 families from the United States and more than 80 countries around the world have been served.  Many of the families are from Queens, Suffolk and Nassau Counties, as well as the surrounding metropolitan area.      NYRA Communications Department                                                 

 

Friday, June 05, 2009

ARLINGTON RIDERS TO HOLD AUTOGRAPH SESSION TO RAISE FUNDS TO HELP INJURED JOCKEY RENE DOUGLAS

 From 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., the Arlington riders will be stationed in the Paddock area to meet and greet fans, sign goggles, photos and/or memorabilia in exchange for a donation to a fund established by Douglas’s family and friends.  Arlington Park will match donations collected Saturday up to $5,000.

 Fans unable to attend the races at Arlington Park on Saturday may still make donations to the Douglas fund by sending checks made payable to Rene Douglas in care of Citibank, 539 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611.

 In addition, throughout the card on Saturday, the jockeys will be wearing a patch on their boots in honor of Douglas.  They will also wear a second patch and gather in the Arlington Park winner’s circle at approximately 3:15 p.m. Central time in honor of the Permanent Disabled Riders Fund as riders at racetracks across the U.S. and Canada will take part in a unified show of support for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).  Arlington Park Communications Department

Friday, June 05, 2009

Calder Jockey Nunez Sets Record

 
It was Calder meet win number 1,311 for Nunez, who surpassed retired jockey Gene St. Leon, the longtime all-time leader of the meet with 1,310 wins.  Nunez, 43, is originally from Panama and came to the United States in 1986.  He has consistently ranked among the top riders in South Florida each year and is currently third in the local standings.
 
“I've been riding here at Calder for a long time now and, even though I am always ranked high in the standings, I have never won any riding titles, which kind of made me feel like I hadn't accomplished what I wanted to,” said Nunez after achieving the milestone. “To be the all-time leading rider at Calder makes up for that. 
 
“A couple of years ago, when we started to pay attention to where I stood in the all-time standings, I said that was a long way to go, so we’ll see what happens. Then as I got closer and closer, I started to get excited at the possibility of having that distinction and I've been really wanting this to happen.
 
“There are a lot of owners and trainers that have helped me over the years, too many to mention, but without their help, I would never have been able to accomplish this and I want to thank them all for their support.
 
“I also want to thank Alfredo Smith Jr., who was my first agent and mentor, as well as the first person at the racetrack who believed in me.  And I especially thank my current agent Roger Velez, who has been with me for the last eight years.”
The Blood-Horse
Friday, June 05, 2009

Jockey Paco Lopez is riding to his dream

So far in 2009, the jockey has won more than 1.1 million in purse money at Gulfstream Park, in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Lopez's biggest achievement was winning the 2008 Eclipse Award for "Best Apprentice Rider" in North America, an award bestowed upon individuals whose outstanding achievements have earned them the title of champion in their respective division, said Cory Moran, his agent.

He is now one of top riders at Gulfstream, behind leading jockeys Jose Lezcano and Elvis Trujillo, a rank he received by riding the third most horses in one season at Gulfstream Park.

He made headlines when he won first place riding Smooth Air during the $300,000 (G2) Gulfstream Park Handicap, in April 2009. And, Calder Race Course in Miami Gardens named Lopez their leading Champion Rider of 2008, Moran said.

He's young and fearless, with an aggressive but not dangerous riding style, Moran said, noting that Lopez had more wins than any apprentice jockey in the nation in 2008. Lopez's drive has earned him the chance to ride on top mounts, he added.

Today, Lopez is riding and winning stake races at Monmouth Park and Belmont, N.Y.

He's racked up other honors: winning 13 stake races in Miami within four months during a four-day a week racing schedule and sweeping the Florida Stallion Stake Series at Calder Race Course aboard Big Drama on Oct. 18, 2008 — his 23rd birthday.

In Lopez's first meet last year as a journeyman rider, a rank reached after apprenticing as a jockey for one year after their fifth race — he won races on a regular basis. He became in demand among some of the best trainers in the country, Moran said.

Lopez's dreams for a better life as a child didn't include horses, though. Growing up in a home without without electricity or running water in Veracruz, he jsut knew he wanted more.

He left home at 12, moving to Tierra Blanca to live with one of his three sisters — he also has two brothers — led to horses. In Tierra, at first he made $30 a week shining shoes and working at a car wash. One day, a customer approached him and asked if he knew of someone who could clean stables and care for horses.

He said to the man, "Yeah, I'll go."

Soon, he was cleaning stalls and riding quarter horses without a helmet on bush tracks, Moran said.

"Mexico has all those crazy races there," Moran said. "There is no pari-mutuel (mutual betting), no stewards (judges) and no regulations . . . no nothing."

They're like match races — it was a straight-shot run with a starting gate, he added, laughing.

"He (Lopez) started winning all the races down there. It got to be where he was like the king of quarter horse races in Mexico."

He won more than 5,000 races by the time he was a teenager and won 13 races in one weekend alone, Lopez said.

Dressed in a dark blue polo shirt, jeans and a Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 baseball cap, Lopez spoke softly as he answered questions, with Moran assisting as a translator because Lopez's English is spotty.

"I wanted to be a jockey when I won the race and heard the people clapping and cheering," he said.

In 2006, he moved to South Florida to pursue his dreams of riding professionally. After riding bush tracks in West Palm Beach, he found his way to Calder, where he meet Moran.

His goals are simple now, Lopez said. He wants to own his own ranch in the United States and live there with his wife, Elizabeth Lynn (Nobles) Lopez, he said. They married in April.

He doesn't drink or use drugs, Moran adds, laughing, referring to the hat.

Lopez saves his money to help his family in Mexico. They're using the money to fix up their old house while building another one. They now have electricity and running water and his siblings watch his races on a computer, Lopez said. "Paco is very simple," Moran said. "He's simple. He can sleep on the floor. The bed will be there but he's very like Crocodile Dundee.

"Can you imagine going from being dirt poor to winning an Eclipse?" Moran adds.
BY SARAH WEBSTER
Thursday, June 04, 2009

A day in the life: Calvin Borel

Shortly after breezing Mine That Bird on Monday morning at Churchill Downs, Borel and his fiancee, Lisa Funk, boarded a plane for New York. For several hours that afternoon, the couple was tailed by an ESPN camera crew in and around Central Park, close to where they are staying. From there, Borel went to tape an appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman," which was scheduled to air Friday night.

Tuesday morning, after a lengthy sit-down interview with an ESPN crew, he was off to a New York Racing Association luncheon and media briefing at Madison Square Garden. Thursday morning Borel rang the bell to open trading on the New York Stock Exchange along with trainers Chip Woolley and Gary Contessa, followed by another media conference at noon.

Life usually isn't so hectic for Borel, 42, who is most comfortable with the everyday tasks of training or racing Thoroughbreds. Having ridden his first race at age 8 at an unsanctioned bush track in the Cajun country of his native Louisiana, Borel has ridden professionally since age 16 with more than 4,600 victories.

For Borel, a more typical day was the Sunday before he departed for New York. Up before dawn, he arrived at the Churchill stable gate at 6:20 in his unpretentious silver-gray truck (model year 2000) that he drives to and from his home in the east end of Louisville, ready and eager for another long day.

Sunday, May 31 - 6:35 a.m.

Borel is seated shotgun alongside his longtime agent, Jerry Hissam, in the steel-blue Cadillac that Hissam uses to shuttle Borel to his morning rounds. They are waiting just outside the barn of trainer Helen Pitts, for whom Borel will breeze a 3-year-old named Crown the Chief. Two young girls approach the car and, without anyone asking, Hissam peels off two 5-by-7 photograph prints of Borel for him to autograph.

"Here ya go, girls," Borel says.

They walk toward the Pitts barn, where a small black cat is picked up by one of the girls.

"His name is Sooner," Borel jokes. "The sooner you get rid of him, the better."

6:53

Crown the Chief is finished with his work, and Borel and Hissam make the short drive to the barn of Borel's older brother, trainer Cecil Borel, where Calvin is scheduled to gallop a 2-year-old filly by More Than Ready. There will be a delay before the filly gets to the track, so Borel hangs out with his brother at the barn. Cecil finds it comical, if not surprising, that his younger brother insists on maintaining a grueling work schedule despite his success.

"Hissam thinks he needs all this," Cecil says, cackling. "I don't know, maybe he's right. It's pretty funny that the boy's won the Derby twice, though."

Hissam is on a viewing stand across from the five-furlong pole on the backstretch.

"I know he could take it a lot easier if he wanted to," Hissam says. "But that's not Calvin."

7:43

The More Than Ready filly emerges from the barn with Calvin aboard. She will gallop in company with a gray 2-year-old filly, also by More Than Ready, with the most strenuous activity being a brief blowout together, maybe a quarter-mile, around the clubhouse turn at the end of the gallop. Borel's filly, closest to the rail, gets to the six-furlong pole first.

Before he leaves, Calvin watches the horses cool out on his brother's shed row. After the gray rounds a corner, she is looking for her water bucket, but there isn't one. "Dave, the gray horse!" Calvin calls out to a groom.

8:00

Borel gets in his truck to go to see a few of his clients and friends, including trainer Carl Nafzger and Scooter Dickey, "to sign some stuff," says Hissam. With the track renovation break coming, Borel will tend to those errands before going to the other end of the stable area to breeze a horse for trainer Bobby Barnett, his last worker of the morning.

8:14

Shane Borel, 36, is the nephew, valet, close friend, and biggest fan of Calvin Borel. Shane works mornings as an exercise rider before moving over to the jockeys' quarters to tend to his uncle. On this morning, he is taking a rare breather during the renovation break.

"I take care of his boots, his saddles, his helmet, his goggles, all his equipment," Shane says. His father, Carroll, is one of Calvin's four older brothers. "I keep some snacks for him, chips or M&Ms, and all his drinks and ice. He's pretty particular about his stuff. So am I."

Calvin is scheduled to ride all 10 races on the Churchill card.

"It's been a long, long time since we've done that," Shane says. "I'll be up and down those steps like Flash Gordon today."

Team Borel
Barbara D. Livingston
Rider Calvin Borel and his fiancee, Lisa Funk, enjoy Preakness Day at Pimlico along with Borel's jockey agent, Jerry Hissam.

8:26

"I've known you since when, Calvin, 1986?" Barnett says. Through the years, Borel has ridden many of Barnett's top horses, including Halo America, Silent Eskimo, Littlebitlively, and the 1998 2-year-old champion, Answer Lively.

"One of the first horses he rode for me was Vaguely Crafty," Barnett recalls. "Calvin would come back and say, 'He's like driving a Cadillac, boss!' I think they both kept me from committing suicide one year down there at Louisiana Downs."

Borel says he can remember "like yesterday" what happened in the Ellis Park gate before the 1998 James C. Ellis Juvenile, when he was aboard Answer Lively. "We were 1-9, I think," he says. "We're in the 1-hole. The colt flips, hurts himself, bangs me up pretty good, and we have to scratch."

"Yeah, I remember," Barnett says with a groan.

8:39

Borel returns after breezing Jazz in the Park five furlongs in 1:02. Borel has ridden the 4-year-old colt in his last two races, including a turf allowance win at 16-1 early on the Derby undercard. Before re-entering the barn, he gives the colt a few strong pats and strokes his mane.

Borel seems to have a genuine affinity for all the horses he rides. The previous afternoon, his mount in the Dogwood Stakes, Affirmed Truth, broke down on the backstretch while closely tracking the pace from the rail.

"He called me all upset after the race and said, 'Find out what happens with that filly!' " Hissam says.

Sadly, she had to be euthanized.

8:50

Borel stops by Barn 42 to see Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach, the owners of Mine That Bird, who have stopped by on their way from New Mexico to New York for the Belmont.

9:08

Borel pulls the truck into slot 17 in the new parking area reserved for jockeys inside the racetrack grounds, where fans entering from Gate 1 pass just a few feet from away when walking to the paddock or clubhouse.

For the next three hours, Borel will make himself at home - which the jockeys' room might as well be, since he eats, sleeps, and does just about everything else here. Borel has dramatically reformed his eating habits with the help of a nutritionist in the last couple of years. Earlier, he was a self-professed "heaver," inducing himself to vomit regularly to maintain his weight, and he also spent countless hours sweating in the dreaded "hotbox." But one glance at his incredibly thin but muscled frame shows that he is within the weight range he needs to be.

"He's about 110, 111 these days, tacking 13 or 14," Shane Borel says. "He hardly ever hits the hotbox anymore. He'll still get in the whirlpool and get a lot of rubdowns, but that's it. He might take a little nap, make sure all his stuff's in order for the day. He doesn't play pool or ping-pong or any of that stuff. He's all business in the room."

12:18 p.m.

As he does on occasion, retired jockey Pat Day addresses the jockeys and valets in prayer before the races begin. He discusses the precarious plights of fellow jockeys Justin Vitek, who has been undergoing treatment for leukemia in Houston, and Rene Douglas, who was badly injured in a May 23 spill at Arlington Park in Chicago. Borel, like the others, listens intently and bows his head in silence.

12:31

Borel is the last of the six jockeys riding the first race to walk down the 31 stairs from the jockeys' room lobby to the walkway that leads to the Churchill paddock. (Thankfully, an up escalator returns the jockeys to the room.) He walks into the paddock and shakes hands with trainer Rob O'Connor, who gives him instructions and a leg up on Cow Creek Girl, a 7-2 shot in the six-furlong race.

12:46

Race 1: Borel and Cow Creek Girl gun to the front, find the inner rail, then pull away from heavily favored Singing Rose to win by 6 3/4 lengths - the same winning margin that Mine That Bird had in the Derby.

O'Connor is joined by his parents, wife, and two sons in a joyful winner's circle. Borel, however, is still all business. Before he guides the filly into the enclosure, Borel takes a drenched sponge from a stablehand and squeezes it all over the filly's head to cool her off - just as he did at Pimlico upon entering the winner's circle aboard Rachel Alexandra.

1:18

Race 2: Borel is leaving the paddock on Painted Forest, the even-money favorite, when the paddock judge orders the blinkers the gelding is wearing to be removed because the required procedures were not followed in requesting an equipment change. Does it make a difference? Painted Forest and Borel take the lead at the head of the stretch, but they are caught in the final yards by Tricky Chief to lose by a neck.

1:50

Race 3: Riding again for O'Connor, Borel saves ground on Sneak a Drink in the 5 1/2-furlong race, to no avail. They finish last of six.

2:22

Race 4: Up again for O'Connor, Borel is sitting pretty on Goes nearing the half-mile pole when the jockey is suddenly forced to take up sharply, going from third to seventh in a matter of strides. Still, the gelding resurges, and in the upper stretch he is fighting for the lead. He finishes third by 1 3/4 lengths, with the backstretch incident clearly proving costly.

"Calvin said the 8 horse shut him off," O'Connor says. "What can you do?"

2:54

Race 5: Borel is in perfect position down the backstretch when laying second aboard I'm the Truth, but the filly beats a steady fade to finish ninth.

3:26

RACE 6: In his fourth and last mount of the day for O'Connor, things have gone from good to bad to ridiculous. General Jake hops at the start, spotting the field several lengths, then turns in a creditable effort to finish a nonthreatening third. O'Connor has to laugh to keep from crying, so he deadpans: "I told Calvin to see if he can't get this son of a gun to lunge at the break! Calvin's go-o-o-o-d!" Borel smacks his hands together and laughs.

3:58

Race 7: Incredibly, Borel's mount breaks behind all the others yet again, as Firmly Oriented gets away in a tangle and proceeds to trail the entire way in a field of 10.

4:30

Race 8: Borel is never a factor when finishing sixth aboard Unjust, the longest shot in the field at 23-1.

5:00

Race 9: Borel is a no-show to the paddock. Dehydrated, red-faced, overheated, and just thoroughly spent, he has decided to take off his last two mounts, Stream Kid in the ninth and Cinna Man in the 10th, neither of whom hit the board under substitute riders. Borel calls his personal physician and arranges to see him that evening to be injected with a supply of replenishing fluids and electrolytes, in much the same way equine veterinarians "jug" a dehydrated racehorse.

Monday, June 1 - 7:50 a.m.

Refreshed, Borel returns to the Churchill backstretch and is talking to a small group of reporters and curiosity seekers before climbing aboard Mine That Bird for his final pre-Belmont work.

"I pulled six pounds from the first race to the eighth," Borel says. "After that, it's hard to eat." He searches for the needle mark in his arm from the night before. "I got my jug, had something to drink, went home and went to bed. Just another workday."

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

WITH 4,000 VICTORIES, ALBARADO AIMS FOR NEXT MILESTONE

            “Obviously, the very first one I won in 1990,” Albarado said of One Little Point at Evangeline Downs on June 29 as he began to click off a top five.

            “The other four would have to be with Curlin and Mineshaft. Those were great moments there and getting my first Grade I was pretty special with Joyeux Danseur here in the (1998)  Early Times (now Woodford Reserve) Turf Classic.”

            Albarado got his milestone victory in Saturday’s ninth race aboard Keertana. Earlier in the day in the third race at Philadelphia Park, Jose Luis Flores got his 4,000th victory, which made Albarado the 57th North American rider to reach that plateau.

            Albarado, who turns 36 in September, was asked what the first race would be that he would pop into a VCR many years down the road of Robby’s greatest hits to share with the grandkids.

            “The first race in the VCR probably would have to be Preakness,” Albarado said of Curlin’s victory over Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. “My first Triple Crown win was pretty special there. It was a proud moment in my career.”

            There are 24 North American riders with more than 5,000 victories with another 16 active riders, including Albarado, in the 4,000 club in pursuit of the next milestone.

            Albarado was asked what he would like to add to his list of memorable victories when No. 5,000 rolled around.

            “Oh, that’s easy. The Derby, of course,” Albarado said. “Hopefully between now and the next thousand if I get there, I’ll have at least one Derby. That would be special.” Churchill Downs Communications Department

Thursday, June 04, 2009

“BIRD” HAS HIS FIRST GALLOP AT BELMONT

 Trainer Chip Woolley and owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach were on hand as the Kentucky Derby winning gelding, who was second in the Preakness, fairly skipped over the surface as he came down the middle of the stretch, as the inside part of the track was closed for training, with exercise rider Carlos Figueroa up.

 “He gets over it so easy – that’s what I was hoping for,” said Woolley, who immediately afterward departed with the owners to ring the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange, along with jockey Calvin Borel. “He carries it with him wherever he goes. He loped through the stretch real easy. If there’s a track he doesn’t like, we haven’t found it yet.”

 

Mine That Bird, the 2-1 morning line favorite, arrived at Belmont Park at 4 p.m. on Wednesday following an uneventful flight from Louisville, Ky., a departure in travel style from the first two legs of the Triple Crown, for which Woolley personally drove him by horse van from New Mexico to Churchill Downs and from there to Baltimore for the Preakness.

 

Mine That Bird will face nine other three-year-olds in the 141st running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, which is scheduled to go off at 6:27 p.m. (EDT), with ABC covering the race live from 5 to 7 p.m.

 

*          *          *

 

Charitable Man, the second choice on the morning line at 3-1 in the 1½-mile Belmont, jogged twice around the training track Thursday morning at 8 a.m. with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin looking on.

 

“With the rain, the training track seemed to be a little better, because they race over there and seal it a little tighter,” said McLaughlin, who trains the Grade 2 Peter Pan winner for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren, Jr. “I don’t know what we’ll do tomorrow because of the rain. He’s fit, but ideally speaking, we’d like to gallop over a fast track, just to keep him in a routine. We don’t mind running on a sloppy track, but there’s no money in the morning, so we don’t train on it.”

 

The Warrens will be visiting Anna House, the child care center located on Belmont Park’s backstretch, on Friday around 10:15 a.m. There they will be presented with two posters made by the center’s preschoolers wishing Charitable Man good luck in Saturday’s race. The Warrens recently donated $10,000 to Anna House in honor of McLaughlin, who is being recognized by the Belmont Child Care Association this summer for his long-standing and continued support.  

 

 

*          *          *

 

Trainer Todd Pletcher guaranteed it would not rain on Belmont Stakes Day.

 

“I would not allow it to rain on Saturday,” said Pletcher, whose Dunkirk, the third choice on the morning line at 4-1 for Saturday’s race, galloped over the main track. “He handled it well this morning. If it were a drying-out track, a sticky, gooey track, then I would be concerned.

 

“But I don’t anticipate it would be an off-track unless it rains Saturday,” added Pletcher, who trains Dunkirk for Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith. “This track dries out pretty quickly.”

 

*          *          *

 

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent his Belmont duo of Luv Gov and Flying Private out early morning Thursday morning and later was happy to continue sharing his thoughts on restructuring the Triple Crown.

 

“It’s the time in between races that we all struggle with,” said Lukas, who has saddled four Belmont winners. “Nowadays, you need to run in two Grade 1 races to even get into the Derby – back in the 1940s, Calumet Farm would send their horses in schooling races to get them ready for the Derby.”

 

Lukas proposed at Wednesday morning’s draw that the Derby be run on the first Saturday in May, the Preakness go off during Memorial Day weekend, the Belmont be moved to Independence Day and that the Shadwell Travers, run the last weekend in August, be added to the series.

 

 “Nothing is going to take away from the Derby, but if you figure that the media capital is in New York, you would then have three races in the East,” said Lukas, who trains Luv Gov for Marylou Whitney Stables and Flying Private for Robert C. Baker and William L. Mack.

*          *          *

 

The other “bird” in the Belmont, Kalarikkal and Vilasni Jayaraman’s Summer Bird, jogged around the main track and stood in the starting gate as trainer Tim Ice put the finishing touches on the colt’s preparations for Saturday’s race.

 

The chestnut colt was full of energy as exercise rider Chris Trosclair cooled him out, and Ice was hopeful he would be able to gallop Summer Bird Friday morning.

 

“Yesterday (a mile gallop followed by a blow-out through the stretch) took nothing out of him,” said Ice. “If the track is sloppy, he’ll jog, but I’m hoping it’s all right. He needed a gallop today but I didn’t want to do it. If I jog him tomorrow, I may have to jog him three miles.”

 

Summer Bird will be the second Belmont starter for the Jayaramans, both of whom are doctors. In 1989, Hall of Famer Leroy Jolley trained Irish Actor for the Jayaramans, and he finished eighth behind Easy Goer in the Belmont Stakes.

 

*          *          *

 

Trainer Eoin Harty sent Mr. Hot Stuff, who arrived Wednesday afternoon on the same flight as Mine That Bird, out on the training track Thursday morning.

 

“He looked like a million dollars and he’ll win by 20,” joked Harty of the WinStar colt, who was 15th in the Derby in his first start on dirt.  “Seriously, he went well. I don’t know what I will do tomorrow with him. I will call God and see what he has planned (weather-wise).”

 

*          *          *

 

The Craig Family Trust’s Chocolate Candy, who came to Belmont Park directly from Churchill Downs, where he finished fifth in the Derby, galloped Thursday morning on the main track with exercise rider Lindsey Molina aboard.

 

“I didn’t want to run all those [Triple Crown] races in a row,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, explaining his decision to skip the Preakness. “I never planned on running in Preakness and all along point to this race, though we might have gotten more pressure to run in the Preakness if he'd done better in Derby.”

 

 Chocolate Candy schooled Wednesday and, weather permitting, was to school Thursday afternoon in the paddock as well.

 

“We did fine, so I’m not too worried about that,” said Hollendorfer. “I hadn’t seen him on a sloppy track here until today, and I thought he got over track fine.”

 

Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito sent his two Belmont Stakes starters for owner Robert V. LaPenta – Miner’s Escape and Brave Victory – out on the training track this morning.

 

“Everything is cool,” Zito said. “They galloped and jogged about two miles and everything is going the way it’s supposed to.”

 

Zito has saddled 20 Belmont Stakes starters, winning the “Test of the Champion” twice with Birdstone in 2004 and Da’ Tara last year.

 

Meanwhile, at Saratoga Race Course, 8-yer-old Commentator worked a half-mile in a bullet 47.50, breezing, on the fast Oklahoma training track. It was the fastest of 13 works at the distance.

 

Commentator won Saratoga’s Grade 1 Whitney last year. He won the race in 2005 as well.

 

“He just keeps coming back,” Zito said. “We really want to get a race for him in New York pretty soon.”  NYRA Communications Department

Thursday, June 04, 2009

BELMONT JOCKEYS TO VISIT RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE

Dressed in their colorful riding silks, jockeys Maylan Studart, Alan Garcia, Rajiv Maragh, Javier Castellano, John Velazquez, Rudy Rodriguez, Edgar Prado and Amanda Casey will take a detour from Belmont Park to bring caps and goggles for all the children staying at the House, located in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

Garcia, Maragh, Velazquez and Prado all will be riding in the 1½-mile Belmont Stakes, in which Mine That Bird will try to add the prestigious “Test of the Champion” to his thrilling victory in the Kentucky Derby. Garcia will be aboard Charitable Man, second choice in the field of 10 three-year-olds, while Maragh will be aboard Brave Victory. Velazquez, who won the 2007 Belmont with the filly Rags to Riches, rides Dunkirk on Saturday and Prado, a two-time winner of the Belmont, will ride Mr. Hot Stuff.

The Ronald McDonald House of Long Island is a 'home-away-from home' for families who are caring for seriously ill children undergoing medical treatment in area hospitals. Located on the campus of Schneider Children's Hospital, the House accommodates families in a warm and supportive environment. Since opening in 1986, the House has served approximately 12,000 families from Long Island, the five boroughs, throughout the United States and abroad. NYRA Communications Department

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

BEEFY BELMONT STAKES FEATURES `BIRD’ IN THE `CAL-ZONE’

 It’s loaded with horses and horsemen that have strong ties to this 1½-mile race for three-year-olds known as the “Test of the Champion.”  It is loaded with history, as it is the oldest and longest leg of racing’s Triple Crown. And, it is loaded with possibilities, as 10 contenders will enter the starting gate in Belmont Park’s signature race, the 11th of a 13-race live card that begins at 11:35 a.m. (All times EDT).

 The card features five other graded stakes, including three additional Grade 1 races, all of which will figure in a guaranteed $1 million Pick 6 on races 6-11 and a guaranteed $1 million Pick 4 on races 8-11. ESPN will provide television coverage on Belmont Stakes Day from noon to 5 p.m., with ABC starting its two-hour live broadcast at 5 p.m. Post time is 6:27 p.m. for the Belmont Stakes, and the final race will go to post at 7:45 p.m.

 Standing out above all these elements is a 5-foot-5, 110-pound native of St. Martin Parish, La. who has never forgotten his roots, prizes loyalty and honor and had made his name – ‘Bo-Rail’ – by riding the rail.

 Jockey Calvin Borel has been “in the zone” of late. He has been confidently winning races by the bunches at Churchill Downs, charmed  network television and radio talk show hosts and their audiences and shaken any friendly, outstretched hand or posed for any fan photograph. He is enjoying this ride almost as much as the ones aboard Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby and Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness. And, he is out to become the first jockey to win all three Triple Crown races on two different horses.

  Borel set this stage on May 2 when he shot the diminutive Mine That Bird through a narrow hole on the rail that brought him to a 6 ¾-length victory in the Kentucky Derby at 50-1. One day earlier, he guided the remarkable filly, Rachel Alexandra, to a huge victory in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, and Borel had the two top horses in the three-year-old division to call his own.

 That changed when Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stable purchased Rachel Alexandra for a price reported to be as high as $10 million, and announced that she would take on colts in the Preakness on May 16. Borel, calling her “the best horse he ever sat on,” made the tough decision to take off the Derby winner and ride Rachel Alexandra at Pimlico.

 She made history that day, becoming the first horse to win that race from post 13 and one of only five fillies ever to win the Triple Crown’s middle leg. Mine That Bird finished a length back in second.

 Last week, Jackson announced that Rachel Alexandra would skip the Belmont Stakes, and Borel was back on Mine That Bird.

 The modest Borel, who is making his first Belmont Stakes start, was welcomed back aboard Mine That Bird by co-owners Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine and trainer Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr. He has not been so modest in his Belmont Stakes evaluation.

 He’ll win,” said Borel of Mine That Bird, who will break from post 7 aboard the 2-1 morning line favorite. “That’s what we’re here for. I see a Derby race, same style. He sits back there. Belmont has a long stretch and I can sit and wait. I watch this horse every day, he goes two miles, two-and-a-half miles.”

 Woolley is more than happy to have “Bo-Rail” back on Mine That Bird.

 “We understood Calvin’s situation,” Woolley said. “And we are glad to get him back for the Belmont because this is the race we’ve always felt we could win. We have always had confidence in this horse. He had won four of his first five starts -- and one ride that we didn’t think fit his style.  But we started training him behind horses, and he showed he is a very competitive horse. For a small horse, he has a surprisingly big stride and gets over the ground easily. When we took him back, we knew he would have plenty of horse left, but even we didn’t expect how explosive that three-eighths of a mile run was.   He’ll run over horses, if you let him. We think he’s going to love this track and this distance.”

 A victory in the Belmont Stakes would make Mine That Bird the first Derby winner to win the Belmont since Thunder Gulch in 1995. 

 As happy as the Mine That Bird/Borel story is, there are plenty of challengers more than willing to re-write the ending.

 Chief among these is Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren’s Charitable Man, the “now” horse of this year’s Belmont Stakes. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, who won the  2006 Belmont Stakes with Jazil, this son of 1999 Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid has won three of four career starts, including the Grade 2, nine–furlong Peter Pan here on May 9. His only loss came on Keeneland’s PolyTrack in the April 11 Blue Grass. That was his first start back in seven months, during which time he underwent surgery to correct a saucer fracture of the left shin.

 McLaughlin has insisted that he would not trade horses with anyone for this race.

 “I’m not trying to sound cocky or overconfident,” McLaughlin said when talking of Charitable Man, who will break from post 6 under jockey Alan Garcia, winner of last year’s Belmont Stakes with Da’Tara. “All I’m saying is that we have a horse whose style fits this race, who has the pedigree, who is 2-for-2 on this track and who couldn’t be training any better. I have a lot of respect for Mine That Bird, Chocolate Candy and Dunkirk, but I have a quality horse that couldn’t be doing any better.”

 As a $3.7 million yearling purchase, Dunkirk has been watched closely ever since he started racing. After two victories, the Unbridled’s Song colt suffered his first loss in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. A closer, he made a huge move on the turn but finished a length and three-quarters on the speed-favoring track behind front-running Quality Road, who set the track’s nine-furlong record of 1:47.72

 Dunkirk lost all chance in the Kentucky Derby, when he stumbled twice within the first 50 yards and finished 11th.

 “We just have to draw a line through the Derby,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the 2007 Belmont Stakes with Rags to Riches, one of only three fillies in history to win the Belmont Stakes. “He stumbled leaving the gate, and by the time he got his legs under him again and got to the first turn, he was squeezed.”

 Since then, Dunkirk has trained steadily, including a spectacular half-mile bullet of :47 1/5 on May 18 that was the fastest of 62 works at the distance.

 “If you look at his work tab, there are bullets all over it,” Pletcher said. “That’s not my training style. But I think it shows how much talent he has.  He is out of a Kentucky Oaks-winning dam (Secret Status), and we have a lot of confidence in him.”

 John Velazquez has the mount on Dunkirk, who will break from post 2.  

 Flying well beneath the radar here is Craig Family Trust’s Chocolate Candy, who has drawn the rail under jockey Garrett Gomez. Runner-up in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby to Pioneerof the Nile, he made his first start on dirt in the sloppy Kentucky Derby. He finished fifth.

 “He had a tough start, like a lot of horses did, but he showed he wasn’t easily discouraged,” said Hollendorfer, who was en route to New York from California on Wednesday afternoon.  “So, we brought him to New York early because it was suggested to us to train over at Belmont for a while before you run on it. I didn't want to leave him on the road that long, but it's worked out OK so far. He's been very happy there; [exercise rider Lindsey Molina] says he just skips over the track and he gallops out strong.”

 Hollendorfer, best known to New Yorkers as the trainer of rap singer M.C. Hammer’s Lite Light during her early 1990s rivalry with champion Meadow Star, is one of three trainers, along with Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg and King T. Leatherbury, to have won at least 5,000 races.

 The Kentucky Derby was also the first dirt start for WinStar Farm’s Mr. Hot Stuff, who was third in the Santa Anita Derby. He finished 15th at Churchill Downs.

 “I don’t know if he got anything out of the Derby,” said trainer Eoin Harty, who will go with Hall of Fame jockey and two-time Belmont Stakes winner Edgar Prado from post 3. “I’m hoping it’s a throw-out race, one that we can just ignore and move on. He’s been training beautifully, but now he has to prove that he belongs.”

 Sixth in the Kentucky Derby, Drs. Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman’s Summer Bird has only one win in four career starts. Trainer Tim Ice knows he is shooting for the stars with Summer Bird, who like Mine That Bird, is a son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone.

 “He was sixth in the Kentucky Derby, and he faced a number of issues,” said trainer Tim Ice, who is making his first Belmont Stakes start. “He was eight-wide, the track was sloppy, a lot of things went against him and yet, he was still running at the end. We are here because we feel he is an improving horse. He has gotten stronger and he is a very smart, mature horse. We think he’ll be tough if he gets to run his race.”

 Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux picks up the mount on Summer Bird, who will break from post 4 and will wear blinkers. 

    Between them, Hall of Fame trainers D. Wayne Lukas (Tabasco Cat, 1994; Thunder Gulch, 1995; Editor’s Note, 1995 and Commendable, 2000) and Nick Zito (Birdstone, 2004 and Da’Tara, 2008), have won six Belmont Stakes. This year, Lukas will saddle Marylou Whitney Stables’ Luv Gov and Robert C. Baker and William L. Mack’s Flying Private, his first Belmont Stakes starters since A.P. Arrow ran fifth in 2005.

 “We felt we had horses that would make the first legs of the Triple Crown, but wouldn’t be at their peak” said Lukas, as Flying Private ran fourth in the Preakness after a 19th-place Derby finish, while Luv Gov was eighth in the Preakness. “We’ve won this race before with horses that no one gave a shot to – Commendable, Editor’s Note, even Tabasco Cat – but we knew they were developing horses that were coming into the race at the right time and the right way.”

 Luv Gov will break from post 5 under Miguel Mena, while Flying Private drew post 8 with jockey Julien Leparoux.

 Zito, who got his first Belmont Stakes victory with Birdstone in 2004, won it again last year with Robert V. LaPenta’s Da’Tara. He will send Brave Victory and Miner’s Escape here in hopes that LaPenta will win consecutive runnings of the Belmont Stakes. Meadow Stable most recently accomplished the feat with Riva Ridge (1972) and 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat.

 “What’s great about the Belmont is that anything can happen,” Zito said. “It’s a one-of-a-kind race, and it is so big that you always have a chance. We’re coming into this race with two horses that have been running competitive races and that we feel will get the distance. Brave Victory was third in the Peter Pan, and Miner’s Escape has won two in a row, including the Tesio.

 “When your horses are running well, you have to take a chance, especially in a race with this kind of history and this kind of importance. We all have to prove ourselves, because Mine That Bird has already proven himself. We’re all coming after Mine That Bird. The Belmont Stakes is Mine That Bird’s race to lose.”

 The field for the 141st running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes:

PP.       HORSE                      TRAINER                              JOCKEY                    ODDS

1          Chocolate Candy          Jerry Hollendorfer                     Garrett Gomez              10-1

2          Dunkirk                        Todd Pletcher                           John Velazquez              4-1

3          Mr. Hot Stuff                Eoin Harty                                Edgar Prado                 15-1

4          Summer Bird                Tim Ice                                     Kent Desormeaux         12-1

5          Luv Gov                       D. Wayne Lukas                      Miguel Mena                20-1

6          Charitable Man Kiaran McLaughlin                               Alan Garcia                   3-1

7          Mine That Bird Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr.                    Calvin Borel                 2-1

8          Flying Private                D. Wayne Lukas                      Julien Leparoux            12-1

9          Miner’s Escape            Nick Zito                                  Jose Lezcano                15-1

10        Brave Victory               Nick Zito                                  Rajiv Maragh                15-1

Summer Bird will race with blinkers.

All starters will carry 126 pounds.
NYRA COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT
Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Douglas, Disabled Jockeys Fund to Benefit

Riders at Belmont Park and other racetracks will participate in a moment of tribute and support for Douglas and his fellow injured riders at about 4:15 p.m. EDT. All active riders are being asked to consider contributing, as a sign of unity, one losing mount fee from their Saturday earnings to Douglas.

New York Racing Association president and chief executive officer Charles Hayward will make a $5,000 contribution to Triple Crown-winning jockey Ron Turcotte and other riders on behalf of the PDJF during the special winner’s circle ceremony at Belmont. Also, the PDJF and B.E.S.T. (Backstretch Employee Service Team) will be the two designated charities to benefit from the NetJets sponsorship of the riders in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

Douglas was seriously injured May 23 during a race at Arlington Park. In 1996, he won the Belmont Stakes aboard Editor’s Note, and during last year’s Belmont Stakes program, he guided Dancing Forever to victory in the Manhattan Handicap (gr. I).

“We appreciate the generosity of NYRA, all the jockeys, racetracks, horse owners, and the racing fans whose compassion and support make such a difference in the lives of disabled riders,” PDJF executive director Nancy LaSala said.

The PDJF assists jockeys who are permanently disabled from an on-track accident and to build awareness for their needs. The organization has disbursed more than $2 million to assist with the living expenses of permanently disabled riders.

Donations to the PDJF can be made to P.O. Box 803; Elmhurst, IL 60126. Contributions in support of Rene Douglas’s recovery may be made to Rene Douglas and mailed to Citibank, 539 N. Michigan Avenue; Chicago, IL 60611.
from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association
Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Calvin Borel having time of his life


Reporters were peppering him with questions about Borel, who had just won the second jewel of the 2009 Triple Crown, and he was trying to come up with a dignified way of saying what was on the tip of everyone's tongue: Isn't it about time the racing community figured out that Borel - even at age 42 - is one of the best jockeys in the sport?

In the end, Hissam, a jovial 65-year-old but also a no-nonsense West Virginian, decided to simply point to the facts.

"Go look at the standings right now at Churchill Downs," Hissam said in reference to Borel's home track, playfully thrusting a thick finger in the direction of a reporter for added emphasis. "Even though we're third in the standings, the basic payoff for horses that Calvin rides is $25.80. What more can I tell you than that? ... To me, it proves one thing. When you put him on a horse, you've got a chance."

It's almost hard to believe, as the 141st Belmont Stakes takes place this Saturday, that Borel has a legitimate shot to win all three Triple Crown races. Less than two months ago, he wasn't sure he would have a Kentucky Derby mount.

He was hoping to ride Beethoven, a promising 3-year-old, but the horse was injured in March. And then the horse he did end up with, Mine That Bird, looked like the longest of long shots at 50-1, and that was probably a generous line.

"When I look at that horse on paper before the Derby, I don't know how in the world he wasn't 100-1," Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens said.

There wasn't even any official video of Mine That Bird available for Borel to view before he agreed to ride him. All he had to go by was what his fiancee, Lisa Funk, could find on YouTube. It's a pretty good story of perseverance and patience for a man nicknamed "Boo Boo," a moniker the youngest of five boys earned because of the 12-year gap between him and his closest sibling. He has spent his whole life dreaming of this and never stopped doing the little things, like cleaning out barns or showing up at 5 a.m. to work lightly regarded horses, even after winning a race like the Derby.

But as Hissam likes to point out, Borel has always been this good. If you're just realizing it, well, you probably cost yourself a lot of money over the years.

"People are paying attention now because he's winning the classics," Hissam said. "But the first year I ever had Calvin, we went to Louisiana and won the Louisiana Super Derby with a horse that paid $58. Two years later, we went to the Arkansas Derby and won with a horse that paid $218. We won the Stephen Foster with a horse that paid almost $200. ... That just shows that no matter what the horse is, he's going to try for you."

Even though he'll be under pressure to deliver, Borel's Belmont trip is already shaping up to be less stressful than the buildup to the Preakness. When Rachel Alexandra's previous owner, Dolphus Morrison, decided to sell the filly after Borel rode her to a remarkable 20 1/4 -length victory in the Kentucky Oaks, the jockey was so nervous about losing the mount, he was near tears on the day Churchill Downs handed him his check for winning the Derby ($141,720).

"He would have given that check back to the racetrack if it meant he could still ride Rachel," said Funk, who has been with Borel since 2001, when the pair met at Churchill Downs. "Finishing first to him in a race means way more to him than whatever he's getting paid."

Borel won't have an easy trip this Saturday at the track known as "Big Sandy." Even though it's the longest race of the Triple Crown at 1 1/2 miles, a length that would seem to favor Mine That Bird's charge-from-behind-late running style, Belmont winners have traditionally needed to be within a few lengths of the lead coming into the final turn.

"I think you have to be forwardly paced," said Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Charitable Man. "Tactical speed is important. As for Mine That Bird, I agree with his trainer that he's going to continue to run his style. We have tactical speed, and we don't have to change that. We have lot of pluses on our side. I wouldn't trade places with anyone."

Charitable Man could be Mine That Bird's biggest threat, especially when you consider that he didn't run in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness and he doesn't have to ship to get to Belmont because it's his home track. McLaughlin, who won the Belmont in 2006 with Jazil, still doesn't seem sold on Mine That Bird. He told reporters this week that Mine That Bird's Derby victory taught him that he should never pass on running a horse in the Derby the way he did this year.

"I have to be honest, looking at Charitable Man and looking at Mine That Bird, it's like you're looking at a magnificent animal [compared] to a small gelding that cost $9,500 as a yearling," McLaughlin said. "But he's a runner. In the Derby, all I could think was Calvin Borel gave him a great ride and he loved the slop. But after [seeing him run] in the Preakness, I have a lot more respect. He is a gutsy little horse that tries hard."

Borel, though, doesn't seem daunted. After working a half-mile with Mine That Bird on Monday, he seemed almost energized at having the controversy behind him. He even said that Mine That Bird is going to win.

"We just got to get lucky," he said. "Me and the horse fit good. "He's just a happy camper. We want a happy horse."

Trainer Chip Woolley Jr. thinks Mine That Bird looks even better this week than he has all season, especially now that he has Borel back.

"I was thinking last week, he's probably training better than he did going into the Derby," Woolley said. "He's really into it. Calvin got the work I wanted out of him this morning. ... They just looked like they were bread and butter."

By Kevin Van Valkenburg | kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com/Baltimore Sun



Monday, June 01, 2009

Carter honored after winning title

Apolloonamission and Teller Shes an Angel won the final stakes of the meet.

Apolloonamission overcame an awkward start to get up late by a neck over Spit Curl Diva and Eyesa Love Candy in the $50,000 Jack Brooks Stakes for 3-year-old statebred fillies. Owned by her breeder, Maria Maira Velasco Gutierrez, the Apollo filly is trained by Guillermo Valdivia, who won the training title. Paul Nieto was in the irons.

Apolloonamission paid $9 after completing the 350 yards in 17.534.

Teller Shes an Angel vied for the lead and was a nose winner over Better Bet on Chico and Docs Dusty Okie in the $50,000 Easy Jet Stakes for statebred juveniles at 350 yards. Adalberto Candanosa was aboard for trainer Luis Villafranco. Teller Shes an Angel, owned by Rolando Candanosa, raced the distance in 17.733 and paid $4.80 as the favorite. Daily Racing Form

Monday, June 01, 2009

Borel: 'We're Going to Win' Belmont Stakes

 “Perfect,” said Borel, who won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with the son of Birdstone trained by Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr. for owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach. “He’s ready. We’re going to win. No questions asked.”

The boast by the hard-working, likable Borel was similar to the one he made previous to winning the BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I) with Rachel Alexandra, with Mine That Bird finishing second with jockey Mike Smith in the saddle. Borel was freed up to ride Mine That Bird in the Belmont after owners Jess Jackson and Harold McCormick announced May 29 that the filly would bypass the third leg of the Triple Crown. Although her next start has not been announced, Rachel Alexandra also worked at Churchill June 1, getting five furlongs in 1:01 3/5.

Churchill clockers timed Mine That Bird in fractional splits of :13 4/5, :26 3/5, and :38 2/5. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:02 1/5 and was ridden out six furlongs in 1:15.

“I didn’t go fast, but he didn’t need to go fast,” Borel said of the workout. “He gets more from galloping than he does from a work. He did everything the same, just like before the Derby.”

Borel, who departed immediately after the workout to fly to New York for a taping of the “David Letterman Show” that will air Friday, June 5, explained that Mine That Bird is not showing any of the signs of weariness displayed by horses who have had tough races such as the Derby and Preakness.

“After trying the Derby and (Preakness) they don’t come back bouncing like that,” Borel said. “That don’t happen too often. They come back a little tired. He’s bouncing right now. He’s a happy camper right now. He’s just getting better. Winning the Derby and the way he run the last time, he’s got more confidence. He will love the distance.”

Borel said he believes one reason the Derby and Preakness did not take much out of Mine That Bird is his patented late running style. “They might go a mile and a half, but he is going to gallop the first mile and only run the last three-eighths (of a mile).”

Woolley said he was pleased with the workout, noting that he wanted a half-mile in about :49 2/5. “He galloped out real strong,” the trainer said. “He looked real sharp to me.”


Woolley also echoed Borel’s assessment of how the gelding is doing.

“I was thinking last week he is training better right now than he did going into the Derby,” Woolley said. “He has held his weight really good and  he came off the track today just dancing. He came back from Pimlico a little bit rattled, but he has settled in right here and is doing good."

With most experts speculating that the early pace in the Belmont will be slower  than it has been in the previous two classics, Borel and Woolley agreed that it is hard to determine in advance how the race will play out.

“I can’t tell you what’s going to happen,” Borel said of anticipating how the Belmont will unfold. “When the gates break (open), I will read the race and will go from there. If we haven’t got much speed, we will liable to be close. If we’ve got speed, we will stay back. He’s got a good turn of foot.”

“You don’ want him as far back as he was in the other two (races) because the pace is going to be slower,” Woolley said of Belmont strategy. “We want him to run his same race, which will put him a little closer to the pace when they slow it down. It’s going to be hard to close in this, I’m sure of that. We’re not going to change his running style. We’re going to try to run the same race and see what happens. We will try to run our race and if our race is good enough, we will win, and if it’s not, we will run where we do. One thing about it, the distance suits my horse awful well. ”

Woolley said Mine That Bird will be flown to New York  Wed., June 3, and that he did not see any benefit to training his gelding over the unique Belmont surface.

“My horse gets over the ground really easy… he just kind of bounces over the top of it,” Woolley said. “I really don’t have too much concern about it. If he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t like it. Training him on it isn’t going to make him like it any better. It would just give him more time to hate it worse. I don’t believe in going up there and training and believing it’s going to improve his chances.”

In addition to the Letterman show, Borel will make an appearance on CBS the morning of Tues., June 2, and on Thurs., June 4, he, Woolley, and Gary Contessa will ring the bell to open trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes is the only mount scheduled for the jockey while he is in New York.
Ron Mitchell/The Blood-Horse
Monday, June 01, 2009

MINE THAT BIRD STRONG IN FINAL BELMONT PREP

            The winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) came on the fast Churchill Downs track shortly after 8:30 a.m. (all times EDT) when the track reopened after the morning renovation break. Borel backtracked Mine That Bird to the frontside and then loped around to the backstretch for the work that clockers caught in splits of :13.80, :26.60, :38.40, the half in :50 with a five-eighths gallop out time of 1:02.20 and six furlongs in 1:15.

            The time for the half-mile was the 32nd fastest of 57 at the distance.

“He picked it up good the last quarter,” said trainer Chip Woolley, who before the work said he was looking for something in the 49 to 49.20 range. “The main thing was the last quarter in 23 and 2. The important part was finishing strong and galloping out without weakening.”

            After the work, Borel was ecstatic about the work and Mine That Bird’s chances in the Belmont.

            “We’re gonna win, no questions asked,” Borel said. “He worked in :50 and out in 1:02, just like before the Derby. He is doing everything the same. After those two hard races (the Derby and Preakness), I think the colt is very happy.”

            Woolley continued to the perfect fit that has become horse and rider.

            “You watch when he comes out on the track with (exercise rider) Charlie (Figueroa) or anybody else and he has his head up and is looking around,” Woolley said. “With Calvin, he just drops his neck and knows it is time to go to work. He knows the difference, maybe it’s because Calvin is lighter.”

            Woolley is going to look in on Mine That Bird early Tuesday morning before catching a 7:15 flight to New York with Mine That Bird flying the following day.

            “I think we are in good shape going into the Belmont,” Woolley said. “The horse is doing good and probably training better than he did going into the Derby.

            “It is going to be a tough race and, how many do I fear? How many are in there? Wayne’s horse (Flying Private for trainer D. Wayne Lukas) is on the improve and Kiaran’s horse (Charitable Man for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin) is a sheer monster and he likes that racetrack.”

            Woolley said that Mine That Bird would return to the track early Wednesday morning to backtrack to the paddock runway and go around the track 1 ½ times. Mine That Bird would go to the track at Belmont on Thursday and Friday “but not on Saturday unless he is getting rattled.”

            Tentative plans call for Mine That Bird to return to Churchill Downs next Monday and remain here at least for a week.

            “All of our stuff is here and so is the trailer,” Woolley said. “We’ll see how he does up there and how he comes out of the race but the plan now is we’ll stay here at least through the Stephen Foster (June 13) and then decide on where we’ll go.”
Churchill Downs Communication Department
Monday, June 01, 2009

EMIGH SAYS ‘THANKS LORD’ AFTER 3,000TH CAREER WIN

  

 On Sunday morning, when reflecting on Saturday’s achievement, Arlington’s leading rider in 2006 added others to the list of those he wished to thank.

 “It was really more of a group effort,” said Emigh.  “Not only my agent Jay Fedor, my wife Kim and all the trainers who thankfully put me on their horses, but also the grooms of those horses, and the valets who have worked for me throughout my career. It’s a whole team of people who should share the credit.

 “Obviously, I’m glad I did it in Chicago,” said the 38-year-old Elburn, Illinois, resident, “because of all those 3,000 wins, I would say that well over 2,000 of them have come right here and the fans here have always been very supportive of my career.

 “It took me 20 years to get to this point,” Emigh noted, “but now it’s time to start building toward the next 1,000.  Maybe if I get to ride another six or seven years, I can get another 1,500 or so.  More immediately, of course, I have to focus on the next win.”

 Interestingly, Emigh achieved the 1,000-career win milestone locally on Arlington Million Day in 1997 and recalled an amusing aftermath from that afternoon.

 “I put the 1,000-win sign in the back of my truck that night to take it home,” Emigh said, “but on the way home driving down Route 53 it blew out of the back of my truck.  Obviously, in all that traffic, I couldn’t stop and go back and get it, so I never saw it again.”

 Coincidentally, jockey Robby Albarado, Arlington’s 1996 jockey champion, reached the 4,000-career win milestone on Saturday at Churchill Downs.  It was Albarado who originally advised Emigh to come to Chicago to pursue his career.
Arlington Park Communications Department
Monday, June 01, 2009

BIG DAY FOR ALBARADO

 
        One race earlier, Albarado became the 56th North American jockey to reach the 4,000-victory milestone when he rode Barbara Hunter’s Keertana ($5.20) to victory in the ninth race at Churchill Downs.
 
        In his milestone triumph, Albarado split horses in deep stretch on the Matt Winn Turf Course to edge Kiss Mine by three-quarters of a length for the victory.
 
A 35-year-old native of Lafayette, La., Albarado rode his first winner at age 16 at Evangeline Downs in Louisiana. Albarado, who won his first Churchill Downs riding title at the 2008 Spring Meet, has ridden 812 of his 4,001 winners beneath the Twin Spires, the sixth-largest win total in track history.
       
Albarado was the regular rider for two-time Horse of the Year Curlin on which he earned his only victory in a Triple Crown race, the 2007 Preakness. Albarado also was the regular rider for 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft.
       
In his career, Albarado has ridden more than 24,000 races with earnings in excess of $149 million.
       
In the Aristides, Albarado rated Bold Start in third place in the run down the backside just off the pace set by Garifine, who was tracked by Semaphore Man through a first quarter-mile in :21.88. The top three remained unchanged to the head of the lane after a half-mile in :44.73.
       
In the stretch, Semaphore Man grabbed a brief lead under Jesus Castanon, but was headed at the eighth pole by Bold Start, who drew away to the victory. Knights Cross rallied for third under Corey Lanerie, finishing three-quarters of a length in back of Semaphore Man.
        Bold Start, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Jump Start out of the Flying Paster mare Dorky, returned $10.80, $5.80 and $4.80. Semaphore Man paid his backers $6.40 and $4.40 with Knights Cross returning $10.40 to show.
 
Completing the field in order were favored Sok Sok, Grand Sensation, Premium Wine, Success Success, Vicarian, Garifine and Early Return. Cassoulet was scratched.
       
Bold Start covered the six furlongs on a fast main track in 1:09.04.
       
The victory was worth $66,321 and increased Bold Start’s career earnings to $528,810 with nine victories in 31 starts. Four of the victories have come on the main track at Churchill Downs.  Churchill Downs Communications Department
Monday, June 01, 2009

CHRIS EMIGH NOTCHES CAREER VICTORY NO. 3,000

Longtime Chicago-based jockey Chris Emigh notched the 3,000th victory of his career when he guided John Reinhart’s Thanks Lord for trainer Frank Kirby to a 1 3/4-length win in the fourth race Saturday at Arlington Park. 

 Emigh was joined in the winner’s circle by his wife Kim, son Hunter, daughter Taylor and agent Jay Fedor as well as his fellow riders and Arlington Park executives as a video played saluting the milestone score as well as highlights of his entire career.

 

“This was the best name for the horse to do it on – Thanks Lord,” said Emigh.  “I was riding 10 (races) today and if I didn’t (get the milestone win) today I’d be fired.  I want to thank my agent Jay Fedor and all the trainers who rode me especially Frank Kirby, Christine Janks, Brian Williamson and Scott Becker.”

 

The 38-year-old resident of Elburn, Illinois, was the 2006 riding champion at Arlington Park and has been a mainstay on the Chicago circuit since 1996.  Arlington Park Communications Department

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