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Friday, January 15, 2010

NTRA Thoroughbred Notebook

News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications, (914)481-8390.

BREEDERS’ CUP WIN BY ZENYATTA VOTED 2009 NTRA MOMENT OF THE YEAR
The historic victory by the undefeated Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic—the first in the race by a female—has been voted the 2009 National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Moment of the Year. The connections of Zenyatta will be honored at the Eclipse Award ceremony Monday, January 18, in Beverly Hills, Calif., with the "NTRA Moment of the Year" award. This is the second consecutive year that Zenyatta has been honored with a Moment of the Year award. This year’s balloting was conducted at the NTRA Web site, ntra.com, and offered voters 14 different images illustrating a wide range of human emotions as well as outstanding displays of equine athleticism. The images and events that fans chose from, with percentage of votes they received in parentheses, were:

· Zenyatta remains undefeated and becomes first female to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (68%)
· Rachel Alexandra holds off her male elders in the Woodward Stakes (10%)
· Mine That Bird posts stunning, 50-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby (9%)
· Rachel Alexandra turns back the late charge of Mine That Bird in the Preakness (5%)
· Rachel Alexandra runs off with the Kentucky Oaks by more than 20 lengths (2.1%)
· Rachel Alexandra toys with the boys in the Haskell Invitational (2.0%)
· I Want Revenge overcomes a horrific start to capture the Wood Memorial (0.9%)
· Linda Rice becomes the first woman to win the Saratoga training title (0.7%)
· Well Armed blows away the field in the Dubai World Cup (0.6%)
· Presious Passion fires out to a 20-length lead en route to course record win in United Nations (0.5%)
· Summer Bird registers historic triumph in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (0.2%)
· Gio Ponti captures his fourth consecutive Grade I score in the Arlington Million (0.1%)
· Goldikova wins her second straight Breeders’ Cup Mile (0.1%)
· Conduit runs down the stubborn Presious Passion for a repeat score in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (0.1%)

The first-ever “NTRA Moment of the Year” was the touching scene involving Charismatic and jockey Chris Antley following the 1999 Belmont Stakes. The following year’s winner was the stretch run of the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which saw Tiznow hold on for a dramatic victory against Giant’s Causeway. Tiznow won again the following year as fans selected his stirring repeat victory in the Classic over Sakhee. In 2002, fans cited the passing of the last living Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew. In 2003, the popular Kentucky Derby win by Funny Cide was selected. Birdstone’s upset win in the Belmont Stakes over Smarty Jones took down top honors for 2004. In 2005, fans selected Afleet Alex’s spectacular victory in the 2005 Preakness Stakes. Voters in 2006 chose Barbaro’s gallant struggle to recover from his Preakness injury while at the New Bolton Center. The 2007 Moment of the Year was Rags to Riches’ historic victory over Curlin in the Belmont Stakes. Last year, it was Zenyatta’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.

"The NTRA Moment of the Year award is a great way for the fans to play an active role in the Eclipse Awards ceremony," said Keith Chamblin, NTRA senior vice president. “Fans clearly love Zenyatta, and we are delighted to salute her unforgettable Breeders’ Cup Classic victory as the latest NTRA Moment of the Year.”

UNBEATEN CONVEYANCE HEADLINES SAN RAFAEL SATURDAY AS DERBY PREPS BEGIN
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, a winner of three Kentucky Derbys, begins sorting out his rich complement of at least eight Triple Crown candidates when he sends out undefeated Conveyance in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita.

With team leader and Future Book favorite Lookin At Lucky targeted for the March 13 San Felipe, the one-mile San Rafael -- which has spawned six Santa Anita Derby winners over the past two decades -- will begin to sort out the remainder of Baffert’s talented enclave.

Conveyance will be heavily favored among five entrants in the 30th San Rafael. The son of Indian Charlie has won both his starts, the most recent by seven lengths. “He has a lot of speed,” says Baffert, “and looks like one of those horses who go to the lead and dare you to catch them.”

Garrett Gomez, who handles Lookin at Lucky, also has been aboard for both of Conveyance’s wins. Gomez will be reunited with Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable’s grey colt on Saturday as Santa Anita offers two additional graded stakes races besides the San Rafael.

Baffert, who began the week as Santa Anita’s leading trainer after saddling nine winners during the meet’s first 13 days, figures to have a big say in the afternoon’s two other major stakes: the 58th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 San Fernando Stakes for 4-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles and the 59th running of the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs.

Mythical Power is a contender among eight entrants in the San Fernando. By Congaree, who was also conditioned by Baffert, the Kentucky-bred colt showed little behind runaway winner M One Rifle in opening day’s Grade I Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs. But Mythical Power, off since winning the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby by 7 ½ lengths at 1 1/16 miles in May, doubtless needed the elongated sprint race on Dec. 26 that is the first leg of Santa Anita’s Strub Series. The series concludes with the Strub Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 6, following the San Fernando. Mythical Power’s best efforts have come in route races.

Papa Clem, the millionaire who finished fourth behind Mine That Bird in last year’s Kentucky Derby after taking the Arkansas Derby, seems to be rounding back into top form. He may go favored in the San Fernando following his third-place finish in the Malibu. The Gary Stute trainee drilled a half mile in 47 seconds flat Wednesday morning, his fourth consecutive bullet drill since the Malibu.

She’s Funomenal, a daughter of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus who looked brilliant in winning her first two starts, faces a stern test against five other 3-year-old fillies in the Santa Ynez. Her opposition includes a newcomer to Baffert’s barn, New York-bred Franny Freud, a multiple stakes winner in New York and Canada, and Amen Hallelujah, who has run third in a pair of Grade 1 events.

The three stakes races will be spaced out on the nine-race Santa Anita program that commences Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (PT) The San Rafael has been carded as the third race; the Santa Ynez as the fifth, and the San Fernando as the seventh.

CHURCHILL DOWNS, NBC SPORTS PARTNER ON DERBY PREP TV SERIES
Churchill Downs Incorporated and NBC Sports announced this week a partnership to present three broadcasts featuring six Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown prep races this spring leading up to the Kentucky Derby on NBC Sports on Saturday, May 1. The three one-hour broadcasts, two on NBC and one on USA Network, will include the March 27 Louisiana Derby and Lane’s End Stakes (USA Network); the April 3 Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial (NBC); and the April 10 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby (NBC). The announcement was made by Bob Evans, President and CEO, Churchill Downs Incorporated and Ken Schanzer, President, NBC Sports.

The shared vision of Churchill Downs and NBC Sports’ successful ‘Big Event Strategy’ led to the 2009 Kentucky Derby being the most viewed Derby in two decades with a 26 percent increase in viewers since this strategy was launched in 2007. Each of the three, one-hour “Road to the Kentucky Derby” broadcasts will feature the races and handicapping segments in addition to lifestyle elements designed to broaden the audience for these races and to drive viewership of the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown.

“This approach has been effective in bringing new fans to racing, and we hope to see similar success with the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series,” said Evans. “The key difference is that we promote racing to both men and women by focusing on the fan’s entire experience of racing, not just the race itself. This includes food, fashion and celebrity.”

“We value the relationship we have with Churchill Downs immensely,” said Schanzer. “Adding the broadcasts of these important Derby prep races allows us to introduce key storylines that continue to build the broadest possible audience for the Kentucky Derby and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.”

CALDER TO TEAM UP TOMORROW WITH MIAMI RADIO STATION FOR HAITI RELIEF
Calder Casino and Race Course in Miami Gardens, Fla., will join forces with local radio station Power 96 on a 12-hour fundraiser at the racetrack tomorrow to benefit earthquake victims in Haiti. The event will run from 6:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on Friday, with visitors urged to bring water, canned goods, clothing and cash for the people of Haiti. The drive will be headquartered at Calder’s parking lot E, just inside the main entrance at University Drive.

RACING TO HISTORY

Jan. 14, 1932: Jockey Eddie Arcaro rode his first career winner, at Agua Caliente.

Jan. 14, 1953: Pimlico’s Preakness Stakes, originally slated for May 16, was rescheduled to May 23, allowing for a three-week break after the Kentucky Derby (for the first time).

Jan. 14, 1998: Jockey Patricia Cooksey became the second female rider to win 2,000 races when she guided Noble Annie to a five-length victory in the second race at Turfway Park.

Jan. 14, 2003: Citing the devastating effects of mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS), Keeneland announced that it would not conduct its July selected yearling sale this year. It is the first time the auction has been canceled since its inception in 1943.

Jan. 15, 1932: Australian champion Phar Lap arrived in San Francisco. He was shipped by steamship to the U.S., en route to Agua Caliente in Mexico, where he was to make his North American racing debut in the March 20 Agua Caliente Handicap, the continent’s then-richest race.

Jan. 15, 1969: Barbara Jo Rubin was named to ride in a race at Tropical Park. Thirteen male riders subsequently boycotted the race rather than compete against a female, and were fined $100 each.

Jan. 15, 2004: Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze won his ninth consecutive Isaac Murphy Award, given to the rider with the year’s highest winning percentage.

Jan. 17, 2000: The first ever NTRA “Moment of the Year” award went to the post-race scene after the 1999 Belmont Stakes, when jockey Chris Antley held Charismatic’s injured foreleg.

Jan. 19, 1955: Swaps won the San Vicente Stakes, the first race of his 3-year-old campaign, by 3 ½ lengths at Santa Anita Park. He went on to triumph over Nashua in the Kentucky Derby, but was in turn defeated by his rival in a $100,000 match race at Washington Park on Aug. 31, his only loss of that year.

Jan. 20, 1972: Secretariat was shipped from Virginia to Florida to be trained by Lucien Laurin.

Jan. 20, 1979: Odds-on favorite Affirmed, with Steve Cauthen aboard, finished second in the San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita, beaten 2 ¾ lengths by Radar Ahead. It was their fourth consecutive defeat. Cauthen subsequently lost the mount on Affirmed to jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., who rode the horse for the remainder of its 4-year-old season, winning seven victories in as many starts. Affirmed was later voted Horse of the Year for 1979. Cauthen had ridden Affirmed to a Triple Crown sweep the previous year and the pair recorded 11 wins in their 16 races together.

Jan. 21, 2005: Jockey Jorge Chavez earned his 4,000th career win aboard A Rizzi Reuben in the fourth race at Gulfstream Park.

Jan. 22, 2005: Jockey Russell Baze passed Bill Shoemaker to take over second place on the all-time win list when he picked up his 8,834th victory aboard Hollow Memoires in the seventh race at Golden Gate Fields.

Jan. 23, 1994: Pat Day, 40, became the tenth rider in North American racing history to ride 6,000 winners, when he rode Miss Popsnorkle to victory in the first race at Oaklawn Park.

Jan. 24, 1974: Jockey Chris McCarron rode his first race, in which he finished last aboard Most Active, at Bowie Racecourse.

Jan. 26, 1950: Citation’s 16-race win streak came to an end in the La Sorpresa Handicap at Santa Anita. Despite giving 16 pounds to the winner, Miche, Citation, carrying 130 pounds, lost only by a neck.

Jan. 27, 1973: Penny Chenery accepted the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year on behalf of Secretariat, who was also voted champion 2-year-old of 1972.

Jan. 27, 2003: Azeri became the first female since Lady’s Secret in 1986 to receive the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.

WEEKEND STAKES RACES (unrestricted stakes in N.A. worth $75,000 and up)

SATURDAY, JANUARY 16
Santa Ynez Stakes, 3yo fillies, $150,000, Grade 2, 7F, Santa Anita Park
San Fernando Stakes, 4yo, $150,000, Grade 2, 1 1-16M, Santa Anita Park
San Rafael Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, Grade 3, 1M, Santa Anita Park
California Derby, 3yo, $100,000, 1 1-16M, Golden Gate Fields
Dania Beach Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, 1M (T), Gulfstream Park
Marshua’s River Stakes, 4&up (f&m), $100,000, 1 1-16M (T), Gulfstream Park
Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile, 4&up, $75,000, 1M (T), Turf Paradise

SUNDAY, JANUARY 17
El Encino Stakes, 4yo, $150,000, Grade 2, 1 1-16M, Santa Anita Park
Sweetest Chant Stakes, 3yo fillies, $100,000, 1M (T), Gulfstream Park

MONDAY, JANUARY 18
San Marcos Stakes, 4&up, $150,000, Grade 2, 1 1-4M (T), Santa Anita Park
Smarty Jones Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, 1M, Oaklawn Park

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