Keeping Pace

Staff writer Frank Angst examines racing, handicapping, and other mysteries.

Historical Gains in Kentucky

Kentucky purses continue to benefit from the success of historical racing, which registered another strong year. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission this week released final fiscal year 2017 handle reports for the gaming, which continues to thrive as gross commission improved 41% to more than $71.61 million. That increased handle for the machines generated more than $5.87 million for the Kentucky... Read More

Recent Hialeah Park Meet Sends Wrong Chills

In recent years I have been fortunate to make three trips to the winter Quarter Horse meet at Hialeah Park, where even though the breed changed, the walls-adorned with famous silks and photos of famous people-still told stories. And those walls echoed with new stories, specifically cheers of young fans enthusiastically encouraging horses, even sprinting with horses through the stretch. Hialeah president... Read More

NYRA Bets Pick 5: Smaller Pool, Bigger Value

It didn't take long for value-conscious horseplayers to see the benefits of the NYRA Bets Pick 5 rolled out July 4 for players at the advance-deposit wagering site, as well as on-track and in-state players. The winning 50-cent payout was $8,181.75. A look at the comparable win-bet parlay return for the five races involved--$1,620--reveals the potential value in this exclusive, low-takeout wager. The... Read More

Arrogate Powering Baffert, Smith to Earnings Heights

Earning back-to-back Horse of the Year titles in 2007-08, Curlin won 11 of 16 starts to become the first North American-based horse to surpass $10 million in earnings. Juddmonte Farm's Arrogate has blown by that total in two starts this season: victories in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) at Gulfstream Park and the $10 million Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline... Read More

NTRA Staying Busy in Washington

While the Triple Crown races are approaching beginning with the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) in Louisville, Ky., the National Thoroughbred Racing Association continues a busy stretch in Washington putting the industry's message forward on immigration and tax issues. The political mood on immigration issues may be too steep a challenge for horse racing and other industries that want... Read More

Every Picture Tells a Story, or Two

Horsemen talk about the ups and downs of racing; those hills and valleys can occur in the same season, same day, or even the same race. The latter occurred in the 1945 Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park when trainer Tom Smith—of Seabiscuit fame—sent out Maine Chance Farm's eventual champion 2-year-old male Star Pilot and eventual champion 2-year-old filly Beaugay. Star Pilot would register a one-length... Read More

Tapwrit Would Give Sire Tapit Shot at Belmont History

Should the connections of Tapwrit decide to enter the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner in this year's Belmont Stakes (G1), it would provide his sire, Tapit , a shot at history. Tapit, of course, has piled up accolades while leading the North American sire list each of the past three seasons. A Belmont Stakes victory by Tapwrit, or any other starter by the sire in the 1 1/2-mile classic, would... Read More

Examining Top Derby Prep Days for Possible Track Bias

A look at recent Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) dirt prep races in the United States could determine if any potential bias toward a particular running style on the main track existed on particular race days. One less thing for handicappers to worry about? Note that all tracks for race days involved were listed as fast. Sunland Derby (G3), March 26 at Sunland Park Of the six races contested... Read More

Pletcher Ready for Another Kentucky Derby Run

Considering Todd Pletcher will have one of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) favorites in Florida Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming and several other promising starters in this year's Louisville classic, it's even money the most-repeated Derby-week stat will be the multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer's 1-for-45 mark in the Louisville classic. Pletcher currently has five horses ranked... Read More

Show Time at Oaklawn Park

In a move designed to build the confidence of new horseplayers while emphasizing that racing offers a different form of gambling from random gaming like the lottery, Oaklawn Park is paying more money for winning on-track show wagers this year.... Read More

Thunder Snow and Godolphin's Kentucky Derby Starters

While trainer Saeed bin Suroor did not commit to pointing the UAE Derby Sponsored by the Saeed and Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2) winner Thunder Snow to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), Godolphin's Dubai-based trainer said the Louisville classic will get a long look when he meets with Sheikh Mohammed. Should Thunder Snow start in the Kentucky Derby, he would be the 10th Godolphin... Read More

Too Many Holes in Racing's Rule Net

Trainer Jamie Ness began serving a 100-day suspension Feb. 19 as part of a consent order to address a dozen clenbuterol positives in horses racing from December 2012 to March 2014 at Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park. Three days after the start of that suspension, Ness's wife, Mandy, sent out Uncle Woodrow to victory in a Tampa Bay claiming race that carried a $12,700 purse. Uncle Woodrow had made... Read More

The Road: Planning, Adjustments Work Well for Girvin

Risen Star Stakes (G2) winner Girvin has put together past performances that hint at the combination of careful planning and needed adjustments required in Thoroughbred training. The large son of Tale of Ekati was given time to develop by trainer Joe Sharp before he was sent out for his career debut in December. After going back and forth on starting Brad Grady's runner at one or two turns, Sharp settled... Read More

Changing Business Model Impacts California Racing

In fiscal year 2016, money wagered on California race cards was similar to the wagering total in FY2011, but compared with FY2011 California racetracks collected nearly $8 million less from the nearly identical betting total. The California Horse Racing Board's annual report released earlier this month documents the challenge racing faces as the percentage of pari-mutuel money generated for tracks... Read More

Looking at Where California Wagering Revenues Go

Sometimes it's worthwhile to just look at all the places the pari-mutuel dollar goes in racing. With that in mind, I've returned to the well-done California Horse Racing Board annual report for fiscal year 2015-16, which breaks down where every pari-mutuel wagering dollar goes in the state. Of the $2.9 billion wagered on California racing in the fiscal year, $2.3 billion, or 79%, was returned to winning... Read More

Looking East, to Far East, for Classic Starters

One year after Japanese-trained Lani started in all three Triple Crown races and earned a classic placing with a third in the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G1), the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) and Belmont Stakes have rolled out welcome mats for Japan-based 3-year-olds. Churchill Downs, along with the Japan Racing Association, established a Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby... Read More

Solid Ratings for First Pegasus Could Open Revenue Stream

The solid overnight ratings for the first edition of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) could be something to build on for future editions of the event as organizers hope one day television rights provide revenues for the stakeholders. BloodHorse's Lenny Shulman reported Jan. 29 that the 4:30 to 6 p.m. NBC broadcast of the Jan. 28 Pegasus from Gulfstream Park earned a 1.23 overnight rating... Read More

For January Race, Pegasus Field Depth Impressive

As if the attraction of seeing the two best dirt horses in the world—arguably the two best horses in the world—currently in training wasn't enough, the first edition of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) also features depth comparable to last year's Dubai World Cup (G1). The second part of that sentence may come as a surprise to those who have knocked the field behind California Chrome and Arrogate... Read More

Slimmed Down Racing May Be Finding Its Footing

While wagering on U.S. races in 2016 was flat—up less than 1% compared with 2015— bettors continue to support a reduced Thoroughbred racing product. That is to say average handle per U.S. race in 2016 improved 2.3% to $280,408, which is the first time since 2007 that wagering per race has surpassed $280,000. The $280,408 in average wagering per race is up 18.2% from the decade-low $237,135 wagered... Read More

Detailed Report on Horse Health, Management Released

When it comes to keeping track of horses' health information, about one in five breeding farms and boarding/training facilities are using a computerized method to track information. The above detail is just one of the nuggets available in a new report from the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) that examines, for all breeds: horse health; veterinary treatments; and management practices... Read More

Wins Often Followed 2016 Steroid Treatments in California

While it’s a small sample size, horses reported to receive steroid administrations in 2016 in California who have come back to race fared very well in their first starts after those treatments, winning at about three times the normal rate. Looking at the reported anabolic steroid administrations in 2016 in California, 16 times horses have raced after receiving one of those treatments (through Dec.... Read More

One Horse, Two Scandals

Not that the horse had a choice, but Masochistic now holds the dubious distinction of being the center of not one, but two racing scandals. BloodHorse headlines this week documented the recommendation by the California Horse Racing Board Dec. 19 that Santa Anita Park stewards disqualify Masochistic from his runner-up finish in the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 5, following a positive... Read More

NTRA Working in Coalition on H-2B Worker Visa Program

While participation numbers in the H-2B Seasonal Worker Visa program, which the industry relies on for backstretch workers, face an uncertain future with a new president and Congress preparing to take office in January, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association is working with like-minded industries to get the message out about the need for such workers. In a spending bill, Congress did not renew... Read More

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