2015 Equine Fatality Rate Down

From 2014 to 2015, the Equine Injury Database reported a 14 percent decrease in fatal injuries occurred in Thoroughbred races. It dropped from 1.89/1,000 starts in 2014 to 1.62/1,000 starts (across all distances, ages, and surfaces) in 2015. That 1.62 number is the lowest equine fatality rate since stats were published by the Equine Injury Database in 2009.

The statistics for the report are based on injuries that led to fatalities within 72 hours of the race’s date. Summary stats could change due to a number of factors such as reporting timelines.

Since the results were made public in 2009, patterns have shown that synthetic surfaces have the lowest fatality rate, then turf, and then dirt. Synthetic surfaces had an equine fatality rate of 1.18/1,000 races; 1.22/1,000 on grass, and 1.78 on dirt. Each course type saw drops from the year before, and the 1.78 number for dirt tracks is the first time it has ever been under 2.00.

“We’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of fatalities and that is certainly very encouraging,” said University of Glasgow veterinarian and epidemiologist Dr. Tim Parkin, who performed the fatality rate analysis. “We will continue to examine data and look for trends, but the wide-ranging safety initiatives embraced by tracks, horsemen, and regulators in recent years have very likely played a role in the reduction of injuries and fatalities.”

The lowest rate of catastrophic injuries belongs to two-year-olds, followed by three-year-olds, and then four years and above.

“These improving fatality rates are clear evidence that we can move the needle and that the efforts of so many are truly bearing fruit,” said Dr. Mary Scollay, who is an equine medical director at the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Jockey Martin Garcia Rides 3 Stakes Winners Saturday

Martin Garcia Has Big Saturday Riding 3 Stakes Winners

In May of 2010, Martin Garcia rode the Bob Baffert trainee Lookin at Lucky to victory in the 135th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. This past Saturday, Garcia rode another potential Preakness entry to victory when Cupid claimed the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park.

Garcia followed the Cupid win with a pair of stakes wins at Sunland Park on Sunday. For his efforts and stakes wins, Garcia was honored with the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week award for March 14th – March 20th.

On Saturday at Oaklawn Park, Garcia helped Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert get his sixth victory since 2010 in the Rebel Stakes with Coolmore’s Cupid. Making just his fourth start, Cupid showed a lot of heart and found a late gear as he dueled with Whitmore alongside at the 1/8 pole. Cupid fought off Whitmore to win the 1 1/16 mile Derby prep in 1:43.84. As the second-choice favorite at 5/2, Cupid paid $7.80 to win in the 14-horse field.

“He (Cupid) showed a lot of ability and we know he can run. He really proved today that he is improving. The distance doesn’t matter, he can go as far as he wants.”

Sunland Park was the destination on Sunday where Garcia would once again go wire-to-wire in the $415,000 Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes aboard Collected. After breaking on top Collected won by two widening lengths as the even-money favorite and covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.90 on a fast track. Collected paid $4.20 to win.

“I used a little bit of horse at the start, but once we got the lead he was cruising,” Garcia said. “When I asked him to go, he responded nicely. I think we even saved something for his next race.”

Trainer Justin Evans and Garcia teamed up to win the $100,000 Bill Thomas Memorial Stakes aboard Redneck Humor earlier on the Sunland Park Card. Redneck Humor went off at 5-1 and paid $11.60 to win.

Playing the Pace – Sunday at the Fair Grounds

Winning at the Fair Grounds While Playing the Pace

The 10th race at the Fair Grounds Sunday, March 20 features 11 fillies or mares four years old and up going about 1 mile on the turf. Gusting winds above 20 MPH are in the forecast later in the day, and we’re playing the pace looking at a longshot speed horse with a pure pace play setup.

Pace is the rate at which a horse race is run. ‘Pace makes the Race’ is a common saying and can be separated into two parts: early pace and late pace. In route races of one mile or longer, early pace can be defined as the first three quarters of a mile.

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN (30-1) has yet to hit the board in three starts this year, but she’s worth a look at longer odds. She’s finished in the money six times in 13 starts with three wins. She closed 2015 with an allowance win at this track, and stretches back out following a six furlong race here February 28 in which she never fired from the outside and was wide throughout. Her form may not look to good to many, but the January 28 race in which she broke from the 11 post and was on the lead through ¾ mile before fading on the dirt suggests she may be fine and likely stronger against similar now on the turf. The race prior on January 18 was against stronger also going a mile on the dirt and she was just one length off the lead at the ¾ pole before also fading.

Twice this year the connections have tried to get her on the turf but the races were washed off. Lookout Mountain showed the strong gate speed from a wide post in her recent turf race before fading in a speed duel. Track speed is king in turf routes favoring early running style. Lookout Mountain is the fastest horse in this field and breaks from the rail with blinkers added. A potential to stay on the lead exists with proper pace, and bettors need to be on the Lookout and at least include her in exotics with a chance to steal this on the front end at long odds.

Mohaymen Preps for Florida Derby With Latest Work

We’re two weeks away from the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (gr. I), and witnessing an epic showdown between Mohaymen and the undefeated Nyquist.

In a training session held earlier today, Mohaymen showed why he’s considered the top East Coast three-year-old Triple Crown prospect. In a five-furlong work at the Palm Meadows’ main track, Mohaymen destroyed the course in a time of 1:01.

His splits were timed at: :13 2/5, :25 1/5, and :36 3/5. He went an extra furlong, going six furlongs deep in a time of 1:15.

“He went great; just what the boss asked for. It was perfect,” said exercise rider Miguel Jaime. “We’re just getting ready. He feels great, like a Ferrari, you know? We’re doing good so far, looking forward to the Florida Derby.”

Jaime has been Mohaymen’s regular exercise rider since the multiple grade II winner out of Shadwell Stable relocated to South Florida in the beginning of last December. It was the second work put in by Mohaymen since winning the Xpressbet.com Fount of Youth (gr. II) last month.

“It’s a pleasure to be on a horse like that,” said Jaime. “He’s getting better every day, every race. He’s getting stronger, bigger. We haven’t seen him really run yet. We expect him to run a big race. He hasn’t shown everything. We’re in a good spot right now. Today, everything went good.”

Mohaymen has one last scheduled work on March 25th prior to the Florida Derby.


Fellowship Pointed Towards Florida Derby

The Florida Derby will be headlined by the two favorites to win the Kentucky Derby, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be the only two horses involved. Fellowship will continue to seek his first stakes victory and is going up against the best in the business in an effort to accomplish this feat. He’ll probably have to wait for that first win even longer than April 2nd.

Currently, the Jacks or Better Farms product is a serious longshot to win the first leg of the Triple Crown and does not have futures odds just yet.

Ever since winning his maiden back in May of 2015, Fellowship has been groomed for the derby trail on the east coast. He has raced almost exclusively at Gulfstream Park and Gulfstream Park West. Trained by Stanley Gold, the son of Awesome of Course and Go Girlfriend Go will try for another run on familiar grounds.

At the very least, he’s a strong consideration to at least show for those that like building boxes.

In his career, Fellowship is 1-3-2 in seven races. His 2016 season began with a 5th place finish at the Mucho Macho Man Stakes (won by Awesome Speed), but he rallied to place third at the Holy Bull Stakes and the Fountain of Youth Stakes. Both of those challenges were dominated by Mohaymen.

“He’s going to go in the Florida Derby for sure,” Gold mentioned when inquired about his horse. “He’s training good. We’ve got time for another work or two if we want. I’m looking forward to the race. The extra sixteenth of a mile is going to help him.”

Fellowship is a known closer, who showed some great speed down the stretch at the Holy Bull this year. It wasn’t the elite type that Mohaymen is known for, but he did not shy away from the challenge one bit. He will be contending square on against Zulu for third place at the Florida Derby and is worthy of a look as he gets ignored by the handicappers like he was at the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Pimlico Meet Totals $3.7 Million

The Maryland Jockey Club announced this week that they will offer $3.7 million stakes races at the month-long Pimlico Meet highlighted by the Preakness Stakes. The second leg of the Triple Crown accounts for $1.5 million of the offered purse money. Other big money races include the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan and the $300,000 Pimlico Special.

“We’re very excited about the Pimlico meet this year,” said Sal Sinatra, the president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “The racing during Preakness week at Pimlico promises to once again be highlighted by champions and Hall of Fame horsemen, and the energy that comes from the more than 300,000 people who visit our facility that weekend is incredible.

“We’re honored to partner with so many great companies and individuals in Baltimore, the state of Maryland, and surrounding areas to showcase Thoroughbred racing at Pimlico this spring, and we believe fans will be happy with the improvements to the facility we have made.”

The news about the Pimlico Meet is a welcome sight for the MJC, since most of the news surrounding the track itself has been negative. Officials have been attempting to update the facilities to meet modern standards for years. Over the past two runnings of the Preakness Stakes and the Preakness Meet, there have been well substantiated rumblings that the Triple Crown race could move to Laurel Park. It didn’t help that there were facility malfunctions at the Preakness last year, which came in the form of a busted water main.

Fortunately there is little to worry about with the track. A new LED screen measuring 21×32 feet has been erected in the infield and the Maryland Stadium Authority continues to conduct an assessment and investigation on what it will take to improve Pimlico Race Course. The state, horse racing officials in Maryland and the sport itself are adamant about maintaining a healthy tradition at the famed Maryland track. The Pimlico Meet in 2016 will continue just that.


Recalling the Preakness Win by Rachel Alexandra

The Sensational Filly Rachel Alexandra Won the 2009 Preakness Stakes

Last week one of the leading ladies of racing Rachel Alexandra was selected as one of the four Thoroughbred finalists for the 2016 Hall of Fame. The fantastic filly was named Horse of the Year and champion 3-year old filly in 2009. After dominating the Kentucky Oaks by 19 lengths, Rachel Alexandra prepared to battle the boys at the Preakness Stakes.

She did more than that going wire-to-wire for a most impressive beating of the boys while holding off Kentucky Derby champion Mine that Bird, who was roaring down the lane late.

Rachel Alexandra had one of the most impressive campaigns in history for a 3-year-old, beating males three times, including an historic victory at the Preakness. She also beat the boys in the Haskell Invitational and Woodward Stakes.

Rachel Alexandra went on to win 13 races in 19 starts with five second place finishes. Her earnings exceeded $3,500,000.

Rachel Alexandra and the other Hall of Fame finalists were selected by the Hall of Fame’s 16-member nominating committee from a total of 82 initial candidates. The results of the voting on contemporary candidates will be announced Monday, Apr. 25 and the induction ceremony will take place at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Friday, Aug. 12 at 10:30 a.m.

Louisiana Breeders Champions Announced

The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association announced their Louisiana-bred divisional champions of 2015. They also announced the broodmare of the year, stallion of the year, and breeders of the year.

The awards will be formally announced at their annual meeting to be held on June 11th at the Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino.

Below is a full list of the Divisional Louisiana Champions and winners of the other awards:

Two-year-old filly: Jet Black Magic (by Hold Me Back/Owner: Carl Moore Management)
Two-year-old male: Sea Vow (by Private Vow/Owner/breeder: Ronald Webb)
Three-year-old filly: Pacific Pink (by Private Vow/Owner:Keith Plaisance)
Three-year-old male: Mobile Bay (by Lone Star Special/Owner/breeder: Brandon Adcock)
Four-year-old and up female: Tensas Harbor (by Private Vow/Owner: Cantrell Family Partnership)
Four-year-old and up male: String King (by Crowned King/Owner/breeder: Charles Craig Smith)
Broodmare of the year: Truly Romantic
Breeders of the year: Irwin Olian (Tigertail Ranch)
High percentage breeder: Stacey Moak
Stallion of the year: Half Ours

The broodmare and accredited Louisiana-bred champions are determined by a vote that consists of the membership. Leading breeders and leading stallion awards are determined by statistics.

Danzing Candy presses in KDFW Pool 3

KDFW Pool 3 Closes With Four Contenders

When we began this long trail towards the Kentucky Derby, there was one horse to beat and one only. That honor belonged to Nyquist. Then Mohaymen started to pick up steam, followed shortly by Mor Spirit. A three-horse competition began between the top horses and everyone else seemed like canon fodder. The KDFW Pool 3 opened on Friday, but it was Saturday that saw a huge surprise.

Danzing Candy has joined the fray as a surging outside shot in derby futures, but still has a long way to go to prove he can hang with the big boys.

Mohaymen essentially stayed out in front as the derby favourite with 7/2 odds to win. He collected $36,370.85 over the weekend in additional handle. It was by far the most of any entrant in the KDFW Pool 3, exceeding the combined total of the second and third favourites.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Nyquist stayed at 7/1 odds. There seems to be a growing sentiment that the former favourite for the Kentucky Derby is no longer the best bet. Aside from limiting his competition this year to a 7-furlong sprint at the San Vicente Stakes, I’d imagine that the allure of Nyquist’s sheer talent would have driven bettors towards his tempting odds in the KDFW Pool 3.  That wasn’t exactly the case, although $21,211.39 in action came his way.

Nyquist and Mohaymen are both declared for the Florida Derby on April 2nd, in a showdown of the top-two horses on the east coast. It’s obvious that horse players are placing a clear preference on Mohaymen, but Nyquist could be a real steal from a value perspective here. If he wins the Florida Derby decisively – and there’s nothing to indicate that he can’t – then those that backed him heavily at 7/1 will be laughing down the trail to Churchill Downs.

But let’s get back to that fourth horse, shall we?

The conversation out west got way more interesting over the weekend thanks to the results of the San Felipe Stakes. Mor Spirit was justifiably touted as a talented enough horse to give the top two derby contenders a run for their money. But a lazy push out of the gates over the weekend saw Mor Spirit lose out to Danzing Candy. Even then, Mor Spirit’s odds in KDFW Pool 3 remained the same as they did in the last round. He stands as a 12/1 outside shot.

Danzing Candy and Mor Spirit will battle again at the Santa Anita Derby on April 9th in one of the most intriguing rematches available. It wasn’t just that Danzing Candy won the San Felipe Stakes, it’s how he did it. The front running horse shot out of the gates like a bullet and increased his speed as the race went on. It was a phenomenal display. Mor Spirit definitely began to close the gap down the stretch, and ran a poor race overall. A late rush of money came in on Daning Candy as the KDFW Pool 3 window closed. His 28/1 odds shrank to 17/1 and $10,030.26 came in to back him.

The fourth and final window of futures betting for the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager will open April 1st and close April 3rd.

Safety Alliance Reaccredited Santa Anita

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance reaccredited Santa Anita Park earlier today.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance requires tracks to apply every two years for reaccreditation. Santa Anita was first accredited in 2009.

The Arcadia, California track began it’s exhaustive reaccreditation process by filling out a lengthy written application, which was then followed by meetings with National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance officials. That led to an on-site inspection of racing operations at Santa Anita, and interviews with racetrack personnel, stewards, veterinarians, owners, jockeys, track executives, and regulators.

In charge of the inspection was security expert James Cain, racetrack operations consultant Jim Gates, former California Horse Racing Board equine medical director Dr. Ron Jensen, security and integrity consultant Mike Kilpack, and National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance Executive Director Steve Koch.

Alliance certification is important, as it addresses a number of integrity and safety concerns such as: aftercare/transition of retired racehorses, injury reporting, injury prevention, creating a safe racing environment, uniform medication, safety research, wagering security, and testing.

“Santa Anita and California racing have long been key supporters of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance,” said Koch. “We annually observe numerous industry best practices in the areas of safety and integrity at Santa Anita. And, the industry subsequently gains when we can share these solutions at racetracks across the continent. North America benefits tremendously from Santa Anita’s contributions to racing safety and integrity.”

With Santa Anita scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in November the reaccreditation came at a good time.