After last weekend's Arkansas Derby, the countdown to the Derby has begun! Here's a look at the top headlines this week.
Breaking Today: US Tracks Look to Eliminate Lasix
After the multiple breakdowns at Santa Anita since December and the controversial letter sent out to the industry by Belinda Stronach of The Stronach Group, Lasix has been a hot topic over the past couple of months.
This morning, a coalition of tracks including Churchill Downs Incorporated, New York Racing Association, The Stronach Group, Del Mar, Keeneland, Lone Star Park, Remington Park, Los Alamitos, Oaklawn and Tampa Bay Downs, has announced a new initiative to phase out Lasix beginning in 2020. The goal is to eliminate the use of Lasix in stakes races at these tracks by 2021. Together, these tracks and organizations represent 86% of stakes races in the country, which will also include the Triple Crown.
In addition to these tracks, other associations have joined the coalition including the Breeders' Cup, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and the American Graded Stakes Committee of the TOBA. The goal is to put the United States on the same standards as the international racing community.
In all twenty racetracks are committed to ending race-day Lasix in stakes races across the country.
Mike Smith Picks Omaha Beach
Given the option to ride OMAHA BEACH or ROADSTER in the Kentucky Derby, Smith chose OMAHA. Smith stated that part of his decision was based on the fact that OMAHA BEACH beat both GAME WINNER and IMPROBABLE.
Churchill Downs to Offer $2 Pick 6 on Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Day
Approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on April 16th, Churchill Downs will offer a $2 Pick 6 wager on the six grade 1 stakes races taking place on Kentucky Oaks and Derby Day.
The Pick 6 wager will include two races on Oaks Day (May 3rd): The La Troienne Stakes and the Longines Kentucky Oaks. The four races on Derby Day include the Churchill Downs Stakes, Humana Distaff, Old Forester Turf Classic and the Kentucky Derby. There will be a mandatory payout. The minimum is $2.
A 20-cent minimum Single 6 wager will be paid only if there is a single winner. This will begin at the start of the meet and continue throughout the meet's final day of racing with a forced payout. This new approach ends the previous option to transfer carry-over from the $2 Pick 6 wager offered during Derby week to a Single Six Jackpot pool.
Indiana Grand Runs First Races on New Dirt Track
Indiana Grand hosted the first day of their seven-month meet with 10 accident-free races on their new dirt track. After being acquired by Caesars Entertainment in 2018, the track invested $700,000 in replacing their one-mile dirt track and base. Construction of the new track started the day that racing ended in 2018.
Based on the first day of racing, the track clearly favored speed horses. Every winning Thoroughbred won with a furlong to go. Only three horses that won were not in front of the three-eighths pole and none of those horses were more than four and a half lengths off the lead at a time.
Monarch of Egypt is American Pharoah's First Winner
Making is debut April 13th at Naas, MONARCH OF EGYPT shows there's a turf side to the sire's progeny when he made his winning debut in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race. MONARCH OF EGYPT is trained by Aidan O'Brien for White Birch Farm and Coolmore partners. He was purchased at the Keeneland Septemeber Sale for $750,000 and bred in Kentucky by Ran Jan Racing.
On April 17th at Aqueduct, AMERICAN PHAROAH's daughter TESORINA debuted in a 4 1/2 furlong maiden race. She cruised with a clear lead, but the in the final furlong she slowed and could not hold off her contenders and finished third.
Maximus Mischief Retired
After being withdrawn from the Fountain of Youth Stakes after sustaining an injury during a four-furlong work, the decision was made to retire the three-year-old. The soft tissue injury would require six to nine months to heal, which require the colt to go back into training with no promise that he'd come back to racing at the same level. His future is not clear, although there has been some interest from Kentucky farms as a breeding prospect.