From changes in Derby prep races to an exciting announcement from the NYRA, here's the latest in horse racing news this week.
NYRA Unveils Turf Triple Crown Series
This week's news kicks off with an exciting announcement from the New York Racing Association. They have announced today that due to the positive response of the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T) and Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T), they will take it to the next step and offer a pair of Turf Triple Crown races. One race will be for three-year-old males and one for sophomore fillies. The new races will join the Belmont Derby and the Belmont Oaks to create the "Turf Trinity" and the "Turf Tiara."
The Turf Trinity will feature three $1 million races at the same distances as the dirt Triple Crown. These will include the $1 million Belmont Derby at 1 1/4 mile July 6th at Belmont Park, the $1 million and 1 3/16th miles Saratoga Derby on August 4th and will conclude with the 1 1/2 mile $1 million Jockey Club Derby at Belmont Park on September 7th. The Triple Tiara will feature three races valued at $2,250,000 in purse money and will shadow the colt division.
With these new races, the purses of the Belmont Derby and the Belmont Oaks will be reduced. These new races will not be eligible for graded stakes until their third year, the Jockey Club Derby is still expected to be a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Turf.
The NYRA has also arranged for the new series to be covered on national television. The Jockey Club Derby and Oaks and the Belmont Derby and Oaks will air on NBC. The Saratoga Oaks will be on FOX Sports 2 and the Saratoga Derby will be aired on FOX Sports 1.
Baffert Reroutes Trainee for Derby Prep Races
Bob Baffert confirmed Tuesday that KINGLY will not ship to Louisiana for the Risen Star Stakes. Instead, he will send the colt to the $100,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. The winner of the El Camino Real will not only earn points for the Road to the Derby, but will also receive a fees-paid berth to the Preakness Stakes. Kingly has raced twice, winning his maiden at Del Mar before racing at Santa Anita in an allowance optional claiming race on January 31st.
Baffert has also scratched CHASING YESTERDAY from the Fair Grounds' Rachel Alexandra (G2), which is a Kentucky Oaks prep race.
Battle of Midway and Yoshida Definite for Dubai World Cup
President, CEO and Racing Manager Elliott Walden confirmed that BATTLE OF MIDWAY and YOSHIDA are definite in the Dubai World Cup. AUDIBLE still has not been confirmed.
Other American horses that are probable for the race include SEEKING THE SOUL, GUNNEVERA, BRAVAZO and DABSTER. GRONKOWSKI and AXELROD may also be training for Dubai.
KNICKS GO Named Maryland Horse of the Year
KNICKS GO was recognized with top honors as the Maryland-bred Horse of the Year and champion 2-year-old male at the second annual Renaissance Awards. Owned by KRA Stud Farm and trained Ben Colebrook, he is the richest Maryland-bred runner of 2018.
Other champions recognized at the event included:
Champion 2-year-old filly - BRUCIA LA TERRA
Champion 3-year-old male and Champion Sprinter - STILL HAVING FUN
Champion 3-year-old Filly - BLAMED
Champion Older Male - LAKI
Champion Older Female and Champion Turf Runner - I'M BETTY
Champion Steeplechaser - DAWN WALL
Golden Gate Fields Growing Purses Despite Lack of Alternative Revenue
Many tracks across the country have been able to expand their revenue growth by adding casinos and additional gaming opportunities. This hasn't been the case for Golden Gate Fields or Arlington International Racecourse. While Arlington received additional funding from the state legislature, Golden Gate Fields has not had that luxury. The track, located near San Francisco, has been working on steadily carving out its niche in the simulcast market, allowing it to grow its out of state handle by 37% and its overall handle by 16.8%. The higher handle has allowed the track to increase its purses by 7.9% equivalent to $152,590. Due to the higher purses, the track has enjoyed an improved field size which increased to an average 6.93 starters per day from 6.74 in 2017. The larger fields have also increased betting interest.
Golden Gate has also used the timing of races to their advantage. By scheduling their races based on others in the simulcast market, they have been able to keep races to fields of six more. The scheduling experiments have included starting races earlier in the day to take advantage of East Coast bettors as well as scheduling their larger field races in the middle of the card. The purses were also improved after the stabling area at Pleasanton was shut down. The fair track had been used as additional stabling for Golden Gate, but changed into more of a training facility over the years, which meant fewer horses were being stabled there to race and cost the track nearly $8,000 per day to keep open. Those funds have now been redistributed to the track purses.