Waikato Stud has decided not to shuttle exciting young stallion Tivaci (High Chaparral-Breccia, by Fastnet Rock) to Europe for the 2018 breeding season. The Group 1-winner was very well received by Australasian breeders with a top quality 2017 book of more than 140 mares. "After such a successful season that has just gone so quickly, we have decided not to take up the offer of a Northern Hemisphere season at the English National Stud," Waikato Stud principal Mark Chittick said. "This decision was not taken lightly. As you know, this option was not in our original planning, but developed after the initial approach from the English National Stud." Chittick added: "However, he would have been one of four first season sires within their operation so we felt his opportunities may become limited and we were not prepared to risk Tivaci on this venture." Tivaci’s book included Group 1 winner's Daffodil, Costume and I Do. He also covered the dams of Group 1 winners Ambitious Dragon (dual Hong Kong Horse of the Year), Kawi, Shamexpress, Brambles, Thee Auld Floozie and Consensus.
At Trentham in New Zealand, Waikato Stud's Cox Plate winning stallion Savabeel (Zabeel-Savannah Success, by Success Express) celebrated an elite race success when 7YO New Zealand-bred gelding Kawi (Savabeel-Magic Time, by Volksraad) scored a gallant win in the $200,000 Gr1 weight-for-age Gr1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) for 3YO+, defeating Consensus & Sofia Rosa. Kawi advanced his record to 15 wins (including the Gr1 WFA Classic, Gr1 Windsor Park Plate, Gr1 Makfi Challenge Stakes - twice, Gr1 Thorndon Mile, Gr1 Zabeel Classic, Gr3 Taranaki Cup & Listed Anniversary Handicap) and 11 placings (including the Gr1 Windsor Park Plate, Gr1 Easter Handicap & Gr1 Herbie Dyke Stakes) from 37 starts for NZ$1,217,149 in earnings. "He's a very good horse – he sat four wide and that's not how we saw it, but he was tough enough," trainer Allan Sharrock told NZ Racing Desk. "He was travelling on the corner, it was a terrific effort." The Captain Cook was Kawi's seventh Group 1 victory and saw him draw level with champion mare Seachange. Kawi needs just one more top-flight success to equal the feat of former two-time New Zealand Horse of the Year Mufhasa who holds the record of eight domestic Group 1 wins.
Talented Kiwi mare Consensus (Postponed-Kate Cross, by Cape Cross) has two important engagements cover the coming months, reports NZ Racing Desk. The 6YO is on track to defend her Gr1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) title on Boxing Day, and is also heading to Cambridge Stud for a date with one of its star stallions. "She'll definitely be going to the Zabeel and at some stage she is going to be served by Tavistock," trainer Stephen McKee said. Consensus was a bold second behind the highly-regarded Hiflyer when resuming over 1400m at Te Rapa, before failing to handle a Slow 7 track under top weight of 60kg on her return to the Hamilton course on Monday. "The ground was shifting underneath her a bit and she didn't like it, but she's bright and well this morning," McKee said. "She'll run again in the weight-for-age race on Melbourne Cup day at Ellerslie," McKee added, referring to the Gr3 OMF Stakes (2000m). "We'll then give her one more run before the Zabeel."
Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs will be three-handed in Saturday's $100,000 Gr2 Valachi Downs Championship Stakes (2100m) for 3YOs at Ellerslie, reports theinformant.co.nz. The Ruakaka trainers will saddle Queensland Derby-bound Tavidream (Tavistock), Comin'through (Bullbars), as well as Jake The Muss (Postponed), a full-brother to Gr1 winner Consensus. "It's nice to go into a race like that with three very nice chances. We're very happy with all of them," Gibbs said. "Comin'through is already proven at the distance, while the other two are stepping up to it for the first time. Jake The Muss has been finishing his races very well and looks like he's crying out for more ground." Gibbs added: "Tavidream hasn't put a foot wrong in his whole career. We're looking at the Queensland Derby for him, so this race is a good chance to get a run into him over ground before we send him over to Brisbane."
Vinnie Colgan is relishing his opportunity to get back aboard one of his favourite gallopers in the Gr1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa tomorrow, reports NZ Racing Desk. The six-time New Zealand Derby-winning jockey hasn't ridden Volkstok'n'barrell in New Zealand since his back-to-back Group One double of the Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m) at Otaki and New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie last autumn. "I'm happy to be back on the old fella," Colgan said. "He's won some good races and it's worked out well with Matt Cameron happy to stick with Jon Snow for this race." Volkstok'n'barrell is the TAB's $5.50 third favourite behind highly regarded 3YO Savile Row at $3.70 and Gr1 Zabeel Classic winner Consensus at $4.50. "The two three-year-olds [Savile Row and Jon Snow] will be tough to beat and Consensus is racing well but my horse is a good, fit horse and he'll run a strong race," Colgan said. Colgan has ridden Volkstok'n'barrell (Tavistock-Volkster, by Volksraad) on four occasions and that inside knowledge of the horse could prove the difference between winning and defeat on Saturday. "He can get off the bridle from the 600m to the 400 when they quicken but as long as you don't miss that, he'll get to the line strongly. If everything goes right to that point, he'll be dangerous up the straight," he said.
Triple Gr1-winning Kiwi galloper Volkstok'n'barrell will make an appearance, weather permitting, on the final day of the Wellington Cup carnival, reports NZ Racing Desk. Donna Logan has confirmed that the 5YO gelding will be supplemented into the Gr1 Thorndon Mile on Saturday week. "He'll be going to Trentham, but if the weather is shocking then he may go to Counties instead," said Logan, who trains in partnership with Chris Gibbs. "We would rather go down to Wellington with him and the race and the trip away would be the better way toward the Herbie Dyke Stakes." Logan added: "If we go to Counties then he would have to carry 64kg so that's not ideal - he's not a big horse. We'll be keeping a close watch on the weather for him as he needs a good track." At his most recent appearance, Volkstok'n'barrell (Tavistock-Volkster, by Volksraad) was beaten a short neck by Consensus in the Gr1 Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
At Ellerslie in New Zealand over the Xmas break, Westbury Stud stallion Postponed added a Gr1 triumph when 5YO mare Consensus (Postponed-Kate Cross, by Cape Cross) scored by a head for trainers Stephen McKee & Eddie Chippendale on Boxing Day in the NZ$200,000 Gr1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) from 5YO gelding Volkstok'n'barrell (Tavistok-Volkster, by Volksraad) & 7YO gelding Authentic Paddy (Howbaddouwantit-Authentic Cross, by Cape Cross). Consensus took her record to 7 wins (including the Gr3 Softel Luxury Hotel Stakes, Listed NZ Bloodstock Airfreight Stakes) and 9 placings (including the Gr1 New Zealand Stakes, Gr2 Rich Hill Stakes, Gr3 Alison Stakes, Listed Canterbury Stakes & Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes) from 32 starts for NZ$338,550 earnings.
At Ellerslie in New Zealand, Cambridge Stud's dual Gr1-winning stallion Tavistock (Montjeu-Upstage, by Quest For Fame) celebrated an elite success when 4YO gelding Volkstok'n'Barrell (Tavistock-Volkster, by Volksraad) scored by a nose for trainer Donna Logan in the NZ$200,000 Gr1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m) for 3YO+, over 5YO mare Girl Of My Dreams (Gold Centre-O'Noyoudont, by O'Reilly) & 4YO mare Consensus (Postponed-Kate Cross, by Cape Cross). Volkstok'n'Barrel took his record to 8 wins (including the Gr1 WFA Classic, Gr1 Rosehill Guineas, Gr2 Great Northern Guineas & Gr3 Bonecrusher Stakes) and 4 placings (including the Gr1 Australian Derby) from 18 starts for NZ$1,043,840 earnings. Volstok'n'Barrel was a NZ$50,000 purchase by Logan at the 2013 NZB National Yearling Sale. Logan confirmed that Volkstok'n'Barrell was now likely to head to Sydney where he holds entries in the Gr1 Doncaster Mile and Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
At Ellerslie in New Zealand, Cambridge Stud's dual Gr1-winning stallion Tavistock (Montjeu-Upstage, by Quest For Fame) added a Group success when 4YO gelding Hasselhoof (Tavistock-Alpine, by Zabeel) scored by 2.25-lengths for trainers Donna Logan & Chris Gibbs in the NZ$100,000 Gr2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) for 3YO+, over 4YO mare Consensus (Postponed-Kate Cross, by Cape Cross) & 5YO mare Irion (Danroad-Dopff, by Tights). This was the first stakes victory for the prodigiously talented Hasselhoof who extended his unbeaten record to 6 wins from 6 starts for NZ$116,245 earnings. Hasselhoof, who hails from the family of New Zealand Oaks winner and champion Kiwi mare Star Belle, was purchased for just NZ$14,000 by D Logan Racing Stables at the 2014 NZ Bloodstock Select Yearling Sale from the draft of Pencarrow Stud. Co-trainer Donna Logan told NZ Racing Desk that she was unsure what the immediate future holds for the boom son of Tavistock. "He's a ripper, a beauty," she said. "That was his first time in open company and he's coped really well." She added: "We're going to have to go home and have a think about it and see what the handicapper does to him." Logan holds Hasselhoof in such high regard that she has previously stated that she believes he can one day develop into a Melbourne Cup horse.
At Ellerslie in New Zealand, Westbury Stud stallion Postponed added a Group success when 4YO mare Consensus (Postponed-Kate Cross, by Cape Cross) scored by a short head for trainers Stephen McKee & Eddie Chippendale in the NZ$70,000 Gr3 Sofitel Luxury Hotel Stakes (2000m) for 3YO+, over 7YO UK-bred gelding Spoke To Carlo (Halling-Red Shareef, by Marju) & 6YO mare Soriano (Savabeel-Call Me Lily, by Just a Dancer). Consensus took her record to 6 wins (including the Listed NZ Bloodstock Airfreight Stakes) and 4 placings (including the Listed Canterbury Belle Stake) from 20 starts for NZ$153,050 earnings.
As Manhattan Rain approaches the end of his second season with runners, it's enlightening to look at how his now-retired champion sire Encosta De Lago was travelling at the same stage of his career. By July 2002 47% of Encosta De Lago's first 111 runners had won, and four were stakeswinners in Melbourne, Adelaide & Tasmania: Group 3 winners Chong Tong, Gold Lottey & Lashed, and Listed winner Dragila. Another five horses had placed in stakes company among them Delago Brom, fourth in Bel Esprit's 2002 Gr1 Blue Diamond Stakes. Manhattan Rain's statistics are strikingly similar: 46% winners to runners, including four stakeswinners in Melbourne & Adelaide (Group 2 winner Moonovermanhattan and Listed winners Crafty - also Group 2-placed - Manapine & Ondina.) Six other stakes performers include Manhattan Blues, second in the MRC Inglis 2YO Premier (R) LR and fourth in this year's Blue Diamond. It's fair to say that Manhattan Rain is doing well to equal Encosta De Lago's number of stakeswinners with only 71% of the runners his sire fielded in 2000/01 and 2001/02. He has also equalled his sire's tally of first-crop 2YO stakeswinners, with Moonovermanhattan (Gr3 SAJC National Stakes) & Crafty (VRC Taj Rossi Series Final LR) both successful last season. Given that Manhattan Rain was himself a high-class Group 1-winning 2YO, he seems certain to leave his share of precocious horses. The general consensus is that Manhattan Rain's progeny will appreciate a staying trip, an assessment supported by Manapine who looks a potential Cups horse, as well his first-crop Derby and Oaks horses Mooneovermanhattan, Light Up Manhattan and Crafty. Although Manhattan Rain's winners are almost evenly distributed between the sexes at this stage, seven of his 10 stakes performers are colts or geldings. The gender distribution of Encosta De Lago's winners was similarly even 13 years ago, but his early stakes-performed daughters out-numbered his sons, 6 to three. Manhattan Rain shares his sire's Danehill-free status and breeders have reasons to be confident about his affinity with mares by the supersire and his sons. Moonovermanhattan and recent stakes performer Right Or Wrong are both out of Flying Spur mares and the dam of Group 3-placed Manhattan Avenue is by Danzero. More evidence is supplied by Encosta De Lago's record. He's left 15 stakeswinners to Danehill-line mares, and his daughters have produced 14 stakeswinners to Danehill's sons, five of them to Manhattan Rain's celebrated half-brother Redoute's Choice. At his 2015 fee of $16,500 inc. GST Manhattan Rain is an excellent option for Danehill-line mares in particular and, like his sire in 2002, there's plenty of blue sky on the horizon.
Racehorses are getting faster, contrary to a common view that thoroughbred speeds have plateaued, reports Yahoo News. That is the conclusion of scientists at the University of Exeter in England who looked at a dataset of 616,084 British flat races run by 70,388 horses and discovered race-winning speeds have increased significantly since 1850, especially over shorter distances. The study found, for example, that an elite thoroughbred will win by an average of seven-lengths, or 1.18 seconds faster, now over 1200 metres than in 1997. However, the improvement over middle and longer distances was slower, suggesting horses may be reaching a performance limit at this distance range. "There has been a general consensus over the last 30 years that horse speeds appear to be stagnating," said Patrick Sharman, of the university's Centre for Ecology and Conservation. "Our study shows that this is not the case, and by using a much larger dataset than previously analysed, we have revealed that horses have been getting faster." He added: "The historical and current rate of improvement is greatest over sprint distances. The challenge now is to find out whether this pattern of improvement has a genetic basis."
Westbury Stud has announced that Makfi, Reliable Man, Redwood and Swiss Ace will stand at unchanged fees for the 2015 breeding season, reports NZ Racing Desk. Sire of the Gr1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes winner Marky Mark, three-time Gr1 winner Makfi will again be offered at $17,500 + GST. French Derby and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Reliable Man will stand at $15,000 + GST, while fellow Gr1 winners Redwood and Swiss Ace will be available at $10,000 + GST. Postponed, sire of this season's NZB South Island Filly of the Year Consensus, has had his fee reduced from $8,000 to $5,000 + GST, while Red Giant's fee has been cut from $10,000 to also $5000 + GST.
At Riccarton in New Zealand, Waikato Stud's Cox Plate winning stallion Savabeel (Zabeel-Savannah Success, by Success Express) added a black-type success when 3YO filly No Tricks (Savabeel-Mezaire, by Al Akbar) scored by 0.5-length for trainer Jason Bridgman in the NZ$50,000 Listed NZ Bloodstock Warstep Stakes (2000m) for 3YO fillies, over fellow fillies Consensus (Postponed-Kate Cross, by Cape Cross) & Belle Miraaj (Iffraaj-Beach Dance, by Carnegie). This was the first stakes victory for No Tricks who took her record to 2 wins and 4 placings (including the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Airfreight Stakes) from 9 starts for NZ$66,300 earnings. No Tricks was retained to race by her breeder Monovale Farm after being passed in for NZ$65,000 at the 2013 NZ Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale.
At Riccarton Park in Christchurch, Westbury Stud stallion Postponed added a black-type success when the filly Consensus (Postponed-Kate Cross, by Cape Cross) scored by 0.2-lengths for trainer Leo Molloy in the $50,000 Listed NZ Bloodstock Airfreight Stakes (1600m) for 3YO fillies. The victory took Consensus' record to 3 wins & 3 placings (including runner-up in 2014's Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes & Canterbury Stakes) from 15 starts for $84,550 earnings. Overdue for her maiden stakes win, Consensus also contested the Gr1 New Zealand One Thousand Guineas (5th) & Gr1 New Zealand Oaks (8th in her last start).
At Riccarton Park in New Zealand, Baerami Thoroughbreds stallion California Dane (Danehill-Storminwinter, by Seattle Slew) added a black-type success when 3YO filly Platinum Witness (California Dane-Chartreuse, by St. Petersburg) scored by 2.5-lengths for trainer Lisa Latta in the NZ$70,000 Listed Armadillo Stakes (1600m) for 3YOs, over fellow 3YO filly Consensus (Postponed-Kate Cross, by Cape Cross) & 3YO gelding Eye Raced Ninety (Savabeel-Florida, by Pompeii Court). This was the first stakes victory for Platinum Witness who took her record to 1 win and 5 placings (including the Listed Wanganui Guineas) from 8 starts for NZ$60,150 earnings.
Meanwhile, the performance of multiple Gr1 winner Dissident (Sebring-Diana's Secret, by Anabaa) in tomorrow's highly anticipated Gr1 Caulfield Stakes, seen by many pundits as the dress rehearsal for the Gr1 Cox Plate, is set to determine his legitimacy as a genuine contender for this year's Australasian WFA showpiece. Support for Dissident with sportsbet.com.au has been meagre, suggesting there is growing consensus doubting the colt's aptitude to extend his brilliance out to 2000m. Dissident is currently $4.00 favourite for the Caulfield Stakes, just ahead of Sacred Falls ($4.60) and Fawkner ($5.00), all lobbying for favouritism in the top bracket of Cox Plate betting. "This is a mini Cox Plate and it really is Dissident's acid test. He is yet to win at 2000m and punters are avoiding him like the plague. Sacred Falls and Happy Trails are also not popular," sportsbet.com.au's Shaun Anderson revealed. Dissident's Gr1 Makybe Diva Stakes win is below (vision courtesy TVN).
At Riccarton Park in New Zealand, The Oaks Stud's 5-time Gr1-winning & 5-time Gr1-placed stallion Darci Brahma (Danehill-Grand Echezeaux, by Zabeel) added a black-type success when 3YO filly Darci's Dream (Darci Brahma-Sweet Dreams Baby, by Van Nistelrooy) scored by 0.75-length for trainer Jason Bridgman in the NZ$50,000 Listed NZB Canterbury Belle stakes (1200m) for 3YO fillies, over fellow 3YO fillies Consensus (Postponed-Kate Cross, by Cape Cross) & Cryptic (Sakhee's Secret-Oakwood, by Spartacus). This was the first stakes victory for Darci's Dream who took her record to 3 wins and 2 placings from 7 starts for NZ$45,000 earnings. Darci's Dream was a NZ$45,000 purchase for Fortuna Bloodstock at the 2013 NZ Bloodstock Select Yearling Sale from the draft of Phoenix Park.
Gaming and wagering company Tabcorp has reported a 2.6 per cent rise in net profit to $129.9 million, which was tempered by a $19.5 million levy related to its previous operation of poker machines in Victoria, reports smh.com.au. Excluding the effect of the health benefit levy for the management of pokies, which Tabcorp is fighting in the courts, the company's net profit from continuing operations reached $149.4 million in the financial year ended June - in line with an analysts' consensus forecast of $146.8 million, according to Bloomberg. The underlying result represents a 7.4 per cent increase from a year ago. The company reported a 4 per cent fall in revenue to 2.04 billion, which was also in line with expectations. Earnings before interest and tax from continuing operations was flat at $321.7 million, which was just above consensus of $318.7 million. Tabcorp chief executive David Attenborough said the result showed the benefit of "being diversified across four businesses". "The strong performance of our wagering business was driven by excellent growth in fixed odds and digital wagering," he said in a statement. Tabcorp's wagering division, which contributes 77 per cent of revenue and 55 per cent of EBIT, grew slowly, rising 1.1 per cent to $1.6 billion. The shift in customer preference away from Tabcorp's totalisator business to fixed odds continued. Totalisator revenue fell 6.3 per cent to $1.3 billion, while fixed odds revenue rose 37 per cent to $322.9 million.
Tabcorp has survived a soft consumer environment and increasing competition from low-cost, online-only betting companies to marginally grow interim net profit by 2.3 per cent to $74.6 million, reports afr.com. The Melbourne-based gaming and wagering company reported a 1 per cent rise in revenue to $1.0 billion in the six months ended 31 December. Net profit of $74.6 million for the period was marginally below consensus of $75.4 million. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation from continuing operations rose 5.4 per cent to $243.8 million, just under the consensus estimate of $246.5 million. Wagering, Tabcorp's largest division but also most at risk from foreign-owned rivals, showed an overall dip in revenue of 0.7 per cent to $809.2 million. Totalisator revenues were down 5.1 per cent to $680.3 million, underlining a further shift to fixed odds products and to the online only corporate bookmakers. Retail turnover, a measure of total bets placed, fell in both NSW and Victoria where Tabcorp is the exclusive operator of TABs in agencies, pubs and clubs. But digital turnover continued to grow, increasing 15.6 per cent to $1.4 billion. Tabcorp chief executive David Attenborough said fixed odds and digital betting would be a focus of ongoing investment for the company. He said he expected major upcoming sporting events such as the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, as well as Sydney's new autumn carnival 'The Championships', to drive wagering activity. "We are seeing the benefits of our investments in growth initiatives in recent years, which will continue to underpin our market leadership," he said. "In the context of a relatively subdued retail environment, we achieved overall earnings growth, supported by good cost control."
Exciting UK juvenile Kingman will not be seen again until 2014, reports dailymail.co.uk. Trained by John Gosden for Frankel's owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah, undefeated Kingman (by former Chatswood Stud shuttler Invincible Spirit) has won his only two starts which included a recent 2-lengths victory in the Gr3 Solario Stakes at Sandwon. General consensus after the race was that the colt is a genuine Gr1 prospect with bookmakers promoting him to the head of the ante-post market for next year's 2000 Guineas. It is believed that Kingman "suffered a setback", leading to the decision to delay his return to racing.
Shocked UK jockey Martin Dwyer will head to India next Monday to appeal against a two month disqualification imposed in India by stewards last week for allegedly not allowing his mount Ice Age to win a race in February, reports guardian.co.uk. Roundly supported by industry colleagues in the UK since the ban, the general consensus "is that Ice Age's waywardness, obvious in online footage of the race, was solely to blame for her defeat". Set to fly to Mumbai after the Easter break, Dwyer commented: "Nobody believes I've done it… Somebody told me, they've never seen a case where a jockey's been found guilty of not letting a horse run on its merits and had so much support. I'd like to think I've got a good, clean record and people know me for what I am… I'm trying to be as confident as I can and hopefully I'll get a different outcome."
In the US, the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) adopted a new drug standard on Monday that seeks to close a potential loophole in rules that cover the administration of therapeutic medications to horses, reports drf.com. The new standard, called "Restricted Administration Times," would replace a set of recommendations called "Withdrawal Times." Withdrawal times are issued for medications that are allowed to be used therapeutically in horseracing, and they take the form of recommendations that guide horse people and veterinarians as to when it is improper to administer a drug. Currently it is possible for a horse person to administer the drug within the withdrawal window and still avoid a positive test by, for example, giving a smaller-than-recommended dose of the drug, a potential loophole. Without a positive test, it is difficult for regulators to levy a penalty. Under the new standard, horse people could be penalized for administering the drug within the window, if, for example, vet records or eyewitness accounts prove that the drug was administered in violation of the restricted administration time. The standards provide part of a new rule set that will be forwarded to individual jurisdictions in an effort to gain consensus on drug regulations across the nation.
A recent "invitation only" meeting attended by scientists and representatives of the Thoroughbred Owners California (TOC) "to discuss exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging [EIPH]" has found in favour of using the anti-bleeding drug furosemide (also called Salix or Lasix), and have called for it not to be banned, reports bloodhorse.com. With California set to host the Breeders' Cup meeting later in the year "at which race-day Salix is scheduled to be banned in all races", the results of the independent meeting create a potentially divisive scenario. The "consensus statement" concluded: "Exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage is a consequence of the high pulmonary vascular pressures achieved by elite athlete horses during strenuous exercise… EIPH has a detrimental effect on performance in Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds. The only treatment that has been shown to prevent the occurrence and decrease severity of EIPH in Thoroughbred racehorses is furosemide. The result of furosemide administration is a decrease in pulmonary vascular pressures… On average, horses administered furosemide have better performance. This could be attributable to the reduction in EIPH or to other factors. Horses administered furosemide on a routine basis have not been recognized to experience detrimental effects." Meanwhile the Breeders' Cup "has given no public indication it plans to reverse its planned policy." Watch this space.
Meanwhile in the US, there is growing confidence among national regulatory officials that the 38 thoroughbred racing states "will soon adopt a set of uniform rules governing the use of a limited suite of therapeutic medications", reports drf.com. Although a united front regarding principally therapeutic medications has remained stubbornly opposed over the past 50 years, it appears that "momentum has been building for adoption of the regulations because of a confluence of factors, including the completion of scientific studies establishing threshold levels for therapeutic medications, a concerted effort to gain consensus, and a drumbeat of highly unfavorable news coverage of the sport's medication policies and treatment of its horses." Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International commented: "There's nothing holding this back… This effort has a head of steam behind it."
Ireland's Goffs Orby Sale (October 3-4) will have less yearlings to choose from in 2012 after a significant drop in numbers from 2011. This year's sale will include 400 Irish-bred yearlings versus last year's 675-strong catalogue. The 40% cut is reported to be aimed at improving quality over quantity. According to bloodhorse.com, Goffs chief executive Henry Beeby said, "Following last year's renewal we took a long look at our Orby Sale, which has resulted in a different approach this year. The consensus was that, as Ireland's premier yearling sale, the Orby should represent all that is best about Irish bloodstock, and we made the decision to cut numbers and offer a concise handpicked selection of yearlings over two days, thereby ensuring a consistently high standard from start to finish." Beeby is confident from personal inspections that breeders have met the brief, noting: "I can vouch that this is one of the best [catalogues] in terms of pedigree and individuals that we have produced."
Deceased Gr1-winning & multiple Gr1-placed 8YO freshman stallion & 2007 Cartier Champion European Sprinter Red Clubs (Red Ransom-Two Clubs, by First Trump) recorded his 26th 1st-crop winner when Irish-bred 2YO colt Al's Memory (Red Clubs-Consensus, by Common Grounds) scored over 6 furlongs at Haydock Park in England for trainer David Evans. Al's Memory was a €5,000 (A$6,700) weanling at Ireland's 2009 Goffs November Sale.
In the US, the Association Of Racing Commissioners International announced its Drug Testing Standards & Practices Committee will meet next Tuesday (July 26) “to hear opinions & testimony on use of race-day medication in racehorses”. The hearing “is designed to offer regulators a chance to ask questions they couldn’t broach” during last month’s landmark international race-day drug summit. RCI president Ed Martin commented: “Although the summit was helpful, there was limited opportunity for regulators to ask questions of the participants. It was the consensus of those present that a follow-up meeting was necessary. The central question for regulators is the extent to which the removal of this medication on those days a horse actually races would pose any significant equine health risk.” The committee will hear from Dr Tom David (chairman of the RCI Regulatory Veterinarian Committee); Dr Scott Palmer (who chairs the American Association Of Equine Practitioners Racing Committee); Dr Edward Robinson (from the Center For Integrative Toxicology at the Veterinary Medical Center at Michigan State University); & others. In addition, both the US Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association “have been invited to appear in person” before the committee, while “it is anticipated other groups will be invited to submit written position papers following the July 26 meeting”.
Dr. Scott Palmer, racing committee chairman for the American Association Of Equine Practitioners, told the medication conference: “The summit represents a new beginning & a new opportunity to begin a journey. I sensed a spirit of consensus that our problems are real & medication is one of them. We have the opportunity to use this summit as a springboard to develop actions to address these issues.” The AAEP organised the summit in cooperation with the US National Thoroughbred Racing Association & the US Racing Medication And Testing Consortium “to educate industry leaders here & abroad about the use of the anti-bleeder medication furosemide (known by the brand name Salix) in the US”, which is “the only racing jurisdiction in the world that allows its race-day use”. The next step will be a “follow-up meeting in July of the RMTC board, which will take over the lead in the debate & analysis of race-day medication use because it is a consortium of 25 racing industry stakeholders”. The RMTC’s mission “is to develop & promote uniform medication rules, policies & testing standards”. To read the full report, click on the 2nd top link in The Great Debate panel on the right-hand-side of this page.
The largest horsemen's groups in the US announced they "don't support a call by the Association Of Racing Commissioners International for a 5-year phase-out of race-day medication, which currently consists of anti-bleeding drugs" reported bloodhorse.com. The National Horsemen's Benevolent & Protection Association board of directors confirmed it opposes the proposal "as currently written." The organisation (which has 30 affiliates in North America) has called for a summit meeting during its summer convention (July 21-24 in Seattle) to address "key questions we feel have not been sufficiently addressed." The statement follows a declaration by Alan Foreman, chief executive of the US Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (which has member groups in 5 racing states" expressing "skepticism over the call by the out-going & in-coming RCI chairmen"; Foreman emphasised such policy "should be set by the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium, which seeks consensus among industry stakeholders in setting medication policy". The NHBPA announcement noted: "As the national representative of the largest number of horsemen who would be directly impacted by what the RCI proposes, the NHBPA takes issue with RCI's strategy of pushing a proposal with such far-reaching implications without initially conferring with any of the major representative horsemen's groups, including the NHBPA." The NHBPA also warned that if the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors "calls a vote on the RCI proposal at its meeting April 18, it will vote against taking action". The NHBPA said discussion must focus on "unintended consequences" of not allowing Salix & adjunct bleeder medications on race day; the role of horsemen in "addressing public perception of use of therapeutic medications in racehorses"; alternative therapies & best practices "for treating exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging"; & the economic impact "any changes would have on the US racing industry. Meanwhile Foreman said the announcement at the conclusion of the RCI annual meeting in late March left many questions & claimed: "I don't think they know what it means. It was a headline-grabbing sound bite lacking in credibility & substance."
Racing Victoria announced chief handicapper Greg Carpenter "will be penning a weekly blog on the Racing Victoria website throughout the Melbourne Festival Of Racing". In Carpenter's 1st blog, he considers the burning question: "What weight will Black Caviar get in the Gr1 Newmarket Handicap?" Carpenter notes: "There is a general consensus that Black Caviar will be opposed by a small but select field in the Gr1 Lightning Stakes on 19 February, with the bulk of the sprinting population seemingly intent on contesting the Gr1 Oakleigh Plate & then willing to roll the dice against the World's Champion Sprinter of 2010 in the Newmarket under handicap conditions, when she will not have the same weight advantage she enjoys when contesting WFA races." After explaining a series of key criteria, Carpenter goes on to reveal: "The answer we have been giving to everyone who has asked about Black Caviar's likely weight in the Newmarket is that, as things currently stand, she would receive 57.5kg. What will have the greatest impact between now & the actual release of weights is the result of the Lightning Stakes & the Oakleigh Plate. If Black Caviar was to record another dominant victory in the Lightning, there is every likelihood her domestic handicap rating would be reviewed upward from its current mark of 118." To read Carpenter's full analysis, click on the link in The Great Debate panel on the right-hand-side of this page.
In the UK overnight, the 4-day Tattersalls December Mares Sale concluded with final figures showing 644 lots sold for a cumulative 34,544,800 guineas (A$56.999m) which was up 4.1% on last year. The final average of 53,641 guineas (A$88,500) was up 1.5% & the final median of 17,000 guineas (A$28,000) was up 17.2%. Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony commented: "At the end of last week's December Foal Sale we referred to the continuing economic turbulence which has dominated the news in recent weeks & marvelled at the extraordinary resilience of the foal market in the face of such uncertainty. I think it would be fair to say that the demand for broodmares & fillies this week has also exceeded expectations & that Europe's premier breeding stock sale has, as ever, proved to be the focal point for thoroughbred breeders from all corners of the world. The general consensus prior to this week was that despite 2 quality dispersals (Bloomsbury Stud & Pendley Farm), the catalogue was a little short of obvious stars & that the sale might fall short of last year's levels, but the figures tell another story. Turnover has shown a slight increase, the average price is all but the same and, similar to the December Foal Sale, the median has risen significantly. The clearance rate has not quite matched last year, which reflects the larger number of lots offered, but it still compares favourably with the 2007 & 2008 Tattersalls December Breeding Stock Sales. . . . . The feature of the sale was the extraordinary level of participation from overseas buyers. With buyers from almost 40 different countries, it is hard to single out individuals, but we were delighted to see Indian buyers returning to Tattersalls in such numbers after the lifting of import restrictions & we believe that they have purchased more than 50 lots this week. Other countries which have also made important contributions include Argentina, Libya, Malaysia, Qatar & Russia."
US Gr1-winning & twice classic-placed 7YO freshman stallion Bluegrass Cat (Storm Cat-She's A Winner, by A.P.Indy) recorded his 2nd stakes-winner when juvenile daughter Kathmanblu (Bluegrass Cat-Abba Gold, by Devil's Bag) scored a 4-lengths victory in the US$150,000 Listed Jessamine Stakes (8.5 furlongs on turf) for 2YO fillies at Keeneland. Favourite Kathmanblu (ridden by Julien Leparoux for trainer Ken McPeek) defeated Lauren Byrd (Arch-Strike the Sky, by Smart Strike) & Irish-bred Cloneylass (Verglas-Consensus, by Common
The Australian Jockey Club (Royal Randwick & Warwick Farm) issued a statement confirming it remains committed to a merger with the Sydney Turf Club (Rosehill Gardens & Canterbury Park), despite Monday night's vote against the merger by STC members. AJC Chairman Ron Finemore emphasised that, to make its position clear, the AJC would "continue discussions" with NSW Racing Minister Kevin Greene & declared: "The simple fact is that the NSW racing industry overwhelmingly supports the $174 million merger proposal. This is not in dispute. We all need to take into account those people who earn their living from the industry, such as trainers, jockeys & strappers. The $174 million economic stimulus being offered to a merged club will grow the industry, improving the livelihoods of these people, as well as providing a better experience for all Sydney members, punters, racehorse owners & race goers - our customers. The Government's $174 million proposal represents the largest one-off investment the NSW racing industry has ever seen. It will deliver world-class facilities & help secure the jobs of the 50,000 employees in the NSW racing industry. Make no mistake: the only way Sydney racing can grow is through one merged club, supported by the proposed $174 million investment in Sydney racing. The total investment of $174 million for the AJC & STC would put Sydney racing where it belongs - front & centre on the world stage. This is why more than 85% of AJC members who voted supported the plan to merge." Finemore noted "1,176 AJC members took part in the AJC's vote: more than two-and-a-half times the 462 members who voted at the STC meeting. The reality is that all-up on a consensus basis, 75% of AJC & STC members who chose to vote, opted for a merger." And Finemore warned: "Kevin Greene has shown great leadership in delivering this tremendous package of reforms for Sydney racing. It would make our industry a laughing stock if 277 people cost the racing industry $174 million & a secure future. All-in-all, in a combined membership of 13,000, we cannot allow 3.5% of them, who voted 'NO' to the merger, to derail such a critical package of benefits for the whole NSW racing industry. If we are unable to progress the merger & arrangements with Tabcorp are in place, the AJC will continue to lobby its case with Government for the proposed $150 million investment in Royal Randwick to continue, to help attract & grow major events in Sydney."
Ireland's 3-day Goffs Orby Yearling Sale concluded overnight at the company's auction complex in County Kildare with 467 yearlings sold overall (76%) for €22,322,500 (A$31.252m) which was down 10% on last year. The final average of €47,800 (A$67,000) was down 4%, but the final median of €28,000 (A$39,200) was up 3.5%. Goffs chief executive Henry Beeby commented: "On the facts there is no denying that the market has been selective, but there have been plenty of success stories & happy breeders/pin-hookers especially on Days 1 & 2. That has been endorsed by the general consensus that the good ones have been as hard to buy as ever & we are grateful to the vendors who have stepped up to the mark with us."
The Model Rules Committee of the Association Of Racing Commissioners International "has voted 12-0 (with 1 abstention from Louisiana) to recommend lowering the threshold of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug Phenylbutazone, also known as Bute" reported bloodhorse.com. The committee action "came as a result of recommendations from the RCI Regulatory Veterinarians Committee, the RCI Drug Testing Standards & Practices Committee, the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium, the US Jockey Club's Thoroughbred Safety Committee, the US Jockey's Guild, the US Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association, plus the American Association Of Equine Practitioners". The change will not be fully adopted as a model rule until it is approved by the RCI Board of Directors (expected to meet in early October). However the US National Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association, the Thoroughbred Owners Of California & the California Thoroughbred Trainers "submitted statements urging RCI not to approve the proposal". The proposed change "will result in a lowered allowance of 2 micrograms of phenylbutazone per milliliter of plasma or serum" (down from 5 micrograms as currently stated in the RCI Model Rules). Maryland & Pennsylvania currently have the 2 microgram threshold in place. RCI president Ed Martin issued a lengthy statement in which he defended the revised model rule, noting that the scientific review process within the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium "was developed to address such matters. It is unfortunate & troubling that some now question the thoroughness of that review. The RMTC process is necessary to ensure that the omnipresent scientific debate is structured so regulators, horsemen, owners & fans can understand & rely on recommendations that reflect the preponderant scientific view, if not a consensus, of the best advisers we have at our disposal." Martin emphasised opponents of the lowered threshold level did not "present an argument as to why the administration of phenylbutazone close enough to race time to trigger a 5 microgram threshold was absolutely necessary to the health of the horse. The unanswered question by those in opposition to the proposed policy change is why a horse in pain requiring an administration of phenylbutazone at their suggested level should be racing." Martin noted: "Phenylbutazone treats muscular sprains, tendonitis, acute joint injury & arthritic conditions. There are clear warnings that its overuse could seriously jeopardise equine health."
Overall at Doncaster, the sale concluded with 357 yearlings sold for £9,578,000 (A$16.672m) which was down by less than 1% on last year (but with 24 fewer horses offered than in 2009). The final average of £26,826 (A$47,000) was up 3% & the final median was unchanged at £20,000 (A$35,000). The clearance rate finished at 81% (up significantly from last year's 71%). DBS managing director Henry Beeby summed up: "Whatever the figures say & whatever the background to this sale, the general consensus is that the 2010 DBS Premier Yearling Sales has been a resounding success. There has been a real buzz around the whole complex from Saturday onwards as a huge crowd of potential purchasers converged on Doncaster, driven to us by the spectacular season on the track by recent years graduates such as Canford Cliffs, Strong Suit & Sole Power to name just 3. Our vendors have worked with us to produce a catalogue of consistently racy, commercial individuals & we resisted the temptation to fill up to the 500 maximum when it became clear that some likely candidates needed some extra time following the very hard winter. That policy has certainly paid off & we have enjoyed a vibrant trade of great depth with a large & varied cast of bidders competing for yearlings that we have again selected on a 'conformation 1st, everything else 2nd' basis. That is what buyers expect at Doncaster. With a set of figures that have virtually mirrored last year we have to be happy."
In Ireland overnight, Eliza Park Stud's Royal Ascot Group-winning shuttler Statue Of Liberty (Storm Cat-Charming Lassie, by Seattle Slew) added a juvenile black-type success when his daughter Anadolu (Statue Of Liberty-Afto, by Relaunch) scored a half-length victory in the €45,000 (A$65,000) Listed Tipperary Stakes (5 furlongs) for 2YOs at Tipperary. Anadolu (ridden by Pat Shanahan for trainer Tracey Collins) defeated fellow fillies Moonlit Garden (Exceed And Excel-Fingal Nights, by Night Shift) & Cloneylass (Verglas-Consensus, by Common Grounds). Anadolu now has 2 wins from 4 starts.
Overall during the weanling section, 336 lots sold for NZ$3,826,450 (up 59% on last year's 267 sold for NZ$2,407,800). The average of NZ$11,388 was up 26% (last year NZ$9,018) & the median of NZ$4,000 was up 23% (last year NZ$3,250). The final clearance rate was 80%. NZB co-managing director Petrea Vela commented: "The general consensus among weanling buyers is that nice horses were commanding good money & there was good competition on the selection of most appealing lots. The reality though is that unfortunately there is very limited demand for the lesser pedigreed horses, particularly fillies, which was reflected in the clearance rate." Gordon Cunningham's Curraghmore Stud finished as leading vendor for the 5th year in a row, claiming 4 of the top 10 lots in the sale & selling a total of 19 lots for NZ$789,200.
However rival owners & trainers "have slammed Caulfield Cup winner Viewed's 1kg penalty for the Melbourne Cup, the most lenient in 20 years," reported The Herald-Sun. The "consensus was that master trainer Bart Cummings's wish for no more than 1kg was a gift from Racing Victoria chief handicapper Greg Carpenter & was unfair on beaten Caulfield Cup runners". The 1kg penalty is "the lightest for a Caulfield Cup winner since Cole Diesel in 1989" (who subsequently finished 16th in the Melbourne Cup). Among the comments were:
In Sydney, leading trainers Gai Waterhouse & Joe Pride "have taken aim at the Australian Jockey Club over the condition of their training & racing surfaces at Royal Randwick," reported The Daily Telegraph. Waterhouse is "up in arms over the dirt training track, blaming it for the latest setback to star mare Tuesday Joy", while Joe Pride "indicated his Gr1 Doncaster Mile winner Vision And Power was now likely to head to Melbourne earlier than expected because of the firmness of the course proper". However while AJC chief executive Darren Pearce "acknowledged there had been some issues with the dirt track", he said the consensus among Randwick trainers was that it was "in good shape. It does need a renovation, which occurs once a year, & American dirt track specialist Steve Wood is scheduled to arrive in October after the carnival to sort that out. The feedback I have received has been positive."
At the conclusion of the 3-day Select Section of the NZ Bloodstock Sale, 456 yearlings sold for NZ$17,039,000 (down 40.9% from last year's 483 sold for a record NZ$$28,839,500). The final average of NZ$37,366 was down 37.4% (last year NZ$59,709) & the final median of NZ$$30,000 was down 37.5% (last year NZ$48,000). The final clearance rate was 73% (last year 79%). NZB managing director Petrea Vela commented: "Although there's been good activity in the ring over the past 3 days & the general consensus has been that it's hard to buy a nice horse, this sale has suffered from a lack of buyer confidence to buy on spec in this climate. This session has traditionally been underpinned by pin-hookers selecting horses for our Ready-To-Run Sale in November & while the top horses have sold just as well, without the pin-hookers here in force, we've seen a softening of that middle market. After experiencing exponential growth here over the past couple of years, the tide has turned in buyers' favour & there's a lot of good buying to be had."
Compulsory use of padded whips "is at the heart of the debate about whip use not only in Victoria, but Australia," reported The Herald-Sun. While the consultation process "is yet to move to the Victorian branch of the Australian Trainers' Association or Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners' Association, the stance of Racing Victoria stewards & the Victorian Jockeys' Association has become abundantly clear": RV stewards "are pushing for the introduction of padded whips, which are already used by some jumps jockeys", while the VJA "remains unconvinced the whips they currently use need replacing". RV chief steward Terry Bailey said a meeting with the VJA last week reached "common ground" on several issues regarding whips. Bailey commented: "I think what has to be decided is whether padded whips are made compulsory. Some jumps jockeys use them, but the decision has to come from an Australian level whether we head down that track." Bailey noted there was a "big push" nationally for the compulsory introduction of padded whips & said the "consensus among stewards was that padded whips had less impact on a horse". However the VJA "rejected that suggestion" & committee member Stephen Baster said jockeys "did not support compulsory introduction of padded whips" & "had not received any compelling evidence to suggest padded whips would be the solution". He summed up: "We don't see any difference. If a horse is not responding, do you just hit them harder? It defeats the purpose. There's no proof that our whips are hurting the horse. Some jumps jockeys use them, but you have to remember they are 10-15 kilos heavier. That makes a big difference." Baster emphasised "all jockeys were horse lovers" & "all were intent on achieving the best possible result whenever they rode. Everyone agrees it (use of the whip) needs policing, it's just how we go about it."
The Australian Bookmakers' Association conference in Hobart "expressed its concern at the termination of the Gentlemen's Agreement regarding the future of racing industry funding as a consequence of the recent or impending introduction of differing Race Fields levies from state-to-state". The ABA noted: "There is no national consensus on this issue, each State (& even Racing Codes within a State) is seeking to generate revenue from bookmakers' use of their racefields product via the imposition of turnover levies, or levies based on gross profit. This has resulted in the commencement of legal proceedings against various Racing Authorities with further proceedings likely to be commenced in the near future. The ABA (which principally represents on-course bookmakers) considers this situation is diverting Racing Authorities from their real function: to manage & improve Australian racing product. Thus the ABA urges the Racing Ministers & the Australian Racing Board attending the National Conference this week to consider the adoption of a National Bookmaker Levy Framework on which bookmakers' racefields levies to local racing & interstate authorities are based. Importantly this Framework incorporates: the legal principles established in a recent High Court decision; continuing the support of local racing where bookmakers operate; ensuring the significant intangible contribution on-course bookmakers make to the health & vitality of racing; provides for payments to racing by large corporate bookmakers; & provides a compromise to the differing approaches to racefields levies being charged by racing authorities." State representatives of the ABA resolved the following Framework: At the commencement of each (racing) year, bookmakers elect to pay a Bookmaker Levy from 1 of 2 options: (1a) 0.33% on turnover less than or equal to $5 million per annum for each State racing product, payable to the local racing authority or race club where the bookmaker operates & (1b) 1% on turnover greater than $5 million per annum, payable to the product source; or (2) 10% of gross profit per annum, such levy to be determined net of GST & the results of bets back. The majority of on-course bookmakers' wagering activities "will fall under the (per state) threshold of $5 million per annum, which in effect provides for continuation of the Gentleman's Agreement for those bookmakers. There are significant benefits for both local racing & state racing authorities in doing so as the burden of compliance & collection costs of levies outweighs any benefit when compared to current arrangements." The ABA "considers this Framework to be fair & reasonable, acceptable to corporate bookmakers, & will generate the appropriate levels of revenue the Australian Racing Industry is seeking to obtain from wagering operators generally."
Overall during the 3 sessions at the Goffs Million Sale, 444 yearlings sold (from 592 offered) for a cumulative €32,353,000 (A$55m) which was down 39% on last year's record €53,851,000 (A$91.5m). The cumulative average of €72,867 (A$123,000) was down 34% from last year's €110,350 (A$187,000). Goffs chief executive Henry Beeby summed up: "14 Goffs Gr1 wins, 4 Classics, 2 Derbys & 2 brand new Goffs Millionaires on Sunday. That was the backdrop to this week's Million Sale & we were hopeful of a trade that would come close to last year's solid renewal. However who could have predicted the scale of the world-wide financial meltdown that took place on Monday with the worst financial crisis since the 1920s? In those circumstances we have been pleasantly surprised at the measured calm & determination of our loyal vendors who have worked with us to produce another catalogue of potential winners. Goffs graduates' racetrack success this year has been extraordinary & any serious buyers who chose not to make their mark should look at the European Classic results of those winners who were sold at public auction & they will see Goffs Graduate with a regularity unmatched by any other. The Goffs Million rejuvenated this sale in 2005 & provided a leap of 183% over 3 years from a platform of a €40,226 (A$68,000) average. This week's results still compare very favourably with those statistics & represent an 81% advance over just 4 years. But we must concede disappointment with the scale of the slow down, although the general consensus appears to have been that we have hit the most difficult week in which to sell a luxury item in living memory. To record a top price of €1 million (A$1.7m) return a 75% clearance rate speaks for itself: down on last year, but still figures many would celebrate. Yes, it has been a tough week for vendors & auctioneers, but plenty of buyers have told us it has been hard to buy their selections."
Overall at the Doncaster St Leger Festival Sale, turnover fell 42% to £1,244,699 (A$2.6m) on a smaller catalogue & the £11,697 (A$24,500) average dropped 22%. The £10,000 (A$21,000) median was down only £250 (A$525) & the increased attendance sale saw a clearance rate of 73%. Doncaster managing director Henry Beeby summed up: "Satisfied. That is the word that would sum up the last 2 days trade for the newest sale on the oldest date in the DBS sales calendar. The market is selective, but bring a likely sort in to the sales arena & competition is as fierce as ever. Whilst we have failed to match last year's figures, the consensus among our vendors was that they were happy with the trade, pin-hookers made profits & the unique St Leger Sales atmosphere was backed up by plenty of potential buyers viewing proceedings. Given world-wide economic trends that has to mean satisfied is a fair reflection. A clearance rate of 73% & a median that was essentially identical to last year tell the real story & while the sale is down, we purposely took fewer horses so a turnover comparison is irrelevant. We firmly believe the St Leger Festival Sales have a real future as a commercial alternative to some in the autumn sales calendar & the competition for places endorse that view. It occupies a unique date in the calendar, is well attended & will pump out the winners as it did from last year's 1st catalogue."
Overall during the Doncaster St Leger Sale, 401 yearlings sold for £13,493,500 (A$28.34m) which was down 14.4% on last year's 417 sold for £15,759,030 (A$33.09m). The average of £33,649 (A$70,600) was down 11% on last year's £37,791 (A$79.3) & the median of £26,000 (A$54,600) was down 11.6% on last year's £29,400 (A$61,700). However the company noted: "These levels were the same as those achieved in 2006 & show a rise of over 75% in the last 5 years. On top of this, 81 lots made over £50,000 (A$105,000)." DBS managing director Henry Beeby commented: "The St Leger Yearling Sales is unique in the respect that it is the only European yearling sale to have grown every year for the last 10 years. To continue that trend would have been difficult in any year, but against the background of such gloomy economic forecasts it was particularly challenging. The general consensus was that we have returned a solid trade that was far better than most thought coming in to the week & there has been real competition for the better lots. However the polarisation we saw last autumn has been confirmed & that has been illustrated by the drop in our figures, although we would still submit that a clearance rate of 84% is very good. But we are far from despondent, as the results are on a par with 2006 & a 5-year trend shows an incredible 75% rise in average, demonstrating that we have developed the sale in to a serious sale of quality in a relatively short space of time. That has been backed up on the racetrack, with a steady flow of top class winners headed by our 10 Gr1 winners in the last 2 seasons. Our job is to select a catalogue as good as we are able & then present it to the maximum audience. Every face we wanted to see has been present & we missed no serious buyers, meaning that vendors were never busier showing their yearlings. . . . . Our feedback has been that it was hard to buy from the purchasers & that vendors were very busy; so we have to face the fact that the economy has played it's part. But I would repeat our plea from earlier this month that we must remain positive, as to give in to the prophets of doom will only exacerbate any problems the industry may face. The bloodstock business thrives on confidence & our hope is that we do not allow modest downturns to turn into talk of much worse. We have survived economic dips before & will again, but it makes such a difference if a realistically positive attitude is adopted."
Also of major interest at the Saratoga sale was the "powerful debut by Legends Racing as a thoroughbred buyer" reported bloodhorse.com. The new venture (which is acquiring young horses that will be trained by Bob Baffert, D. Wayne Lukas & Nick Zito) was the sale's 2nd biggest spender, paying US$3,275,000 for 9 yearlings & "there could be much bigger things to come". Kentucky horseman Olin Gentry (who developed the idea for Legends Racing with his Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds partner Thomas Gaines & investment banker Tripp Hardy) confirmed: "We're easing into it at this time & look to ramp it up gradually over the coming year." The 3 men announced the plans for the venture (known officially as the Thoroughbred Legends Racing Fund) in early June "giving a presentation to potential investors in New York two days before Zito saddled Da' Tara for an upset victory in the June 7 Gr1 Belmont Stakes". Gentry declined to reveal how much money the fund had raised & other financial details, saying: "Our counsel has advised us not to discuss that." But he did talk about the "coordination & cooperation involved as Legends Racing shopped at the Saratoga auction" noting: "Each trainer is out there doing his thing, & Thomas & I look (at yearlings) as well. We all meet up & talk about the horses we've seen & then make a decision. Thomas & I handle the bidding, but we reach a consensus (with the 3 trainers) before we buy. We want to be opportunistic, so we haven't tried to define too much what we buy. We just want to buy the best horses for the best prices that we can. Everybody is on the same team; the trainers realise that each of them will be getting one-third of the horses. We'll address that (who gets which horses) after September. We'll try & have them get the ones each of them prefers. When there is an overlap or a tie, we'll decide what to do in as fair a way as we can. There is definitely solidarity among all 3 of them. They know it is a mutually beneficial arrangement." Lukas commented: "The nice thing about it is that we've got depth in trainer experience with the 3 of us. We're also very compatible. I think it's actually brought Bob & I & Nick a lot closer together. But another thing that's really nice is that if the budget holds up, and it looks good, we'll be able to cover all the bases: fillies, colts, distance, short, everything. So it will give us a great broad spectrum of race talent to work with. Then, what we do with it from there, it is what it is. The first 2 years, I think, we'll have plenty in terms of numbers (of horses). We're buying athletic horses that fit all of our wishes; we compare notes & everything."
Next week's US Congressional hearing on steroid use in Major League Baseball - and the possibility the inquiry could expand to other sports - "has led the thoroughbred racing industry to take pre-emptive action on Capitol Hill," reported bloodhorse.com. Representatives of the horse racing industry met with legislative staff members in Washington "to update them on steps the industry is taking to regulate use of anabolic steroids in racehorses & horses sold at auction". The effort was spearheaded by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association & the meeting was attended by NTRA officials including president Alex Waldrop, Association Of Racing Commissioners International president Ed Martin plus Racing Medication & Testing Consortium executive director Dr Scot Waterman; RCI & RMTC have formulated model rules that are being implemented in various states to regulate use of steroids. Most major US racing states "have adopted or will adopt regulations that basically ban the use of steroids in equines on race day by the 2nd quarter of 2008; questions remain as to threshold levels & withdrawal times for testing, but the consensus among industry officials has been steroid use must be regulated in some fashion". Waldrop summed up: "We met with Congressional staff members on Capitol Hill to educate them on our industry for testing for steroids in horses & to outline the guidelines & penalties that are or will be in place. We underscored that the horse racing industry is well-advised to get serious about adopting a rule." Congress has scheduled a hearing for next Wednesday (January 16) to discuss steroid use in baseball & asked if he believes horse racing will become part of a steroids inquiry, Waldrop replied: "Is it a possibility? No question. Clearly steroid use is something Congress is concerned about in all professional athletics."
WinStar Farm co-owner Bill Casner "has resigned from Jess Jackson's Horse Owners Protective Association, the non-profit corporation Casner helped found with Jackson & Three Chimneys Farm owner Robert Clay in January of 2006," reported thoroughbredtimes.com. Casner (who resigned hours after Jackson released a 7-page statement highly critical of recommendations made by the Sales Integrity Task Force) commented: "I still agree in spirit with the goals of the HOPA, but I just couldn't in good conscience live with the accusations Jess made. He categorically impugned the integrity of everyone on that task force & to me that was so unfair, just unthinkable." The task force (a group of 36 Kentucky industry players) was asked by the Kentucky legislature "to develop consensus on licensing of bloodstock agents & disclosure of ownership, medication & surgical information in the sales arena". Both Casner & Jackson were on the task force & Casner supported its recommendations (which include a 45-day ban on anabolic steroids, a code of conduct for bloodstock agents & voluntary disclosure of ownership & medical information). Casner summed up: "The task force members worked together in good faith & devoted a tremendous amount of time to the cause. The decisions & recommendations the task force made - that Keeneland & Fasig-Tipton have supported - will have huge implications for the industry. I think the work that came out of this task force was excellent. Was it perfect? Of course not, but we'll continue to work towards a more confident & equitable marketplace; that will be a never ending quest."