News and Notes for April 25, 2014


The ($200,000 gr. III) Texas Mile, which attracted a field of nine older horses, will be contested under the lights for the first time Saturday. It is scheduled for a 9:51 p.m. CDT post.

Kentucky-bred invaders include 5/2 morning-line favorite Taptowne (Tapit); 3/1 Bourbon Courage (Lion Heart) who boasts a field-best $915,677 in earnings; 4/1 Grand Contender (Strong Contender); 5/1 Forest Mouse (Teton Forest); 8/1 Stachys (Candy Ride); and 20-1 longshot Smack Ridge (Cactus Ridge).  Louisiana-bred Skip the Pinot (G. W.’s Skippie) is listed at 12/1.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, who has won the Texas Mile twice in the past three years including with Master Rick in 2013, is represented by Virginia-bred Proud Strike (Smart Strike), owned by Texan Mike McCarty.

Trainer Allen Milligan will send out Accredited Texas-bred Texas Air for owner/breeder Paul Rigali Jr., seeking to increase his career earnings of $146,339.  The multiple-stakes placed gelding by Texas City won the Star of Texas Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park in January and placed 3rd in the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup Stakes on March 1.

The Texas Mile was inaugurated in 1997 by Isitingood, who established a track mark of 1:34.44 that still stands.  It is also the first leg of the Global Gaming Triple, to be followed by the Lone Star Park Handicap May 26 and the Governor’s Cup at Remington Park in August. The horse earning the most points based on finishes in the three races wins a bonus from Global Gaming, which owns both Lone Star and Remington.

A bill that would allow legal advance deposit wagering in Arizona has been sent to Gov. Jan Brewer for her signature.

“We know it’s going to have a positive effect on horse racing in Arizona and we’re very much looking forward to it,” said Vince Francia, general manager of Turf Paradise in Phoenix. “Of course, ADW has been alive and well here for some time. They’ve just been doing it illegally.”

While some 37 states have already approved ADW or phone betting, Arizona has depended on a large off-track betting network of 62 satellite facilities. Francia said he did not expect the introduction of ADW to adversely affect them.

“It’s more of a social thing,” he said of the OTBs, “while betting by phone or computer is solitary.”  Likewise, he said attendance at Turf Paradise has been on the increase for the past five years, thanks to social media efforts, and is currently up 8% over last year.

As reported in Blood-Horse, the Louisiana State Racing Commission has scheduled a special meeting for May 1 to consider the license Churchill Downs Inc. holds to operate Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and a ring of off-track betting parlors that have video poker machines.

The New Orleans Times Picayune reported April 22 that the LSRC during its regular meeting opted not to approve what it called CDI’s 10-year “rolling license” to operate the New Orleans racetrack, which has slot machines. The delay stems from complaints from horsemen and state lawmakers that the facility isn’t being properly operated or maintained.

Earlier in April the Louisiana House of Representatives passed by a 94-0 vote legislation that would mandate CDI to pay 10% of its slots revenue to support primarily infrastructure at Fair Grounds. The move was unusual given the fact no other Louisiana racetracks–they all have slots–are included in the bill, which has been sent to a Senate committee.

The legislation states the 10% of slots money would be used for “maintenance and capital improvement projects (at Fair Grounds) including frontside and backside projects, improvements to grandstands, stables, racetrack surfaces, and turf racing surfaces of suitable quality.” The LSRC would have to approve capital improvement plans each year.

The bill states the action on Fair Grounds is necessary due to the “historical significance, former and potential economic significance to the state at large, and need for revitalization and rehabilitation,” which was the intent of the Legislature when it approved slots for racetracks.

CDI officials earlier told Louisiana lawmakers business has shifted to off-track outlets, so it’s difficult to make large investments in on-track amenities.

Racetracks with gaming have come under fire in other states for merely paying purses and not investing on the racing side. The LSRC, however, could be the first regulatory agency to publicly indicate a license is in jeopardy for not making an investment.

A note with the legislation outlines the intent of the Louisiana Pari-Mutuel Live Racing Facility Economic Redevelopment and Gaming Act, which authorized slots at tracks. It says it is “public policy of the state that pari-mutuel wagering facilities which offer live horse racing have historically made great contributions to the economic development of the state at large and particularly the agriculture and horse breeding industries.”

NOTES: Check out the April 26 issue of Blood-Horse for the article on TTA Life Member Sam Stevens, co-breeder/owner of 2013 Texas Champion Older Male Ol Winedrinker Who…May 1 is the deadline to late-nominate horses to the 2014 TTA Sales Futurity by payment of $3,250; contact Jennifer Gibbs at 512.458.6133 with questions…The OBS Spring Sale of 2YO’s broke many records including a 24.3% in average sales price, and a 34.3% increase in median…Indiana Grand Racing & Casino’s 120-day meet begins Tuesday, May 6, with nearly 1,000 horses expected to be on the property throughout the season that runs through Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014…If you missed it, here is a great article on the need for horse racing fan education:… The Whitney Handicap Invitational had its purse doubled to $1.5 million and is the centerpiece of an enhanced early meet program that rivals Travers Day on the Saratoga stakes calendar…Atlantic City Race Course begins its short all-turf racing season April 24 with the customary full fields in six races… Los Alamitos Racing Association will offer a $1 million bonus tied to the new $500,000 Los Alamitos Derby (gr. II) to be run on July 5 during the Orange County track’s debut Thoroughbred racing season…Tom LaMarra also wrote a great article on Pat Day:…Our condolences to the family of longtime horseman Frank Youngs of Cleburne who recently passed away…Contracts for the October 13 Texas Yearling Sale will mail within the next 4-6 weeks; Tim Boyce of Fasig-Tipton Texas reports there is great interest in the sale which will also have a mixed breeding stock session, so return your contracts early…Our sympathies to the family of Louisiana State Racing Commission Chairman Jerry Meaux, who was killed in an auto accident yesterday.