News and Notes for May 2, 2014


I am sure you have all been inundated with Derby news and hype, so I won’t add to your overload.  However, we want to wish all the best to Texas-bred Fiftyshadesofgold, who will take on 9 foes in the $175,000 G3 Eight Belles this evening.  Bred and owned by the late Clarence Scharbauer Jr. and trained by Bret Calhoun, she will break from post position 7 under jockey Mike Smith. For more on her story, check out this great article:

If you can’t make it to Churchill Downs to enjoy the Kentucky Derby live there will be unprecedented television coverage of the entire racing week. NBC will air the Kentucky Derby live with all pre and post-race events to be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (‘formerly known as ‘Versus’). The NBC Sports Network will cover the Kentucky Oaks (approximate post time 5:45 PM) and also feature pre-race analysis and retrospectives of previous year’s races. The Kentucky Derby will be televised live on NBC beginning at 4 PM Eastern on Saturday.

Today, NBCSN will present Classic Horse Racing: 2012 Kentucky Derby at 2pm EST, and coverage of the Kentucky Oaks will begin at 3pm EST with post time for the Oaks approximately 5:45pm.. There will also be exhaustive pre- and post-race coverage on the dedicated horse racing networks TVG and HRTV as well as the Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN).

Lone Star Park has a full day of activities scheduled for Saturday, starting in early morning:

8:30 a.m.—Bar & Book Opens for Simulcast Wagering; 9:30 a.m.—First Simulcast Race from Churchill Downs; 10:30 a.m.—Grandstand Gates Open; 12:00 p.m.—Family Fun Park Opens with a petting zoo, bounce houses and pony rides; 3:33 p.m.—Post time for the first of 10 live races at Lone Star Park; 5:24 p.m.—140th running of the Kentucky Derby simulcast live from Churchill Downs; 6:00 p.m.—Kentucky Derby Hat Contestants must be in the Courtyard of Champions to be considered; and 8:15 p.m.—Race #10 at Lone Star Park approximate post time.

This week the Texas A&M campus saw the grand opening of the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex and the announcement of a new $120 million facility for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

The current buildings housing the vet school were built in the 1950s, making them outdated for the technology and class sizes of today. A recent facility analysis rated three of the college’s six major buildings in “poor condition,” putting its accreditation at risk.

The new U-shaped facility, made up of three buildings and a courtyard the size of a football field in the middle, will have space for large classrooms and small group interactions, as well as simulation labs.

Construction on the 300,000-square-foot facility is set to begin between May 15 and June 1. It’s expected to be completed in 2016, in time to celebrate the college’s 100th anniversary.

Moments after announcing the new Veterinary and Biomedical Education Center, university officials gathered to unveil Phase 1 of the Equine Complex on F&B Road, which contains an arena and barn facilities for the A&M Women’s Equestrian team and a cross-country course for the A&M cross-country team, as well as classroom and office spaces for equine teaching, research and outreach.

Future phases of the complex will add equine reproduction research facilities, a nutrition and exercise physiology teaching and research center and space for the university’s polo team.

The Horseracing Testing Laboratory Committee of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) has approved full accreditation of three laboratories under the RMTC Laboratory Accreditation Program.

The newly accredited labs are: Industrial Laboratories in Wheat Ridge, CO; Ohio Department of Agriculture laboratory in Columbus, OH and Truesdail Laboratories in Tustin, CA.

RMTC-accredited labs are responsible for the testing of samples for 23 of the 34 racing jurisdictions in the United States, including AR, AZ, CA, CO, DE, ID, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MN, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, VA, WA and WY. With the addition of these three laboratories there are now a total of five labs that are fully accredited by the RMTC – the UC Davis Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory and the LGC Sports Science Laboratory were accredited in 2013.

As of this week, Racing Commissions for Indiana and North Dakota Horse have now approved RCI national uniform medication rules and penalty guidelines.

Check out this terrific piece explaining the benefits of the National Uniform Medication Reform program from a veterinary perspective:

Uniform medication program seeks to draw right lines

Blood-Horse reports that a poll of Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) members revealed that 90.2% of respondents will be withholding either some or all of their dollars from Churchill Downs Inc. racetracks: Churchill Downs, Arlington Park, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and Calder Casino & Race Course, as well as wagering platform and past performance provider 

This poll result was announced in a release following the Churchill Downs Inc. decision to increase takeout rates by more than 9% on the win, place, and show pools and almost 16% on exotic pools at its Louisville, Ky. racetrack.

Many poll respondents believe other Churchill tracks, and other tracks in general, will follow with takeout increases as 42.8% said Churchill will raise prices at its other tracks, and an additional 48.7% believe other non-Churchill tracks will follow with rate hikes.

The Louisiana Racing Commission has granted Churchill Downs Inc. a one-year license on a conditional basis for both quarter horse and Thoroughbred racing. Fair Grounds president Tim Bryant has outlined a $1-million improvement plan for the track, so be effected over the course of the next two years.

Plans calls for approximately $200,000 to be spent in improvements to the turf course, beginning in late May, and will spend up to $690,000, if deemed necessary by consultants, to overhaul the turf course in 2015 if it does not show “marked improvement to normal rain events” this season.

In the area of customer service, up to $200,000 will be spent on an infield video board to replace or repair the broken screen, along with  plans for more customer appreciation events, improved timeliness and repair in off-track betting parlors, plans for mobile betting, better tracking of live mutuel tellers and increased staffing

Additionally, CDI will increase marketing efforts to highlight horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering, hold regular handicapping tournaments and revamp TV ads to highlight the presence of live racing.

The Louisiana Racing Commission has also requested the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association provide members to sit on a joint committee that would inspect the back-side facilities at the track and present their concerns to Churchill Downs Inc., which must respond to the concerns within 30 days.

The New Orleans Fair Grounds’ 2014-15 season will run Nov. 21, 2014 through March 29, 2015.

NOTES: Oaklawn is using its 2nd annual Smokelawn BBQ Championship event in the Infield this Saturday to help raise money for area tornado relief efforts…Budweiser Clydesdales will be at SHRP for 2 days only –today for photos from 6-8pm and for a noontime performance on Saturday… Belterra Park, owned by Pinnacle Entertainment and formerly known as River Downs, received its meet approvals from the Ohio State Racing Commission and is on schedule to begin its 2014 meet May 8th, running through Oct. 19th… Fairmount Park opened Tuesday amidst controversy over a proposed legislative amendment to allow all Illinois tracks to install slot machines with the exception of Fairmount… Equine Sales Company of Louisiana closed the books on its first juvenile auction with an average of $16,803 and median of $11,500 for the 2-year-olds in training session and an average of $4543 for the horses of racing age…In order to accommodate a large increase in entries to more than 1,200 horses, the 2014 OBS June Two-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale has been expanded to four days and will begin on Tuesday, June 17th and continue through Friday, June 20th… Good luck to Carolyn Barnett & Beck Harding’s Triplemental (Capote’s Prospect – Temper Tam) who will be running in the $60,000 Tellike S. at Evangeline Downs today…Our sympathies to the family of Dorothy Beard, the widow of former TTA director Stanley Beard, who passed away early this week.