News and Notes for October 11, 2013


Valid Expectations, Texas’ all-time leading sire, has been retired from active stud duty after a brilliant career. The 20-year-old son of Valid Appeal has been relocated from William S. Farish’s Lane’s End Texas near Hempstead to Greg Goodman’s Mt. Brilliant Farm in Kentucky. Goodman bought out the partnership group that included Farish, Lee and Bob Ackerley, Joe Archer and Robert McNair.

The graded stakes winning Valid Expectations was the first “big” horse for two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen, winning 12 of 27 starts with seven stakes wins and earnings of $596,092.

Earlier this year, Valid Expectations passed 1983 Kentucky Derby winner Sunny’s Halo as the state’s all-time leading stallion by progeny earnings.  From 13 crops to race, he has sired the earners of $30.3 million with 43 stakes winners and 41 stakes-placed horses.

Valid Expectations has also established himself as a top broodmare sire, as his daughters have produced graded stakes winners Quantum Miss and She Digs Me, as well as Mylute, who finished fifth in this year’s Kentucky Derby (G1), third in the Preakness Stakes (G1) and second in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Two-time stakes winner Don’t Tell Sophia, third in this year’s Apple Blossom Handicap (G1), is also out of a Valid Expectations mare.

“You look at all the records he surpassed in Texas, and he did it all the hard way,” said farm manager Danny Shifflett. “He did almost all of that in Texas. He could do it all – racehorses, eventing horses, polo ponies, broodmares. They ran on all surfaces, turf, dirt, synthetic. It was really sad to load him on the trailer, believe me.”

Turf racing at Retama Park is about to embark on a new ambitious schedule as a result of a “fantastic” turf course, thanks to new, improved rye grass seed and plenty of water.

“Right now we are running one grass race each night. Next week it goes to two races each night, then the week after, we go to three races per night,” said Retama Park Racing Secretary James Leatherman.

Saturday night’s grass race is a tough open $10,000 claiming event filled with a field of seven older hard knocking horses. With lifetime earnings of $147,588 Texas-bred Only Man in Town is making his 78th career start. The 8-year-old gelding is coming off a big effort in a $17,000 stakes at the Gillespie County Fairgrounds on August 25. Marinous is a French-bred grass runner with $573,981 in the bank and will provide tough competition to Only Man In Town.

Monday’s second annual Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed and horses of racing age sale concluded with gains in gross and average, a modest decline in median, and an improved buyback rate.

Fasig-Tipton reported 179 horses sold for gross receipts of $3,363,600, a 74% increase compared with the inaugural sale in 2012, when 119 horses sold for $1,933,600. The average price was $18,791, 16% higher than in 2012, while the $11,000 median dipped 8%. The buyback rate for this year’s sale was much improved at 23% compared with 41% in 2012.

Despite the positive trends at recent sales across the country, Barretts October yearling sale showed across-the-board declines from 2012.

The sale company reported that 159 horses sold for a gross of $3,130,500, a decline of 22% from the 174 horses who sold for $4,006,600 in 2012. The average of $19,689 was down 14% and the median of $13,000 was down 28%.  The buyback rate was 26% as opposed to 19% last year.

Speaking at the International Simulcast Conference Oct. 8 in Lexington, Kentucky, NTRA president Alex Waldrop provided an update on Internet gaming expansion. Currently, pari-mutuel wagering is the only form of interstate gambling allowed on the Internet and with advance-deposit wagering now accounting for about 20% of total North American handle, Waldrop said the NTRA will continue to be vigilant to protect those interests.

According to a Blood-Horse article, Waldrop said numerous bills proposed in Washington have failed to advance. The American Gaming Association continues to push for federal legislation allowing expanded Internet wagering, but Waldrop said interstate Internet wagering on poker and casino-style games faces significant opposition.

He said that opposition is coming from state governments that see revenue potential for themselves, some land-based casinos including those run by Native Americans, legislators who oppose expansion of gaming on moral grounds, and Tea Party legislators who oppose additional funding sources that could lead to an expanded federal government.

Waldrop said without the expansion of interstate gambling, the industry has not seen the impact it had expected by now but he still expects added competition for the Internet gambling dollar coming at the state level, where betting could be conducted within the state.

Three states already have put laws in place to allow intrastate wagering: Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. Waldrop said it remains to be seen if these regulated forms of Internet wagering are able to draw customers at a level comparable to the unregulated offshore sites that have handled as much as $2.6 billion in some years from U.S. players.

At the height of the offshore Internet wagering boom with U.S. players, games of poker, casino gaming, and sports wagering that included bookmaking on U.S. horse races, Waldrop said one study estimated North American racing was losing $50 million a year in revenue.

Some states also have considered intrastate Internet wagering and have tabled or denied those measures. Waldrop said some of those states include Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Washington, Texas, and Hawaii. He said two large racing states that are considering legislation are California and Illinois.

Waldrop said it is important for racing to stay vigilant. He said tracks need to stay in contact with state representatives, especially in states where expanded Internet wagering is being considered, to make sure that any expansion of gaming in those states comes with compensation for tracks, which he said will be impacted.

As reported in Daily Racing Form, the impact of declining foal crops was also discussed at the International Simulcast Conference.  The contraction in the number of horses of racing age is expected to accelerate significantly over the next two years because of the dramatic decline in the foal crop from 2009-11, with serious repercussions on the ability of racetracks to card races with full, competitive fields.

Hank Zeitlin, chief operating officer of Equibase, said that if current trends are maintained, the average field size of a U.S. horse race in 2015 will be 6.2 horses per race. Racing officials and racetracks strive to maintain an average field size of at least eight; Zeitlin said that if the industry wanted to hit that figure in 2015, it would need to trim its annual number of races by 25%.

From 2007 to 2012, the annual U.S. foal crop has dropped from 34,325 to 21,725, according to The Jockey Club, which is a part owner of Equibase. In turn, that has led to a projected decline in the number of horses of racing age from an estimated 150,000 in 2010 to 100,000 in 2015, a 33% drop.

Yet despite these declines, the number of races in the US only dropped from 51,304 in 2007 to 45,806 to 2012. Over that same time period, handle has declined from $14.7 billion to $10.9 billion.

Horsemen’s groups in states that use subsidies from casinos to prop up purses and the states’ breeding industries have steadfastly resisted cuts in racing dates despite anemic handle totals. In addition, many statutes in racing-subsidized states mandate a certain number of racing dates, complicating efforts to trim races, and horsemen have no reason to support fields with more horses, since earning a share of the purse is more difficult in a more competitive field.

NOTES: Delta Downs begins its 88-date season tonight with an average daily purse structure of $250,000. Tonight’s 11-race card drew an overflow of 120 horses and entries were just as furious for Saturday, with 119 head entered in 11 races… Retired jockey Julie Krone is among nine women named as inductees to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Krone was named ESPN’s 1993 Professional Female Athlete of the Year, and in 2000, she became the first woman inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame…Our sympathies to the families of two TTA members who passed away this week: Buford Dugger of Three Rivers and Garlan Gerdes of Giddings. Gerdes served on the TTA Board of Directors from 1983 – 1988.