Dan Ross

2020 California Handle, Purses in Numbers

After a pandemic-stricken year in which ADW revenues hammered California industry coffers, the first month of 2021 brought with it a flurry of budgetary and purse account developments in response. First came the announcement from the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) that they had reached an agreement with TVG, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, The Stronach Group's 1/ST Racing, and NYRA to inject some $15 million into the purse fund over the course of two years. In response, a subsidiary of the gaming corporation Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI) filed a...

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Four-Year Jockey Injury Study Helps Plug Data Gaps

When Kelly Ryan, primary care sports medicine physician for Medstar Health and co-medical director for the Maryland Horsemen's Health Program, discusses with her peers in the sports medicine world her work attending to injured jockeys, she's often met with the sort of wide-eyed puzzlement usually reserved for rare finds. "Every single bad case that we have is almost one in a million--like no other sports medicine doctor has ever seen this type of injury before," Ryan said. "They're all very unique and every single one of them could be a...

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Integrated Racetrack Tester Next Step in Racetrack Safety

The definition of insanity, some smart person once said, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. In a twist on that aphorism, Kaleb Dempsey, laboratory manager of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory (RSTL), explained one recent afternoon how part of the problem with the way racetracks maintain their surfaces is that, by virtue of their tools, they have been restricted to doing the same things over and over and expecting the same kind of results. Which is where a new bespoke piece of equipment, currently...

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The `Black Eye' of Environmental Contamination, Part Two

(This is the second in a series we are doing on environmental contamination. Click here for part one.) Like a Matryoshka doll of conjecture and supposition, the very real threat of environmental contamination in the horse racing industry's testing protocols can play out like a game that becomes ever more intricate with each layer unpeeled. In part one of this series, we looked at a growing understanding of the array of possible contaminants in the backstretch environment coupled with ever more sensitive testing methodologies. But go deeper, and what emerges...

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The Road to the Kentucky Derby…Sort Of…

This intrepid TDN correspondent has just spent the better part of 10 days on a road to the Kentucky Derby. Well, not exactly THE road to the Kentucky Derby. Rather, a long road trip from Los Angeles to Lexington via some of the country's most awe-inspiring national parks and monuments, arriving in the Bluegrass State a week before the Derby. The reason? To deliver to the doyen of XBTV, Zoe Cadman, her beloved RV, "Burt." What follows is an account of this American odyssey. A story of toxic algae and...

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TIF #FreeDataFriday Volume 28: Improving Racing Integrity

'What happened to the organization once called "the FBI of racing?" TIF Note: We hope you are staying healthy during these challenging times for our world. Over the past months, we have published a series of reports questioning the state of transparency and integrity measures in North American racing. We have made some suggestions that, if implemented, would yield more open reporting in the hopes of creating a sport in which well-intentioned participants have more confidence. The following is another submission in this series. What questions might you have about...

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John Shear: Ringside Seat to Nearly a Century of Memories

To say there's a touch of the picaresque about John Shear's life story would be like saying Pope Benedict flirts with Catholicism. During an over-stuffed 99 years and counting, Santa Anita's beloved paddock captain has had front row seats to historical game changers on both sides of the pond. He's rubbed shoulders with royalty and assassins, film stars and gangsters. Fate has intervened more than once on his behalf in ways that'll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand taller than a redwood. "You'll have to forgive...

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TDN Q&A: TSG's Aidan Butler on Santa Anita, part 2

New to running racetracks, Aidan Butler, The Stronach Group (TSG)'s chief strategy officer and acting executive director of California Racing Operations, has worn all sorts of suits belonging to all sorts of worlds--horse racing, legal affairs, business management, and technology--that he says have prepared him for the task. He founded a sports equipment company called GuardLab, which specializes in mouthguards, for example. He was managing director of a large litigation law firm called Gilbert's, its area of expertise in intellectual property--though he isn't, it should be noted, an attorney. Butler,...

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TDN Q&A: TSG's Aidan Butler on Santa Anita, part 1

When Aidan Butler, The Stronach Group (TSG)'s chief strategy officer, arrived at Santa Anita earlier this Spring, he did so in the midst of a welfare crisis unfolding on a national stage. Since then, TSG has solidified Butler's position within the company, where he will additionally serve as acting executive director of California Racing Operations. In terms of the crisis, Del Mar's summer meet--at which there were no race day fatalities and only four training-related deaths, two of which were the result of a freak accident--has had the effect of...

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