Banner Year Decades in the Making for Wachtel

The 2020 racing season was fraught with many challenges, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic, and halted racing in New York for about three months, continuing to wreak havoc with on-track attendance at many of the nation's racing venues throughout the remainder of the year. And while for many it was a time of turmoil and struggle, it proved to be a banner season for Wachtel Stable, campaigning not one but two Eclipse champions in 2020--Vequist (Nyquist, Champion Juvenile Filly) and Channel Maker (English Channel, Champion Turf Male). "Unfortunately, I...

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If Casino Stays Closed, Penn Racing to Hinge on Break-Even Handle

The Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (PHBPA) met with the management of Penn National Dec. 28 to come up with a contingency plan to keep racing going through January using purse money already "on deposit" in the event that Governor Tom Wolf's COVID-19-related closure of Penn's Hollywood Casino extends past the currently mandated Jan. 4. date. "Penn National has agreed to continue live racing through [January], provided the handle generates a break-even scenario for the company," Todd Mostoller, the PHBPA's executive director, wrote in a one-page memo to members...

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Owners' Per-Start Fee to Increase by 10% Jan. 1

Stemming from the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the reduction of live racing, and California's statewide increases in workers compensation costs, Post Time Self Insurance will institute a 10% increase, paid by both owners and trainers, to offset the shortages of the horse industry's workers compensation program covering jockeys and backstretch workers. Owners and trainers fund the majority of program costs via per-stall charges from trainers and race per-start fees from owners. The owners' per-start fee will be raised from $149 to $162, effective Jan. 1, 2021....

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Turf Paradise Getting Horse Influx From Pandemic Affected Tracks

By the time Turf Paradise opens Jan. 4 for Arizona's first live Thoroughbred racing since March 14, track management projects the horse population could top 1,200 for the five-day weekly, 84-date meet that runs through May 1. Turf Paradise general manager Vincent Francia said during the Dec. 10 Arizona Racing Commission meeting that 664 horses are currently stabled on the grounds, adding that "I expect by the end of the month that that figure is probably going to double." Francia explained that Turf Paradise is the recipient of a mixed...

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Mike Smith Positive for COVID-19; Will Miss Weekend Mounts

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him to bypass this weekend's stakes action at Los Alamitos, according to the DRF's Steve Andersen Friday. "I don't have any symptoms," he told DRF. "I'll have to wait a few days and test again. Hopefully, I'll be back up for the following week. I'll watch a little Netflix." Smith, whose positive was determined following a test at Santa Anita Friday, was scheduled to accompany Astute (Speightstown) in Saturday's GI Starlet S. and Proud Emma (Include) in Sunday's...

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2021 Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano Postponed

The Organizacion Sudamericana de Fomento board--in conjunction with LONGINES--announced the 2021 renewal of the Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano and Longines Cup, will be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally scheduled for this spring, the event will now be staged Sunday, Oct. 24th 2021, at Hipódromo Nacional de Maroñas, Uruguay.

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This Side Up: A Very Different Experience-but Euro Strategy Same as Ever

It's the baby I can't get out of my mind, try as I might. Maybe you feel it shouldn't have been out at all, on such an evening and in such a place: sitting there in its diaper, on a table, under the adoring smiles of the good-looking couple who had brought it into the raucous bar. But then the infant looked very much at home, alternately raising a glass of bourbon and a cheroot to its lips. Only in L.A.; only on Halloween. On closer inspection, of course, the...

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Face Coverings Mandatory at British Race Fixtures

In an effort to further enhance existing COVID-19 control measures, all racecourse attendees at behind closed doors race fixtures will be required to wear a face covering at all times while at the beginning Monday, Oct. 26. Face coverings (i.e. non-medical face coverings) must be worn at the racecourse by all attendees who are not identified as needing certified/higher grade PPE (e.g. medical and cleaning staff). Face coverings will be required in all indoor and outdoor areas of both the Green Zone and Owner Zone throughout the day. For more...

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Meadowlands Closes Temporarily Due to COVID-19

The Meadowlands Racetrack, a top harness racing venue in New Jersey, temporarily shut down starting Tuesday evening after several employees tested positive for COVID-19. Live racing will take place as scheduled Friday, but without fans. The facility will reopen to fans Saturday at 10 a.m. The following is part of a statement the track release Tuesday evening: "The racetrack continues to take an aggressive stance against the spread of COVID-19. Over the past several days the medical team has identified a few individuals that tested positive for COVID-19 that they...

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Not Enough Jockeys For 'Quality Racing Product' Causes Del Mar Cancellation

On Wednesday, when Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (DMTC) announced the cancellation of this weekend's three days of racing in the aftermath of 15 asymptomatic jockeys there testing positive for COVID-19, the chief reason listed in the track's press release was "to help ensure the safety of all workers at Del Mar and our surrounding community." But in a Thursday teleconference organized by the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) that featured Del Mar executives explaining their decision not to race, the focal point centered not so much on preventing the spread...

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Breeders Facing Many Uncertainties as COVID-19 Pandemic Continues

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of discussion and reporting on how quarantine, shutdowns, safety protocols and the shift in the sales calendar has affected trainers, backstretch workers, owners and sales companies. However, very little has been said about how it affects the breeders, who are the backbone of the Thoroughbred industry. Only one 2-year-old sale, the OBS March Sale, has been held so far this year with many of the other juvenile sales being postponed or even canceled. Fasig-Tipton has combined their July, Saratoga and New...

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Amid Pandemic, CDI Reports TwinSpires Growth

Predictably, Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), on Wednesday reported 2020 first-quarter revenue drops because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down racing and gaming throughout the nation since mid-March. But CDI noted within those results that it experienced "strong performance" from its TwinSpires advance-deposit wagering platform, with handle growth of 8.3% over the prior year's quarter. "For the first quarter of 2020, net revenue increased $4.3 million from the prior year quarter primarily due to a $3.7 million increase at TwinSpires," CDI reported in its Apr. 29 United States Securities...

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