The Stronach Group

The Week in Review: Met Mile–and Vekoma–Both Benefit from Role Recasts

One of the most welcome schedule changes imposed upon the racing calendar by the COVID-19 pandemic was the repositioning of the GI Runhappy Metropolitan H. to headline status on the July 4 holiday at Belmont Park. In 2014, the Met Mile got yanked off its decades-long anchor as the Memorial Day feature in New York, reassigned to a supporting role on GI Belmont S. Day. This move was part of the prevalent (but not always aesthetically pleasing) national practice of stacking graded stakes on big-race Saturdays. It never felt like...

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New Maryland Whip Policy Starts Six-Strike Count at Quarter Pole

Effective Aug. 1, from the quarter pole to the finish wire, Maryland jockeys will be limited to six whip strikes--either overhanded or underhanded--with no more than two of those blows in succession without giving the horse a chance to respond. Prior to the quarter pole, jockeys will be allowed an unlimited number of strikes, provided they are delivered in an underhand manner, which is considered less harmful to horses. The Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) unanimously voted to approve the policy modification during its Thursday teleconference meeting. It's based on a...

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MD Commission Pushes Back on Lasix-Free 2YOs, The Stronach Group Vows to Write No Juvenile Races

After the Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) on Thursday refused to vote or otherwise rule on a late agenda request to allow The Stronach Group (TSG) to card Lasix-free races for 2-year-olds, an attorney for the TSG-owned Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) told the commission that the MJC-owned Laurel Park wouldn't be scheduling any juvenile races at all under the present rules that allow the use of the controversial anti-bleeding medication. "We currently [don't] have, and I don't believe we will have, any intent of carding a 2-year-old race under the condition...

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MJC Announces Lasix-Free 2yo Races

The Maryland Jockey Club has informed the Maryland Racing Commission of its plans to restrict races for 2-year-olds to connections who opt not to administer Lasix on race day. "The time has come to phase out Lasix beginning with 2-year-old horses," said Belinda Stronach, Chairman and President, The Stronach Group and 1/ST. "We are following through on 1/ST Racing's commitment to put horse and rider safety and welfare at the forefront. We believe in the principle that horses should only be racing free of medication. By taking this important step...

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Owners, Out-of-Town Shippers Permitted at Laurel as Maryland Moves to Phase 2

The Maryland Jockey Club announced policy changes Friday at Laurel Park in response to Maryland Governor Hogan's authorization to enter into Phase 2 of the state's Roadmap to Recovery plan. Effective Saturday, June 6, a limited number of owners will be permitted to watch races from the track apron while adhering to the COVID-19 mitigation protocols already in place at the track. Owners must enter the facility at the Clockers' entrance and must display a Maryland Racing Commission badge. The MJC has requested that owners watch their horses race and...

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The “Pep” Back “In the Step” of Santa Anita

California is an island, they say. Well, for the past few years, it sure has felt as though the industry in the state has been left to circle the choppy waters surrounding this island in a leaky vessel. At times, these leaks have threatened to submerge the boat completely--like the Santa Anita welfare crisis that erupted last spring which led to a sweeping set of reforms that have improved safety but pushed some cash-strapped operators further along the financial gang-plank. At other times, stormy seas have proven galvanizing, bringing this...

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New Preakness Date to be Announced During NBC Sports Special Saturday

Stronach Group Chairman and President Belinda Stronach and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan will announce the rescheduled date for the 145th GI Preakness S. on NBC Sports Saturday. NBC Sports will present a special show on NBC at 5 p.m. ET this Saturday, May 16--the original date for the race--headlined by American Pharoah's memorable Preakness S. win five years ago. The one-hour special--The Middle Jewel: American Pharoah's Run to the Triple Crown--will look back at American Pharoah's dominating win in the 140th Preakness S. Just prior to post time in 2015,...

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Turf Paradise Closes Doors For Summer Under Cloud of Uncertainty

This week saw the final horses stabled at Turf Paradise leave the premises as the facility closes its doors for the summer beneath an array of question marks dangling over the industry in the state. For one, the horses weren't the only Turf Paradise residents to vacate the facility this week. At the beginning of May, track management sent the Arizona Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) a letter giving the organization 30 days to "remove its belongings" from its Turf Paradise office and to "remove the trailer (medical trailer)...

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Hollendorfer Files Amended Complaint Against Stronach Group, Writ Against CHRB

Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, barred from The Stronach Group's (TSG) California facilities since June of last year, has fired the latest legal salvo in his ongoing dispute with the company with a first amended complaint against the Los Angeles Turf Club (LATC)--at Santa Anita--filed late last month in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. "We're playing the cards that we are dealt," said Hollendorfer's attorney, Drew Couto, about the reasons behind the latest complaint. "We sought provisional remedies from the outset--we're trying to mitigate his losses by getting...

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Breeders’ Cup Celebrates Mother’s Day with New Charitable Initiative

Blessings for the Backstretch, a charitable initiative, has been launched by Breeders' Cup in partnership with The Stronach Group to support mothers living and working on the backstretch at Santa Anita Park this Mother's Day. On Sunday morning, May 10, the two organizations will hand-deliver Mother's Day Blessings Baskets to these hard-working women in appreciation for their immeasurable contributions to the horse racing industry. Each basket will include chocolates, fresh flowers, body wash, moisturizers, nail polish and other special gifts and treats curated with moms in mind. "We are indebted...

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Golden Gate to Resume Racing May 14

Golden Gate Fields will resume live racing on Thursday, May 14, after receiving provisional approval Wednesday morning from the Alameda County Public Health Officer. Live racing was temporarily suspended Apr. 2, following an order from Alameda County in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Live racing will be conducted under strict protocols and without spectators, to protect the health, safety and welfare of every person and every horse in the Golden Gate Fields community. The protocols are still being finalized with county officials and will be released in the coming days,...

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With Casinos Closed, Maryland Horsemen Bracing for Major Changes When Racing Resumes

While eager to see the return of live racing at Laurel, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association President Tim Keefe knows that the belt-tightening may not end any time soon. Casino revenues account for a large portion of the purse money for the Maryland tracks and its likely that the state's casinos will be closed for several more months. "It certainly is a concern and something on our minds," Keefe said. "Nearly70% of our purse revenues are derived from the casinos. With them being closed down, obviously it is a big concern...

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