Week in Review

What 60 Minutes Got Wrong, and What It Got Right

After the venerable and influential news show 60 Minutes aired a piece on horse racing last week, people within the industry were understandably upset. The story was ugly, filled with graphic and grisly coverage of horses breaking down, and portrayed racing as a sport where drugs, corruption and horse fatalities had reached the point of being out of control. "Horse racing is an industry where extremely devoted people labor because of one common thing: we all love horses, especially thoroughbred horses," Denali Stud's Craig Bandoroff wrote to 60 Minutes. "That...

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The Week In Review: Baffert 2-Year-Old Horsepower Evident On Del Mar Opening Weekend

Trainer Bob Baffert went 0-for-9 in Breeders' Cup races, and four months ago he received his dis-invitation to the 150th GI Kentucky Derby in the form of an extension of his original two-year suspension from properties owned by the gaming company Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI). But neither the Breeders' Cup blanking nor the Derby banishment should be taken as indications that the Hall-of-Fame conditioner is running low on horsepower, particularly in the 2-year-old division. A pair of Baffert juveniles on the first two days of the Del Mar meeting this...

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The Week In Review: A Weekend Report Card

The next best thing to the Breeders' Cup is a weekend filled with Breeders' Cup preps. That was the story last week as 31 graded stakes races were contested, many of them races that would help shape the fields for the Breeders' Cup races. Who were the big winners? Who were the big losers? Here's our reports card: Up to the Mark: A+ It had been a depressing year for North American-based turf horses, who lost race after race to European shippers, including some whose credentials were rather modest. Saturday's...

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The Week In Review: Breeders' Cup Berths Not All About Speed Numbers

Going into Saturday's wiring of the GI Awesome Again S., Slow Down Andy (Nyquist) hadn't won a dirt race in 1 1/2 years, and he still has the same habit of swishing his tail in the stretch when lifelong riding partner Mario Gutierrez implores him for run. But this Reddam Racing homebred trained by Doug O'Neill had been finishing respectably behind some A-list names in his company lines, so bettors made him favored for the first time in 15 months, and at 2-1 odds Slow Down Andy rewarded that confidence...

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The Week In Review: Juvenile Fillies Emerge As Intriguing Divisional Subplot

The juvenile fillies division is crystalizing into one of the most intriguing subplots of the Breeders' Cup as we approach the six-week mark to the championships. The skyrocketing 'TDN Rising Star' Tamara (Bolt d'Oro), unveiled barely a month ago, has emerged from the West Coast as the obvious topper of her division. But the brilliant, 2-for-2  daughter of four-time champion Beholder is likely to have a fight on her hands as the upcoming stakes engagements extend around two turns, thanks to a talented trio of fillies who have ascended in...

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The Week In Review: Can A Racetrack Have A Perfect Safety Record? Del Mar Is Getting Close

It's often been said that, no matter how hard the sport works to become safer, there will never come a time when there are zero fatalities. Unfortunately, that's probably true. But at the recently concluded Del Mar meet, not a single horse suffered a fatal breakdown during a race. Not once did a horse break a leg, crumple to the ground and then have to be euthanized behind a curtain blocking the view of a horrified public, the story making its way into the newspapers or the local news and...

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The Week In Review: The Year In Which Saratoga Lost Its Mojo

At the conclusion of racing on Monday, Saratoga will have handled about $800 million for the meet, the third highest handle figure ever for the track. On-track attendance once again topped one million, and was officially at 1,055,543 after Saturday's GI Jockey Club Gold Cup Day card with two racing days to go. Yet, by just about any measure, it was not a good meet. Saratoga came into 2023 with the wind at its back. Every year the racing seemed to get bigger, the handle would grow and more and...

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The Week In Review: After 2,000 Wins The Hard Way, Next Goal For Murphy Is Retirement

After 3 1/2 decades in the saddle, Cindy Murphy knows all too well how fate lurks with every hoofbeat when you're a jockey. Occasionally though, chance and risk manifest themselves in the form of good karma on the racetrack. On Saturday night at Prairie Meadows, the rewarding circumstances of the 61-year-old jockey's 2,000th career win seemed almost too scripted to be true. Murphy's landmark victory aboard Crypto Mo (Mohaymen) in the July 8 GIII Iowa Oaks was her first lifetime graded stakes win after 18,131 lifetime mounts. It was also...

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The Week In Review: On Another Day Dominated By Super Trainers, Jason Cook Wins One For The Little Guy

There were 13 graded stakes races run in North America Saturday and the combination of Bob Baffert, Chad Brown, Steve Asmussen, Brad Cox and Mark Casse won eight of them. That's three Hall of Famers and two future Hall of Famers. Not that any of this should come as a surprise. The so-called super trainer stables seem to only be getting bigger and more powerful by the day, leaving everyone else to fight over the leftover scraps. So what chance did Jason Cook have in the GII John A. Nerud...

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The Week In Review: The Legend Of 'Red'-Trainer Saddles Winner At Age 96

Trainer Robert "Red" McKenzie doesn't get much ink south of the border here in the States, but he is a living legend on the western Canada racing circuit. With practically zero fanfare or notice, McKenzie added to his impressive list of lifetime accomplishments Friday night when he saddled Entitled Star (Roi Charmant), a 10-year-old mare he owns, to a 25-1 upset victory in a $4,000 claimer in the second race at Century Mile in Edmonton. The win was significant because McKenzie is 96 years old. The feat could very well...

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The Week In Review: Earle Mack Has The Answer, And We Must Listen To Him

Earle Mack is right. This industry, which is mired in a crisis, can no longer afford to ignore the most obvious solution to its problems, which are synthetic tracks. Mack wrote just that in an Op/Ed that appeared in this publication last week. If you haven't read it yet, please do so now. It is powerful, articulate and well-reasoned and was written by someone whose credentials demand that we respect his opinion. He is a horse owner, a breeder, a former U.S. Ambassador to Finland and a smart and successful...

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The Week In Review: April Fool In The Derby Future Wager Pool?

Approaching the four-week mark to the GI Kentucky Derby, trainer Todd Pletcher has three highly ranked contenders, and the most impressive thing about that collective is that the Hall-of-Fame conditioner has guided them through undefeated 2023 campaigns to date, meticulously mapping out their schedules to avoid overlap. Divisional champ Forte (Violence), now 6-for-7, won Saturday's GI Florida Derby with a mad-dash flourish. 'TDN Rising Star' Tapit Trice (Tapit), the winner of the GIII Tampa Bay Derby, will be heavily favored to improve his 3-for-4 record with another score in Saturday's...

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