The days are getting longer, March Madness is winding down, Cheltenham is a distant speck in the rearview mirror and the final Kentucky Derby preps are right around the corner.
Apologies from the TIHR crew for getting a bit backlogged this week while we finished a project that’s always a lot of fun and a lot of work. Faithful followers will know what it is considering the time of year; otherwise you’ll find out in a little more than week.
Big weekend of racing coming up, with the Dubai World Cup and monster supporting card and Louisiana Derby taking much of the focus. The jumps season gets underway, too, in Aiken. Ah spring. In a week’s time it will be April.
“I doubt whether there’s much fresh I can add but I’ll try.” – Owner Ralph Evans when called earlier this week to talk about recent Razorback Handicap winner Upstart
“Stop by and say hello, margaritas will be on me that night.” – Chip Acierno III, breeder of Frosty Margarita in the name of his family’s Gabrielle Farm, talking about the upcoming NYTB Awards Dinner
“My father and my uncle were two New York punters who used to feed me horses. … They were both charts handicappers, before it was the thing. … Neither one of them never met a favorite that they liked and occasionally they really hit good numbers.” – Longtime public handicapper Tom Amello on how he got interested in the game
“It’s amazing I think they literally named the place after him.” – Breeder Mark Vondrasek talking about the tiny upstate New York hamlet of Chestertown and Chester Broman. (Editor’s note: the first settlement there in 1790 was known as Chester Four Corner)
“It’s been a good meet.” – NYRA President and CEO Chris Kay about the Aqueduct winter meeting, which is up 19 percent in daily average on-track handle
“This is a very good story for New York.” – NYTB Executive Director Jeffrey Cannizzo after telling the NYRA board that New York surpassed Pennsylvania and Louisiana in recent years to become the fourth leading producer of foals in the U.S.
“My mission has always been fan education. That’s always been the big failing of this industry. They don’t know how.” – Amello
“OTB can’t stop taking bets long enough to teach people how to bet.” – Amello
“There’s something to be said for tradition and keeping things going.” – Acierno, who traces his family’s involvement in racing back 100 years in Italy when they raced stagecoaches
Save the Date
The New York Racing Association sale of season tickets, season passes, hospitality and dining for the 2016 Saratoga Race Course meeting will go on sale at 10 a.m. EDT Monday. Daily reserved seats will be available through Ticketmaster at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 3.
By the Numbers
1.62: Equine fatality rate per 1,000 starts in North America in 2015, according to statistics from The Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database, down from 1.89 a year ago.
9: Late nominees to the Triple Crown – Abiding Star, American Pioneer, Cards Of Stone, Governor Malibu, Isofass, Lookin For A Kiss, My Man Sam, Surgical Strike and Zapperini.
377: Total number of Triple Crown noms after the late additions.
4,000: Wins for Todd Pletcher after first-time starter Eagle Scout won last Friday at Gulfstream Park.
1,756,591: Total attendance at the three NYRA tracks in 2015, up 1.4 percent from a year earlier
$2,243,039,376: Total wagering on racing at the three NYRA tracks in 2015, up 3 percent from 2014
Good News of the Week
The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation approved a budget of $1,160,556 to fund 11 new projects, eight second-year projects and two Career Development Awards to encourage young scientists for 2016. Since 1983 the Foundation has funded 335 projects at 42 universities for a total of $23.3 million. The new projects involve the study of dorsal displacement of the soft palace, importance of latency in outbreaks of Equine Herpes Virus-1, foal pneumonia, prevention of strangles, training and surface factors in preventing injury and underlying mechanisms of disease.
Tweets of the Week (partial month)
Sean Feld (@Seaneff): “Does Verne Lundquist have a Keeneland tie on?”
Annise Montplaisir (@AnniseAnecodes): “My friend at the races for the first time says, ‘Hey it’s the Kentucky Derby song!’ during the call to post.