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Racing on the Air Racing to History Weekend Stakes Races
News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications, (212) 907-9280.


The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today announced that Delaware Park in Stanton, Del., has rejoined the NTRA, after a one-year membership hiatus. The Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, which has been an NTRA member since 1998, also renewed its membership in the NTRA. More


The eyes of the nation will be on Sam Houston Race Park this Saturday as the northwest Houston racetrack hosts an exceptional night of racing. Saturday's races will feature four stakes including the eighth running of the $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf, the richest race of the 2001/2002 Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred meeting.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, who has been the leading trainer at Sam Houston Race Park since the meeting began on November 1, has nominated runners for each of the four stakes on Connally night. He will saddle two runners in the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf, Vergennes, for owner Gary A. Tanaka and Nat's Big Party owned by Eclipse Award winner Richard A. Englander. Vergennes drew post five and Nat's Big Party post ten in the field of 12.

"Vergennes was fourth in the Connally one year ago," said Asmussen. "I thought that the difference for this year would be to have him with a little more confidence coming into the race. I don't think that he appreciated the Fair Grounds turf course so we ran him over here a couple of times and his confidence should be real high. Hopefully it will make up the difference in the length that he was beat last year. We experimented with rating him in his last race; he's very effective with his speed but it makes it such a hard race on him. This Saturday we thoroughly plan on dropping his head and letting him run away from there."

Nat's Big Party has a different running style, preferring to come from off the pace. The 8-year-old son of Black Tie Affair scored his last stakes victory on August 11 at Retama Park, winning the $50,00 Retama Turf Cup Handicap. "They definitely don't get in each other's way," said Asmussen. "Nat's Big Party has had very good success on tighter cut turf courses. He was third to El Gran Papa in the Dallas Turf Cup and won some stakes after that. We gave him a little bit of a freshening and he was recently third in his comeback race at the Fair Grounds. So I think he's set up very well for the Connally."

In the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes, Asmussen will saddle defending champion Euryanthe, also owned by Tanaka. The 6-year-old Irish-bred, who will break from post two against 11 opponents in the Jersey Lilly, went on to win the $200,000 Winstar Distaff Handicap at Lone Star Park following her victory in last year's Jersey Lilly. "Last year she came into this race off a second in the Furl Sail Stakes; this year she ran fifth in it, but it was off the grass. She ran second in a tough allowance race on opening day at the Fair Grounds. We know how well she runs here and the only difference is that her last race was off the turf."

Asmussen's other starters will include Sly Kona in the $30,000 Katy Stakes and Abajo in the $50,000 Sam Houston Turf Sprint. Trainer Bobby Frankel, who won his second consecutive Eclipse Award on Monday night, shipped El Gran Papa to Houston for the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf. Owned by Houstonian Thomas Tatham, El Gran Papa has a nice history in the Lone Star State having captured the $300,000 Dallas Turf Sprint at Lone Star Park on June 17 of last year. California-based rider Garrett Gomez will have the mount.

Another aspect of the big night centers around the Connally Breeders' Cup Online Handicapping Contest. The contest is open to all racing fans, 21-years of age or older, with a total of $2,000 in prizes to the top four finishers. There is no entry fee for the Contest, and each contestant will be required to make win, place and show selections for the $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf Race, the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes, the $50,000 Sam Houston Turf Sprint Cup and the $30,000 Katy Stakes. Registration will take place on the Sam Houston Race Park web site, beginning today, February 21 with the entry deadline set at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, February 23. The entries will be graded on dollar value of the $2 win, $2 place and $2 show selections, with cash prizes of $1,000 to the winner, $500 to the second place finisher, $300 for third and $200 to the fourth place contestant.

The Connally Breeders' Cup Turf, the Sam Houston Turf Sprint Cup and the Jersey Lilly Stakes will all be part of this weekend's NTRA 2Day at the Races telecast. The program will air on ESPN2 on Sunday, February 24 at 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time (late Saturday night) and it will also include Saturday's running of the Baldwin Stakes from Santa Anita and live coverage of the Los Alamitos Winter Derby, an important Quarterhorse race from Los Alamitos Racetrack in Cypress, Calif.


As part of the rollout of its new, fully redesigned Web site,, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) has unveiled "Bet the Net," an interactive simulation designed to help new and light horseracing fans learn the fundamentals of pari-mutuel wagering while providing an introduction to account wagering on the Internet. More


The 31st annual Eclipse Awards were presented last Monday night in Miami Beach with a star-studded roster of nominees and presenters, including New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, on hand. In case you missed the results, here are Monday night's list of winners:

Two-Year-Old Colt or Gelding: Johannesburg
Two-Year-Old Filly: Tempera
Three-Year-Old Colt or Gelding: Point Given
Three-Year-Old Filly: Xtra Heat
Older Colt, Horse or Gelding: Tiznow
Older Filly or Mare: Gourmet Girl
Sprinter: Squirtle Squirt
Male Turf HorseL Fantastic Light
Female Turf Horse: Banks Hill
Steeplechase: Pompeyo
Owner: Richard Englander
Breeder: Juddmonte Farms
Jockey: Jerry Bailey
Apprentice Jockey: Jeremy Rose
Trainer: Bobby Frankel
Horse of the Year: Point Given

The Eclipse Awards are voted on and presented by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form (DRF) and National Turf Writers Association (NTWA). The votes are tabulated and certified by Ernst & Young LLP.


There was strong support for such well regarded horses as unbeaten European hero Johannesburg and American stars Siphonic and Repent, but racing fans across North America made the mutuel field a heavy favorite as the record-setting opening pool of Churchill Downs' 2002 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) closed last Sunday.

The mutuel field, which includes all 3-year-olds other than the 23 horses listed among the 24 wagering interests in the first of three KDFW pools, finished as the 5-2 favorite. The 5-2 odds represent the strongest favorite in an individual pool in the history of the Future Wager, which is in its fourth year. The heaviest previous favorites were the mutuel field in Pool 1 of 2001 and eventual Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus in Pool 3 of 2000. Both closed at odds of 3-1.

Fans at racetracks and off-track betting outlets in a record 34 states wagered $577,889 into the pool, which is the largest total for a single pool in KDFW history. The previous record of $510,815 was established in Pool 1 of 2001. Four states that took part in Feb. 14-17 pool - California, Massachusetts, Michigan and Washington - participated in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager for the first time.

The second choice and favored individual horse in Pool 1 was Johannesburg, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (GI) who is training toward the Kentucky Derby in Ireland for trainer Aidan O'Brien. Johannesburg closed at odds of 7-1. Next came a pair of 8-1 shots: California-based Siphonic, winner of the Hollywood Futurity (GI) and Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (GII); and Repent, the convincing winner of last Sunday's Risen Star Stakes (GIII) at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Remsen (GII) winner Saarland closed at odds of 11-1, while San Vicente (GII) winner Came Home was a 14-1 risk when Pool 1 closed. The 1-2 finishers in Saturday's Fountain of Youth (GI) at Gulfstream Park - the weekend's biggest Kentucky Derby prep race - were next in line. Fountain of Youth runner-up Harlan's Holiday closed at 17-1, while the victorious Booklet closed at odds of 24-1.

The Future Wager allows racing fans to place wagers on contenders for the Kentucky Derby weeks in advance of the race at odds that may be more attractive than those they would receive on Derby Day. The Kentucky Derby Future Wager is a $2 minimum wager and is a win bet only. The list of horses in each pool consists of 24 betting interests, which include 23 individual horses and a mutuel field that contains all other 3-year-old Thoroughbreds - regardless of whether those horses have been nominated to the Kentucky Derby and the Visa Triple Crown. There are no refunds.

KDFW Pool 2 is set for March 14-17 and Pool 3 is scheduled for April 4-7.

RACING ON THE AIR (all times Eastern)

February 23 Racehorse Digest, 5:00-5:30 a.m., ESPN

February 24 NTRA 2Day at the Races; Baldwin Stakes (Santa Anita Park), Connally Breeders' Cup Turf, Sam Houston Turf Sprint Cup and Jersey Lilly Stakes (Sam Houston Race Park), Los Alamitos Winter Derby (Los Alamitos); 1:00-1:30 a.m., ESPN2

February 24 Eclipse Awards Special, 11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m., ESPN2

February 27 Racehorse Digest, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2

March 2 Racehorse Digest, 5:00-5:30 a.m., ESPN

March 6 Racehorse Digest, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2


Feb. 22, 1969: Barbara Jo Rubin became the first woman jockey to win a parimutuel race in America when she rode Cohesion to victory at Charles Town.

Feb. 23, 1935: Seven-year-old Azucar, a former steeplechaser, won the inaugural Santa Anita Handicap at Santa Anita Park.

Feb. 24, 1947: Acting upon an earlier recommendation by The Jockey Club stewards, the Thoroughbred Racing Associations unanimously approved lip tattoos as a method of identifying Thoroughbred racehorses.

Feb. 24, 1979: Trainer J.C. Williams saddled eight winners in 12 attempts at Waterford Park. Williams also owned seven of those eight winners.

Feb. 25, 1990: The 11th race at Charles Town was declared a no-contest because the starting gate could not be removed from the track after the race had begun. The track announcer warned the jockeys to pull up their mounts, and the track subsequently refunded all wagers on the race.

Feb. 25, 1998: The purse of the Breeders' Cup Distaff was increased from $1 million to $2 million, effective with that year's Breeders' Cup Championship at Churchill Downs.

Feb. 25, 1999: Jockey Robbie Davis got his 3,000 win aboard Inevitably Private in the fourth race at Gulfstream Park.

Feb. 26, 1973: With Secretariat having been named Horse of the Year for 1972 and champion two-year-old, it was announced by Claiborne Farm that the colt had been syndicated for a then-record $6,080,000-equivalent to 32 shares at $190,000 each.

Feb. 27, 1982: Florida apprentice Mary Russ became the first female jockey to win a Grade I stakes in North America when she captured the Widener Handicap aboard Lord Darnley at Hialeah.

Feb. 28, 1957: John Longden became the first jockey in history to reach 5,000 victories.

March 1, 1969: Tuesdee Testa, 27, became the first female jockey to win a race at a major American Thoroughbred track when she won the third race at Santa Anita Park aboard Buz On.

March 1, 1991: Pat Day, 37, became the sixth rider in history whose mounts earned $100 million when he rode Wild Sierra to a second-place finish in the first race at Oaklawn Park.

March 2, 1940: Beaten by a nose in both the 1937 and 1938 Santa Anita Handicaps, Seabiscuit finally won the Big 'Cap in his final race. He retired the then-leading money-winning horse in the world.

March 2, 1966: Kelso, Horse of the Year 1960-64, ran his last race, finishing fourth at Hialeah Park.

March 3, 1966: Ogden Phipps' Buckpasser won the Flamingo Stakes by a nose, under the guidance of Bill Shoemaker. The colt was such a prohibitive favorite among the field of nine that the race was declared a non-wagering contest and was dubbed "The Chicken Flamingo."

March 3, 1985: Bill Shoemaker became the first jockey in history to win $100 million in purses after he won the Santa Anita Handicap aboard Lord at War (ARG).

March 3, 1993: Russell Baze had his 4,000th career win, with Frank Musso, at Golden Gate Fields.

March 5, 1988: Carl Gambardella had his 5,000th career winner, aboard John's Goldenapple, at Suffolk Downs.

March 6, 1965: Jockey Earlie Fires rode his first winner, Carnation Kid, at Oaklawn Park. By year's end, Fires had amassed nearly $600,000 in purse earnings to earn the title of champion apprentice jockey.

March 6, 1988: Julie Krone became the winningest female jockey in racing history when she won the 1,205th race of her career riding a filly named Squawter in the ninth race at Aqueduct Racetrack.

WEEKEND STAKES RACES (unrestricted stakes worth $75,000 and up)

Palm Beach Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, Grade III, 1 1/8 M (T), Gulfstream Park

John B. Connally Breeders' Cup Turf, 3&up, $200,000, 1 1/8 M (T), Sam Houston Race Park
Canadian Turf Handicap, 3&up, $150,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M (T), Gulfstream Park
Chou Croute Handicap, 4&up (f&m), $150,000, 1 1/16 M, Fair Grounds
Las Flores Handicap, 4&up (f&m), $125,000, Grade III, 6 F, Santa Anita Park
Essex Handicap, 4&up, $75,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M, Oaklawn Park Best Turn Stakes, 3yo, $75,000, 6F, Aqueduct

Davona Dale Stakes, 3yo fillies, $100,000, Grade II, 1 1/16 M, Gulfstream Park
Baldwin Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, Grade III, 6 F (T), Santa Anita Park
Taylor's Special Handicap, 4&up, $100,000, 6F, Fair Grounds



Racing television schedule



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