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NTRA THOROUGHBRED NOTEBOOK

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.

WAR EMBLEM TO BID FOR TRIPLE CROWN, IMMORTALITY ON SATURDAY

War Emblem, attempting to become Thoroughbred racing's 12th Visa Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed in 1978, will break from post position number nine and go off the favorite in Saturday's 134th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in New York.

The Thoroughbred Corp.'s War Emblem, trained by Bob Baffert, can earn a $5 million bonus with a sweep of the Triple Crown.

"I feel really confident about War Emblem. There are some speed horses we're going to have to take on, but Menacing Dennis [in the Preakness] was fast," said War Emblem's trainer, Bob Baffert. "You can't take his game away from him. I don't want to see (jockey) Victor Espinoza pulling hard because that weakens him."

The Belmont Stakes lost a competitor on Thursday when it was announced that Puzzlement will miss the race due to a bruised hoof.

The Belmont Stakes will be televised live on NBC with coverage from 5:00-6:30 p.m. (ET). Expected post time for the Belmont Stakes is 6:10 p.m. ESPN will kick off Belmont Day television coverage with its Belmont Stakes Special from 2:00-5:00 p.m. (ET).

The complete field for Saturday's Grade I, $1,000,000 Belmont Stakes, from the rail out (with jockeys and morning line odds in parentheses) is as follows: Artax Too (Jose Santos, 50-1); Like A Hero (Pat Day, 30-1); Wiseman's Ferry (Jorge Chavez, 20-1); Essence of Dubai (Jerry Bailey, 30-1); Sunday Break (Gary Stevens, 6-1); Perfect Drift (Eddie Delahoussaye, 8-1); Medaglia d'Oro (Kent Desormeaux, 10-1); Proud Citizen (Mike Smith, 5-1); War Emblem (Victor Espinoza, Even); Magic Weisner (Richard Migliore, 15-1); and Sarava (Edgar Prado, 30-1).

HOUGHTON REGISTERS 3000TH WIN

Following the first race at Great Lakes Downs Monday, jockey Terry Houghton joined the exclusive club of fewer than one hundred riders who have earned 3,000 career wins. Houghton teamed up with Great Lakes Downs' 2001 leading trainer, Gerald Bennett to bring maiden Blossom Hill to victory.

Career purses for Houghton total near $25 million. In 2001 Houghton was Great Lakes Downs' leading rider. He has garnished many other titles in his 13 years of race riding, including leading apprentice rider at the Detroit Race Course in 1988 and leading rider at Tampa Bay Downs for many years.

"Since I was little, this is what I've wanted to do," said Houghton. "I use to go to the track every day after school and on weekends. My mom use to make me stay in the tack room until she was done working. When she was done, I got to ride the ponies around the track."

He would ride all day long, switching from one pony to the next," said Ronnie Houghton, Terry's father and retired jockey.

He began his career as a jockey in the late summer of 1987 at the DRC. He won 14 races before going back to finish his senior year at Hazel Park High School. Houghton returned to the track in the late spring of 1988 and rode for two months until a bad fall left him with a bruised heart and a broken collarbone.

After his injury, Houghton returned to the Detroit Race Course where he was the leading jockey from 1996 to 1998. "He really has a gift for Thoroughbreds," said Houghton's agent of ten years, Frank Grafoulis. "They just run for him. He's just a natural."

RACING ON THE AIR (all times Eastern)

June 6 Thoroughbred Classics Presented by the NTRA, Belmont Stakes, 5:30-6:00 p.m., ESPN Classic

June 7 Thoroughbred Classics Presented by the NTRA, Belmont Stakes, 9:30-10:00 a.m., ESPN Classic

June 7 Triple Crown Challenge: War Emblem, 4:00-5:00 p.m., ESPN2

June 7 Acorn Stakes and Flash Stakes (Belmont Park), 5:00-6:00 p.m., ESPN2

June 8 Triple Crown Challenge: War Emblem, 12:30-1:30 a.m., ESPN2

June 8 Thoroughbred Classics Presented by the NTRA, Belmont Stakes, 9:30-10:00 a.m., ESPN Classic

June 8 Triple Crown Challenge: War Emblem, 1:00-2:00 p.m., ESPN2

June 8 Belmont Stakes Special; True North Breeders' Cup Handicap, Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap and Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup Stakes (Belmont Park); 2:00-5:00 p.m., ESPN

June 8 Belmont Stakes (Belmont Park), 5:00-6:30 p.m., NBC

June 8 The Triple Crown 2002, 6:30-7:30 p.m., ESPN2

June 9 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN

June 12 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2

June 15 Wire to Wire, 6:00-6:30 a.m., ESPN

June 15 NTRA Summer Racing Tour; Dallas Turf Cup (Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie), Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (Hollywood Park), Stephen Foster Handicap (Churchill Downs) and Brooklyn Handicap (Belmont Park); 5:00-6:00 p.m.; CBS

June 19 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2

RACING TO HISTORY

June 6, 1919: Man o' War won his first race ever, a five-furlong contest over a straightaway at Belmont Park. He won by six lengths, running the distance in 59 seconds, and went off at odds of 3-5. In each of his 20 subsequent races, Man o' War was the odds-on favorite.

June 6, 1972: In preparation for his colt's July 4 racing debut, trainer Lucien Laurin put blinkers on two-year-old Secretariat for the first time. Secretariat responded by working a half-mile at Belmont Park in :47 3/5, the fastest time he had ever worked up to that date.

June 6, 1987: Bet Twice became the first horse to receive a Triple Crown bonus after winning the Belmont Stakes over rival Alysheba. He earned $1 million in addition to the first-place money.

June 6, 1992: Jockey Carl Gambardella won his 6,000th career victory, aboard Nip of Gin, at Rockingham Park.

June 6, 1998: Real Quiet was denied the Triple Crown when Victory Gallop edged him at the wire in the Belmont Stakes before an audience of 80,162. The crowd was the second-largest in the track's history and just shy of the mark set in 1971 when Canonero II failed in his Triple Crown bid before 82,694 spectators. Total handle on the Belmont Day card was a record of $55,613,482.

June 7, 1930: Gallant Fox became the second winner of the Triple Crown after he won the Belmont Stakes under Earl Sande. Gallant Fox subsequently sired another Triple Crown winner, Omaha.

June 7, 1941: Whirlaway won the 73rd running of the Belmont Stakes and became the fifth horse to win the Triple Crown.

June 7, 1947: Owner William Helis had three stakes wins in three different states. Rippey won the Carter Handicap at New York's Aqueduct; Jobstown won the Absecon Handicap at New Jersey's Atlantic City and Elpis won the New Castle Handicap at Delaware Park.

June 7, 1980: Genuine Risk became the first filly to compete in all three Triple Crown races. She won the Kentucky Derby and finished second in both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

June 7, 1986: Trainer Woody Stephens saddled Danzig Connection to win his fifth consecutive Belmont Stakes. Stephens won the previous races with Conquistador Cielo (1982), Caveat (1983), Swale (1984) and Creme Fraiche (1985).

June 7, 1997: In his bid to become the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown, Silver Charm was outdueled during the stretch run of the Belmont Stakes by Touch Gold. Silver Charm held on for second and became the 13th horse to have lost the Triple Crown after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. On-track attendance at Belmont was 70,682--third-highest in the track's history.

June 8, 1935: Omaha, son of Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox, became the third winner of the Triple Crown with a win in the Belmont Stakes.

June 8, 1985: Brushwood Stable's Creme Fraiche became the first gelding to win the Belmont Stakes.

June 8, 1991: Julie Krone became the first female rider to compete in the Belmont Stakes. Her mount, Subordinated Debt, finished ninth as the third-longest shot in the field. Also on that date, Mane Minister became the only horse to finish third in all three Triple Crown events.

June 9, 1888: James McLaughlin set the record for most number of wins by a jockey in the Belmont Stakes, six, when he rode Sir Dixon to a 12-length victory. McLaughlin's record was matched by Eddie Arcaro in 1955.

June 9, 1887: Only two horses competed in the Belmont Stakes. It was the smallest field in the race's history, which again had only two starters in 1888, 1892, 1910, and 1920, the year Man o' War won the Belmont by 20 lengths.

June 9, 1945: Hoop Jr. won the Kentucky Derby, which was run one month after a national wartime government ban on racing was lifted.

June 9, 1973: Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths-the longest winning margin in the race's history-while setting a track record of 2:24, which has not been surpassed. The time was 2 3/5 seconds faster than the mark set by Gallant Man in 1957. Secretariat's victory made him the ninth Triple Crown winner and first since Citation had swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1948.

June 9, 1979: Spectacular Bid lost his chance for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes, finishing third to winner Coastal. Trainer Bud Delp alleged that the colt had sustained a foot injury after stepping on a safety pin the morning of the race.

June 9, 1984: Riding Swale in a wire-to-wire victory, Laffit Pincay Jr. won his third consecutive Belmont Stakes, becoming the only rider in this century to accomplish that feat. Pincay rode Caveat to victory in 1983 and Conquistador Cielo in 1982; all three of his mounts were trained by Woody Stephens. Jockey James McLaughlin also rode three consecutive Belmont winners, once from 1882-84, and again from 1886-88. Swale's Belmont was also the first in which a female trainer saddled a horse for the race. Sarah Lundy sent Minstrel Star to a last-place finish.

June 9, 2001: Preakness Stakes winner Point Given won the Belmont Stakes by a whopping 12 lengths, besting eight rivals in a time of 2:26 2/5 for a mile and a half, the fourth fastest time in Belmont Stakes history. A P Valentine finished second as he did in the Preakness and Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos came home third. Point Given became the 45th horse to capture two legs of horseracing's Triple Crown and the 17th to take just the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

June 10, 1890: The Preakness Stakes was run outside Baltimore, at Morris Park in New York, under the auspices of the New York Jockey Club. Suspended for three years, the race was next run at the Brooklyn Jockey Club's Gravesend Course, 1894-1908.

June 10, 1938: Hollywood Park opened in Inglewood, Calif. In its inaugural year, Hollywood Park attracted such racing stars as Lawrin, who had given jockey Eddie Arcaro his first Kentucky Derby victory, as well as Ligaroti and Seabiscuit, whose rivalry later reached its pitch in a match race contested at Del Mar on Aug. 12, 1938.

June 10, 1944: The only triple dead heat for first in a stakes race occurred at Aqueduct Racetrack in the Carter Handicap. The three winners were Brownie, Bossuet and Wait a Bit.

June 10, 1953: Trainer Charlie Whittingham, at age 40, saddled his first stakes winner when Porterhouse, ridden by Bill Boland, won the National Stallion Stakes at Belmont Park. Porterhouse was later named champion two-year-old of 1953.

June 10, 1972: Laffit Pincay Jr. won his 2,000th victory while riding at Hollywood Park.

June 10, 1978: Steve Cauthen, at age 18, became the youngest jockey ever to win the Triple Crown when his mount, Affirmed, won the Belmont Stakes. Also on that day, Alydar became the only horse to finish second in all three Triple Crown races. Affirmed was the 11th winner of the Triple Crown.

June 10, 2000: The 132nd Belmont Stakes drew a crowd of 67,810, making it the fourth largest in the racetrack's history and the largest Belmont Stakes crowd ever when a Triple Crown was not at stake. The race was won by longshot Commendable, giving trainer D. Wayne Lukas his record 13th win in a Triple Crown race.

June 11, 1898: Willie Simms became the only African American jockey to win the Preakness Stakes when he rode Sly Fox to victory. With this win, Simms became the only African American jockey to have won all three Triple Crown races. His other Triple Crown wins took place in the Kentucky Derby (1896, 1898) and Belmont Stakes (1893, 1894).

June 11, 1919: The first Triple Crown was won by Sir Barton after he completed the Belmont Stakes, then run at 1 3/8 miles rather than the traditional 1 miles. Prior to his Triple Crown sweep, Sir Barton had been winless in six tries at racing.

June 11, 1921: Grey Lag, under Earl Sande, won the first Belmont Stakes ever to be run counter-clockwise. Previous Belmonts had been run clockwise over a fish-hook course that included part of the training track and the main dirt oval.

June 11, 1955: Jockey Eddie Arcaro tied James McLaughlin's record of six Belmont Stakes wins when he rode Nashua to victory.

June 11, 1966: Jockey Angel Cordero Jr. recorded his first American stakes victory, taking the Christiana Stakes aboard two-year-old Hermogenes at Delaware Park.

June 11, 1973: Triple Crown winner Secretariat simultaneously made the covers of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated.

June 11, 1977: Upon winning the Belmont Stakes, Seattle Slew became the tenth Triple Crown winner and the first Triple Crown winner to remain undefeated, with a career record of nine-for-nine.

June 11, 2001: Final ratings for NBC's coverage of the Belmont Stakes were a 4.5 rating and 13 share, a 61% increase over last year's rating of 2.8 and 9 share. The average rating for all three Triple Crown races was a 6.1 and 17 share, a 49% increase over last year's combined average of 4.1 and 12, according to Neilsen Media Research. The final combined ratings also were the highest since 1992. The Belmont Stakes Day also attracted a record on-track betting handle of $10,581,093.

June 12, 1920: Man o' War won the Belmont Stakes, which was then run at a distance of 1 3/8-miles, in 2:14 1/5. He shattered the existing world record by 3 1/5 seconds and also set the American dirt-course record for that distance.

June 12, 1926: The August Belmont family first presented their permanent commemorative Tiffany trophy to the winner of the Belmont Stakes. The silver trophy was created in 1869 in recognition of Fenian's win in the Belmont.

June 12, 1948: After riding Citation to victory in the Belmont, jockey Eddie Arcaro became the only rider in history to have won two Triple Crowns. His previous Triple Crown was with Whirlaway, in 1941. In wining the Belmont, Citation became the eighth Triple Crown winner.

June 12, 1960: Jockey Angel Cordero Jr. rode his first race at El Comandante in Puerto Rico.

June 12, 1982: Jockey Mike Smith rode his first winner, Future Man, in a $2,000 claiming race at Santa Fe.

June 13, 1874: English-bred Saxon became the first foreign bred horse to win the Belmont Stakes.

June 13, 1913: James Rowe, who had won back-to-back Belmonts in 1872-3 as a jockey, set the record for most number of Belmont Stakes wins by a trainer, eight, when he sent Prince Eugene to victory.

June 13, 1961: Ben A. Jones, who trained a record six Kentucky Derby winners, died.

June 13, 1992: Angel Cordero Jr. won his first race in two tries as a trainer, with Puchinito, in the fourth race at Belmont Park.

June 13, 1999: Silver Charm, winner of the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and the 1998 Dubai World Cup, retired after finishing fourth in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. Silver Charm retired with earnings of $6,944,369 (third-highest of all time) and won 12 of 24 starts.

June 14, 1880: The first post parade of horses in any American race took place prior to the running of the Belmont Stakes. Horses had previously gone directly from paddock to post.

June 14, 1967: Jockey Craig Perret, age 16, won his first career race at Arlington Park. Despite starting well into the season, Perret finished the year third among the nation's apprentice riders in races won (with 114) and led all apprentices in the earnings category, with $610,003.

June 15, 1963: Five weeks prior to his 90th birthday, Hall of Fame trainer 'Sunny Jim' Fitzsimmons retired. "Mr. Fitz," as he was also known, trained such outstanding runners as Nashua, Bold Ruler, Johnstown and Triple Crown winners Gallant Fox and his son Omaha.

June 15, 1972: In preparation for his July 4 debut, Secretariat worked five furlongs from the starting gate in 1:00 1/5.

June 15, 1977: Future rivals Affirmed and Alydar met for the first time, in the Youthful Stakes at Belmont Park. Affirmed triumphed over Alydar, who finished fifth, and went on to win four of their six races together in 1977.

June 16, 1943: With a shortage of male workers due to the war, Garden State Park announced it would employ female mutuels clerks.

June 17, 1912: A record parimutuel payoff on a straight $2 wager was set when Wishing Ring, sent off at odds of 941-1, paid $1,885.50 to win at Latonia. The mark was only surpassed in 1989, when Power to Geaux paid $2,922 for a $2 wager made at AKsarben on a race that was simulcast from Fair Grounds.

June 17, 1967: Buckpasser's 15-race winning streak ended when he finished third to stablemate Poker in the Bowling Green Handicap at Aqueduct, his only attempt at turf racing. Buckpasser carried 135 pounds while Poker was assigned 112.

June 18, 1936: Omaha, the 1935 Triple Crown winner owned by New York banker William Woodward, lost the 2-mile Ascot Gold Cup by a head to filly Quashed at Ascot, England. A crowd of 200,000 was said to be present for the race, for which Omaha was the 11-8 favorite. Omaha had shipped to England aboard the Aquitania on Jan. 8, 1936 and won the May 30 Queens Plate at Kempton Park, England.

June 18, 2001: Jockey Russell Baze closed out the 2001 Bay Meadows meet by winning the track's riding title for an amazing 25th time.

June 19, 1867: The inaugural Belmont Stakes was run at Jerome Park in the Bronx and was won by a filly, Ruthless, who defeated colts to earn $1,850 for her victory. Ruthless was one of a group of fillies known as the "Barbarous Battalion," daughters of the mare Barbarity, owned by Francis Morris of New York. The other "battalion" members -- all full sisters -- were Remorseless, Relentless, Regardless and Merciless.

June 19, 1880: Sheepshead Bay racecourse opened for a six-day meet. The track was the original site of the Suburban, Futurity and Realization Stakes, which eventually were transferred to Belmont Park.

June 19, 1942: Count Fleet won his first race, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

June 19, 1973: Officials of Arlington Park invited Secretariat to compete in a specially created race, the $125,000 Arlington Invitational Stakes.

June 19, 1992: Charlie Whittingham became the second trainer in history, behind D. Wayne Lukas, to top $100 million in purse earnings when he sent Little by Little to a second-place finish in the sixth race at Hollywood Park.

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

THURSDAY, JUNE 6
Fashion Stakes, 2yo fillies, $75,000, 5F, Belmont Park

FRIDAY, JUNE 7
Acorn Stakes, 3yo fillies, $250,000, Grade I, 1M, Belmont Park
Flash Stakes, 2yo, $100,000, Grade III, 5F, Belmont Park
Desert Stormer Handicap, 3&up (F&M), $100,000, Grade III, 6F, Hollywood Park

SATURDAY, JUNE 8
Belmont Stakes, 3yo, $1,000,000, Grade I, 1 M, Belmont Park
Manhattan Handicap, 3&up, $400,000, Grade I, 1 M (T), Belmont Park
True North Breeders' Cup Handicap, 3&up, $250,000, Grade II, 6F, Belmont Park
Jefferson Cup Stakes, 3yo, $250,000, Grade III, 1 1/8 M (T), Churchill Downs
Leonard Richards Stakes, 3yo, $250,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M, Delaware Park
Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Stakes, 3yo fillies, $200,000, Grade II, 1 1/8 M (T), Hollywood Park
Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup Stakes, 3yo, $200,000, Grade II, 7F, Belmont Park
Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap, 3&up (F&M), $200,000, 1M (T), Belmont Park
All-American Handicap, 3&up, $150,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M, Bay Meadows
Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap, 3&up (F&M), $150,000, Grade III, 7F, Arlington Park
Victoria Park Stakes, 3yo, $125,000, 1 1/8 M, Woodbine
Greenwood Cup Handicap, 3&up, $100,000, 1 M (T), Philadelphia Park
Rosenna Stakes, 3&up (F&M), $75,000, 1 1/16 M (T), Delaware Park
Slipton Fell Handicap, 3&up, $75,000, 1M 70 yds., Mountaineer Park

SUNDAY, JUNE 9
Vagrancy Handicap, 3&up (F&M), $150,000, Grade III, 6 F, Belmont Park
Ontario Matron Stakes, 3&up (F&M), $125,000, 1 1/16 M, Woodbine
Canterbury Park Breeders' Cup Derby, 3yo, $100,000, 1M (T), Canterbury Park
Manhattan Beach Stakes, 3yo fillies, $75,000, 5 F (T), Hollywood Park

-30-

 

Racing television schedule

 

 


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