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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.

ATTENDANCE RECORDS TUMBLE AT SARATOGA, DEL MAR OPENERS

It was opening day yesterday at Saratoga and Del Mar, two of the most eagerly awaited meetings on the Thoroughbred racing calendar, and track executives had to be pleased with their respective turnstile counts.

A crowd of 32,913 passed through the gates at Saratoga, eclipsing the previous opening-day mark of 31,254 set last year. And those who came did not forget to bring their wallets. Total betting handle on the day was $14,941,864, bettering last year's opening day sum by more than a half million dollars.

"We're extremely pleased with today's opening," said NYRA president and COO Terry Meyocks. "You could feel the excitement of the fans and the local communities up here just prior to the opening of the meet. There were many positive signs before today's opening. The results today reflect the enthusiasm of our upstate fans. It was a great day of Thoroughbred racing. Saratoga is a very special place to be and we are grateful for the patronage of our fans and their support."

Out west in California, Del Mar didn't do badly either. The seaside track near San Diego that was co-founded by Bing Crosby hosted 37,439 patrons, the largest opening day crowd in its history, and its second largest crowd ever, topped only by the 44,181 who turned out ON August 10, 1996 to see Cigar's 16-race winning streak snuffed out by Dare and Go in the Pacific Classic.

IS GENERAL CHALLENGE UP TO THE CHALLENGE?

After two years on the sidelines due to nagging injuries, the six-year-old California-bred gelding General Challenge is set to go back into training for owner Betty Mabee and her trainer Bob Baffert. Winner of the 1999 Pacific Classic and 2000 Santa Anita Handicap, General Challenge will tentatively be pointed to the California Cup Classic on November 2 at Santa Anita.

Should the comeback proceed without incident, General Challenge could conceivably be a candidate to represent California in this year's inaugural NTRA Great State Challenge, to be held December 7 at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston. The Great State Challenge is a day of six $275,000 races in the various Thoroughbred age and sex divisions designed to bring together the sport's best state-bred performers. Competitors representing the breeding programs of at least eight different states are to take part in each race.

A winner of $2,876,018 in his career, General Challenge has not raced since running fourth in the 2000 Pacific Classic.

RACING ON THE AIR (all times Eastern)

July 27 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN

July 27 Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships; Test Stakes and Diana Handicap (Saratoga); 5:00-6:00 p.m., ESPN

July 28 Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships; Go For Wand Handicap (Saratoga); 6:00-7:00 p.m., ESPN2

July 30 Thoroughbred Classics (Haskell Invitational Handicap), 5:30-6:00 p.m., ESPN Classic

July 31 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2

August 1 Thoroughbred Classics (Haskell Invitational Handicap), 5:30-6:00 p.m., ESPN Classic

August 2 Thoroughbred Classics (Haskell Invitational Handicap), 9:30-10:00 a.m., ESPN Classic

August 3 Thoroughbred Classics (Haskell Invitational Handicap), 9:30-10:00 a.m., ESPN Classic

August 3 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN

August 3 Whitney Handicap and Amsterdam Stakes (Saratoga), 4:30-5:30 p.m., YES Network

August 4 Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships; Haskell Invitational Handicap (Monmouth Park) and Jim Dandy Stakes (Saratoga); 5:00-6:00 p.m., ESPN2

August 6 Thoroughbred Classics (Sword Dancer Handicap), 5:30-6:00 p.m., ESPN Classic

August 7 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2

RACING TO HISTORY

July 26, 1962: Jockey Angel Cordero Jr. rode his first winner in the U.S., Counterate, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

July 26, 1973: The New York Racing Association and the Philip Morris Corporation announced the inaugural Marlboro Cup, a race to feature Secretariat and his stablemate, Riva Ridge, that would be run Sept. 15 at Belmont Park.

July 27, 1973: In preparation for the Aug. 4 Whitney Stakes, Secretariat worked a mile at Saratoga Racecourse in 1:34 over a muddy track. His workout time was 4/5 of a second lower than the 55-year-old track record for the distance. He galloped out another eighth of a mile for a final time of 1:47 4/5, which was 2/5 of a second lower than the track record.

July 28, 1951: Citation, then the world's leading money-winning Thoroughbred, was paraded before a crowd of 28,000 at Arlington Park in his last public appearance at a track before being retired to stud.

July 28, 1987: Jockey Angel Cordero Jr. won his 6,000th victory in the Colleen Stakes at Monmouth Park aboard Lost Kitty. He was the fourth rider in racing history to accomplish that feat.

July 29, 1953: Jockey Walter Blum rode his first career winner at Saratoga Racecourse.

July 29, 1972: In preparation for a July 31 race at Saratoga, Secretariat went three furlongs in :35.

July 29, 1973: Jockey Pat Day rode his first career winner, Forblunged, in a $2,000 claiming race at Prescott Downs, Prescott, Ariz. His mount earned $347: the winner's share of the $631 purse.

July 29, 1995: Jockey Russell Baze won his 5,000th career victory, aboard Cyrus Says, in the sixth race at Sonoma County Fair. He was the 15th rider to reach that plateau.

July 30, 1870: Monmouth Park opened with a five day race meet.

July 31, 1972: Secretariat, ridden for the first time by Ron Turcotte, won his second victory in three starts, on opening day at Saratoga Racecourse. The pair were sent off at odds of 2-5.

Aug. 1, 1945: Open racing resumed in place of the war-time restricted, or zoned, system in England.

Aug. 2, 1864: America's oldest Thoroughbred racetrack, Saratoga Racecourse, opened its inaugural meet with four days of racing. Since then it has been the site of some of racing's most famous upsets. Man o' War suffered his only loss in 21 starts while racing at Saratoga, and Triple Crown champion Gallant Fox was defeated by a 100-1 shot named Jim Dandy in Saratoga's 1930 Travers, prompting the track to be called "the graveyard of favorites."

Aug. 2, 1969: Jockey Robyn Smith, one of the first female jockeys in the U.S., won her first career race, at Ferndale.

Aug. 3, 1971: The yearling Secretariat was shod on his front feet for the first time and transferred to the Meadow training center for breaking.

Aug. 3, 1989: Jockey Jorge Velasquez notched his 6,000th career victory aboard three-year-old filly Maddie Bumpo in the third race at Arlington International Racecourse.

Aug. 3, 2000: Fred. W. Hooper, who won the 1945 Kentucky Derby with the first horse he ever owned and went on to develop one of Florida's leading racing and breeding operations, died in his sleep in Miami, at the age of 102.

Aug. 4, 1973: In his first race against older horses, 1-10 favorite Secretariat was defeated in the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga by Allen Jerkens' four-year-old trainee Onion, who beat him by a length. Secretariat was subsequently found to be suffering from a virus.

Aug. 5, 1988: Trainer Dale Baird won his 5,000th career race with Stuffed Johnnie at Mountaineer Park, becoming the second trainer in history, behind Jack Van Berg, to reach that mark.

Aug. 6, 1951: The National Museum of Racing opened in Congress Park at Saratoga Springs, N.Y. More than 2,000 people attended the opening ceremonies presided over by C.V. Whitney.

Aug. 6, 2001: Jockey Earlie Fires; trainers Richard Mandella and Tom Smith; horse of yesteryear, Maskette; contemporary female horse, Paseana; and contemporary male horse, Holy Bull were inducted into Thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Aug. 7, 1900: Trainer "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons had his first stakes winner, Agnes D., at Brighton Beach.

Aug. 7, 1988: Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye won his 4,000th race aboard a two-year-old filly named Fawn and Hahn in the fourth race at Del Mar.

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

THURSDAY, JULY 25
Sanford Stakes, 2yo, $150,000, Grade II, 6F, Saratoga

FRIDAY, JULY 26
Bernard Baruch Handicap, 3&up, $150,000, Grade II, 1 1/8 M (T), Saratoga

SATURDAY, JULY 27
Diana Handicap, 3&up (F&M), $500,000, Grade II, 1 1/8 M (T), Saratoga
Ramona Handicap, 3&up (F&M), $400,000, Grade I, 1 1/8 M (T), Del Mar
Test Stakes, 3yo fillies, $250,000, Grade I, 7F, Saratoga
Arlington Handicap, 3&up, $225,000, Grade III, 1 M (T), Arlington Park
Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap, 3&up, $200,000, Grade II, 6F, Del Mar
Modesty Handicap, 3&up (F&M), $150,000, Grade III, 1 3/16 M (T), Arlington Park
Martha Washington Breeders' Cup Stakes, 3yo fillies, $150,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M (T), Laurel Park
Salvatore Mile Handicap, 3&up, $100,000, Grade III, 1 M, Monmouth Park
Round Table Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, 1 1/8 M, Arlington Park
Aspidistra Handicap, 3&up (F&M), $75,000, 1 M (T), Calder

SUNDAY, JULY 28
Eddie Read Handicap, 3&up, $400,000, Grade I, 1 1/8 M (T), Del Mar
Go For Wand Handicap, 3&up (F&M), $250,000, Grade I, 1 1/8 M, Saratoga
Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup Handicap, 3&up, $100,000, 1 1/8 M, Emerald Downs

MONDAY, JULY 29
Lake George Stakes, 3yo fillies, $100,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M (T), Saratoga

-30-

 

Racing television schedule

 

 


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