NTRA THOROUGHBRED NOTEBOOK
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FIELDS ARE SHAPING UP FOR INAUGURAL NTRA GREAT STATE CHALLENGE
This weekend's Texas Champions Day at Sam Houston Race Park and Florida Million Day at Calder Race Course are expected to yield starters in all six races of the inaugural NTRA Great State Challenge, presented by John Deere and FedEx.
The NTRA Great State Challenge will take place Saturday, December 7, at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston. The Sam Houston card that day will feature six NTRA Great State Challenge races, each worth $275,000, and each boasting fields representing the finest state-bred runners in America.
Horsemen will be journeying to Sam Houston from all over the country to share in the $1.65 million total purses. States to be represented include California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington. The state whose horses perform best in the six Challenge races will be declared the NTRA Great State Challenge Champion.
Among the Thoroughbred stars who might very well turn up at the Great State Challenge are the top three-year-old filly Take Charge Lady; the Bob Baffert-trained two-year-old Bull Market, who was fourth in last month's $1 million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile; Funny Cide, an exciting New York-bred two-year-old who is three-for-three for trainer Barclay Tagg; the fleet Florida filly Ivanavinalot; Super High, winner of the recent California Cup Matron at Santa Anita; Dawn of the Condor, a Maryland-bred who just captured the Grade III Knickerbocker Handicap at Aqueduct, and Beautiful America, the two-year-old filly winner of last Sunday's Fifth Avenue Division of the New York Stallion Series, also at Aqueduct.
Potential NTRA Great State Challenge participants also may emerge from Saturday's Florida Million Day at Calder, which will feature six stakes races for Florida-breds competing for $1 million in purses. Post time for the Florida Million is 12:35 p.m. (ET). Texas-bred Thoroughbreds will star on Saturday evening at Sam Houston Race Park, with nine stakes races and $650,000 in purses. Post time for Texas Champions Day is set for 7:00 p.m. (CST).
Modeled on the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, the Great State Challenge races are limited to horses from jurisdictions where the official state horsemen's association is an NTRA member. The top eight NTRA-member horsemen's associations -- California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Texas, based on current dues -- are guaranteed one horse in each race.
The NTRA and Breeders' Cup Limited will fund a guaranteed purse of $175,000 for each race, plus $50,000 in purses for Breeders' Cup-nominated horses. An additional $50,000 comes from each participating state's breeders' fund, to be paid to each individual state-bred horse that finishes in an awarded position, making each race worth as much as $275,000.
The races are: NTRA Great State Challenge Juvenile Fillies, 7 furlongs on the dirt for two-year-olds (fillies); NTRA Great State Challenge Juvenile, 7 furlongs on the dirt for two-year-olds; NTRA Great State Challenge Sprint, 6 furlongs on the dirt for three-year-olds and older; NTRA Great State Challenge Turf, 9 furlongs on the turf for three-year-olds and older; NTRA Great State Challenge Distaff, 8.5 furlongs on the dirt for three-year-olds and older (fillies and mares); and NTRA Great State Challenge Classic, 9 furlongs on the dirt for three-year-olds and older.
CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS MEET IN COLONIAL CUP
The final Grade I steeplechase of 2002 attracted 11 entries, but four are after a bigger prize than the $60,000 winner's share of the Marion du Pont Scott Colonial Cup, which highlights Sunday's season-ending Colonial Cup Races at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C.
Flat Top, It's A Giggle, All Gong and Tres Touche bring legitimate Eclipse Award hopes into the race's 33rd running. Founded in 1970, the Colonial Cup was the first American steeplechase with a $100,000 purse. At 2 3/4 miles over a championship course with 17 fences, the race annually attracts the best steeplechasers in training and has been won by 12 champions. If one of the quartet above gets to the finish line first, an Eclipse Award is a distinct possibility.
All horses carry 156 pounds. The field in post position order (with trainer and jockey) comprises Shamrock Isle (Jack Fisher, Jonathan Riddell); Tres Touche (Ricky Hendriks, Dave Bentley); All Gong (Bruce Miller, Chip Miller); Unalienable Right (Arch Kingsley, TBA); Trebizond (Kathy Neilson, Roger Horgan); It's A Giggle (Jonathan Sheppard, Gus Brown); Turkish Corner (Bruce Miller, TBA); Hendler (Don Yovanovich, Richard Boucher); Loverineveryport (Kathy Neilson, Michael Traurig); Flat Top (Janet Elliot, Rob Massey); and Dowdstown Guest (Jimmy Day, Jeff Murphy).
COOKSEY FINDS HER NIGHTINGALE
Patricia Cooksey, more affectionately known as "Patti" or "P.J." and whose career wins as a female jockey are second only to Racing Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone, celebrated her first win on Saturday, November 9 after a year-long absence from racing. The win, aboard three-year-old Nightingale in the seventh race at Hoosier Park, marked the 44-year-old's first trip back to the winner's circle since being diagnosed with breast cancer back in September 2001. Cooksey was one of ten female riders competing in the Ladies' Night Female Jockey Challenge at the Anderson, Indiana oval.
The Newton Falls, Ohio native began her riding career in 1979 and won the title for races-won for females in 1980, '81 and '83 and, the money-earned title in '81 and '84. She is the all-time winningest female jockey in the Kentucky, with 1,048 wins including 213 at Churchill Downs. Cooksey was the first female jockey to compete in the Preakness Stakes (GI) in 1985 aboard Tajawa (finished sixth) and the only other female to compete in the Kentucky Derby (GI) back in 1984 aboard So Vague, finishing 11th. Diane Crump was the first female to ride in the Derby, back in 1970.
After P.J.'s triumphant win and successful comeback from cancer, Cooksey reflected over the past year of her life and stated, "I think it mainly goes back to the fact that I have been a jockey for 23 years in a male-dominated sport, and, as a result, it has made me tough." Cooksey goes on to say, "I thought I was tough until my fourth bout of chemo. I told my oncologist that I would rather be trampled by a field of horses than to go through more of the treatments. It was a tough and trying time, but through the grace of God, I'm able to be here with the opportunity to ride."
Cooksey's return to Indiana and to the winner's circle was an inspiration to everyone. With a portion of the special Ladies' Night evening dedicated to cancer survivors, Hoosier Park employees and fans raised more than $1,000 for the Indianapolis chapter of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
CHURCHILL GOES CHILI
When one thinks of Churchill Downs, four things first come to mind: the Kentucky Derby, the Twin Spires, a garland of roses and mint juleps.
Chili, however, probably doesn't leap to mind. But chili and the first Sunday in November are as synonymous as the Kentucky Derby and the first Saturday in May.
The Churchill Downs Chili Cook-Off, sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield and supported by the Louisville chapter of the Kentucky Restaurant Association, has become one of the most popular events in the Churchill Downs Fall Meet. The Sunday attendance figure was the largest so far (no infield crowd) in the 30-day Fall Meet, which will continue through Nov. 30.
The winning restaurant, KT's Restaurant and Bar, scorched the other 20 participating restaurants, handing Levy Restaurants, Churchill Downs' on-track food service provider, second place and Skyline Chili third.
November 16 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
November 20 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2
November 23 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
November 27 Wire to Wire, 1:30-2:00 p.m., ESPN2
Nov. 14, 1997: Jockey Eddie Arcaro, a 1958 Racing Hall of Fame inductee and the only two-time winner of the Triple Crown, died of cancer at his home in Miami at age 81.
Nov. 15, 1990: Alydar, one of the top sires in America and runner-up in all three Triple Crown races to Affirmed, was euthanized at Calumet Farm.
Nov. 15, 1995: Jockey Julie Krone rode her 3,000th career winner, in the fourth race at Aqueduct, aboard Dustin's Dreamer.
Nov. 16, 1951: The Pimlico Special, then a winner-take-all $15,000 contest, became the first race to be televised nationally. The winner was C.T. Chenery's Bryan G.
Nov. 17, 2000: Officials of Breeders' Cup Limited announced the addition of an interactive stallion nomination system to the company's Website.
Nov. 18, 1961: Jockey Eddie Arcaro rode his last career race, finishing third on Endymion in the Pimlico Futurity. He retired with a then-record $30,039,543 in purses.
Nov. 18, 1972: Secretariat capped his two-year-old racing season with a 3 ½-length victory in the Garden State Stakes at Garden State Park. The winner's share of the purse was $179,199, the most Secretariat ever won in a single race.
Nov. 18, 1979: In the eighth race at Aqueduct, Laffit Pincay Jr. had his 4,000th career win, aboard Gladiolus.
Nov. 19, 1956: Jockey Fernando Toro won his first career race at the Hipodromo in Santiago, Chile.
Nov. 19, 1995: Jockey Russell Baze became the first rider to have won 400 races a year for four consecutive years, after he rode Royal Boutique to victory at Golden Gate Fields.
Nov. 21, 1971: Secretariat completed his preliminary training at Meadow training center.
Nov. 22, 1990: Jockey Pat Day marked his 5,000th career winner when he rode Screen Prospect to victory in the Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs. Day was the twelfth rider in history to hit 5,000.
Nov. 25, 1997: Officials from Churchill Downs and the Maryland Jockey Club announced a new method for drawing post positions for the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. The traditional blind draw would be held to establish a selection order, then a horse's owner/trainer or authorized agent would choose his preferred post position among those still available.
Nov. 26, 1946: American Air Lines transported six horses from Shannon Airport, Eire, Ireland, to Newark, N.J., completing the first trans-Atlantic flight for Thoroughbreds. The plane arrived in the United States on Nov. 27.
Nov. 26, 1992: Sandy Hawley became the ninth North American rider to win 6,000 races. His record victory came aboard Summer Commander in the second race at Greenwood Racecourse.
Nov. 26, 2001: "Seabiscuit," Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling book about the rags-to-riches story of a 1930s Thoroughbred champion and the colorful people associated with him, was honored with the United Kingdom's prestigious "William Hill Sports Book of the Year" award.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17
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