NTRA THOROUGHBRED NOTEBOOK
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|News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled
by NTRA Communications, (212) 907-9280.
SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD RIDER WILL TRY TO KEEP HER PERFECT RECORD INTACT TODAY
At this time last week, no had heard of Shannon Uske. But in the 10th race at Miami’s Calder Racecourse last Thursday, the 16-year-old jockey who hails from Freehold, N.J., experienced the thrill of registering her first win in her first attempt. The victory came aboard the Allen Jerkens-trained Lilah, a mare just 10 years Uske’s junior, and today, Uske is back for her second career mount, again atop Lilah.
Racing at Calder recently concluded, and so Uske will guide Lilah onto the track at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla., for today’s 9th race (approximate post time: 4:54 p.m. ET). Lilah, who is the 8-5 morning line favorite in the race, will face six opponents in the six-furlong allowance event. Among the jockeys riding against Uske will be Hall of Famer Pat Day and Eclipse Award winner Jose Santos.
"I want to be a jockey as long as I can," Uske told The Associated Press. "The thrill of being on a horse going that fast - it’s an amazing feeling."
BETTING, PURSES UP AGAIN IN 2002
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) and Equibase Company LLC today released the year-end "Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators" for pari-mutuel wagering in the United States and Canada on U.S. Thoroughbred racing in 2002, as well as for U.S. purses and race days, with prior-year comparisons. Total wagering increased 3.19 percent, to $15,048,033,312, in 2002. Total U.S. purses increased 0.63 percent to $1,074,240,247, again topping $1 billion. Total racing days for 2002 dropped from 6,578 to 6,545, mostly from race-day cancellations caused by inclement weather in the fourth quarter.
"In a year marked by economic declines in a number of areas, it is noteworthy that horseracing sustained positive growth in pari-mutuel wagering for the ninth straight year," said NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith. "Only a negative fourth quarter, due primarily to the loss of 28 racing days in December, prevented even higher handle growth for the year."
The five-year (1998-2002) average annual increase in wagering on U.S. Thoroughbred racing is 2.95 percent. Total pari-mutuel wagering has increased annually since 1994.
MILLER AND THE PETS LOOKING TO REPEAT NEXT WEEK IN VEGAS
Defending champion Herman Miller tops 213 contestants vying for the $100,000 top prize in next week’s fourth annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) at Bally’s in Las Vegas.
Miller, a landscaper employed by the city of Oakland, Calif., will face plenty of competition in the January 17-18 event that carries total prize money of $212,000. Among his opponents is Steven Walker, an environmentalist from Lincoln, Neb., who won the inaugural Championship. In order to compete in the NHC, one must have qualified for the event at a sanctioned local tournament during the previous 12 months. Only the NHC’s defending champion receives an automatic berth in the Las Vegas finals.
Miller isn’t the only person looking for a repeat in Las Vegas. Team Penthouse will be back to defend its title in the National Handicapping Championship’s charity media tournament. The team’s unlikely victory last year over a large collection of racing industry veterans shocked onlookers and was chronicled in last year’s Sports Illustrated Super Bowl issue. Defending Team Penthouse’s honor and title this year will be Penthouse Pets Alexa Lauren, Courtney Taylor and Kyli Ryan, along with Penthouse Deputy Managing Editor Linda Giustino.
In an attempt to keep pace with the mania that has surrounded the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in the tourney’s first three years, DRF Press has just released "Handicapping Contest Handbook: A Horseplayer’s Guide to Handicapping Tournaments," authored by Noel Michaels. "Handicapping tournaments have always been part of Thoroughbred racing’s landscape, but their popularity has never reached the fever pitch that it has in recent years," said Steven Crist, chairman and publisher of Daily Racing Form. "This first-of-its-kind book is an invaluable resource to dedicated tournament players who can now plan their contest calendar and map out strategies for the upcoming year."
SAM HOUSTON WANTS CUSTOMERS TO LOOK, EAT LIKE A KING
Sam Houston Race Park will host its second annual Elvis Presley Birthday Bash this Saturday night at the Houston racetrack. Patrons dressed like Elvis get in free. There will also be an Elvis look-alike contest worth $1,000 to the winner as well as a peanut butter and banana sandwich eating contest.
January 11 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
January 14 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2
January 18 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
January 21 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2
Jan. 11, 1950: Five-year-old Citation returned to racing at Santa Anita Park, having been sidelined by injury since December 1948. Sent off at odds of 3-20, he won easily over a sloppy surface to log his sixteenth consecutive victory. His winning margins for those races totaled 59 ½ lengths.
Jan. 12, 2001: Affirmed, the 1978 Triple Crown winner, Affirmed was euthanized at age 26 due to chronic musculo-skeletal problems. Affirmed is the eleventh and most recent horse to capture the Triple Crown and will always be remembered for the many stretch duels he engaged in against his frequent rival Alydar.
Jan. 13, 1978: Seattle Slew, in training for his four-year-old seasonal debut at Hialeah, first displayed symptoms of the deadly virus Colitis X. The colt was sidelined until May 14, when he won an allowance race at Aqueduct Racetrack as the 1-10 favorite.
Jan. 13, 1989: Jockey Brian Peck was injured when his horse, Top Booking, collided with a deer in the fourth race at Turfway Park. The deer jumped onto the track from the infield, where it had gone to drink from a man-made lake. Top Booking was unharmed, but Peck suffered a broken arm.
Jan. 13, 1997: The National Steeplechase Association became the first horse racing organization in the U.S. to require jockeys to wear "certified" safety helmets, beginning with the 1997 NSA season.
Jan. 13, 2001: Judy Wagner, a grandmother from New Orleans, captured the second annual $212,000 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Wagner received a check for $100,000 and was presented with the "DRF/NTRA Handicapper of the Year" award on Jan. 30 during the Eclipse Award ceremonies.
Jan. 14, 1932: Jockey Eddie Arcaro rode his first career winner, at Agua Caliente.
Jan. 14, 1953: Pimlico’s Preakness Stakes, originally slated for May 16, was put back to May 23, allowing a three-week layover after the Kentucky Derby for the first time.
Jan. 14, 1989: Jockey Kent Desormeaux scored his 1,000th career win in the tenth race at Laurel Racecourse, aboard Eesee’s Taw, in the Francis Scott Key Handicap.
Jan. 14, 1998: Jockey Patricia Cooksey became the second female rider to win 2,000 races when she guided Noble Annie to a five-length victory in the second race at Turfway Park.
Jan. 14, 2001: Jockey Kent Desormeaux gained his 4,000th career win aboard Temporary Appeal in the first race at Santa Anita Park.
Jan. 15, 1932: Australian champion Phar Lap arrived in San Francisco. He was shipped by steamship to the U.S., en route to Agua Caliente in Mexico, where he was to make his North American racing debut in the March 20 Agua Caliente Handicap, the continent’s then-richest race.
Jan. 15, 1969: Barbara Jo Rubin was named to ride in a race at Tropical Park. Thirteen male riders subsequently boycotted the race rather than compete against a female, and were fined $100 each.
Jan. 17, 2000: The first ever NTRA "Moment of the Year" award went to the post-race scene after the 1999 Belmont Stakes, when jockey Chris Antley held Charismatic’s injured foreleg.
Jan. 19, 1955: Swaps won the San Vicente Stakes, the first race of his three-year-old campaign, by 3 ½ lengths at Santa Anita Park. He went on to triumph over Nashua in the Kentucky Derby, but was in turn defeated by his rival in a $100,000 match race at Washington Park on Aug. 31, his only loss of that year.
Jan. 20, 1972: Secretariat was shipped from Virginia to Florida to be trained by Lucien Laurin.
Jan. 20, 1979: Odds-on favorite Affirmed, with Steve Cauthen aboard, finished second in the San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita, beaten 2¾ lengths by Radar Ahead. It was their fourth consecutive defeat together. Cauthen subsequently lost the mount on Affirmed to Laffit Pincay Jr., who rode the horse for the remainder of his four-year-old season, racking up seven victories in as many starts. Affirmed was later voted Horse of the Year for 1979. Cauthen had ridden Affirmed to a Triple Crown sweep the previous year.
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SUNDAY, JANUARY 12
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