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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.

CONTINENTAL RED OUT TO PROVE HE'S BEST IN SUNSHINE MILLIONS

Continental Red is considered the best of the California-bred handicap horses and he will try to extend that supremacy to the East Coast in Saturday's $1 million Ocala Breeders Sales Classic at Gulfstream Park on Sunshine Millions Day.

The Classic is one of eight unique races matching Florida-breds against California-breds worth an aggregate $3.6 million that will run on Saturday. Four of the races are scheduled at Gulfstream and four will be run at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. near Los Angeles. NBC will televise three Sunshine Millions races, including the Classic, live from 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET.

Last year, Continental Red raced mainly on turf and won the San Luis Rey Handicap at Santa Anita. He also was second in the San Marcos Handicap, the San Luis Obispo Handicap, and the Sunset Handicap in California.

Last fall, trainer Ian Jory decided to switch Continental Red to the main track and he was second, beaten a head, despite having a troubled trip in the California Cup Classic Handicap at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. Jory then shipped Continental Red to Sam Houston Race Park in Houston where he won the NTRA Great State Challenge Classic in his last start on Dec. 7.

"He's done nothing wrong since I switched him to the dirt," Jory said. "How many times do you have a chance to go for $1 million?" he said of starting the horse in the Classic.

Continental Red was flown to Gulfstream on Wednesday and had an uneventful trip, according to Jory "He shipped well," Jory said. "I think my horse does better when he travels. The traveling seems to limber up his muscles. And traveling to run in a $1 million race makes the trip sweeter. Fact is, he shipped so well I took him out for a morning jog this morning. He's training very well and went five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 last Saturday at Hollywood. I look for him to run another good race on Saturday."

Jory doesn't think Continental Red will have any trouble with the racing surface at Gulfstream. "I think Gulfstream's surface is similar to the one at Sam Houston and he had no trouble there. I've raced a few horses at Gulfstream and I'm not worried about the track. I think he'll like it."

Patrick Valenzuela, one of the top jockeys on the West Coast, has ridden Continental Red in his last two starts and will be flying in from Santa Anita to do the same again at Gulfstream on Saturday.

STARS WILL BE OUT FOR MONDAY'S ECLIPSE AWARDS

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) has announced that Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and 2003 Golden Globe winner Chris Cooper, actors in the upcoming Universal Pictures' film "Seabiscuit," about the legendary racehorse of the same name, will be presenters at the 32nd annual Eclipse Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, Calif., Monday, Jan. 27.

Also presenting will be Jerry O'Connell, star of the new hit movie Kangaroo Jack, which topped all movies last week with $21.8 million in box office receipts in its first week in theatres.

Hosting the event the Academy Awards of Thoroughbred racing will be ESPN personality and longtime horseracing fan Kenny Mayne, who emcees for the fourth consecutive year.

"Seabiscuit," the film adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling nonfiction book, "Seabiscuit: An American Legend," stars Maguire ("Spider-Man," "The Cider House Rules") in the role of jockey Red Pollard, with Bridges ("K-PAX," "The Contender") cast as owner Charles Howard and Cooper ("Adaptation," "The Bourne Identity") as trainer Tom Smith.

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, cast as rider George Woolf, also will be an award presenter, as will retired Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, who serves as a consultant on the film and stars as rider Charles Kurtsinger, who rode Seabiscuit's rival War Admiral in one of Thoroughbred racing's most famous match races.

"Seabiscuit" producers Kathleen Kennedy ("A.I.," "Sixth Sense") and Frank Marshall ("Bourne Identity," "Sixth Sense"), along with director Gary Ross ("Pleasantville"), also will be attending the Eclipse Awards.

O'Connell is a longtime racing fan whose screen credits include "Jerry Maguire" and "Stand by Me")

Eclipse Awards are bestowed annually upon the Thoroughbreds and individuals whose outstanding achievements have earned them the title of Champion. Winners are determined by voting among representatives of the three presenting organizations, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers Association.

BLOODLINES RULE AT NATIONAL HANDICAPPING CHAMPIONSHIP

Steve Wolfson Jr., a 35-year-old social studies teacher from Holly Hill, Fla., bested 212 opponents last weekend at Bally's in Las Vegas to win the $100,000 first prize at the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship. Among those left in Wolfson's wake was none other than his father, Steve Wolfson Sr., who finished a close fourth in the two-day contest. The younger Wolfson, whose grandfather Louis, owned 1979 Triple Crown winner Affirmed, will be honored as DRF/NTRA Handicapper of the Year at Monday night's Eclipse Awards.

In the separate media contest conducted for charity, Team TV, led by popular racing hosts Caton Bredar, Todd Schrupp, Randy Moss and Kenny Rice, emerged victorious. Defending champions Team Penthouse, a squad that included three Penthouse Pets, could do no better than third this year.

MAYNE, GOLDBERG JOIN CITGO DERBY SERIES

This year's "Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby" program on ESPN and ESPN2, a nine-show series providing comprehensive coverage of key VISA Triple Crown prep races, will feature ESPN's Kenny Mayne as host and Hank Goldberg as a reporter. Mayne and Goldberg will be teamed with analyst Randy Moss and reporter Kenny Rice.

Mayne serves as a horseracing columnist for ESPN.com and is the emcee of the sport's Eclipse Awards, which he will be hosting for the fourth straight year next Monday at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. In addition, Mayne has co-anchored SportsCenter and most recently completed his first year on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown with his weekly segment, "The Mayne Event."

Goldberg, who covers the NFL as well as horseracing for ESPN, hosts a popular sports talk radio show on WQAM in Miami, and can often be found at South Florida racing venues Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course.

Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby begins with live coverage of the Grade I Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Grade II Hutcheson Stakes from Florida's Gulfstream Park on February 15. In all, it will present 17 races, including 13 that will air live. In 2002, the series featured 14 races, six of which were live. Among the 2003 highlights will be live telecasts of four Grade I races: the Fountain of Youth Stakes, the Florida Derby, the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial.

The series also features seven Grade II events and four Grade III stakes. Races will be shown from 11 different venues in seven different states. The series culminates with a Triple Crown special, airing on April 27, just six days prior to the 129th "Run for the Roses" at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

"Kenny is passionate about horseracing, and he appeals to a broad range of sports fans," said Chip Campbell, NTRA senior vice president television and sponsorship. "Hank is a real pro who knows the ins-and-outs of the game like few others."

RACING ON THE AIR (all times Eastern)

January 25 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN

January 25 Sunshine Millions Turf (Santa Anita Park), and Sunshine Millions Dash and Sunshine Millions Classic (Gulfstream Park); 3:00-4:00 p.m., NBC

January 28 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2

February 1 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN

February 2 Eclipse Award Special, 2:00-3:00 p.m., ESPN2

February 4 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2

RACING TO HISTORY

Jan. 23, 1994: Pat Day, 40, became the tenth rider in North American racing history to ride 6,000 winners, when he rode Miss Popsnorkle to victory in the first race at Oaklawn Park.

Jan. 24, 1974: Jockey Chris McCarron rode his first race, in which he finished last aboard Most Active, at Bowie Racecourse.

Jan. 25, 2000: According to The Jockey Club Fact Book for 2000, gross purses and total handle rose again in 1999 with North American purses topping $1 billion for the first time in history.

Jan. 26, 1950: Citation's 16-race win streak came to an end in the La Sorpresa Handicap at Santa Anita. Despite giving 16 pounds to the winner, Miche, Citation, carrying 130 pounds, lost only by a neck.

Jan. 27, 1973: Penny Chenery accepted the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year on behalf of Secretariat, who was also voted champion two-year-old of 1972.

Jan. 28, 1979: Bob Baffert won his first race as a Thoroughbred trainer, saddling Flipper Star to win the second race at Rillito Park in Tucson, Ariz. The winner's share of the $600 purse was $330.

Jan. 28, 1999: The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association announces the creation of the "Claiming Crown," a six-race event to be held at Canterbury Park.

Jan. 29, 1960: Future Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Carry Back finished tenth in his first start ever, a three-furlong race for two-year-old maiden runners at Hialeah. Sired by Saggy, the only horse to defeat Citation during his three-year-old season, out of an undistinguished mare named Joppy, Carry Back became a popular runner and was dubbed "the people's horse."

Jan. 29, 1969: Patti Barton, a 24-year-old exercise rider, applied for a jockey's license in Las Cruces, N.M. The stewards declined to act on the application, which if approved would have made Barton the first female licensed jockey in Thoroughbred racing.

Jan. 29, 1973: Forego, eventual three-time Horse of the Year, 1974-76, broke his maiden by eight lengths in his second career start, at Hialeah Park.

Jan. 30, 1981: Jockey Julie Krone rode in her first race ever, finishing second by three lengths in a six-furlong sprint for $3,500 maiden claimers at Tampa Bay Downs. Her mount, a 22-1 shot trained by Jerry L. Pace, was named Tiny Star.

Jan. 30, 1992: For the second time in one month, jockey Mike Smith won six races in one day at Aqueduct Racetrack. His first six-winner day at Aqueduct occurred Jan. 13.

Jan. 30, 2001: Tiznow was named 2001 Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards in New Orleans.

Jan. 31, 1958: Jockey Bill Shoemaker notched his 3,000th career win, aboard Eternal Pere, in the eighth race at Santa Anita Park.

Feb. 1, 1941: Golden Gate Fields opened for its inaugural race meet. After a five-day "season," the track was forced to close because severe rainstorms washed out the racing surface. The advent of World War II prevented the facility from reopening until Sept. 9, 1947.

Feb. 1, 1999: Owner-breeder and philanthropist Paul Mellon of Rokeby Stable died at his residence in Upperville, Va. He was 91.

Feb. 2, 2001: The Jockey Club announced that gross purses in the United States during 2000 topped $1 billion for the first time, an increase of 7.0 percent compared to 1999 figures.

Feb. 3, 1989: Apprentice jockey Nate Hubbard hung on for second -- literally -- when his horse, Sweetwater Oak, stumbled near the finish line at Golden Gate Fields and flipped the rider out of his saddle. As he tumbled forward, Hubbard grabbed on to the filly's neck and hung in mid-air until the race was over. The track stewards ruled it an official finish because Hubbard's feet never touched the ground and Sweetwater Oak carried her assigned weight throughout the race.

Feb. 3, 1990: Jockey Bill Shoemaker rode his final career race at Santa Anita Park, finishing fourth aboard Patchy Groundfog in 'The Legend's Last Ride.' He retired with 8,833 wins, a world record.

Feb. 4, 1926: Wheatley Stables, formed by Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps, recorded its first win ever, with a two-year-old filly named Sturdy Stella.

Feb. 4, 1997: Cigar was named Horse of the Year for the second consecutive year.

Feb. 5, 1997: A six-year-old horse, Isitingood, broke the world record for a mile -- 1:32 1/5 -- set in 1968 by Dr. Fager. Isitingood was timed in 1:32.05 over the Santa Anita Park turf course.

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

SATURDAY, JANUARY 25
Santa Monica Handicap, 4&up (F&M), $200,000, Grade I, 7F, Santa Anita Park
LeComte Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, 1 M, Fair Grounds
Paumonok Handicap, 3&up, $75,000, 6F, Aqueduct

SUNDAY, JANUARY 26
Palos Verdes Handicap, 4&up, $150,000, Grade II, 6F, Santa Anita Park
Tiffany Lass Stakes, 3yo fillies, $100,000, 1 M, Fair Grounds
Busanda Stakes, 3yo fillies, $75,000, 1 M 70 yds., Aqueduct
Dave Feldman Stakes, 3yo, $75,000, 1 1/16 M (T), Gulfstream Park

-30-

 

Racing television schedule

 

 


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