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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.

SIX NUNS PICK SIX, WIN $194,000 AT SANTA ANITA ON SUNDAY

Six nuns in white habits rose in celebration from their seats at Santa Anita Park last Sunday afternoon. They were sisters from St. Michael’s Elementary School in south-central Los Angeles, and none of them had ever attended a racetrack.

There's a good chance they will be back.

The nuns were part of a group that held a winning Pick Six ticket last Sunday worth $194,047.80.

"It was quite a sight," recalled Stephen R. Campbell, senior vice president-investments, for UBS Paine Webber and one of the organizers of the trip to the track, which was intended as a fund-raiser for the school founded by the Order of Dominican Sisters 100 years ago.

St. Michael's will receive half the winnings, about $80,000 after taxes. "The money will pay for new desks and other improvements," said Sister Mary Catherine Antczak, the principal of the school. "Some would call it luck," she said. "I call it a blessing."

Antczak said she and the five other St. Michael's nuns prayed together Sunday morning for a successful first day at the track. About 100 supporters of the school contributed $25 apiece to buy a $2,560 Pick Six ticket. Theirs was one of eight tickets, each worth $194,047, that correctly tabbed the winners of the fourth through ninth races.

Campbell, who owns several Thoroughbreds, and his trainer, Ed Halpern, advised the nuns and the St. Michael's party on betting strategy. "And we got a lot of help from the selections of Bob Mieszerski, Jeff Siegel and some of the other newspaper handicappers," Campbell said.

The first or second betting choices won each of the six races, except for the day's fourth race, which was won by 15-1 shot named, ironically enough, Krismas.

"It's fun to say that a group of Catholic nuns would want a hunch bet on a horse with that name," Campbell said. "But the truth is we had every horse in that race covered, just so we'd be alive after the first Pick Six race."

Campbell said the group would probably make at least one more trip to Santa Anita before long. "The check is in a safe deposit box for now and we're planning on having a party at the track to distribute the money," he said.

INTEREST IN HORSERACING UP FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR

The number of people in the United States who said they are interested in horseracing increased for the third consecutive year. Fan interest in horseracing grew by 3.6% last year, increasing from 33.8% to 35.0% of the U.S. population (age 18-plus) according to monthly survey data compiled by TNS Intersearch-ESPN Sports Poll. Also within the last year, horseracing climbed from 14th to 11th place in overall popularity among all sports tracked by TNS Intersearch. From 1999 to 2002, interest increased 12.2% (31.2% to 35.0%).

"We continue to see a positive overall trend for horseracing," said Tracy Schoenadel, vice president, ESPN Sports Poll. "Among the sports we tracked in 2002, horseracing was one of only nine that showed increased interest levels from the prior year."

"Several factors contributed to keeping horseracing top of mind in 2002, including War Emblem's pursuit of the Visa Triple Crown and the success of Seabiscuit," said Keith Chamblin, NTRA senior vice president-marketing and industry relations. "This helped lead to the across-the-board increases in TV ratings last year and in the first three months of 2003. Drilling down a little farther, we're seeing that the increase in interest is from the infrequent, casual fan. Our collective challenge as an industry is to find ways to turn increased interest into increased participation."

NATIONAL PICK THREE BET ON TAP FOR RACES ON APRIL 5 TELECAST

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association today announced that a new national pick three wager, the NTRA Spring Pick 3, will be offered on the three nationally televised Kentucky Derby prep races on April 5 (ESPN, 5:00-6:00 p.m. ET). The three featured races on the telecast are Gulfstream Park's Aventura Stakes (5:10 p.m., ET), the Illinois Derby from Hawthorne Racecourse (5:25 p.m., ET) and the Santa Anita Derby (5:45 p.m., ET).

Minimum wager for the NTRA Spring Pick 3 will be $1.00. Gulfstream Park will serve as the wagering hub for the NTRA Spring Pick 3. Fans should ask for Gulfstream Race 11. Takeout is 20%. Free Equibase past performances for the three races will be available at ntra.com after entries are drawn. Last year's Illinois Derby winner was War Emblem, who went on to capture the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes en route to year-end honors as Champion 3-year-old.

"This represents another effort by the NTRA and our member tracks to link our television inventory with a wagering product," said Ken Kirchner, senior vice president of product development for the NTRA. "Fans have responded favorably to the previous NTRA Pick 3 offerings that were tied to our telecasts, and we think this latest version will similarly help to drive viewers to the program on April 5."

Another national Pick 3 wager encompassing races shown live on nationwide television will take place on April 12 when Aqueduct, Keeneland and Oaklawn Park combine to offer the Big 3 Pick 3 on the Wood Memorial (ESPN, 3:30-4:30 p.m., ET), the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (NBC, 4:30-6:00 p.m. ET) and the Arkansas Derby (NBC, 4:30-6:00 p.m. ET), respectively.

TRIBAL COUNCIL TO BE HELD A WEEK FROM SATURDAY FOR NACHEEZMO

Kim Johnson, co-owner with her husband Ted of the three-year-old colt Nacheezmo, hopes that her torch is not snuffed out a week from Saturday when Nacheezmo attempts to outmaneuver, outlast and outrun his opponents in Gulfstream Park's Aventura Stakes on April 5 (ESPN, 5:00-6:00 p.m.).

A retired elementary school teacher from Oyster Bay, N.Y, Kim was the runner-up in CBS's "Survivor Africa," which concluded early last year.

RACING ON THE AIR (all times Eastern)

March 29 Wire to Wire, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN

April 1 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2

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

April 5 CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby; Santa Anita Derby (Santa Anita Park); Illinois Derby (Hawthorne); and Aventura Stakes (Gulfstream Park); 5:00-6:00 p.m., ESPN

April 8 NTRA Thoroughbred Classics (Blue Grass Stakes); 7:00-7:30 p.m., ESPN Classic

April 9 NTRA Thoroughbred Classics (Blue Grass Stakes); 2:00-2:30 a.m., ESPN Classic

April 9 NTRA Thoroughbred Classics (Blue Grass Stakes); 5:00-5:30 a.m., ESPN Classic

April 9 Wire to Wire, 2:00-2:30 p.m., ESPN2

RACING TO HISTORY

March 27, 1953: The ABC radio network announced it would broadcast a series of major East Coast races, beginning April 4 and continuing through Nov. 14.

March 27, 1997: A group of Thoroughbred organizations, including The Jockey Club, Breeders' Cup Ltd., Keeneland Association and Oak Tree Racing Association, announced it would undertake a joint planning process to create a national coordination and marketing structure for Thoroughbred racing.

March 29, 1917: Man o' War, who would go on to win 20 of his 21 career starts, was foaled at Nursery Stud, Lexington, Ky.

March 29, 1938: In observance of Man o' War's 21st birthday, the celebration was broadcast nationally via radio from Faraway Farm, where he stood at stud.

March 29, 1969: Diane Crump became the first female jockey to win a stakes race when she took the Spring Fiesta Cup at the Fair Grounds aboard Easy Lime.

March 29, 1988: Jockey Pat Day won his 4,000th victory, aboard Ann's Bid, in the ninth race at Oaklawn Park.

March 29, 1997: The $4 million Dubai World Cup was rescheduled for April 3 after torrential rainstorms hit Nad Al Sheba racecourse.

March 30, 1952: New York Governor Thomas Dewey signed a statute transferring licensing authority from The Jockey Club to the New York Racing Commission.

March 30, 1970: Secretariat was foaled at The Meadow, Doswell, Va.

March 30, 1985: Laffit Pincay Jr. became the second jockey in history to surpass John Longden's record of 6,032 victories, riding Sovereignty to victory in the sixth race at Santa Anita Park.

April 1, 1940: New York legalized parimutuel wagering and outlawed book-makers at the state's racetracks.

April 1, 1998: The National Thoroughbred Racing Association officially launched operations with the opening of its office in Lexington, Ky.

April 2, 1938: Future Triple Crown winner Whirlaway was foaled at Calumet Farm, Lexington, Ky.

April 3, 1962: At the age of 46, jockey Eddie Arcaro announced his retirement. He retired with 4,779 victories, including two Triple Crowns, won with Whirlaway and Citation.

April 6, 1954: Two future champions, Bold Ruler and Round Table, were foaled at Claiborne Farm, Paris, Ky.

April 7, 1973: In his second start as a three-year-old, Secretariat won the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct as the 1-10 favorite. His time of 1:33 2-5 for the mile equaled the track record for that distance.

April 7, 1979: Jockey Steve Cauthen made his first race in England a winning one, with Marquee Universal (IRE), at Salisbury.

April 8, 1971: New York City Off-Track Betting opened for business. Two branches were available to accept wagers: the Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan and an outlet in Queens. Total handle, including telephone betting, was $66,091.

April 8, 1991: Rider-turned-trainer Bill Shoemaker was paralyzed after an automobile accident.

April 8, 2001: "Seabiscuit: An American Legend," by Laura Hillenbrand, took over the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction after just three weeks in the nation's bookstores.

April 9, 1962: Jockey Ron Turcotte rode his first winner, at Fort Erie Racetrack.

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

SATURDAY, MARCH 29
Gulfstream Park Handicap, 3&up, $300,000, Grade II, 1¼ M, Gulfstream Park
WinStar Sunland Park Oaks, 3yo fillies, $250,000, 1 M, Sunland Park
Potero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap, 4&up, $200,000, Grade II, 6½ F, Santa Anita Park
Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap, 3&up (F&M), $150,000, 7F, Aqueduct
Berkeley Handicap, 3&up, $100,000, Grade III, 1 M, Golden Gate Fields
Lady Hallie Handicap, 4&up (F&M), $100,000, 1 1/16 M, Hawthorne

SUNDAY, MARCH 30
WinStar Derby, 3yo, $500,000, 1 1/16 M, Sunland Park
Caltech Handicap, 3yo, $75,000, 1 1/8 M (T), Gulfstream Park

-30-

 

Racing television schedule

 

 


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