Chicago Barn to Wire


News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications, (212) 907-9280.


In a joint statement released late yesterday with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Magna Entertainment Corporation (MEC) announced that its seven racetracks had renewed their memberships with the NTRA. As part of the agreement, the NTRA, subject to approval by its Board, will restructure its Board of Directors to include one seat each for MEC, the New York Racing Association and Churchill Downs, Inc. Four additional racetrack seats would be elected on a regional basis. MEC is "reasonably satisfied with the democratic basis" used by the NTRA to elect its horsemen's representatives to the Board.

"We look forward to a period of renewed industry unity and good faith pursuit of the important goals we share," the statement read. MEC-owned tracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park, Bay Meadows Race Course, Golden Gate Fields, Remington Park, Thistledown and Great Lakes Downs.

Full statement



Judy Wagner of New Orleans captured the title of "DRF/NTRA Handicapper of the Year" as the nation's top horseplayer Saturday with a victory in the $212,000 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Wagner, who qualified for the lucrative tournament last May with a third-place finish in a qualifying tourney at the MGM Grand, was in eighth place following Friday's opening round and rallied late to top 200 fellow handicappers and win a $100,000 grand prize. The title of Handicapper of the Year will be presented to Wagner on Jan. 30 at Thoroughbred racing's annual Eclipse Awards ceremony in New Orleans.

The 50-year-old grandmother and former director of a sports travel agency finished with mythical earnings of $237.70 on 30 total wagers placed over the two-day tournament. Her selection of the longshot Hoovergetthekeys ($33.00) in the Golden Gate Derby from California with just two races remaining in the contest vaulted her from eighth to first place and past Sean Nolan ($230.40) of Alexandria, Va. Nolan, 35, a meterologist and emergency management planner for the New York City Office of Emergency Management, won $30,000 for finishing second. Rounding out the top five were first-day leader Gwyn Houston ($225.40) of Forest Hill, Md., Terry Severson ($219.60) of Minneapolis, Minn., and Mary Walker ($211.40) of Stockton, Calif. Houston collected $10,000 for third place with Severson winning $5,000 and Walker $3,000.

"I'm beside myself," said Wagner, who started playing the horses in 1994 after meeting her current husband Bryan on a blind date. "I follow jockey trends and trainers who are doing well but didn't use any special formula during the tournament."

Defending champion Steve Walker of Lincoln, Neb., who was shut out during Friday's opening round, rallied strongly on Saturday to place 24th in the stadnings with $156.00. Walker won $3,000 for posting the highest figure for the final round.

The Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship is the culmination of a season-long series of NTRA-sanctioned tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino racebooks, off-track betting parlors and horse racing and handicapping websites. The finalists advanced from one of nearly 90 qualifying events held from February through December at 51 sites in the United States and Canada.


RACING ON THE AIR (all times Eastern)
January 20 Racehorse Digest, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
January 23 Racehorse Digest, 3:00-3:30 p.m., ESPN
January 27 Racehorse Digest, 4:30-5:00 a.m., ESPN
January 31 Racehorse Digest, 1:00-1:30 p.m., ESPN


Jan. 19, 1955: Swaps won the San Vicente Stakes, the first race of his three-year-old campaign, by 3 1/2 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 2 3/4 lengths by Radar Ahead. It was their fourth consecutive defeat. Cauthen subsequently lost the mount on Affirmed to jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., who rode the horse for the remainder of its four-year-old season, winning 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 and the pair recorded 11 wins in their 16 races together.

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

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

San Marcos Stakes, 4&up, $150,000, Grade II, 1 1/4 M (T), Santa Anita Park
Santa Ynez Stakes, 3yo fillies, $150,000, Grade II, 7F, Santa Anita Park
Aqueduct Handicap, 3&up, $100,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M, Aqueduct
Holy Bull Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M, Gulfstream Park
Maxxam Gold Cup, 4&up, $100,000, 1 1/8 M, Sam Houston

El Encino Stakes, 4yo fillies, $150,000, Grade II, 1 1/16 M, Santa Anita Park
Santa Catalina Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, Grade II, 1 1/16 M, Santa Anita Park
Herecomesthebride Stakes, 3yo fillies, $100,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M (T), Gulfstream Park
Diplomat Way Handicap, 4&up, $75,000, 1 1/16 M, Fair Grounds

Sabin Handicap, 3&up (f&m), $100,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M, Gulfstream Park




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