Chicago Barn to Wire


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


The EDS "Road to the Roses Fantasy Challenge," a rotisserie-style fantasy game that lets racing fans pick their own stable of Kentucky Derby horses, trainers and jockeys, will go live this Saturday, Feb. 10. The game's top winner will receive a trip to the Kentucky Derby and a $5,000 betting voucher. More


Gross purses for Thoroughbred races in the United States topped $1 billion for the first time last year according to statistics recently released in "The Jockey Club Fact Book." The final tally for U.S. purses in 2000 is $1,030,839,223, an increase of seven percent against 1999 figures.


In a smashing show of enthusiasm from Thoroughbred owners worldwide, a record number of 439 three-year-old horses have been nominated to the 2001 Visa Triple Crown and the $5 million Visa Triple Crown Challenge during the recently completed early nomination period for the world's most prestigious trio of horse racing classics.

The overall nomination number well outdistanced the previous record of 422 set in 1986, the first year of the common nomination process under the auspices of Triple Crown Productions, headquartered at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Helping to push the nomination field to a new standard was a record 53 nominations from Europe, far surpassing last year's record total of 24.

"We are just ecstatic over these records and the enthusiasm of our European Thoroughbred neighbors," said Edward P. Seigenfeld, Executive Vice President of Triple Crown Productions, based at Churchill Downs. "This proves once again that the Visa Triple Crown has become a premier international event."

The Visa Triple Crown Challenge, which offers a $5 million bonus to any owner whose horse wins the three races, starts with the 127th running of the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby on May 5 at Churchill Downs. That will be followed two weeks later on May 19 by the 126th Preakness Stakes, at 1 3/16 miles over the Pimlico Race Course oval in Baltimore, Md., and will be concluded with the 133rd Belmont Stakes on June 9 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.


Eclipse Award-winning writer Laura Hillenbrand's highly anticipated biography, 'Seabiscuit: An American Legend,' is set for release on March 6, 2001. The Random House book recounts the true story of a crooked-legged, undersized racehorse who became a Depression-era cultural icon and the nation's number one newsmaker with the help of three men: a half-blind failed prizefighter who was abandoned as a boy at a racetrack; a virtually mute mustang breaker that the Indians called "The Lone Plainsman"; and a bicycle repairman who made a fortune by introducing the automobile to the American West. Soon to be the subject of a Universal Pictures feature film, the Random House book is excerpted in the February issue of Talk magazine.

"Seabiscuit's triumph remains a terrifically appealing Cinderella story, but it's Hillenbrand's instinctual feel for the drama of the sport and her formidable literary talents that bring the tale to life," wrote bestselling author Stephen Ambrose in W Magazine. "'Seabiscuit' is one hell of a ride."


Valentine's Day, February 14, will be Ladies' Night at Turfway Park in more ways than one. The Florence, Ky., racetrack is designating a race on its Valentine's Day card for female riders only. For that special race and any other race won by a female jockey on the 10-race program, Turfway will donate $500 to the local affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, a national organization dedicated to the fight against breast cancer.

Women jockeys have taken Turfway by storm this winter. Headed by leading rider Kris Prather's 46 victories as of February 4, the female riders have won almost 40 percent of all races run thus far this meet. Prather is not only leading rider at Turfway Park, but entered the week of February 5 as the leading rider in the nation in total victories. Jennifer Bramblett is third in the Turfway standings with 13 wins and three other female riders - Greta Kuntzweiler, Rhonda Collins and Patricia Cooksey - are in the top 20.

Since 1982, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, credited as the nation's leading catalyst in the fight against breast cancer, has raised $240 million for breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment. Of the money Turfway will be donating, 75 percent will stay in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area to help fund education, screening and treatment projects. The remaining 25 percent will benefit the Komen Foundation National Research Grants Program.

RACING ON THE AIR (all times Eastern)

February 10 Racehorse Digest, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
February 14 Racehorse Digest, 1:00-1:30 p.m., ESPN
February 17 Racehorse Digest, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
February 18 "Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby," Risen Star Stakes (Fair Grounds), Fountain of Youth Stakes (Gulfstream), 5:00-6:00 p.m., ESPN2
February 21 Racehorse Digest, 1:00-1:30 p.m., ESPN


Feb. 8, 1941: Whirlaway began his three-year-old season with a win in a six furlong allowance race at Hialeah.

Feb. 9, 1940: After a year's absence from competition, seven-year-old Seabiscuit, champion handicap horse of 1937 and 1938, returned to racing at Santa Anita, where he finished third in a handicap race. Seabiscuit ran three more races in 1940, concluding his career with a win in the Santa Anita Handicap.

Feb. 9, 1974: Jockey Chris McCarron rode his first winner, a five-year-old gelding named Erezev, at Bowie Racecourse. By year's end, McCarron had established a then-record number of winners for a single season: 546. Fifteen years later, on Nov. 30, 1989, jockey Kent Desormeaux eclipsed that mark.

Feb. 10, 1998: Undefeated Two-Year-Old Champion Favorite Trick was named 1997 Horse of the Year.

Feb. 11, 1933: The Jockey Club released data showing that as of 1932, the U.S. had surpassed Great Britain and Ireland in foal production for the first time, to become the world's leading producer of Thoroughbreds.

Feb. 12, 1981: Julie Krone rode her first career winner, a $3,500 claimer named Lord Farkle, which was owned and trained by Les St. Leon, in the sixth race at Tampa Bay Downs.

Feb. 14, 1966: Buckpasser suffered the only defeat of his three-year-old season when he finished second in a non-betting race, the Black Caesar Purse, at Hialeah. He went on to post 13 consecutive victories in 1966 (12 of them in stakes races), but was unable to compete in any of the Triple Crown races because of a hoof injury.

Feb. 14, 1990: Ladbroke at Golden Gate Fields inaugurated co-pooling of its wagers with those of a sister organization, Ladbroke Racing Wyoming. The co-pooling of wagers across state lines, made possible by California legislation that had gone into effect Jan. 1, was a first in U.S. racing.

Feb. 15, 1974: Future Triple Crown champion Seattle Slew was foaled at White Horse Acres, Lexington, Ky.

Feb. 16, 1891: At the urging of Pierre Lorillard, the Board of Control, composed of seven representatives of the racing industry, was formed to govern Thoroughbred racing. The Board's powers extended to matters of licensing; allotment of racing dates; and the regulation of purse payments. The Board, as the governing body for racing, was succeeded by The Jockey Club, formed in 1894.

Feb. 16, 1999: Jockey Julie Krone became the first female jockey to win 3,500 races, taking the third race at Fair Grounds.

Feb. 17, 1985: Laffit Pincay Jr. had his 6,000th career win, aboard Doria's Delight in the fifth race at Santa Anita Park.

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

Las Virgenes Stakes, 3yo fillies, $200,000, Grade I, 1 M, Santa Anita Park
Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap, 3&up, $200,000, Grade I, 1 3/8 M (T), Gulfstream Park
Golden State Mile, 3yo, $100,000, 1 M, Golden Gate Fields
Pan Zareta Handicap, 4&up (f&m), $75,000, 6F, Fair Grounds
Whirlaway Stakes, 3yo, $75,000, 1 1/16 M, Aqueduct

La Canada Stakes, 4yo fillies, $200,000, Grade II, 1 1/8 M, Santa Anita Park
Whirlaway Handicap, 4&up, $125,000, 1 1/16 M, Fair Grounds
The Very One Handicap, 3&up (f&m), $100,000, Grade III, 1 3/8 M (T), Gulfstream Park

Shirley Jones Handicap, 3&up (f&m), $100,000, Grade III, 7F, Gulfstream Park




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