Chicago Barn to Wire

NTRA THOROUGHBRED NOTEBOOK

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

PITINO'S REVENGE?

In the 1992 NCAA College Basketball East Regional Final in Philadelphia, Rick Pitino's Kentucky Wildcats were dealt the harshest of setbacks, a 104-103 overtime loss thanks to a last-second jumpshot by Christian Laettner of Duke. The point guard on that Duke Blue Devils team was Bobby Hurley. It now appears that Pitino and Hurley will clash again, not on the hardwood, but on the racetrack.

When Songandaprayer won last Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla., the colt, owned in principal by Hurley, stamped himself one of the leading contenders for the March 10 Florida Derby, also at Gulfstream. A half-hour after Songandaprayer's victory, one of last year's top two-year-olds, A P Valentine, owned by Pitino's Celtic Pride Stable, made his 2001 debut with an encouraging third-place finish in a tough allowance race.

Should A P Valentine's trainer Nick Zito give the thumbs up, the two horses--and owners--may face off in the Florida Derby, a top prep race for three-year-olds en route to the Kentucky Derby. Zito is also pondering the March 18 Gotham Stakes at New York's Aqueduct Racetrack for A P Valentine's next start, but either way, the charges of these two accomplished cagers appear to be on a collision course on the road to Louisville and the May 5 "Run for the Roses."

THOROUGHBRED BREEDER ON COVER OF PLAYBOY

Staring out at you from the cover of the March issue of Playboy is supermodel Kylie Bax. But if there's one thing the New Zealand native loves more than modeling, its Thoroughbreds.

Bax owns The B Ranch near Lexington, Ky., and last summer she sold her first horse at the prestigious Keeneland July Selected Yearling Sale. Said by friends to "work to support her love of Thoroughbreds," Bax was amply rewarded for her work and devotion when her colt by Red Ransom fetched $120,000 at last July's sale.

"The beauty of a horse is one thing I love..." Bax told The Blood-Horse Magazine. "The elegance and quality of them is something I try and transfer into my work."

NEW NATIONAL PICK THREE TO LINK APRIL 7 DERBY PREPS

A Pick 3 wager involving the Lone Star Derby at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Tex., the Illinois Derby from Sportsman's Park in Cicero, Ill. and the Santa Anita Derby from Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., will be offered nationwide on Saturday, April 7. The object of the new $1 bet, billed as the "The Derby Triple," is to correctly select the winner in all three races. Each race will be shown live on ESPN's "Citgo Racing to Kentucky Derby" telecast from 5:00-6:00 p.m. (ET). The $500,000 Lone Star Derby will be run as the first leg at 5:12 p.m., followed by the Grade II, $500,000 Illinois Derby at 5:25 p.m. and the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at 5:42 p.m. Each of the 1 1/8-mile races serves as an important stepping stone to the 127th Kentucky Derby run four weeks later at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. on Saturday, May 5.

RADIO DISNEY TO TEAM UP WITH EMERALD DOWNS TO PROMOTE RACING

Radio Disney and Emerald Downs in Auburn, Wash., have formed a partnership to embellish the track's Family Days during the 2001 meeting. The Radio Disney Party Patrol will entertain families on three Sundays during the summer-June 24, July 29 and Aug. 12. The Party Patrol includes live karaoke, games and prizes.

"The Disney name is the most trusted name in family entertainment," said Susie Sourwine, director of marketing for Emerald Downs. "Emerald Downs is thrilled to have our product associated with Disney."

Radio Disney, available in 52 markets throughout the U.S., is the nation's premier radio network for kids. "We're very excited to be associated with Emerald Downs," said Radio Disney general manager Janelle Baranski. Emerald Downs has a wonderful facility and the area for families looks like a fun place. We hope to give the kids something to do while the parents enjoy a great and exciting afternoon."

RACING ON THE AIR (all times Eastern)

February 24 Racehorse Digest, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
February 25 "NTRA 2Day at the Races," Las Flores Handicap (Santa Anita), John B. Connally Breeders' Cup Turf (Sam Houston), Jersey Lilly (Sam Houston), Sam Houston Turf Cup Sprint (Sam Houston), 1:00-1:30 a.m., ESPN2
February 28 Racehorse Digest, 1:00-1:30 p.m., ESPN
March 3 Racehorse Digest, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
March 4 "NTRA 2Day at the Races," San Carlos Handicap (Santa Anita), Rampart Handicap (Gulfstream), John Battaglia Memorial (Turfway), Los Alamitos Winter Championship (Los Alamitos), 11:30 p.m.-12:00 a.m., ESPN2
March 6 Racehorse Digest, 1:00-1:30 p.m., ESPN

RACING TO HISTORY

Feb. 22, 1969: Barbara Jo Rubin became the first woman jockey to win a parimutuel race in America when she rode Cohesion to victory at Charles Town.

Feb. 23, 1935: Seven-year-old Azucar, a former steeplechaser, won the inaugural Santa Anita Handicap at Santa Anita Park.

Feb. 24, 1947: Acting upon an earlier recommendation by The Jockey Club stewards, the Thoroughbred Racing Associations unanimously approved lip tattoos as a method of identifying Thoroughbred racehorses.

Feb. 24, 1979: Trainer J.C. Williams saddled eight winners in 12 attempts at Waterford Park. Williams also owned seven of those eight winners.

Feb. 25, 1990: The 11th race at Charles Town was declared a no-contest because the starting gate could not be removed from the track after the race had begun. The track announcer warned the jockeys to pull up their mounts, and the track subsequently refunded all wagers on the race. Feb. 25, 1998: The purse of the Breeders' Cup Distaff was increased from $1 million to $2 million, effective with that year's Breeders' Cup Championship at Churchill Downs.

Feb. 25, 1999: Jockey Robbie Davis got his 3,000 win aboard Inevitably Private in the fourth race at Gulfstream Park.

Feb. 26, 1973: With Secretariat having been named Horse of the Year for 1972 and champion two-year-old, it was announced by Claiborne Farm that the colt had been syndicated for a then-record $6,080,000-equivalent to 32 shares at $190,000 each.

Feb. 27, 1982: Florida apprentice Mary Russ became the first female jockey to win a Grade I stakes in North America when she captured the Widener Handicap aboard Lord Darnley at Hialeah.

Feb. 28, 1957: John Longden became the first jockey in history to reach 5,000 victories.

March 1, 1969: Tuesdee Testa, 27, became the first female jockey to win a race at a major American Thoroughbred track when she won the third race at Santa Anita Park aboard Buz On.

March 1, 1991: Pat Day, 37, became the sixth rider in history whose mounts earned $100 million when he rode Wild Sierra to a second-place finish in the first race at Oaklawn Park.

March 2, 1940: Beaten by a nose in both the 1937 and 1938 Santa Anita Handicaps, Seabiscuit finally won the Big 'Cap in his final race. He retired the then-leading money-winning horse in the world.

March 2, 1966: Kelso, Horse of the Year 1960-64, ran his last race, finishing fourth at Hialeah Park.

March 3, 1966: Ogden Phipps' Buckpasser won the Flamingo Stakes by a nose, under the guidance of Bill Shoemaker. The colt was such a prohibitive favorite among the field of nine that the race was declared a non-wagering contest and was dubbed "The Chicken Flamingo."

March 3, 1985: Bill Shoemaker became the first jockey in history to win $100 million in purses after he won the Santa Anita Handicap aboard Lord at War (ARG).

March 3, 1993: Russell Baze had his 4,000th career win, with Frank Musso, at Golden Gate Fields.

March 5, 1988: Carl Gambardella had his 5,000th career winner, aboard John's Goldenapple, at Suffolk Downs.

March 6, 1965: Jockey Earlie Fires rode his first winner, Carnation Kid, at Oaklawn Park. By year's end, Fires had amassed nearly $600,000 in purse earnings to earn the title of champion apprentice jockey.

March 6, 1988: Julie Krone became the winningest female jockey in racing history when she won the 1,205th race of her career riding a filly named Squawter in the ninth race at Aqueduct Racetrack.

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

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24
John B. Connally Breeders' Cup Turf, 3&up, $200,000, 1 1/8 M (T), Sam Houston Race Park
Canadian Turf Handicap, 3&up, $150,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M (T), Gulfstream Park
Chou Croute Handicap, 4&up (f&m), $150,000, 1 1/16 M, Fair Grounds
Las Flores Handicap, 4&up (f&m), $125,000, Grade III, 6F, Santa Anita Park
Essex Handicap, 4&up, $75,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M, Oaklawn Park
Best Turn Stakes, 3yo, $75,000, 6F, Aqueduct

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25
Davona Dale Stakes, 3yo fillies, $100,000, Grade II, 1 1/16 M, Gulfstream Park
Baldwin Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, Grade III, 6 F (T), Santa Anita Park
Taylor's Special Handicap, 4&up, $100,000, 6F, Fair Grounds

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27
Mardi Gras Handicap, 4&up, $75,000, 7 F (T), Fair Grounds

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