Chicago Barn to Wire


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


Winner of the Feb. 17 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla., Songandaprayer will try to duplicate that winning effort after drawing post nine for Saturday's Grade I, $1 million Florida Derby, a major Kentucky Derby prep race also to be run at Gulfstream. Songandaprayer is owned by former Duke University basketball star Bobby Hurley, who spent $1 million for the son of Unbridled's Song as a yearling.

The wire-to-wire running of the Florida Derby can be seen on Saturday as part of SportsCenter on ESPN2 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. (ET). Expanded coverage of the Florida Derby can also be seen on Sunday's "Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby" telecast which will also feature the live running of that day's Louisiana Derby from Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

The complete Florida Derby field from the rail out is: Radical Riley (to be ridden by Eduardo Nunez); Invisible Ink (John Velazquez); Outofthebox (Jerry Bailey); Trailthefox (Olivier Peslier); Turnberry Isle (Pat Day); City Zip (Corey Nakatani); Monarchos (Jorge Chavez); Dream Run (Jon Court; Songandaprayer (Edgar Prado); Talk is Money (Michael McCarthy); You Know Who (Kent Desormeaux); Cee Dee (Richard Migliore); and It's So Simple (Eibar Coa).


Auto racing fans from throughout the country have been paying tribute to Dale Earnhardt in a wide variety of ways since he was killed in the final lap of the Daytona 500 on February 18. Two of them recently came up with a unique way to pay homage: they named a Thoroughbred racehorse in honor of the NASCAR driver who was fondly known by his legion of fans as "The Intimidator."

Mark Toothaker and Frank Newman of Van Buren, Ark. have registered a yearling colt with The Jockey Club and named him D E Intimidator. The bay colt is by Ordway out of the mare Keen on Gold and -- in an eerie coincidence that neither owner was aware of until it was pointed out to them -- was foaled on February 18, 2000, exactly one year prior to Earnhardt's death.

"I listened to or watched all of Dale Earnhardt's races and he was always my favorite driver," Toothaker explained. "The sport is really going to miss him and we just thought this would be a nice way to pay tribute to him."

Newman admired Earnhardt's competitive spirit and hopes his equine namesake displays some of it. "He was a heck of a driver, he did all he could to win and we'll be very happy if this horse wins half as many races as Dale did," he said. "We gave the colt this name primarily as a memorial tribute, but maybe it will also do some good for our sport if auto racing fans follow this horse when he gets to the races."

D E Intimidator is presently stabled on a farm in Alma, Ark. and the longtime Thoroughbred owners have yet to decide who will train him when he begins preparing for his racing career next year.


The second of three pools in Churchill Downs' 2001 Kentucky Derby Future Wage is set to open today, and the mutuel field, which represents all three-year-olds other than the 23 individual horses listed in the pool, is expected to again attract strong support.

The mutuel field was a 3-1 favorite at the end of Pool 1 and Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia has installed that wagering interest as the 5-1 favorite for this weekend's pool, which opens at noon (ET) today and will close at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 11. Point Given, who closed as the 7-1 second choice in Pool 1, occupies that slot again in the Pool 2 morning line odds at 6-1. Next in line are Dollar Bill at 8-1, Millennium Wind at 10-1, and a pair of 12-1 shots: A P Valentine, owned by basketball coach Rick Pitino's Celtic Pride Stable, and Street Cry.

"The fans have solidly backed the mutuel field in the early pools of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager in its first two years, and I think they'll do it again in this week's Pool 2," said Battaglia. "The Derby picture remains as wide open at this stage as it has been in several years, and few of the top contenders have raced enough this year for the fans to form any strong opinions."

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager allows fans to pace wagers on contenders for the Kentucky Derby weeks in advance at odds that may be more attractive than those they would receive on Derby Day. The Kentucky Derby Future Wager is a $2 minimum wager and is a win bet only. The third and final pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager is scheduled for April 5-8.

Fans at racetracks and satellite outlets in a record 28 states wagered $510,815 in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager during its four-day run from Feb. 15-18. The total was the largest for a single pool in the history of the Future Wager, which was offered for the first time in 1999, and marked the first time that a single pool had exceeded the $500,000 mark. Total wagering for all three pools in 2000 was a record $1,158,919, up from the $676,233 wagered on all three pools in 1999.


Jockey Dean Kutz has been named the 52nd winner of the coveted George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, bestowed each year by a vote of fellow jockeys to a rider whose career and personal character reflect positively on themselves and the sport of Thoroughbred racing. Kutz, 44, will receive the award in a ceremony at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. on Mar. 25.

A native of Harvey, N.D., Kutz has won 2,773 races in his career. He was born with only one kidney, which failed in 1984, and had a transplant procedure performed that year. In March of 1999, Kutz lost his larynx during surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his throat.

"I'm thrilled to have been voted as the Woolf Award winner by my fellow jockeys," Kutz said. "It's been a tough couple of years but I'm hopeful to return to riding again soon. I'm too young to quit."

Known as "The Iceman," George Woolf was a champion jockey who piloted Seabiscuit in his epic 1938 match race victory over 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral. Woolf died as the result of an accident during a race at Santa Anita on Jan. 3, 1946.

Past winners of the Woolf Award include Eddie Arcaro, Bill Shoemaker, Laffit Pincay Jr., Angel Cordero Jr., Pat Day, Chris McCarron and Jerry Bailey.


The Fourth Annual British Airways International Jockey Challenge is all set for Sunday, March 11, at Santa Anita Park in Arcardia, Calif.

The unique event pits four of Europe's best jockeys four of America's finest riders in a four-race challenge. Team USA has won the event two of the three years, including last year by a margin of 56-28.

This year the American team will be comprised of Laffit Pincay Jr., Kent Desormeaux, Corey Nakatani and Victor Espinoza. Members were chosen by fan voting on-track and on-line. The legendary Bill Shoemaker captains Team USA for a fourth straight year.

Pincay, racing's all-time leading jockey with 9,088 victories (through Mar. 4), will make his third appearance in the event. Team USA is unbeaten with Laffit in the lineup, posting victories in the 1998 and 2000 IJC. Desormeaux previously participated in 1999 and finished second in the individual standings that year with 18 points.

Nakatani and Espinoza, two of Southern California's leading riders, will be making their debuts in the red, white and blue silks of Team USA.

Team Europe, captained by Steve Cauthen, includes IJC veterans Kieren Fallon, Frankie Dettori and Olivier Peslier. Johnny Murtagh, one of Ireland's top riders, will be making his first appearance in the event. Fallon led Europe to victory in 1999 and is third all-time in individual points with 28.5.

RACING ON THE AIR (all times Eastern)

March 10 Racehorse Digest, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN

March 10 Florida Derby (Gulfstream), SportsCenter, 6:00-7:00 p.m., ESPN2

March 11 "Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby," Louisiana Derby (Fair Grounds), Florida Derby (Gulfstream), El Camino Real Derby (Golden Gate Fields), 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., ESPN2

March 14 Racehorse Digest, 1:00-1:30 p.m., ESPN

March 17 Racehorse Digest, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN

March 17 "NTRA 2Day at the Races," Victoria Lass Stakes (Fair Grounds), Toboggan Handicap (Aqueduct), Bonnie Miss Stakes (Gulfstream), Mardi Gras Futurity (Fair Grounds), 5:30-6:00 p.m., ESPN2

March 18 "Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby," Gotham Stakes (Aqueduct), San Felipe Stakes (Santa Anita), 4:00-5:30 p.m., ESPN2

March 21 Racehorse Digest, 1:00-1:30 p.m., ESPN


March 8, 1987: Carrying 126 pounds, Zany Tactics set the world record for six furlongs, 1:06 4/5, at Turf Paradise. On Feb. 21, 1993, his time was equaled by Honor the Hero, also at Turf Paradise.

March 8, 1985: Chris McCarron rode his 4,000th career winner, Hawkley (GB), in the fifth race at Santa Anita Park.

March 9, 1977: Seattle Slew made his three-year-old debut, at Hialeah. He won a seven-furlong race in 1:20 3/5, breaking the track record.

March 10, 1808: Diomed, the winner of the inaugural Epsom Derby in 1780, died in Virginia at age 31. He had been imported to the U.S. 10 years earlier and subsequently became an influential sire.

March 10, 1993: At age 41, jockey Eddie Delahoussaye had his 5,000th career winner, aboard Ackler, in the fifth race at Santa Anita Park. He was the 14th rider in North American Thoroughbred racing to reach that plateau.

March 11, 1943: After siring 350 foals that won over $3 million, 26-year-old Man o' War was retired from stud duty.

March 12, 1966: In the last race of his 40-year career, John Longden won the San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita Park, aboard George Royal. He retired with a then-record number of victories, 6,032.

March 12, 1998: The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and EquiSource reached an agreement in principle for EquiSource to be the exclusive provider of group-purchasing and productivity services for the Thoroughbred racing industry.

March 13, 2000: According to the ESPN Sports Poll, consumer interest in Thoroughbred racing increased by 3.1 percent among people 18 and older during the previous two years.

March 14, 1941: Merrick died at age 38, establishing the longevity record for a Thoroughbred.

March 14, 1973: In his final preparation for the March 17 Bay Shore Stakes, the first race of his three-year-old season, Secretariat worked three furlongs in a blistering :32 3/5.

March 14, 1976: Bill Shoemaker won his 7,000th career victory, aboard Charlie Whittingham-trained Royal Derby II, in the fifth race at Santa Anita Park.

March 14, 1987: Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. became the first rider in the history of Santa Anita Park to win seven races in a single afternoon. In his only loss of the day, Pincay finished third aboard Bob Back in the eighth race.

March 17, 2000: Trainer Hubert "Sonny" Hine, trainer of 1998 Horse of the Year Skip Away, passed away after a long illness at age 69.

March 19, 1942: The Thoroughbred Racing Associations of the United States was formed, with John C. Clark as president.

March 19, 1949: Jockey Bill Shoemaker rode his first career race, at Golden Gate Fields. He finished fifth, aboard Waxahachie, in an eight-horse field.

March 20, 1932: Phar Lap, legendary champion racehorse of Australia, won his only start in North America, the Agua Caliente Handicap at Agua Caliente Racecourse in Mexico. His time for the 1-mile race was 2:02 4/5, a track record. The six-year-old Phar Lap died one month later and the cause of his death remains a mystery. During his four years of racing in Australia, Phar Lap won 36 of 50 starts.

March 20, 1969: Less than two months after she became the first woman to ride in a parimutuel race in America, Diane Crump rode her first winner at Gulfstream Park.

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

Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship, 3&up, $200,000, Grade II, 7F, Gulfstream Park

Florida Derby, 3yo, $1,000,000, Grade I, 1 1/8 M, Gulfstream Park
Fair Grounds Oaks, 3yo fillies, $350,000, Grade II, 1 1/16 M, Fair Grounds
Santa Anita Oaks, 3yo fillies, $300,000, Grade I, 1 1/16 M, Santa Anita Park
Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap, 4&up (f&m), $300,000, Grade I, 1 1/8 M, Santa Anita Park
Orchid Handicap, 3&up (f&m), $200,000, Grade II, 1 M (T), Gulfstream Park
El Camino Real Derby, 3yo, $200,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M, Golden Gate Fields
Swale Stakes, 3yo, $150,000, Grade III, 7F, Gulfstream Park
Stymie Handicap, 3&up, $100,000, Grade III, 1 1/8 M, Aqueduct
Phoenix Gold Cup Handicap, 3&up, $100,000, 6F, Turf Paradise
Honeybee Stakes, 3yo fillies, $75,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M, Oaklawn Park

Louisiana Derby, 3yo, $750,000, Grade II, 1 1/16 M, Fair Grounds
Pan American Handicap, 3&up, $250,000, Grade II, 1 M (T), Gulfstream Park
Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup Stakes, 3&up, $85,000, 1 1/16 M (T), Tampa Bay Downs
Battler Star Handicap, 3yo fillies, $75,000, 6F, Fair Grounds




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