Chicago Barn to Wire


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


Laura Hillenbrand's new book, "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" will join the lofty ranks of the New York Times bestseller list this Sunday when it debuts on the paper's non-fiction rankings at number eight. Published by Random House, "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" chronicles the unlikely saga of the underdog horse who became the single biggest newsmaker of 1938, winning a string of races for an owner, trainer and jockey who believed in him long after others had given up hope. The book went on sale March 6, with the Times rankings measuring just the first week of the book's sales.

"'Seabiscuit' making the New York Times bestseller list in its first week on sale is something straight out of an 'I'd like to thank the Academy' fantasy; it might be something you dream of, but you don't really believe it will happen," said Hillenbrand. "It is quite overwhelming. I'm turning cartwheels."


"The Blood-Horse" is reporting that jockey Kent Desormeaux, winner of last year's Kentucky Derby aboard Fusaichi Pegasus, has accepted an offer to ride in Japan for a three-month period beginning on April 28. His contract, with Japan's leading trainer Kazuo Fujisawa, will permit Desormeaux to return to the U.S. to ride in the Kentucky Derby if he wishes.

Desormeaux cited Japan's two-day-per-week racing schedule as the primary reason for the shift. Desormeaux's two-year-old son Jake was born deaf and recently received a state-of-the-art hearing device. Doctors say Jake will need constant attention to catch up to other kids his age, and Desormeaux feels the move to Japan will free up the personal time so crucial to his family at this stage.


With $600,000 in total purse money on the line, a solid field of nine will face the starter Saturday at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., for the Grade II, Turfway Spiral Stakes, an important stepping stone for three-year-olds aspiring to compete in the May 5 Kentucky Derby. Trainer Elliott Walden will have double-barrel action in the Spiral, sending out two top contenders in Meetyouatthebrig and Camden Park. The Turfway Spiral Stakes will be televised live by ESPN as part of the "Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby" series. Airtime is 4:00-5:00 p.m. (ET) The complete Turfway Spiral Stakes field from the rail out is: Fan Club's Mister (to be ridden by Robbie Davis); Keats (Larry Melancon); Clutch Player (Pat Day); Balto Star (Mark Guidry); Halo's Stride (Jon Court); Mongoose (Victor Espinosa); Camden Park (Alex Solis); Buckle Down Ben (John Velazquez; and Meetyouatthebrig (Edgar Prado).


In his first year of eligibility, 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull is among 15 human and equine stars nominated for induction this year to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The complete list of this year's nominees is:

  • Jockeys - Earlie Fires, Craig Perret, Jack Westrope
  • Trainers - Sonny Hine, Richard Mandella, Mel Stute
  • Contemporary Female Horses - Flawlessly, Paseana, Sky Beauty
  • Contemporary Male Horses - Holy Bull, Manila, Precisionist
  • Horses of Yesteryear - Maskette, Numbered Account, Swoon's Son

The nominees were determined by the 13-member Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. Ballots have been sent to 150 racing writers, historians, and broadcasters, who will select one winner from each category. The Hall of Fame inductees will be announced on May 1. The induction ceremony will be held Aug. 6 at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs.


The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) has announced that Lonny T. Powell has joined the organization as a legislative and regulatory affairs consultant. Powell will focus on informing the NTRA membership on legislative and regulatory matters and furthering the work of the NTRA Task Force on Economic Regulation. He will also coordinate the Thoroughbred industry's response to current immigration issues and new Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

"Lonny brings great experience and credentials to this important role," said NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith. "Horseracing has long suffered from the effects of overly intrusive economic regulation, and Lonny will have a key function in addressing this issue with both government officials and our membership."

"I am very pleased to continue my involvement with the NTRA," said Powell. "It's important that our presence be felt and our voices heard in our nation's capitol as well as in each state's capital. I look forward to working with the NTRA team and its membership in that timely and vitally important area."

"It will be a great benefit to the industry to have Lonny Powell working with us to develop an industry response to two important issues that have both national and state implications," said Jay Hickey, president of the American Horse Council. "The first is the new rule proposals by the Environmental Protection Agency that could subject many more horse facilities to the Clean Water Act pollution regulations on water discharge. The second is the scarcity of entry-level employees at farms, training facilities and tracks that require the industry to use alien workers.

"Solutions to both problems will require special focus and expertise and could require legislative and administrative efforts. We appreciate the NTRA once again providing additional resources for these special projects."

A former member of the NTRA Board of Directors, Powell is currently senior advisor to Magna Entertainment Corporation (MEC) as well as an industry consultant. His previous executive positions in the horseracing industry include executive vice president-operations of MEC, president and CEO of Santa Anita Park, president of Turf Paradise, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Longacres Racecourse, president of Multnomah Greyhound Park and director of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program.

RACING ON THE AIR (all times Eastern)

March 24 Racehorse Digest, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN

March 24 "Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby," Turfway Spiral Stakes (Turfway Park), 4:00-5:00 p.m., ESPN2

March 25 "NTRA 2Day at the Races," Explosive Bid Handicap (Fair Grounds), San Pedro Stakes (Santa Anita), Sportsman's Park Breeders' Cup Handicap (Sportsman's Park), 4:30-5:00 p.m., ESPN2

March 28 Racehorse Digest, 4:00-4:30 p.m., ESPN

March 31 Racehorse Digest, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN

April 1 "NTRA 2Day at the Races," Cottonwood Handicap (Albuquerque Downs), Berkeley Handicap (Golden Gate), preview of April 7 "Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby" tripleheader, 5:00-5:30 p.m., ESPN2

April 4 Racehorse Digest, 1:00-1:30 p.m., ESPN


March 23, 1927: Future Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox was foaled at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.

March 24, 1851: California's first organized race for Thoroughbreds took place at the Pioneer Course in San Francisco. The city's residents added a purse of $250 to the sweepstakes, which was set at $15 each for the three competitors. T. K. Battelle's colt Boston won.

March 24, 1932: Omaha, the only Triple Crown winner to be sired by another Triple Crown winner (Gallant Fox), was foaled at Claiborne Farm, Paris, Ky.

March 24, 1940: Future Triple Crown winner Count Fleet was foaled at Stoner Creek Stud, Paris, Ky.

March 24, 1941: Upset, the only horse ever to defeat Man o' War, died at age 24.

March 24, 1953: A program for nationwide televising of 10 of the richest races being run in New York and Delaware, was announced. NBC and ABC provided network coverage for the Saturday broadcasts, which were scheduled for April 18-June 20.

March 24, 1997: Assicurazioni Generali, the lead underwriter on the congenital infertility insurance on Horse of the Year Cigar, agreed to pay the $25 million claim filed by owners Allen Paulson and Coolmore Stud. Coolmore received $18.75 million and Paulson got $6.25 million, representing the parties' respective 75% and 25% ownership interests.

March 26, 1943: Future Triple Crown winner Assault was foaled at King Ranch, Kingsville, Texas.

March 26, 1966: Jockey Eddie Maple won his first career race, at Ascot Park in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

March 26, 1992: Henryk de Kwiatkowski purchased Calumet Farm for $17 million at auction. He paid an additional $210,000 for the Calumet name.

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.

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

Turfway Spiral Stakes, 3yo, $600,000, Grade II, 1 1/8 M, Turfway Park
Widener Handicap, 3&up, $200,000, Grade III, 1 1/8 M, Hialeah
Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap, 3&up (f&m), $175,000, Grade II, 7F, Aqueduct
Bourbonette Breeders' Cup, 3yo fillies, $150,000, 1M, Turfway Park
Rebel Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, Grade III, 1 1/16 M, Oaklawn Park
Rushaway Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, 1 1/16 M, Turfway Park
Soviet Problem Handicap, 3&up (f&m), $100,000, 6F, Golden Gate Fields
Sportsman's Park Breeders' Cup Handicap, 3&up, $100,000, 1M, Sportsman's Park

Explosive Bid Handicap, 4&up, $600,000, Grade II, 1 1/8 M (T), Fair Grounds
Cicada Stakes, 3yo fillies, $100,000, Grade III, 7F, Aqueduct
Hialeah Breeders' Cup Handicap, 3&up (f&m), $100,000, 1 1/16 M (T), Hialeah




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