Chicago Barn to Wire

NTRA THOROUGHBRED NOTEBOOK

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

MEDIA ECLIPSE AWARD WINNERS ARE ANNOUNCED

  • Writing-News/Commentary: Jay Hovdey, "Racing Loses a Man of Taste," Daily Racing Form, June 7, 2000
  • Writing-Features/Enterprise: Mary Simon, "Racing Through the Century," Thoroughbred Times, Dec. 25, 1999-Nov. 13, 2000
  • National Television-Features: ABC Sports, feature on Marlon St. Julien airing as a segment in "Raising the Roof-Seven Athletes for the 21st Century," Feb. 5, 2000, produced by Paul Hutchinson
  • National Television-Live Racing Programming: ABC Sports, Kentucky Derby, May 6, 2000, produced by Curt Gowdy Jr.
  • Local Television: "The Preakness: An American Classic," WMAR-TV, July 15, 2000, produced by Maryland Jockey Club
  • Radio: Premiere Radio, Breeders' Cup, Nov. 4, 2000, produced by Shelby Whitfield
  • Photography: Dave Landry's photo of Strike Smartly, which appeared in the 2000 Queen's Plate Souvenir issue of the Canadian Thoroughbred

LANDMARK LEGISLATION PASSED

Last Friday, Congress passed a package of appropriations bills that included a clarification to the Interstate Horseracing Act (IHA). President Clinton is expected to sign them into law by Friday, December 22. With funding from the 1/4% sales auction program, the NTRA and its Washington lobbying team was a driving force behind the preparation and ultimate passage of this key clarification. The result is an outstanding piece of legislation for all involved in the Thoroughbred industry.

The amendment to IHA confirms that interstate simulcasting, commingling of pools and account wagering are, indeed, permitted under the IHA in all states that authorize these activities. Previously, the U.S. Department of Justice had argued that the IHA did not authorize interstate commingling of wagering pools or account wagering--an opinion that could have been devastating to the Thoroughbred industry.

With respect to account wagering, the IHA amendment clarifies the legality of interstate pari-mutuel wagering on horseracing by telephone and other electronic media, which would include Internet-based wagering conducted over closed-loop, subscriber-based systems such as the hub NTRA Services currently operates in Oregon.

In short, this IHA clarification permits racing to maintain current business practices and also to grow its business on the interstate account wagering front which, over time, has represented a larger and larger percentage of overall betting handle in the U.S. It also leaves to the states the question of whether to permit such activities within their respective jurisdictions.

"This is a tremendous example of what the Thoroughbred industry is capable of achieving when it works together," said Greg Avioli, deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the NTRA. "From the owners who supported us financially through the voluntary sales program, to the American Horse Council and our Washington lobbyists, this was a complete team effort that will ensure our industry's growth for years to come."

BAZE SET TO DO IT AGAIN

Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze is just one winner shy from 400 on the year after guiding home three victors yesterday at Golden Gate Fields in Albany, Calif. Baze has won at least 400 races a year seven times (1992-1998) and probably would have turned the trick last year if not for an injury that kept him out of action for five weeks. No other rider has won 400 races in a year more than three times.

Baze is scheduled to ride five horses on today's Golden Gate racing card.

RACING ON THE AIR (all times Eastern)
December 22 Racehorse Digest, 3:00-3:30 a.m., ESPN
December 23 Racehorse Digest, 4:30-5:00 a.m., ESPN
December 27 Racehorse Digest, 1:00-1:30 p.m., ESPN
December 30 Racehorse Digest, 5:30-6:00 a.m., ESPN
December 31 Racehorse Digest, 3:00-3:30 a.m., ESPN
January 3 Racehorse Digest, 1:00-1:30 p.m., ESPN

RACING TO HISTORY

Dec. 22, 1991: Jockey Kent Desormeaux, at age 21, won his 2,000th race aboard Saron Lake, trained by Gary Jones, at Hollywood Park. He was the youngest jockey to reach that mark and did so faster than any other rider.

Dec. 23, 1944: James F. Byrnes, Director of War Mobilization and Reconversion, urged that all racing in the United States cease by Jan. 3 as a means of furthering the war effort.

Dec. 25, 1934: Santa Anita Park opened in Arcadia, Calif. A five-year-old mare, Las Palmas, won the inaugural race, the California-Bred Handicap, before a crowd of 30,777.

Dec. 27, 1982: English trainer Michael Dickinson saddled 12 winners, a record.

Dec. 27, 1987: D. Wayne Lukas set a single-season record for stakes wins by a trainer, 92, when he saddled High Brite to win the Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita Park.

Dec. 31, 1966: Ogden Phipps' Buckpasser, trained by Eddie Neloy, won the 13th consecutive race of his three-year-old season after taking the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita Park. He was voted Horse of the Year and also took top three-year-old and handicap horse honors for 1966.

Dec. 31, 1982: After a year-long battle for leading rider honors, Pat Day edged Angel Cordero Jr. by two races, which he won after chartering a plane to fly to Vinton, La., where he rode Dana's Woof Woof and Miltons Magic to victory during the evening program at Delta Downs. Day won the title-his first-with 399 wins to Cordero's 397.

Dec. 31, 1989: Jockey Kent Desormeaux set the world record for most number of wins in a single season, 598, when he rode two-year-old East Royalty, trained by Phil Thomas Jr., to victory in the tenth race, the Inner Harbor Stakes, at Laurel. He surpassed the old record, set by Chris McCarron, by 52.

Jan. 1, 1942: Racing in California was officially canceled. On Dec. 16, the West Coast military authorities had requested that Santa Anita Park postpone its meeting indefinitely due to war conditions.

Jan. 1, 1975: Secretariat was represented by his first Thoroughbred foal, a filly named Miss Secretariat, born in Kentucky to the mare My Card.

Jan. 2, 1945: As the end of World War II approached, racing throughout the U.S. was banned indefinitely at the request of James F. Byrnes, War Mobilization Director. While Thoroughbreds could not be transported in the U.S. for racing purposes, the Office of Defense Transportation subsequently approved the shipment of racehorses to tracks that were more than 300 miles beyond U.S. borders. The ban was not lifted until May, causing the rescheduling of the Triple Crown races.

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

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23
Bayakoa Handicap, 3&up (f&m), $150,000, Grade II, 1 1-16M, Hollywood Park
Congressional Handicap, 3&up, $100,000, 1 1-4M, Laurel Park
Pete Axthelm Handicap, 3yo, $100,000, 7 1-2F (T), Calder Racecourse
Woodchopper Handicap, 3yo, $100,000, 1 1-16M (T), Fair Grounds
Gravesend Handicap, 3&up, $75,000, 6F, Aqueduct

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26
Malibu Stakes, 3yo, $200,000, Grade I, 7F, Santa Anita

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