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Since the 17th century man has dabbled in making the racing horse go faster. Methods were simple: shouting, brandy was the best tipple for speed, stamina and courage, or a lick of caffeine. Now milkshakes, spiced with sodium bicarbonate, also known as TCO2, are the flavour of the month, with the whiff of Vicks VapoRub , contributing to one of our greatest drug scandals of recent times. Yes, the cobalt debacle in the south figures prominently but the 271 charges laid this week by Racing Victoria stewards against trainers, including 115 fired at the prominent Robert Smerdon, and stable employees over a considerable period makes it a standout. Yesterday Smerdon and another trainer involved Stuart Webb agreed to stand down pending hearing. Aquanita Racing, billed on its internet site as "one of Australia's largest racing operations, with five trainers over three locations", has past and present connections with those charged, but no other involvement in the issue. Smerdon has been charged with being "a party to the administration of alkalising agents and/or medications to a horse or horses on a race day" from 2010 until last year. Thus milkshaking is a focal point. Sodium bicarbonate is legal when used at times outside race day threshold treatment periods, and Smerdon has won countless races without the hint of the inappropriate recipe. For instance, Nature Strip, prepared by him, bolted in at Sandown on Wednesday for his third win from four attempts and contributing to Smerdon's 43 successes this season. Aquagate opened with the scratching of Smerdon's Lovani from a Flemington event prior to racing last October when stewards suspected treatment in breach of the rules. "Milkshaking is a mixture of baking soda, sugar and water. The concoction is designed to reduce the build-up of lactic acid," Andrew Beyer, the esteemed US turf scribe, described in 1999 in a piece "Milkshakes leave a bitter taste". The potency of milkshakes has been questioned so the opinion of Thomas Tobin, author of Drugs and the Performance Horse, was researched. "Another approach to the improvement of performance is to render a horse's blood more alkaline than usual by the administration of sodium carbonate," he wrote. "This method is effective because formation of lactic acid by working muscle and its accumulation in the blood plays an important part of signs of fatigue". Like cobalt, milkshakes were tried and tested successfully in harness racing before making the big time but were regarded as beneficial only in staying races. Fortunately for one the greats of our time, with no connection to Aquagate, frozen milkshake samples don't stand up to testing now. The gelding's TCO2 reading, like his ability, was sky high. In those days officialdom was more inclined to issue a private warning rather than public scandal in the best interest of the turf. But seemingly simple treatment, such Vicks, can create havoc, and appears in the charge sheet of the Aquagate, relating to the administration of it to the nose of a horse at Bendigo in 2012. Remember Aliysa in the English Oaks in 1989? Aliysa, owned by the Aga Khan, returned a positive to camphor, the Vicks ingredient. The filly lost the Oaks and British racing lost the Aga Khan for four years in retaliation. "It appears that camphor in the horse is not likely to have any useful stimulating actions and its standing in equine medicine should probably be close to human medicine which is just about zero," Tobin opined. A simple mouth wash before the race was long odds-on to bring Tierce undone after he scored in the 1991 Golden Slipper at Rosehill. Tierce proved positive to lignocaine contained in the rinse. In one of the most controversial decisions regarding a positive sample, Australian Jockey Club stewards under John Schreck decreed it "did not affect performance" and took no action against the colt. "It is the best decision that could have been given, an excellent one, a courageous one," the late Percy Sykes, the legendary horse doctor, declared. "The analysts are working on the basis that everything is black and white and that is wrong. What I would like to see brought in is a body of practical professionals to assist stewards in that grey area …." By Max Presnell Reprinted with permission of The Brisbane Times

On the day where he is receiving accolades for his mare Winx being named as the world's best turf horse for 2016, champion trainer Chris Waller has been rocked by the news one of his horses returned a positive swab to methamphetamine. Fairfax Media reported on Friday that an initial test from an unnamed maiden horse in Waller's stable returned a positive result to methamphetamine, known as the recreational drug ice, which is an illegal stimulant. Methamphetamine is a prohibited substance under the Australian Rules of Racing. If the horse returns a positive from a second sample then Racing NSW stewards would open an official inquiry. Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel would not confirm the report. "We have a steadfast policy that we will not make any comment to the media until we have a confirmation of a positive result," Van Gestel told Racing.com. Fairfax Media believes that an investigation has been opened regarding all Waller stable staff being drug tested. "We are working through the possibility of a positive sample to ice from one of our horses," Waller told Fairfax. "It is an issue we want to get on the front foot with and we have tested our staff to try and find how this happened. "We want to work out where the contamination has come from and whether it was from one of our staff or an outside influence. "We are still waiting on a lot of information and we are helping stewards with their investigation. "As much as I'm concerned with this issue, I'm equally concerned for any person who has an issue with this drug and would want to help them as well." Waller is considered Australia's leading trainer, using his base at Rosehill in Sydney to win many of Australia's feature races over the past eight years, including the past two Cox Plates with champion mare Winx. This is not the first time that the trainer has had a horse return a positive swab to a prohibited substance. In April 2013 Racing NSW stewards investigated Waller after three of his horses returned positive swabs to ibuprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory treatment that is prohibited in racing, but no conviction was recorded after it was determined that the source of the positive was feed contamination. Ballarat Cup winner Junoob was disqualified after winning the Group 1 Metropolitan at Randwick in 2014 for returning a positive sample to the diuretic Frusemide - which is known world-wide as anti-bleeding drug Lasix - with Waller receiving a $30,000 fine. While admitting to using Frusamide in his stable, Waller informed stewards that the drug had been mistakenly given to Junoob by a stable employee. Although rare, there have been methamphetamine positives in thoroughbred racing in Australia. Mornington-based trainer Matt Laurie's Shockaholic returned a positive to methamphetamine after winning a maiden at Echuca on April 24, 2015 and was subsequently disqualified. However, Laurie avoided a penalty after it had been discovered that a member of his stable staff had been using the drug. It was deemed that the methamphetamine positive was caused by accidental contamination and that the positive recorded was so small that it would not have affected the performance of Shockaholic. No conviction was recorded against Laurie. Also in 2015, NSW-trainer Luke Griffith was disqualified for four years after positives to methamphetamine were recorded from three horses in his care. Fellow NSW-based trainer John McNair, well known as the trainer of champion sprinter Hay List, was fined $15,000 for a lack of stable security after his horse Normandy tested positive to amphetamine and methylamphetamine. However, stewards found that McNair had no knowledge of the administration of the drug and that an external party had approached the horse. There have also been positive swabs to the drug returned in greyhound racing and harness racing. By Shane Anderson Reprinted with permission of the racing.com site

Jockeys riding Nyquist and Exaggerator were wearing some breakthrough technology during their first- and second-place finishes in the 142nd Kentucky Derby (G-I).   Patent-pending Speed Silks®, designed and manufactured by Darby Racing Technology, LLC, are a new breed of equine jockey silks: form-fitting and made entirely of Aero Dimplex®, a patented aerodynamically-engineered fabric that is uniquely textured to reduce drag.   Both Nyquist and Exaggerator are expected to compete in the upcoming Preakness Stakes (G-I), along with Dazzling Gem, owned by Speed Silks customer Steve Landers Racing.   Product inventor and company founder Matt Darby sold his first set of Speed Silks in August of 2013, and says both Reddam Racing and Big Chief Racing - owners of Nyquist and Exaggerator, respectively - and Steve Landers Racing were some of his earliest customers.   "We started out in a home office, keeping track of customer orders with a grid on a dry-erase board." Darby says. "We outgrew that almost immediately, but for whatever reason, I've never erased the board, and it still has Reddam's and Big Chief's original orders on it. That thing has been hanging on my wall since the spring of 2014. I guess it's a good thing I never erased it, because now it's quite a souvenir."   Darby says Speed Silks took about two and half years to go from concept to sellable product, and that they have been designed from the ground up with aerodynamic efficiency as rule number one. "That goal determined everything: the aerodynamic fabric we used, the way we construct the jacket, helmet cover and jockey pants, even the way we put the colors and markings onto the silks."   Owners' markings are dyed directly into the Aero Dimplex fabric, allowing for completely seamless construction, resulting in less weight and a more aerodynamic shape. The Speed Silks product lineup consists of four products: jacket, helmet cover, jockey pants and boot sleeves.   "Speed Silks boot sleeves," Darby says, "are wraps made of Aero Dimplex that slide down over the jockey's boot. Aero Dimplex is dimpled like a golf-ball, and that's what gives it its aerodynamic properties. It's actually more aerodynamically-efficient than even a perfectly smooth surface, which is why we make the boot sleeves. We don't sell very many of them, but they're great for demonstrating just how effective Aero Dimplex is. There are other similar fabrics out there, but this one is the world's most aerodynamically-efficient fabric between 14 and 47 miles per hour, which is perfect for horse racing."   Darby adds that it's important to understand what Speed Silks can and cannot do. "They do not simply make the horse go faster," he says. "That's the jockey's job. What Speed Silks do is reduce the amount of energy the horse has to output in order to achieve and maintain speed.   "Many of our customers ask, 'Do they work?' What they usually mean is, 'Will Speed Silks make my horse run faster?' I say, 'Yeah, unless your horse can violate the laws of physics, they work.' I just can't say, 'They will shave off x seconds per furlong,' or anything like that."   Speed Silks have been worn by winners of dozens of graded stakes races, including Martin Garcia aboard Bayern, while winning the $5-million Breeder's Cup Classic (G-I) in 2014.   Matt Darby is available for comment at (806) 570-6920. Information about Speed Silks and gallery of images is at www.SpeedSilks.com. Speed Silks is also on Facebook and Twitter.    

Anywhere from four to six jockeys are expected to wear aerodynamically-engineered Speed Silks® brand jockey silks in this year's 142nd Kentucky Derby (G-I).   Speed Silks are a form-fitting, head-to-toe equine jockey uniform made entirely out of Aero Dimplex®, an aerodynamically-engineered fabric that's textured to actively reduce aerodynamic drag. Speed Silks are the only jockey silks worldwide that use this technology.   Matt Darby, founder of Darby Racing Technology, LLC and inventor of Speed Silks, says four Derby horses will likely be ridden by jockeys wearing Speed Silks, with a possible fifth and sixth, depending on circumstances.   "We're especially happy that one of our clients happens to have the betting favorite this year," Darby says, referring to Reddam Racing LLC's Nyquist. "We've been watching his career closely since he was a hot 2-year-old. I have photos of each of his graded stakes wins on my office wall."   "We also make Speed Silks for Big Chief Racing, who's fielding Exaggerator, Michael Lund Petersen's Mor Spirit, and Twin Creeks Racing's Destin. The first three have actually been Speed Silks customers for quite some time, but Twin Creeks called us right after Destin won the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay. They wanted brand-new silks in case they were able to run in the Derby; they had seen our product on other jockeys, loved them, and called us first."   Twenty horses are expected to run in the $2-million race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Darby says fans may also see Speed Silks on WinStar Farms' Creator, but that he won't know until race day. WinStar has a big barn, he says, but only a couple of pairs of Speed Silks.   Finally, Steve Landers' Dazzling Gem is an also-eligible, but if he sees the track on race day, his jockey will definitely be in Speed Silks, Darby says.   This year's Kentucky Derby is just the third since Speed Silks first went on sale, and they have been worn in all three. The product has been on the backs of five Grade-I Breeders' Cup winners in the past two years, including Bayern, winner of the $5-million Classic in 2014. Including this year's Kentucky Derby, Speed Silks will have been worn in six of the last seven Triple Crown races.   Darby adds, "We'll see Speed Silks in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, and we'll have jockeys wearing our stuff all up and down the undercard races on both Oaks day and Derby day. We hope to have a lot to crow about by Saturday evening. We're still a very small company with a very new, bleeding-edge product, so an opportunity like this is extremely exciting."   Speed Silks are sold across North America, and in 2015 became approved for use in Australia and the entire Asia-Pacific region, where Darby says business is quickly taking off. Speed Silks have also been sold for use in Great Britain and France.   The Speed Silks product lineup incudes jackets, helmet covers, jockey pants and boot sleeves - a product unique to Speed Silks.   Examples of the product can be seen at SpeedSilks.com/Gallery.   Matt Darby is available for comment at (806) 570-6920.    

LEXINGTON, KY - The President of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) today predicted that the currently unregulated horse breeding industry will ultimately be folded into any federal racing legislation that advances in Washington. "I fully anticipate that as current proposals advance in the legislative process, Members of Congress will heed comments made by a key supporter of federal intervention about the practices of Thoroughbred breeders that may be contributing to an inappropriate reliance on drugs," Ed Martin said. Prior to becoming involved with racing regulatory matters, Martin served as a senior aide on Capitol Hill for almost a decade. The President of the Humane Society of the United States and a member of The Jockey Club's coalition, Wayne Pacelle, wrote in a July 20, 2015 column published on the animal welfare website thedodo.com the following: "Doping horses for racing is more dangerous today than ever because breeding practices - which select for speed and champagne-glass legs - make the horses less sturdy and more vulnerable to breakdowns than they were even 10 or 20 years ago." The Thoroughbred breeding industry and related sales companies are not currently regulated by the states, creating a void that Martin predicted Congress would fill given the universal concern about Thoroughbred racing breakdowns. Martin noted that state racing commission medication reforms already implemented are starting to reduce catastrophic injuries in some jurisdictions as reported by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear at The Jockey Club's Roundtable conference this past weekend. He predicted that unregulated sales company medication policies that permit the stacking of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids to be used on horses going through the auction ring could be considered permissive. "I predict that Members of Congress will want to know why drugs need to be given to horses that have never raced and have not been injured," he said. The ARCI President said that if a state were to expand the jurisdiction of an ARCI member commission to regulate the breeding industry and sales companies, the association would begin working on Model Rules to assist that agency in meeting the legislative mandate. To date, that has not happened. Steve May

WASHINGTON — Two Congressmen are introducing a bill that would establish uniform drug and medication standards in Thoroughbred racing in 2017. If passed, the legislation would allow the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to create a drug agency specifically for racing — a first for the sport. USADA, an independent agency, is the national anti-doping organization in the U.S. for the Olympics. The Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 is being presented Thursday by representatives Andy Barr, R-Ky., and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. They co-chair the Congressional Horse Caucus. The racing industry is regulated on a state-by-state basis with a patchwork of regulations. Supporters of the bill have been trying for years to set uniform rules, drug testing and penalties at tracks nationwide. The bill is supported by the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity. Among those in the coalition are the Breeders' Cup, The Jockey Club, the Humane Society of the United States and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. The Associated Press

The cobalt saga started in harness racing at The Meadowlands and has now spread around the racing world like a virus. We've all read about cobalt. Racing's new EPO. The stuff that supposedly makes horses run like Lear Jets.  But until this week it's all been about yet another Australian trainer being caught with a high reading. That changed on Tuesday, however, when the Racing Integrity Unit dropped the bombshell that the leading Matamata stable of Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott had returned a cobalt positive with its horse Quintastics, after she won a race in March. And then on Friday, after further testing in Perth, the RIU confirmed a trawl through frozen samples from the stable had uncovered two more positives, from NZ Derby place-getter Sound Proposition and Suffire, who won at Tauranga in February. Suddenly, people in the industry are asking questions about what it means, are they at risk and exactly how high the cobalt levels are. While RIU general manager Mike Godber would not reveal the exact amount of cobalt found in the three horses, he said it "significantly" breached the internationally recognised limit of 200 adopted earlier this season. There is no suggestion the levels are anywhere near as high as the 6000 recorded in one of 21 positives returned by horses trained by Newcastle trainer Darren Smith who was disqualified for 15 years. Fairfax investigations have revealed it would take an intravenous injection of cobalt chloride to elevate levels into the thousands, a sure sign of cheating. But levels in the hundreds, believed to be the case with the O'Sullivan/Scott trio, almost certainly indicates the administration of a supplement, a practice commonplace in New Zealand. Fortified horse feeds contain only minute amounts of cobalt, nowhere near enough to elevate levels above the threshold. Industry regulators both here and in Australia adopted the trigger point of 200 micrograms of cobalt per litre of urine after extensive testing of some 2500 samples from horses in New Zealand, Queensland, Victoria, West Australia and South Australia. The New Zealand sample of 400 horses, some from race-day swabs and some from random horses at stud chosen because they had never had any medication, put the mean level of cobalt very low at 6.4. This was markedly lower than the Australian samples which found cobalt levels of between 10 and 20 – explained by the fact many racing areas in New Zealand are volcanic and the soil is deficient in cobalt. In another collaborative effort, 11 overseas countries contributed 10,300 post-race urine samples and the highest recorded cobalt reading was 78 mcg/l. The average was 5.29 mcg/l. These results included many horses on normal cobalt supplementation programmes. Given those results,  it's not surprising many in the industry here have criticised our 200 level as too generous. They say unscrupulous trainers have too much leeway to dose their horses and remain undetected. But Fairfax understands  it is highly likely that a new, lower limit of 100, already in place in Hong Kong, will be struck at the next meeting of international regulators in Paris in October. As yet the UK and European racing jurisdictions have not set a cobalt threshold. In the Australian cases pending against Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Mark Kavanagh, Cox Plate-winning trainer Danny O'Brien, and Lee and Shannon Hope, all levels detected are in the hundreds. Racing Victoria revealed the cobalt levels detected as: Danny O'Brien's Bondeiger (370mcg/l), Caravan Rolls On (380), De Little Engine (580) and Bullpit (320); Mark Kavanagh's Magicool (640); Lee and Shannon Hope's Windy Citi Bear (300), Best Suggestion (550) and Choose (440). Studies done by the Hong Kong Jockey Club have demonstrated how such levels can easily be reached through supplementation. In its study, horses which were injected with Hemo-15, an iron, amino acid and B vitamin supplement readily available here, reached a maximum cobalt level in the urine of 530 mcg/l within two hours of administration. The cobalt level decreased rapidly and was below 200 in six to 12 hours. That begs the question how the levels detected recently could be so high given it is illegal to treat horses in any way on race-day and there is no legitimate reason for administering the supplement so close to a race.    Concern that vitamin B12 medication, popular with trainers here, might result in a cobalt positive was flagged by the New Zealand Equine branch of the Veterinary Association when it gazetted a warning in February. Vitamin B12 contains five per cent cobalt and, if given repeatedly, can result in a cobalt level in the hundreds. All vets were advised that they should not use any medication that contained vitamin B12 either orally or by injection for one clear day before a horse raced. Barry Lichter Reprinted with permission  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (June 23, 2015) - Retired Hall of Fame jockey Braulio Baeza will make an appearance Saturday (June 27) at Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment as part of a "throwback" night at the races. The day will also include a Daily Racing Form handicapping seminar featuring national handicapper Michael "The Wizard" Kipness and one-dollar food and beverage specials. Baeza, a three-time Belmont Stakes winning jockey, 1963 Kentucky Derby winner aboard Chateaugay, and 1976 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame inductee will talk about his career and reminisce on the Meadowlands pre-race television show with Bob "Hollywood" Heyden at 6:45 p.m. before meeting his legion of fans for a meet and greet on the track apron from 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Prior to Baeza's appearance, fans are invited to Victory Sports Bar for a handicapping seminar with the Daily Racing Form's renowned handicapper "The Wizard." The seminar is free and open to the public and will focus on wagering strategies for the day's major simulcast events including Santa Anita's Grade 1 Gold Cup and Grade 1 Triple Bend. The event runs from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. In keeping with the "throwback" theme of the evening, many concession prices will be rolled back to $1 including canned soda, Bud and Bud Light drafts, pretzels, popcorn, and hot dogs. The special priced concessions will be available from 6:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. at all indoor concession locations. Adding to the appeal of the evening will be the annual Meadowlands Ms. Hot to Trot beauty pageant. The ten finalists will compete in casual wear, formal wear, and swimsuit rounds during the live racing program. The grand prize winner receives $5,000. Saturday's thirteen-race live program begins at 7:15 p.m. Admission and general parking is free. Justin Horowitz Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment | 1 Racetrack Drive | East Rutherford, NJ 07073            

The Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) has commenced an investigation following a positive test result for Cobalt. Cobalt is a prohibited substance in horse racing at a level of over 200 micrograms per litre in urine. The horse “Quintastics” tested positive after winning on 11 March at Tauranga. “Quintastics” is trained by Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott at Matamata.  Initial testing is carried out at a Wellington laboratory and any positive results are sent to Perth, Western Australia for confirmation. As part of its investigation the RIU has advised O’Sullivan and Scott that there are concerns for two other urine samples that have been sent to Perth. The horses involved are – “Suffire” on 5 February at Tauranga and “Sound Proposition” on 28 February at Ellerslie (3rd NZ Derby) The New Zealand racing industry has been testing for cobalt since mid-2014 and has tested samples as far back as February 2014. Investigations are on-going. As this matter is subject to an investigation no further comment will be provided from the RIU at this time. Racing Integrity Unit

Harness racing followers on both sides of the Tasman have been watching the unfolding saga surrounding the administration of Cobalt by several leading thoroughbred trainers in Victoria with a degree of smugness over the last few months. For once it seemed like the shoe was on the other foot and the rival code was finally having its long overdue day in the spotlight regarding integrity issues. Therefore it was all a bit of a shock yesterday to harness racing fans when it turns out two of the people providing a lot of the alleged illegal substances to the first trainer before the judiciary in Sam Kavanagh were well known harness racing identities. Mitchell Butterfield and John Camilleri have both been implicated by evidence given yesterday and it has sent shockwaves throughout the industry. Several harness racing trainers implicated in the cobalt scandal in the last few months have been a home away from home to visiting Kiwi trainers over the years. Perception is reality to a lot of people in 2015 and it is a terrible look for harness racing when the visiting trainers are staying with people who are later found to be operating outside of the rules and regulations. This is a lot more to come out yet but lets just hope that no other harness racing people are involved in this messy drug scandal  Chris Roots of the Melbourne Age has done a great report of yesterday's hearing which you can view here Harnesslink Media

Racing NSW stewards heard allegations of cobalt supply, cash payments and standover tactics by key members of Flemington Equine Clinic in an explosive first day of Sam Kavanagh's case on Tuesday.   Stewards from Racing NSW and Racing Victoria have been running parallel investigations, with Kavanagh's father Mark and Danny O'Brien mentioned often throughout evidence on Tuesday.   Flemington Equine veterinary practice part-owner Tom Brennan and practice manager Aaron Corby, the former racing manager for the controversial BC3 thoroughbreds operation, repeatedly denied allegations made in Kavanagh's and others' evidence that Brennan had supplied a bottle labelled Vitamin Complex, which contained a high-concentration of cobalt.   To read the full article by Chris Roots, click here   Harnesslink Media

Four leading Australian thoroughbred trainers are facing possible three-year bans after Racing Victoria stewards charged them on 29 counts relating to the administration of the banned substance cobalt, and a leading veterinary surgeon on a further 20 counts.   Danny O'Brien (16 counts), Mark Kavanagh (four) and Lee and Shannon Hope (nine) have been charged with breaching the rules of racing after eight  horses in their stables returned illegally high cobalt readings.   Veterinary surgeon and Flemington Equine Clinic principal Dr Tom Brennan has been charged with administering cobalt and that he supplied or caused to supply to O'Brien and Kavanagh a substance containing a high level of cobalt.   To read the full article by Patrick Bartley, click here     Harnesslink Media

Three jockeys have won the Belmont twice in the new Millennium - John Velazquez, Edgar Prado and Mike Smith.   102 years between FILLIES winning the Belmont 1905 Tanya, 2007 Rags To Riches.   5 - Five Straight Belmonts for Woody Stephens-1982-1986 NONE before NONE after.   678 horses have lined up and started in the Kentucky Derby SINCE Affirmed last won the Triple Crown in 1978.   1997-2009 "Sidewalks Of New York" the Theme song.   2010 "Empire State Of Mind.   2011-2015 "New York New York".   70-1 was the price on Sarava who ended Bob Bafferts's LAST Triple Crown bid-2002-with War Emblem.   Three-time eclipse winning jockey Braulio Baeza's hat trick - he won the Belmont three times on three DIFFERENT Surfaces. 1961 and 1969 at Belmont the second time on a revamped track-1963 at Aquedect.   Mike Tabor is the ONLY owner since 1986 to win the Belmont TWICE!  2007 Rags To Riches, 1995 Thunder Gulch.   6 of the last 7 Triple Crown winners were also the defending 2 YO CHAMPION - (Assault the only one who wasn't).   6 of the last 7 Triple Crown winners in harness racing - were NOT the 2 YO CHAMPION (Niatross the only one who was).   42 YEARS since the record of 2:24 set - Secretariat. His stablemate Riva Ridge also won the Belmont - the year before in 1972 - in 2:28 flat.   Count Fleet owns the SECOND Highest Belmont Margin of 25 lengths (Secretariat's 31 lengths in 1973 the standard).   May 16, 1979, 11 months AFTER Affirmed won the last Triple Crown, Gary Stevens won his FIRST ever race-for his father who trained.   The Highest ever BEYER NUMBER for a Belmont winner went to Easy Goer -1 22 in 1989 (Beyer established in 1987).   The Belmont was held at AQUEDUCT from 1963-1967 while the track was under restoration and renovation.   FIVE of the ELEVEN Triple Crown winners were chestnuts-including Affirmed and Secretariat.   1931 was the year the order was established for the Triple Crown.   120,139 came to see Smarty Jones in 2004 just miss in his attempt for the Triple Crown. It was to be his final career race - he wound up 8 for 9 with a second. All nine of his races were competed at DIFFERENT Distances.   37 and 25 - the two largest GAPS between Triple Crown winners. 1978-2015 ???? and 1948-1973.   Many would argue that Secretariat winning the 1973 Belmont by 31 lengths in a time that STILL stands as a North America Dirt record and the margin that STILL stands as the largest Grade One effort ever-you'd have thought THAT would be the cover of Sports Illustrated,THAT WEEK Right? WRONG! The cover featured George Foreman - who - by the way - did NOT fight that week or even in the last six months. Secretariat only made pages 9-13. Think somebody missed the boat here? (Don't anyone even THINK to say he'd been on the cover just recently - Jeremy Lin made it two STRAIGHT weeks a couple of years ago for the Knicks).   In 1977 - Jean Cruguet was an astounding 9 for 14 during the week at Belmont - but would not even chance riding on Thursday or Friday while awaiting Seattle Slews Belmont on Saturday - and his own Triple Crown try. SLEW would win it - and remains the only horse ever to make it through the Triple Crown UNDEFEATED! Seattle Slew is also the only one of the eleven Triple Crown winners to have sold at public auction - $17.500 - 90 seconds in the ring and into the record books.   Triple Crown wins - total 11 - Bob Baffert  12 - Jimmy Takter  14 D Wayne Lukas (Note that Jimmy Takter AND D Wayne Lukas have each won the Triple Crown -with two DIFFERENT horses - Takter last year and Lukas in 1995).   The Belmont Stakes was NOT held in 1911 and 1912.   Conquistador Cielo won the 1982 Belmont - the first of five in a ROW for Woody Stephens - on 4 DAYS REST! (METROPOLITAN MILE winner at Belmont on Memorial Day).   IF 10 or more enter and go to the gate for the 2015 Belmont - it marks the first time EVER that for seven STRAIGHT years, there has been a DOUBLE - digit sized field for the Belmont.   Chrysler offered their $5 Million bonus from 1988-1995 NO WINNERS; Visa then the same from 1996 - 2005 NO WINNERS.   It's been 35 YEARS since Harness Racing had a Triple Crown winner (Niatross) who was also the 2 YO champ; 37 years for thoroughbred racing (Affirmed 1978).   Bill Shoemaker won the Belmont 4 times in an 11 year span. 1957, 1969, 1962, 1967 (Also won it in 1975).   If the restriction to hold the crowd to 90,000 does hold this year, then the Belmont cannot have it's SIXTH 100,000 plus crowd in its history.   ***************** NEVER has a horse finished the Triple Crown - the Belmont-with larger than an 8 horse field!! ************************   Here are the field sizes for the Eleven Triple Crown winners: (Chronologically backwards) 5-8-5-8-7-3-4-8-5-4-3.   Affirmed and Secretariat each won in a five horse field.   The average sized field for the ELEVEN Triple Crown winners is 5.5 horses.   BUT - since Affirmed last won the Triple Crown in 1978, the average BELMONT FIELD SIZE has been 10.2 Horses!   The COMBINED 3 YO earnings of the 11 other Triple Crown winners in history is $4,708,701   Times Have changed dept? In 2008 Big Brown fell short in the Belmont and finished 6-7 career and never raced again. Smarty Jones got beat in the Belmont of 2004 for a career slate of 9 8-1-0 and he too never competed again. In 2012 - I'll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and scratched from the Belmont never to race again.   BUT - in 1941 - Whirlaway won the Triple Crown - raced 89 TIMES CAREER!, won the Kentucky Derby PREVIEW in addition to the Derby, and - get this - won an allowance race IN BETWEEN the Preakness and the Belmont - thus wrapping up the Triple Crown.   Let's hope there's some action in the Belmont this year - remember the Kentucky Derby had the top three finishers go 1-2-3 all the way - in an 18 horse field, none of the top three finishers was worse than third at any point! How rare was that? The LAST time that had happened was in 1915, when Regret won  -in a 16 horse field. 100 YEARS to be exact!   Robert Heyden

Harness racing in New Zealand is in a real bind in our opinion and unless our leaders do something very quickly then we could very easily become a "sunset industry" in this country. The breeding figures for the just completed breeding season are now available and the annual decline in mares bred continues unabated with the decline looking to be in the region of 7.5%. This decline has been evident for well over a decade now and if it is not stopped our industry as it is presently structured will cease to exist. We are not saying the harness racing industry as we know it, will disappear but its shape and form will look nothing like what we have at present. That is the cold hard reality we face when the number of foals bred cannot possibly meet the needs of a racing programme set up for foal crops of nearly double what we are going to now produce. A lot of short sighted people have claimed repeatedly that we are only getting rid of the poorer performed mares each year and that the decline is nothing to worry about. Nothing could be further from the truth. With the continuing decline we are seeing it is only a matter of time before the ability of some clubs to conduct meetings will be severely compromised. Regional areas of New Zealand that rely on horses from other provinces will be the first to feel the pinch in our view. We already have a situation in the thoroughbred code where they are absent from some provincial areas in New Zealand where they use to be strong and we think that harness racing will go that way as well if the breeding numbers continue to decline. Many point to the yearling sales as a guide to how healthy the industry is but it only represents 20% of our industry and while good for morale it can't change the basic premise that harness racing is an industry in rapid decline. The strength of harness racing in New Zealand has always been the fantastic spread of our industry throughout the country. In other words the grassroots of our industry has always been our strength. If that base was to be severely weakened, then the whole structure becomes vulnerable.  There are numerous methods used overseas to help the breeder stay in the industry and we have covered these in depth in previous articles. Harness Racing New Zealand and the New Zealand Racing Board have been strangely silent on solutions for this complex problem. There has been plenty of hand wringing and platitudes but no plan of action to help breeders stay in the industry. Time is of the essence in this matter and the longer we dither before doing something, the more chance that the intervention will be too little too late. JC

Standardbred Trainer surpasses Todd Pletcher's all-time single season earnings record East Rutherford, NJ (December 12th) - Entering the Friday night program at The Meadowlands, Ron Burke's earnings in 2014 stood right at $28.1 Million, just a few thousand dollars short of Todd Pletcher's mark from 2007 of $28,116,097. When Appomattox crossed the wire first in the Free For All Handicap Trot, Burke's season earnings moved to $28,118,465, surpassing the mark set by Pletcher seven years ago. Of course, Burke was far from done. After a third place finish by Cut A Deal, a second place finish by Hot Type and a win by Set Me Up Burke began to build the lead over Pletcher. When factoring in earnings earned elsewhere Friday, Burke's earnings by the end of Friday night totaled $28,145,885. At the end of the night, Ron Burke stated simply he was "very happy and proud" to achieve this historic accomplishment. It was Appomattox, somewhat ironically making his first start for the Burke stable, who put Burke over the top, winning the Free For All Handicap Trot in 1:53. The new acquisition for the Burke-Brigade was sent straight to the lead by Yannick Gingras, reeling off fractions of 27.4, 56.2 and 1:24.3 before turning for home with Melady's Monet, riding a three race win streak pressing him first over. However, Appomattox was able to fend off the 9/5 favorite, and denied the four-peat. Mistery Woman checked in third. Appomattox returned $6.20 or owner Reima Kuisla Stable. Burke also took hop top honors in the top-class mare pace with Set Me Up. Coming off an impressive win at the B-1/A-2 level last week, Set Me Up took control early through fractions of 27.3, 56.1 and 1:24 and dug-in all the way to the wire winning in 1:52.2 as the 1/2 favorite. Set Me Up held off a late charge from Coffee Addict and Momma Rock was a locked in third. The winner is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. On a big night for Ron Burke, it should come as no surprise that leading driver Yannick Gingras also had a big night, capturing three races. Scott Zeron had a big night after missing last Saturday with a nasty cold, winning three races as well. The Jackpot Super Hi-5 went unclaimed tonight thanks to a parade of longshots that resulted in a dime superfecta returning over $15,000. The carryover in the Super Hi-5 for Saturday stands at $6,818. Overall, the total handle for the Friday program of $2,309,728 marked a six-percent increase over the same date last year. Racing returns to The Meadowlands Saturday, with first post time at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali Director of Racing Operations  

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, October 2, 2014--Yonkers Raceway is again simulcasting one of the world's premier thoroughbred races, Sunday's Qatar Prix l'Arc de Triomphe from Longchamp Racecourse in Paris. Post time for "the Arc" is scheduled for 10:30 AM ET, with Yonkers offering fourth-floor simulcasting only for this event beginning at 10 AM ET. Of course, the usual Sunday slate of harness and thoroughbred simulcasting--plus the NFL--is also available throughout the day. Please note there is no Saturday advance wagering for any of Sunday's Longchamp races. Frank Drucker

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