Friday, August 27, 2010

The Preakness $5.5M Bonus and Other Announcements

A great number of press releases have passed across my desk in the past few days so let's turn TripleDeadHeat into a bulletin board for this afternoon and comment on what the racing world has to offer.

From a purely racing perspective, the major notice which arrived this afternoon was the announcement of the Preakness $5.5M Bonus Program.

August 27, 2010, Aurora, Ontario, Canada – MI Developments Inc. ("MID") (TSX: MIM.A, MIM.B; NYSE: MIM), in conjunction with MID’s premier racing properties, Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park, Golden Gate Fields, Pimlico Race Course and XpressBet Inc., announced today the introduction of the all new PREAKNESS 5.5., a historic and unique bonus program which could award an additional $5.5 million in bonuses to the winner of the 2011 Preakness Stakes. The bonus will be shared between the owner ($5 million) and the trainer ($500,000).

The Preakness 5.5 is designed to allow both east and west coast based three-year-olds to qualify by having the preliminary races at Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields.

You can read the full release by clicking here.

The premise is simple enough. Win a pair of designated preliminary races at MI tracks and be rewarded by scoring the hat trick at the Preakness.

If my quick scan of the charts is correct then Point Given is the last horse to have pulled out this unique triple back in 2001 when he won the San Felipe Stakes, Santa Anita Derby and finished it off with a victory in the 1M 3/16 Preakness for trainer Bob Baffert and owners The Thoroughbred Corp.

Point Given Crushes the 2001 Preakness

Let's take a look at more recent attempts, based on the races in the MI rulebook, as noted in the press release:

Gulfstream: Win either the one-mile Holy Bull or nine furlong Fountain of Youth and parlay that with a win in the nine furlong Florida Derby and prepare for a Preakness payday

In 2006, Barbaro won both the Holy Bull and Florida Derby before tragedy struck at the Preakness.
More recently, Quality Road won the 2009 edition of the Fountain of Youth before zipping to victory in the Florida Derby but it was Rachel Alexandra that won the Preakness.

Santa Anita: Win either the 8.5 furlong Bob Lewis or the 8.5 furlong San Felipe, and then go on to win the 9 furlong Santa Anita Derby to earn a shot at the prize.

Pioneerof the Nile nailed both the San Felipe and the Bob Lewis en route to winning the Santa Anita Derby in 2009 but Rachel Alexandra whipped the boys at Pimlico.

Sidney's Candy won the 2010 San Felipe before doubling up in the Santa Anita Derby but Lookin' At Lucky finally got lucky at the Preakness.

Pioneerof the Nile wins the San Felipe

Golden Gate: Win the nine furlong El Camino Real and double up in the Santa Anita Derby for a shot at the millions.

Cavonnier was the last horse to win this double back in 1996 for trainer Bob Baffert and owners Walter Family Trust - though it was Louis Quatorze that won the Preakness that year.

Cavonnier wins the El Camino Real Derby

This challenge should have a marked impact on the 2011 Triple Crown Trail as horses that manage to win two legs of this series might have to seriously consider skipping the Kentucky Derby.

At first glance, skipping the Derby may sound crazy but if your horse is a gelding then owners won't necessarily need to be concerned about breeding implications.

And what if your horse maxes out at nine furlongs? Then there's no need to risk going the classic distance at Churchill - just wait two weeks and beat a possibly tired Derby winner in the Preakness.

The other consideration in pursuing the Preakness Bonus is to simply look at what happened to Lookin At Lucky in the Kentucky Derby this year. Starting from an inside post position, jockey Garrett Gomez and Lookin at Lucky were crushed coming out of the gate and their race was over in the opening strides. Two weeks later, Lookin At Lucky proved to be much the best in the Preakness.

Let's face it - this is a very winnable bonus.

Through the entire Preakness Bonus series, there's not a single race run further than nine furlongs and that might be more realistic for a lot of horses based on current breeding and race writing trends. Like it or not, right or wrong, there's not many mile and a quarter races written these days so perhaps this series is a sign of things to come.

Ultimately, MI will be hoping that this series will increase field sizes at their tracks and, in turn, generate further interest interest in their races to increase handle. It's an interesting idea that might see some tracks look to change their stakes schedule. It will certainly be a talking point come Derby time.

Plenty of racing fans/insiders are making comment over on the PaulickReport regarding this announcement.

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The good folks over at LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society are celebrating their 10th Anniversary by hosting a western inspired fundraiser at Woodbine Racetrack on Monday Sepetember 20th starting at 5:30PM.

“Giddy-Up!” Grab your cowboy hat and boots for The LongRun Bar B Q and Hoe Down Fundraiser, presented by the Krembil Foundation. Come celebrate LongRun’s 10th anniversary, on September 20th at the Woodbine Racetrack for a fun-filled, western inspired evening!

Cocktails will begin at 5:30 pm with a spectacular dinner buffet commencing at 6:00pm.

The event will feature a delicious bbq dinner, live entertainment, DJ, live and silent auctions, cash bar, 50/50 draw and much more; all for the wonderful cause of providing our thoroughbred racehorses with the retirement they truly deserve after their racing days are over.

A special appearance by a Shania Twain tribute artist, courtesy of Hollywood Heaven, will be sure to bring everyone to their feet and keep them dancing the whole night through!

Tickets are $56.50 each, and must be purchased prior to the event through the LongRun office 416-675-3993 (Extension.3440).

All proceeds will be donated to the LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society!

For those that cannot attend, I hope you might consider making a donation to LongRun via the PayPal widget on the right hand margin of this blog.

LongRun alumni Poker King found a new life off the track. Read about it in my Down The Stretch piece, Helping Horses Out For The LongRun

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Fort Erie Racetrack will be hosting a legends day on Tuesday, August 31st where fans will have the opportunity to meet several legends of Canadian horse racing!

Racing fans of all ages will have the opportunity for an autograph session and a meet and greet with some of Canada’s finest horsemen. Beginning at 3:30 pm on Tuesday, August 31st, sixteen racing legends including the great Sandy Hawley will be in attendance at Fort Erie Race Track for a special promotion known as “Legends Day.”

Retired jockeys Sandy Hawley, Larry Attard, Robin Platts, Hugo Dittfach, Jack Lauzon, Sam McComb and Paul Souter will be on hand to autograph a caricature poster drawn by injured rider Chad Beckon. A larger than life autographed photo of a young Sandy Hawley which originally hung in the Garrison Inn will be raffled off with tickets selling for $1 each. Proceeds from both the posters and the raffle will go to aid in Chad’s recovery.

Hall of Fame trainers Roger Attfield, Lou Cavalaris Jr. and Gil Rowntree will also return to the site of some of their greatest wins. Other legends include; Gus Schickedanz, John Cardella, Glenn Magnusson, John Calhoun, Mort Hardy and Fort Erie’s own Frank Passero Jr.

The legends will sign a special commemorative racing program which includes bios and photos. Programs will be on sale for only $2.00 as a part of the tracks Twilight Toonie Tuesday promotion.

This historic session will begin at 3:30pm and continue until 5pm. Fans are encouraged to bring racing memorabilia for the legends to sign.

This is the final twilight program for the 2010 racing season. Live racing begins at 4pm.

Meet Sandy Hawley at Fort Erie!

This is a great opportunity to enjoy a day at the track and also help support the talented Chad Beckon. I'm fortunate to have one of Chad's unique caricatures hanging in my room. Don't miss out on a chance to get one for yourself!

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Nicole Umiker's Empire Stable invites the local racing community to attend their Open House on Monday August 30th from 12:30PM to 4:30PM. Empire Stable offers breaking/training/layups in a "private, secluded facility just 25 minutes north of Woodbine Racetrack."

Empire Stable is located at 2019 Hwy. 50, 5KM North of Hwy 9, (East Side). RSVP 416-889-5739

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U of G Receives $2 Million from E.P. Taylor Equine Research Fund

Aug. 27, 2010 - The University of Guelph has received $2 million from the E.P. Taylor Equine Research Fund to support clinical research in the health and performance of racehorses. The announcement was made during the second annual Equi-Challenge, which brings together some of Canada's most notable equestrians.

"This generous gift is an investment in the future of the equine industry and the future of the Ontario Veterinary College," said president Alastair Summerlee. "We'll be creating and disseminating new knowledge through research and teaching at OVC, helping the equine industry grow and prosper."

Currently there are more than one million horses in Canada, with nearly half of them in racing and breeding. The equine industry generates $3.5 billion a year in Canada, including $1 billion annually in Ontario with its more than 6,600 equine farms.

"The E.P. Taylor Equine Research Fund was established to honour the enormous contributions of E.P. Taylor to the horse racing industry in Canada and indeed, worldwide," said longtime trustee Robert McMartin.

"This donation marks our belief in Guelph and its vision to build a centre of excellence for equine performance and reproduction. We believe clinical research is an essential part of this vision."

For more on this story, click into the BloodHorse piece entitled, E.P. Taylor Makes Generous Contribution.

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As always, keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into TripleDeadHeat's Woodbine News page.

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