What’s been happening in the racing industry around the world

Champions: trainer Claudio Gonzalez and jockey Trevor McCarthy celebrate winning the titles at Laurel Park. See ‘Title winners at Laurel Park’ below. Photo: Laurel Park

The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.


Mike Smith breaks North American G1 record haul

North America: Mike Smith’s position as longtime U.S. #1 in the TRC Global Rankings has been under threat because of the recent excellence of Joel Rosario and Irad Ortiz Jr, but the Californian hit back in such style at Santa Anita last weekend that not only did he improve his TRC Performance Index by no less than five points, but he broke one of the most significant records in North American racing in the process. 

Smith, at 54 the oldest rider in the TRC top 100, became North America’s most successful G1 jockey after two G1 wins (Hard Not To Love in the La Brea Stakes and Omaha Beach in the Malibu), plus a G3 success and a third in another G1.

Hard Not to Love brought him level with record-holder Jerry Bailey on 216, then Omaha Beach took him into new territory.

Smith told Bloodhorse, “It’s just amazing, and this horse [Omaha Beach] speaks for everything. He’s just beautiful, so fun to be around, so fun to ride, and so fun to train. It just shows how great this horse really is.

“I’m so happy and so blessed to be a part of it. To surpass Jerry on Omaha Beach even makes it that much more special.” 

Smith’s 217 Grade 1 successes include 26 Breeders' Cup wins, two Kentucky Derbys, a Triple Crown (Justify in 2018), a Dubai World Cup (Arrogate 2017) and an Irish 2000 Guineas (Fourstars Allstar 1991). 

The five-point rise in his TRC Performance Index means the world #4 is five points ahead of Rosario, who was in fine form himself at the weekend, with two G2 wins at Santa Anita.

A new star for the late Deep Impact?

Far East: His death was one of the biggest blows of 2019 for the breeding industry worldwide, but Deep Impact’s legacy is showing no sign of slacking just yet. Indeed, his latest star offspring emerged at Nakayama on Sunday, when Contrail won the $1.3m G1 Hopeful Stakes, the final big test of 2019 for juveniles in Japan, by a comfortable length and a half.

That helped Deep Impact move back alongside Lord Kanaloa at the top of the Japan standings in the TRC Global Rankings.

It was also a second major triumph in a week for trainer Yoshito Yahagi after Lys Gracieux’s victory in the Arima Kinen. Yahagi, 58, is now world-ranked 40.

Meanwhile, look out for Contrail on the Classic trail in 2020. He would look for have an outstanding chance in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) on May 31 after winning the ten-furlong Hopeful (see video below). 

Phillips back as TAA President

North America: The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance board of directors has elected John Phillips as president for the 2020 term. Three three new board members have also been chosen.

Phillips, owner of Darby Dan Farm, served as TAA President in 2018. He has been a member of the TAA board since 2016. 

“The TAA is dedicated to protecting our sport by caring for its equine athletes once their racing careers are over. I am honored to serve the TAA, it is my way of giving thanks to the equines that have given me and my family so much,” Phillips said.

Mike Meuser, managing director at Miller, Griffin & Marks, who served as president for the 2019 term, will remain on the TAA’s board and executive committee for 2020 as Immediate Past President. 

Phillips and Meuser are joined on the executive committee by Vice President Craig Bandoroff, owner of Denali Stud, TAA Treasurer Jen Shah, director of tax services at Dean Dorton, and TAA Secretary Walter Robertson, attorney at Stites & Harbison.

Title winners at Laurel Park

North America: A rainy on Sunday couldn’t dampen spirits as jockey Trevor McCarthy and trainer Claudio Gonzalez put the finishing touches on another championship during the closing day of Laurel Park’s year-ending fall meet.

McCarthy, 25, was blanked on three mounts Sunday but finished with 52 wins, seven more than runner-up Sheldon Russell, also ranking first with more than $2.3 million in purse earnings. Alex Cintron was third with 44 wins.

It was the 11th career title for McCarthy in Maryland, where he was the state’s leading rider in 2014 and 2016. McCarthy, a Delaware native represented by Scott Silver, has won five of six meet titles since returning to Maryland full time last fall.

The 43-year-old Gonzalez, a cancer survivor, led the fall meet with 48 wins and more than $1.3 million in purse earnings. Mike Trombetta finished second with 25 wins while Dale Capuano and Kieron Magee tied for third with 20.

Gonzalez has now won or shared 11 training titles in Maryland, all at Laurel, including eight of the last nine meets dating back to the spring 2017 stand. He will also finish as Maryland’s overall leading trainer for the third straight year.

Robert D. Bone edged James C Wolf for leading owner, 16-15. Joseph Besecker, first with more than $433,000 in purse earnings, was third 

Elsewhere in racing ... 

North America: Buck Thornburg, who won the 1980 G1 Florida Derby and G1 Wood Memorial with Plugged Nickle and a division of the 1977 Florida Derby with Coined Silver, passed away comfortably earlier this week. The Indiana native, who rode his first winner in 1950, was 86. He had 3,433 winners from 27,258 mounts.

Europe: Erasmus, Germany’s champion juvenile in 2017, is to take up stud duties in 2020 at the Haras des Fontaines, near Pau, South-West France, standing at €1,900. An injury in a training gallop prevented the son of Reliable Man racing again after his 2-year-old career.

North America: Fasig-Tipton will be the title sponsor of the $400,000 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on February 29. The G2 is a key trial on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, recent winners including Code Of Honor, Orb, Gunnevera, Scat Daddy and Quality Road.

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