The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
Gary Stevens finally calls it a day
North America: Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, 55, has been forced to retire from riding due to a spinal injury.
Stevens, a winner of 5,187 races, had announced his retirement twice before only to return to the track once he returned to full fitness. However, this time the doctor “didn’t mince any words” when informing him that his C-4 vertebrae is dangerously near his spinal cord, and a fall could lead to serious issues.
Stevens, the oldest rider in the TRC Global Rankings top 500 (he’s currently #66) confirmed: “He [the doctor] said, ‘You're done.’ There won’t be any comeback from this one.”
Stevens added that knew he was “getting close” to retirement when his “arm went numb” along with a “tingling now in both hands” and the “base of my skull feels like a coffee pot got put on it”.
The son of trainer Ron Stevens he began riding professionally in 1979 and rode his first of three Kentucky Derby winners in 1988. Initiation to the Hall of Fame came in 1997 and a year later Stevens won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey.
Stevens said that he will look to “pursue other things” professionally - he has, in the past, played a jockey in Hollywood film Seabiscuit and the short-lived HBO drama Luck.
Too Darn Hot for Dalham Hall
Europe: At the conclusion of his racing career Too Darn hot will stand at Dalham Hall Stud alongside his sire, world #1 Dubawi.
Homebred at Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber’s Watership Stud, the colt is unbeaten in four starts under the watchful eye of three-time British champion trainer John Gosden and was crowned Cartier champion 2-year old colt last week.
A short statement from Darley confirmed the destination of the supremely talented colt for his second career, but the announcement didn’t mention a specific date, only stating that the he will be there ‘at the end of his racing career’.
Flemington launches new A$5m mile contest
Oceania: Flemington Racecourse will host a new A$5 million weight-for-age mile race at its Autumn Carnival on March 16, 2019.
The line-up for the inaugural running of the race, which will be one of the richest mile races in the world, will uniquely be chosen in part by Australian race fans via a ballot: ten spots will be decided by the vote with the remaining four ‘wildcards’ at the discretion of operator Racing Victoria (RV).
The race will rotate annually between RV’s three major courses – Flemington, Moonee Valley and Caulfield. Chief executive Giles Thompson believes it will produce a “core of the race [that] will be the same year-in, year-out” adding that each track will offer fans a “different experience” for an event he wants them “to own”.
Racing mourns Walmac’s founder
North America: Veteran horseman and founder of Walmac International John TL Jones has died at the age of 84.
Despite being a former Quarter Horse trainer, he founded Walmac International, one of the largest Thoroughbred studs in Kentucky, in 1976, where he stood prominent stallions such as Alleged, Miswaki, Successful Appeal and Songandaprayer. Uniquely, he bred the winner of both the 2000 Guineas in Britain and the All-American Futurity, Quarter Horse racing’s biggest race.
‘Big Johnny’, as he was affectionately known, was credited by John Gaines as the person most responsible for encouraging a panel of industry leaders to work together on the concept of the Breeders’ Cup after they’d reached a seemingly irreversible impasse.
Jones was inducted into the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2016. He was also a former member of the Texas Horse Racing Association.
Go-ahead for Enable to race in 2019
Europe: It has been confirmed by Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager to Prince Khalid Abdullah, that dual Arc winner Enable will stay in training as a 4-year old.
A 2019 schedule for the exceptional daughter of world #9 sire Nathaniel has not been set, but Grimthorpe revealed that the main target will be a historic third win in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Prince Khalid is currently joint-leading owner with Marcel Boussac in terms of number of Arc wins at six, and Grimthorpe stressed, “If he were to take the record outright with the first three-time winner of the race, that would be something.”
This year Enable became the first Arc winner to go on to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs; a win at ParisLongchamp in 2019 would see her become the first triple winner in the illustrious history of the 12-furlong race.
The five Secretariat Award nominees
North America: The nominees for the 2019 Secretariat Vox Populi – or ‘Voice of the People’ – Award have been made public, and this year’s list has distinctly international flavour.
Online voting is now open for the ninth annual winner, which was established in 2010 by Secretariat’s late owner, Penny Chenery, to recognise the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public.
Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Mrs Chenery, announced the stellar list of five horses, who’s “talent and competitive spirit have excited fans both here in the U.S. and abroad”, adding that her mother would have been “delighted with” the contenders.
An American triumvirate heads the nominees: Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate, retired 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify and Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Distaff champion Monomoy Girl. The list is completed by a pair of international fillies: Enable, winner of races on both sides of the Atlantic, and Winx, the 7-year-old queen of Australian racing and the joint highest-rated horse in the world.
Goffs chief’s verdict on November Foal Sale
Europe: Following an outstanding renewal of the Orby Sale, which was responsible for the two highest-priced yearling fillies in the world this year, Part 1 of the Goffs November Foal Sale saw 480 lots sell for a clearance rate of 72 percent - down from 81 percent in 2017.
The aggregate was down by 20 percent to €20,311,000 and the average fell by 11 percent to €42,315. However, the median rose by four per cent to €28,000.
Henry Beeby, Goffs group chief executive, pointed out that, high-end showstoppers aside, the sale was reflective of a harder yearling sales season and “predictions in advance of this week were for an altogether more selective trade”.
A session-topping Kingman filly was acquired on the last day by Outsider Bloodstock’s Francisco Bernal, a first-time buyer at the November Sale, who secured the half-sister to Solario Stakes winner Aktabantay with a bid of €350,000.
Beeby’s summary? “It has been as hard as ever to buy the good ones, but there were more falling through the cracks than in recent years,” he said.
Awesome Slew to stand in Florida
North America: Multiple Graded stakes winner Awesome Slew has been retired and will stand the upcoming breeding season at Ocala Stud in Florida for $5,000.
A versatile son of Awesome Again, Awesome Slew won stakes at around a mile and won or was placed in 12 Graded stakes over three seasons and over nine different racetracks.
Canterbury Park appointment
North America: Johnnie Jamison has been hired as track superintendent of Minnesota’s Canterbury Park. Jamison, currently track superintendent at Sunland Park in New Mexico, brings more than 40 years of experience to the Shakopee track, and has held similar roles at multiple racetracks in Texas, New Mexico, and Indiana.
Making that G1 success taste all the better
Europe: Owners of British-bred European G1 winners will receive a bottle of Chase ‘GB’ gin as a congratulatory gift in recognition of their achievements and to celebrate a British-bred success.
The novel initiative is the result of a link-up between Chase Distillery and Great British Racing International (GBRI), which James Oldring, operations director of GBRI, hopes will “throw the spotlight on British breeders in a way that makes top-level winning owners sit up, take notice and start conversation”.