The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
The Autumn Sun has run his last race
Oceania: Australian racing has bowed to what was increasingly looking inevitable with the announcement this week that the exciting colt The Autumn Sun has been retired from racing and will join the Arrowfield Stud roster for the 2019 season.
The 3-year-old had been touted as a possible for Royal Ascot this June and had been considered the only horse in Australia with any chance of troubling Winx. But the death just a fortnight ago of his sire, Redoute’s Choice, made him the obvious choice to replace the Arrowfield great.
The Autumn Sun’s owners, Hermitage Thoroughbreds, and Arrowfield met this week to consider the options for the five-time G1 winner. After extensive discussions, the opportunity to return the colt to Arrowfield, described as his ‘spiritual home’, and fill the gap left by Redoute’s Choice proved too compelling.
Arrowfield’s John Messara says, “We backed Redoute’s Choice as a sire of sires early in his career, we stand Snitzel and Not A Single Doubt, and Beneteau was also highly successful for us. That history makes the best colt by Redoute’s Choice an irresistible prospect.”
After his debut 2-year-old win over 1200 metres in class record time, The Autumn Sun progressed rapidly to compile five G1 victories from 1400 to 2000 metres over a nine-month period, including the BRC JJ Atkins Stakes at two. The only horse to win the Caulfield, Randwick and Rosehill Guineas, he retires to stud with eight wins and $3.4 million prize money from nine starts.
John Messara adds, "The quality of The Autumn Sun's race record also reflects the skill and dedication of trainer Chris Waller and his team, and we're very grateful for their care and management of him."
A joint venture has been established between Hermitage and Arrowfield to acquire mares specifically for The Autumn Sun. These mares will be additional to those already committed by Arrowfield for his first book.
The Autumn Sun, who is out of the Galileo mare Azmiyna, will stand his first season at Arrowfield at a fee of $77,000 inc. GST.
New Coolmore stars to shuttle to Australia
Oceania: Coolmore have revealed that two of their most exciting first season sires – Saxon Warrior and Mendelssohn – are both set to shuttle to their Southern Hemisphere operation this year.
Saxon Warrior, winner of last year’s 2000 Guineas, is widely regarded as one of the best sons of Japanese super sire Deep Impact. While the $3m Keeneland September Sale-topping yearling Mendelssohn - son of the late Scat Daddy - won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and added the G2 UAE Derby as a 3-year-old in astonishing style when winning by 18½ lengths in record time.
“Saxon Warrior and Mendelssohn combine Group 1-winning excellence at two with remarkable performances at three,” commented Paddy Oman, Coolmore Australia Sales & Nominations. “They are both by exceptional sires, have stallions’ pedigrees and will suit the Australian broodmare population. They’re two very exciting prospects and offer Australian breeders the best of international form and bloodlines.”
Saxon Warrior will stand for a fee of A$24,750, while Mendelssohn will stand for A$17,600.
Is she quicker than Almond Eye?
Asia: Gran Alegria posted a race record time in the Japanese 1000 Guineas, the Oka Sho, at Hanshin on Sunday, 0.4 seconds faster than the outstanding Almond Eye last year.
The Kazuo Fujisawa-trained 3-year-old daughter of Deep Impact stormed to a 2½-length victory in the first leg of the Japanese Triple Crown under a bold ride from world #3 Christophe Lemaire, who also partners the globetrotting Almond Eye.
Lemaire was pleased with Gran Alegria’s win, which he said showcased the filly’s “exceptional speed”, but he cautioned against back-to-back Triple Crowns, believing the “extended mile and a half in the Yushun Himba [Japanese Oaks] will be a tough race for us”.
Spend, spend, spend in Sydney
Oceania: The two-day Inglis Bloodstock Riverside Stables sale produced a spending spree of more than A$120million, making it the second-biggest sale in the history of Australia’s major company.
A total of 344 lots changed hands at an average of $355,685. Tuesday’s opening day was a Southern Hemisphere yearling sale record, with A$63,990,500 spent.
Most notable was an AU$1.7 million colt by Exceed And Excel - the most expensive yearling by the Darley stallion ever sold - bought by Aquis Farm teaming with Phoenix Thoroughbreds. The result was not only a record for Exceed And Excel, it also provided Tyreel Stud with its best result in the ring to date.
Juddmonte International a qualifier for the BC Classic
Europe: The G1 Juddmonte International at York is set to be the only European race that offers ‘Win and You’re In’ benefits to the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November.
The successful horse in the £1 million flagship contest on the Knavesmire will receive a range of benefits ahead of any tilt for the $6 million prize. Significantly, connections would see their entry fee of $150,000 fully funded as well as receiving $40,000 to assist with travel expenses.
The Yorkshire Oaks and Coolmore Nunthorpe linking to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint respectively will remain as part of the Breeders Cup Challenge Series.
William Derby, chief executive and clerk of York Racecourse, said, “Our continuing partnership with Breeders’ Cup further demonstrates the global reach and appeal of the top races at York.”
North America: A 2-year-old daughter of Tapit and G1 winner My Conquestadory went for $1.3 million to top Keeneland’s April Two-Year-Olds in Training and Horses of Racing Age Sale, which has returned to the calendar after a five-year hiatus.
The session-topper is a full sister to 2019 Xpressbet Fountain of Youth runner-up Bourbon War sold to Chad Schumer. The price was the fifth-highest in the history of the Keeneland sale, which began in 1993.
Keeneland director of Sales Operations, Geoffrey Russell, was extremely satisfied with the single-session sale, which saw 67 horses sold for $6,083,500. The average was $90,799, and the median was $40,000.
“Some people were willing to rebuild with us, and some people wanted to wait and see. We hope they saw and will participate next year,” said Russell. “The Tapit filly was on everybody’s list, with a good update from Bourbon War and a great work she turned in yesterday during the preview show. Her sale showed the money is here for those kinds of horses.”
Elite was the leading consigner, selling eight horses for $1.31 million. The next auction at the Lexington venue is the 76th annual September Yearling Sale, to be held September 9-21.
Survey on Thoroughbred aftercare
North America: The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance has launched an online survey to gauge industry participants’ views on Thoroughbred aftercare. The survey is now live and can be accessed here.
The TAA encourages all industry participants, from owners and trainers to breeders, horseplayers and fans, to take the survey and share their feedback.
“Understanding the Thoroughbred industry’s views on current aftercare initiatives is a priority for the TAA as we plan for the future,” TAA president Mike Meuser said. “Equine welfare and aftercare is of the utmost importance for the future of our sport, and knowing where we currently stand will help us best serve the industry going forward.”
For more information on the TAA, visit ThoroughbredAftercare.org.
Kentucky’s new Standardbred venue
North America: Churchill Downs Inc (CDI) and Keeneland Association Inc have disclosed the name and branding for their new $150 million Standardbred horse racing track and gaming venue, the Oak Grove Racing & Gaming.
The facility will create about 400 direct full- and part-time positions and 800 temporary construction jobs.
CDI owns 95 percent of the joint venture, WKY Development LLC, and Keeneland owns the remaining five percent.
Rival bidder Kentucky Downs LLC filed a lawsuit challenging the project in January, questioning the manner in which Churchill Downs and Keeneland were chosen for the license. The case is pending in Frankfort, but Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery dismissed the lawsuit's claims as “baseless allegations”.
“We are moving forward, and we are very comfortable moving forward to race this fall,” Flanery.
Keeneland vice president and chief operating officer Vince Gabbert, said: “Keeneland is proud to play a role in strengthening the Commonwealth’s horse racing industry and creating new opportunities for horsemen and racing enthusiasts in Kentucky and beyond.
“The jobs, tourism, and revenue generated by Oak Grove Racing & Gaming is good news, not just for Christian County, but for all of Kentucky. A win for horse racing is a win for us all.”
Wesley Ward eyes UK targets
North America: Wesley Ward enjoyed a fine weekend at Keenland, winning the G2 Appalachian Stakes with The Mackem Bullet and Lady Pauline strolling to a near-ten-length victory in a 4½-furlong maiden on dirt.
The American then hinted that the exciting fillies are both likely to be targeted at big races on the other side of the pond this year.
The Mackem Bullet had been trained as a juvenile by British trainer Brian Ellison before being sent over to Ward’s in the winter, since when "she’s really done well”.
Ward confirmed that “when Brian sent her to me, the idea was to go back to the  Guineas” - the Katsumi Yoshida-owned filly still holds an entry in the fillies’ Classic at Newmarket on May 5, and she remains a best-priced 40/1 to win the race.
Ward, who has saddled ten Royal Ascot winners, intimated that Lady Pauline will be aimed at the Queen Mary Stakes, a race her half-sister, Lady Aurelia, landed in 2016 before following up in the King’s Stand a year later.
“I presented a plan to Barbara Banke, Ian Brennan, her pre-trainer who did a wonderful job before she came to me, John Moynihan and Lesley Howard – the whole team – that I'd love to come over to Britain for that five-furlong race we won a few years ago. It'd be a really good second race for her.
“I’m not sure if Frankie Dettori is available yet, but he may want to work his way in there!”
Woodbine deal ratified
North America: Woodbine Entertainment and the Horsemen's Benevolent Protective Association of Ontario (HBPA) have announced that both parties have ratified the new four-year agreement that was agreed to in principle in December 2018.
The new deal, which runs through the 2022 season, increases guaranteed purses by $18 million and commits an additional $4 million in capital improvements for Thoroughbred racing at Woodbine Racetrack over the course of the agreement.
This significant increase brings the total purse pay out to $71 million for the 2019 season, further establishing Woodbine as a top Thoroughbred racetrack in North America for total purses paid per year.
New ARCI chair
North America: Pennsylvania racing commissioner Dr Corrine Sweeney has been named as the new chair of the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
The noted equine health researcher has served on the commission since 2008, as well as being an associate dean at the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
Loss of Turgeon
Europe: Renowned jump sire Turgeon died on Monday at the Devin family's Haras du Mesnil, near Le Mans in north-west France.
The grey was, at the age of 33, the world's oldest active Thoroughbred stallion and among the last representatives of the Grey Sovereign sire line at stud in Europe. His longevity as a jumps sire was again in evidence last year, when he covered 26 mares.
“Turgeon was very much part of the family and we were so lucky to have him,” said Antonia Devin. “He was an extraordinary horse who gave us great joy and who was always in terrific form. He was an outstanding leading sire and grandsire at the same time, and I don’t think many stallions have done the same.”
Grand National meeting sponsorship extended
Europe: Online bookmaker Betway has announced an extension to its existing sponsorship deal with the Aintree Festival, which traditionally takes place every year in the first week of April and culminates with the Grand National.
The deal will enable Betway to continue sponsoring a number of races during the three-day festival, including the Aintree Hurdle, as well as being the meeting’s official betting partner.
Around 9.6 million people watched the Grand National on domestic broadcaster ITV, which is an increase of over a million on 2018’s figure.