The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
Churchill Downs gets all-clear for return
North America: Churchill Downs will be allowed to open its backside to horses from Monday (May 11) and will race May 16 through June 5. However, fans will not be allowed at the Louisville track.
Kentucky has not had live racing since March 25 at Turfway Park, which ended its meet three days early. Governor Andy Beshear said it would be “one of the most detailed plans that we have seen about specific security checks” to a “very limited group that will be there”.
The spring meet was originally scheduled to open April 25, but the opening of the recently refurbished stable area was repeatedly delayed due to coronavirus and, last month, Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) rescheduled the 146th Kentucky Derby to September 5.
After the opening weekend, CDI’s first condition book lists races on a Thursday-through-Sunday basis, as well with a special holiday Monday card on Memorial Day, May 25. Click here to see the first condition in full. The second condition book for racing between June 6-27 is expected to be published by May 29.
Hill ‘n’ Dale snap up breeding rights to Charlatan
North America: Breeding rights to G1 winner Charlatan, a leading fancy for the 2020 Kentucky Derby, have been purchased by Hill ‘n’ Dale in Kentucky.
The Bob Baffert-trained colt, impressive odds-on winner of the first division of the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park last Saturday, is a son of Speightstown out of multiple Graded stakes winner Authenticity.
“Horses with Charlatan’s immense ability combined with superior pedigree, conformation, depth of female family and star-quality appeal are a very rare commodity,” said John G. Sikura, President of Hill ’n’ Dale.
Purton goes clear with five-timer
Far East: Zac Purton scored a dazzling five-timer at Happy Valley on Wednesday, aiding his tilt at a fourth Hong Kong champion jockey title.
Purton blitzed a hat-trick of wins through the first three of nine contests, met with frustration in races four, five and six, but charged through the final third of the card with two more scores, capped by a victory of some aplomb aboard the New Zealand-bred Dances With Dragon in the finale.
That all propelled him to a four-win lead (114-110) in what continues to be a relentless two-way tussle with Joao Moreira for the premiership crown.
“It’s been a bit of a grind, so hopefully I’ve now got a few more like this ahead of me,” the Australian said after sealing his first five-win haul of the campaign.
All systems go for French resumption
Europe: France Galop president Edouard de Rothschild has welcomed the return of racing in France from Monday (May 11) as “very good news and a real victory”.
Despite Paris being one of French health minister Olivier Veran’s post-lockdown red zones, racing is set to resume at ParisLongchamp. Entries for the meet include leading classic hopes Victor Ludorum and Earthlight, as well the 2019 Prix du Jockey Club winner Sottsass.
Fixtures are also scheduled at Toulouse and Compiegne.
France Galop chief executive Olivier Delloye said he has “explained in close detail” the logistics of how racing will be organised behind closed doors and had received “positive feedback from them [local officials]”.
‘Dire situation’ in South Africa
Africa: Following the announcement by the South African government that a nationwide sport shutdown could extend for a further four weeks, Phumelela Gaming, which operates the majority of the country’s racecourses, revealed it was facing bankruptcy.
The operator, which also provides pool betting services, said it is “operating under onerous conditions” that have meant interim financial results are a “dire situation” for racing in the country.
It had been thought South Africa would be back racing this weekend.
However, the National Horseracing Authority now expects the government's green light will come only in the next stage of the country’s coronavirus response, meaning the Derby and Oaks are now unlikely to go ahead unless there is a U-turn on resumption from the government.
Everest hero leads the new boys
Oceania: Coolmore has released its service fees for its 2020 Australian stallion roster, which includes three exciting new sires - Calyx, Magna Grecia and Yes Yes Yes, who Tom Magnier said are “outstanding prospects who all demonstrated brilliant speed in their biggest wins” as well as being “very competitively priced”.
Of the new triumvirate, The Everest winner Yes Yes Yes is top-priced priced at AU$38,500 ahead of European-breds Magna Grecia and Calyx, who respectively command fees of AU$22,000 AU$17,600.
Fastnet Rock remains the star on the roster with his fee unchanged at AU$165,000, with Pierro’s fee increasing by over 50 per cent from last year to AU$137,500.
However, in line with the current uncertainty in the global market, several stallions are offered at reduced prices – most notably Choisir, whose fee has reduced by 40 per cent from AU$16,500.
“The Coolmore roster for 2020 provides a great balance of proven sires, highly promising young sires and an assortment of international superstars that we believe are particularly well suited to the Australian breeding landscape,” Magnier said.
U.S. wagering levels holding up well
North America: In a new Equibase report on the U.S. industry’s key economic indicators due to the Covid-19 situation, figures show that year-to-date wagering is down by only 6.9 per cent despite a 25.7 percent drop in the number of races.
This year, a total of $3,148,569,565 was wagered on 7,362 U.S. races through April 30. In 2019, $3,380,927,018 was wagered on 9,902 races during the time period.
According to the economic indicators, in April 2019 racetracks across the United States hosted 311 racedays for Thoroughbreds, while last month those dates were down 73 percent to 85 days. The number of races decreased 71 percent from 2,612 to 746. With limited spots to run horses, average field size increased 21 percent to 9.13 from 7.55.
Arrowfield drafts in Written Tycoon
Oceania: Arrowfield Stud has announced its 2020 stallion roster in what chairman John Messara describes as “unprecedented circumstances in Australia’s history”.
It includes champion Victoria sire Written Tycoon, who is world-ranked 59 and is a welcome addition for the powerful operation, which lost two outstanding stallions with the death of Redoute’s Choice last year and the recent retirement because of poor health of Not A Single Doubt.
Messara was “excited to join forces with Woodside Park Stud to stand Written Tycoon” for a price of AU$77,000. He is ninth on the Australian Active General Sires’ List with 2019-20 earnings in excess of AU$8.5 million.
The Arrowfield supremo added that “due to the current economic upheaval caused by Covid-19, we have mutually agreed with Shadai Stallion Station [in Japan] to rest our Japanese shuttle stallions in 2020”.
Almost all the 300-plus mares controlled by Arrowfield will visit the eight stallions on the stud’s 2020 roster, which is topped by Australia’s champion sire Snitzel (currently world-ranked 36), who stands for an adjusted price of AU$165,000.
New for 2020 is Arrowfield-bred Castelvecchio, a G1 winner at two and three, who will stand his first season at a fee of $33,000 inc. GST, the same as Shalaa.
The fee for Pariah’s third season has been similarly adjusted, to AU$16,500, and champion 3-year old colt The Autumn Sun’s second-season fee has been set at AU$66,000, the same as Dundeel.
Elsewhere in racing …
North America: The Breeders’ Cup has launched a T-shirt design contest for Covid-19 relief. More here
Oceania: The last surviving founder of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, Charles Roberts, has passed away. More here
North America: Amplify Horse Racing, an initiative to welcome and educate newcomers about the Thoroughbred industry, has launched a website. More here
North America: The Thoroughbred Charities of America’s Horses First Fund has provided funding for a need-based feed assistance program at Charles Town Racetrack. More here
North America: Lexington horseman Preston Madden has died aged 85. More here