The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
Work starts on new Belmont arena
North America: The National Hockey League’s New York Islanders have broken ground on their $1.26 billion arena redevelopment project at the Belmont Park racetrack, which will use 43 acres of the site and offer 350,000 square feet of development.
On August 8, the Empire State Development Board voted unanimously in favour of the Belmont Park Arena project, which will create 10,000 jobs and generate $2.7 billion in economic activity. The design of the hockey stadium will pay tribute to the track and classic New York architecture.
The racetrack will benefit directly from the building of a new train station, which will be part of the Long Island Rail Road line, and is expected to cost $105 million. According to Newsday, the train station will be partially open by 2021, roughly when the Islanders hope to open their new arena, and fully operational by 2023.
Taylor Swift pulls out of Melbourne Cup date
Oceania: Singer Taylor Swift has cancelled her performance at the 2019 Melbourne Cup, with her team citing that “changes to [her] Asian promo schedule have made it logistically impossible” for her to be in Australia.
The Cup announced Swift as its headline act earlier this month, but the American was then criticised by animal rights groups, who accused her of “endorsing animal abuse” due to the race’s record of six equine deaths since 2013.
A petition posted last week by the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses said that Swift was “either completely unaware of the cruel reality of horse racing or she has put money before compassion by agreeing to perform” at the races. It has since stated that it is “absolutely delighted with the news” of the 29-year old’s withdrawal.
Victoria Racing Club's CEO Neil Wilson said Swift’s cancellation would be “disappointing for everyone”.
A triumph at Keeneland
North America: Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale ended its 13-session run on Sunday with gross sales of $360,004,700, which is the fifth highest in September Sale history.
A total of 2,855 yearlings were sold, compared to 2,916 in 2018. The cumulative average of $126,096 was down 2.5 percent from last year’s record $129,331. The median of $45,000 fell by ten percent from $50,000 in 2018.
Twenty two horses were sold for seven figures each, including seven that sold for $2 million or more, and were purchased by 14 of the industry’s leading buyers.
The headline sales were the record $8.2 million American Pharoah filly (the highest-priced yearling filly in Keeneland sales history) purchased by Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm, and the $4.1 million colt by Curlin sold to Godolphin.
Keeneland successfully reformatted Books 1 and 2 this year to catalogue 516 fewer horses during that period, reducing Book 1 from four to three sessions. The goal of the format change was to give buyers extra time to inspect horses on the grounds.
Pinatubo eclipses Frankel’s rating
Europe: Following his nine-length romp in the National Stakes at the Curragh 12 days ago, Pinatubo has been officially rated 128 by the British Horseracing Authority, which is two pounds higher than Frankel’s mark at the end of his juvenile season in 2010.
It is all but guaranteed that Pinatubo will be the highest-rated 2-year-old since Celtic Swing achieved 130 in 1994. The son of Shamardal is expected to attempt to elevate it still further in the G1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket next month.
His final rating will be published in January following discussions between an international panel of handicappers.
Rider banned after positive cocaine test
Europe: 2008 Ayr Gold Cup winning jockey William Carson has been suspended from riding after failing a drug test for cocaine at Lingfield earlier this year.
The grandson of former champion jockey Willie was charged after a test at Lingfield racecourse in March. The 30-year old has been handed a backdated six-month ban from April 4 to October 4 inclusive after the BHA had said in a statement that banned substance benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, was found in the jockey's sample.
Carson has not had a winner this year in only 18 attempts and has not ridden since April.
Big November sales schedule changed
North America: In order to offer more time for travel and inspection after the Breeders’ Cup, Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland have pushed back the starting dates of their respective signature November mixed sales by a day.
This year’s World Championships take place in Santa Anta Anita on November 1-2, and the the revised schedule will see Fasig-Tipton’s sale take place on November 5 with Keeneland beginning the following day and running through November 17.
Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning has “advocated for this schedule change for many years, and we are pleased that other industry participants have recognised the need for this change”, while Keeneland president Bill Thomason said that it highlighted the importance of listening to customers and being flexible.
Elsewhere in global racing ...
Europe: G1-winning jockey Fergus Sweeney has announced plans to retire from the saddle in November. Since winning the 2015 Haydock Sprint Cup on Twilight Son, he has struggled for winners this year after riding abroad for most of 2018. More here
North America: Taylor Made Farm has been confirmed as the second high-profile purchaser of a slot for newly launched Pitons Cup, the richest race in the Caribbean. More here
Europe: British trainer John Hammond will not be renewing his licence next season. Highlights of his 33-year career were victories in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with Suave Dancer in 1991 and multiple G1-winner Montjeu eight years later. More here
North America: Jon White is back for his 11th year as Santa Anita’s highly respected Morning Line Maker as the track readies for its 23-day Autumn Meet opener today (September 27). More here
North America: Post times have been announced for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on November 1-2 at Santa Anita, consisting of 14 races with purses and awards totalling more than $30 million. More here
North America: Veteran journalist Michael Veitch has been named the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s historian. He officially begins the part-time role on October 1, replacing Allan Carter. More here
North America: U.S. racing is mourning the death at 93 of exercise rider and groom Eugene Carter Jr - the last man to ride Man o' War.