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

The mare Vegas Showgirl with her new foal, a half-sister to Winx, at Segenhoe Stud in Australia’s Hunter Valley. Photo: Segenhoe Stud

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


Meet Winx’s Deep Impact half-sister

Oceania: Segenhoe Stud general manager Peter O’Brien has announced the birth of a half-sister to Winx by the late, great Japanese stallion Deep Impact. He estimates that the “leggy, elegant-moving foal” is now the most valuable mare after her much-heralded sister.

The dam, Vegas Showgirl, now 17, was flown to Japan in July last year to be mated with the stallion who is currently the world #8 sire, who was euthanised in July after he was found to have a spinal fracture.

“I have never seen a mare foal like her,” said O’Brien. “I would say the odds of this one going to a sales ring are a billion to one.”

Vegas Showgirl will be covered by Yarraman Park’s I Am Invincible (world-ranked 7) this year, as will Winx in her maiden season at stud.

Hughes backing WHOA campaign

North America:  Spendthrift Farm’s B Wayne Hughes is the latest industry leader to join the Water Hay Oats Alliance, which supports the Horseracing Integrity Act that would see the creation of a uniform standard for drug rules in the U.S. administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Hughes joins 1,800 members of the alliance that hope to put U.S. racing jurisdictions in step with international standards. “I wholeheartedly support the effort,” said Hughes. “The need for this legislation is urgent, and the future of horse racing hangs in the balance of its enactment. We are on the edge of the cliff.”

Thumbs up for Saratoga meet from NYRA chief

North America: “I think it went well,” was how NYRA chief executive Dave O’Rourke appraised his first Saratoga, and the numbers backed it up: the all-sources handle topped $700 million for the first time, a seven per cent rise over the 2018 figure of $659,343,949 and a 4.28 per cent increase over the previous 40-day meet in 2017.

Attendance also topped the one-million mark for a fifth straight year, at 1,056,053, in spite of the loss of seven races on July 25 due to a freak rain storm and the cancellation of the entire Saturday on July 20. O’Rourke, however, believes that the “weather helped in the second half of the meet”.

Field size was up for the meet, rising to roughly 7.9 horses per race compared with 7.65 in 2018. Moreover, the NYRA chief was adamant that its television deal with FOX Sports (190 hours) “broadens our reach and the growth of the brand outside the region brings in more people”. 

Reflecting on his debut meet, he said, "We’re tired, we’re ready to go home, but we had a lot of fun while we were here.”

Champions at the Spa

North America: Saratoga’s champion trainer, jockey and owner had a familiar ring to them this year, with all three classifications topped by previous winners.

Chad Brown claimed his third Saratoga title since 2016. The current world #3 closed the meet with 41 wins, 20 more than second-placed Todd Pletcher but five below his record of 46 in 2018. Owner Seth Klarman, of Klaravich Stables, had 19 winners to head that category.  

The prolific world #8 jockey Jose Ortiz rode 60 winners to claim his third riding crown – seven more than his brother and 2018 champ Irad. The Puerto Rican star closed out his meet winning the G1 Runhappy Hopeful Stakes. “I wanted to get to 60 and doing it in the Hopeful makes it special,” he said.

Elsewhere in global racing …

Europe: Nominations are open for the 2020 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, now in their 16th year. More here

Europe: Irish racing is morning the passing of Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer Ferdy Murphy aged 70, following a long fight with cancer. More here

Oceania: New Zealand Bloodstock has entered into a partnership with the Newcastle Jockey Club, sponsoring the G3 A$160,000 New Zealand Bloodstock Spring Stakes on November 16. More here

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