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

California Chrome “exemplifies the characteristics of an outstanding equine athlete who suffered a health issue, returned to elite competition and continued his winning ways”, says Dr Tom Riddle. Photo: Taylor Made/Laura Donnell

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

Award for California Chrome

North America: California Chrome has been named as the 2018 Rood & Riddle Comeback Award winner, an honour presented to a horse who overcame a major health complication and returned to elite competition.

The two-time U.S. Horse of the Year enjoyed a glittering 3-year old season, winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. He ran second in the 2015 Dubai World Cup and was scheduled to race in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot less than three months later. However, a bruised cannon bone put paid to this plan and Chrome was rested for a year.

The Art Sherman-trained colt returned to the track better than ever in 2016, winning six of his seven races, including the Dubai World Cup and the Pacific Classic.

Dr Tom Riddle said: “He exemplifies the characteristics of an outstanding equine athlete who suffered a health issue, returned to elite competition and continued his winning ways.”

California Chrome is now standing at stud at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky. His first foals were born this year.

Purton holds on after Moreira’s late thrust

Asia: After an enthralling season-long duel with reigning champion João Moreira, Australian Zac Purton has won his second Hong Kong champion jockey title.

Purton completed the season with 136 winners to 134 for three-time champion Moreira, who threatened to overturn the standings with a last day a treble. Karis Teetan finished third with 52 winners.

It was widely expected that Magic Man would easily add to his tiles before he leaves Hong Kong to ride in Japan: in the past three seasons Moreira had ridden 483 winners to Purton’s 292. In fact, there were not even any betting markets at the start of the 2018 jockeys’ championship.

“It's been a long, damp day,” Purton said after he competed through the rain. “It's good to finally put it to bed. It’s a relief. Joao’s a fierce competitor, and we both gave it our absolute all.”

Death of star stallion Hinchinbrook

Oceania: After a freak injury on a on a walking machine, it was decided by vets at Yarraman Park Stud to euthanize top Australian sire Hinchinbrook, a three-quarter brother to Snitzel and the son of Fastnet Rock.

Yarraman Park Stud principal Harry Mitchell was “devastated” by the news on the eve of the new Southern Hemisphere breeding season, which would have been the 11-year old’s eighth year at the Hunter Valley farm where he was foaled and raised for his breeder Francois Naude.

Hinchinbrook, currently world #38 in the TRC Global Sires’ Rankings, was crowned Australia's champion first season sire of 2014-15 and has produced 14 individual stakes winners, including the G1 victors Press Statement and Seabrook. He was due to stand for AU$55,000 this year.

Fasig-Tipton to the rescue

North America: After an absence of nearly 30 years, Fasig-Tipton will hold two new auctions at Santa Anita Park in 2019. Santa Anita operator the Stronach Group has tentatively scheduled a 2-year-olds in training sale for June 5 and a yearling sale for September 24 or 25.

The news is a shot in the arm to California breeders after it was revealed that Barretts would no longer have Thoroughbred auctions beyond 2018.

Once it became clear that the Los Angeles County Fair Board-owned auctioneer was moving in a different direction, Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning Jr said that the agreement with the Stronach Group was necessary to “fulfil a need in that [Southern California] marketplace”.

“From our perspective, Santa Anita is the perfect location on a long-term basis to conduct sales in California,” said Browning.  

Beauty Generation is Hong Kong Horse of the Year

Asia: Beauty Generation, a three-time G1 victor this term, is Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year. The standout 5-year-old has also been named Champion Miler.

John Moore’s stable star achieved a career peak by taking the G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile in December. The Road To Rock gelding landed his second G1 in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup before rounding off his season in style by winning the G1 Champions Mile at the inaugural Champions Day meeting.

The title gave trainer John Moore his sixth consecutive Horse of the Year.

“It’s a big relief, there was a lot of competition coming from Pakistan Star, but he put the writing on the wall with his achievements through the season,” Moore told the South China Morning Post.

Beauty Generation was a graduate of Highden Park’s 2014 Select Yearling draft at the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale. Purchased by Kylie Bax’ Hermes Syndications for $60,000, he initially raced in Australia under the name Montaigne, winning twice and finishing runner-up to Tarzino in the G1 Rosehill Guineas. He was bred by Greg Tomlinson’s Nearco Stud.

Riding great Manny Ycaza is dead

North America: Hall of Fame jockey Manny Ycaza passed away on Monday in New York aged 80, following a short battle with pneumonia and sepsis.

Panamanian Ycaza emigrated in 1956 to the United States and was - with compatriots Jorge Velasquez, Jacinto Vasquez, Alex Solis and Rene Douglas - at the forefront of racing’s ‘Latin Invasion’, so-called after a 1962 story by Bill Leggett in Sports Illustrated that documented the new trend of Spanish-speaking jockeys dominating the U.S racing scene.

Ycaza won 2,367 races from 10,561 rides and rode such celebrated Thoroughbreds as Ack Ack, Damascus, Dr Fager and Sword Dancer. Most notably he rode Quadrangle to win the 1964 Belmont, his only Triple Crown victory and a race made famous for ending Northern Dancer's Triple Crown bid.

He won four Kentucky Oaks, rode the first triple crown for fillies with Dark Mirage in 1968, as well as back-to-back wins in the Washington D.C. International in 1959 and 1960. He became the first Latino rider inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs.

Vasquez, a fellow Hall of Famer, said that his often-hot-headed rival “was as good as anyone who rode in this country” while Terry Meyocks, an executive with the Jockey’s Guild, called Ycaza “a true gentleman”.

Three all-weather tracks for New Zealand

Oceania: New Zealand Racing Minister Winston Peters announced at a public meeting that three all-weather tracks have been earmarked for construction around the country.

As reported by the Otago Daily Times, he said each track would be financed through the provincial growth fund. “We know that we are going to have to have three all-weather tracks in this country.

“There will be one probably around the Waikato, there will be one probably around Awapuni - I don’t know where exactly - and one in the South Island.”

New sponsor for Cheltenham Gold Cup

Europe: Magners Irish Cider has been unveiled as the exclusive sponsor of jump racing’s most prestigious race, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and as the presenting partner of its annual Festival in March at Cheltenham Racecourse.

The four-year agreement between Magners and Jockey Club Racecourses, the commercial arm of UK racing, represents the first major racing sponsorship by the Dublin-headquartered beverage. 2019 will also be the first time that the Cheltenham Festival has had a presenting partner to promote the entire four-day event.

New owners for Ellis Park

North America: The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) unanimously approved transferring Ellis Park’s license to the Saratoga Casino & Hospitality Group (SCHG).

It has been widely reported that SCHG is looking to buy 100 per cent of the Kentucky track, and a deal is expected to be completed imminently. The site has been owned by renowned local businessman Ron Geary since 2006, when he bought it from Churchill Downs. In 2012, SCHG purchased 30 percent of Ellis Park for $4 million.

“It's been 12 years, and I just turned 71,” said Geary. “My wife and my two kids and my nine grandkids for years have asked me to slow down. I think it is time. I’ve enjoyed working with Saratoga over the years.

“I feel like we've had some great successes and we’ve brought it a long way with so many people’s help. I know Saratoga will be focused on continuing the progress.”

Geary suggested that on his recommendation the current management structure, headed by general manager Jeff Hall, would remain intact under the new owners.

Stakes boosts in New South Wales

Oceania: Racing New South Wales has announced minimum prize-money for Saturday metropolitan races will increase by A$25,000 to A$125,000.

“We are delighted to be able to deliver these significant increases across all three sectors coinciding with the start of the spring,” Racing NSW chairman Russell Balding said.

The increases will take effect from September 1, with prize-money to increase by more than A$24 million annually.

Meanwhile, the world’s richest country race will be held on Everest Day at Randwick. The new A$1.3 million contest, The Kosciuszko, will be restricted to New South Wales country-trained horses.

Time’s up for two trainers

Asia: The training careers in Hong Kong of Almond Lee and Derek Cruz have officially come to an end. The pair failed to meet the 16-win benchmark for a third time, with 53-year-old Lee falling just one short.

A former assistant to David Hayes, Lee proved unsuccessful when fronting the Jockey Club’s Licensing Committee “show cause” hearing on Monday.

Derek Cruz, who has trained there for 27 years, finished the season with 13 winners, including a final-day triumph with Elusive State. He had already announced he would retire if he didn’t reach the target.

The 64-year-old is already in New Zealand tending to young stock at his family’s Winmark Racing stables in Cambridge, which is overseen by his son Martin.

Danny Shum’s assistant trainer, Jimmy Ting, has been promoted to the trainers’ ranks for the new season, which starts in September.

Betway backing Galway

Europe: Online bookmaker Betway has agreed a deal to sponsor three races at this year’s Galway Races Summer Festival, which kicks off on July 30.

It will sponsor the first three races on the sixth day of the meeting, known as Super Saturday, in what will be the firm’s first racing sponsorship in Ireland.

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