Vinnie Blengs, Longtime Trainer, Dies at 90

Retired trainer Vinnie Blengs, a well-respected New England horseman who later expanded his stable to Maryland and Florida and saddled numerous ship-in winners in New York, died Oct. 5 in Hollywood, Florida. He was 90.

No cause of death was listed in his Boston Globe obituary, which noted Blengs “passed away peacefully.”

According to Equibase, Blengs won 1,981 races and earned over $24 million in purses in a career that spanned 1963-2010. But those totals do not include stats that pre-date the online database. In newspaper clippings from an earlier era, Blengs said he won his first race at Lincoln Downs in Rhode Island around 1949.

A native of Revere, Massachusetts, where Suffolk Downs was located, Blengs served in the United States Army prior to learning the Thoroughbred trade and rising through the ranks at his hometown track.

His top-earning horse was Dr. Root, who won the GI Sword Dancer H. at Belmont Park in 1991.

Blengs trained horses for longtime New England friends as well as the racetrack executives David Romanik and Barry Schwartz. He was also known for mentoring the jockey careers of Rene Douglas and eventual Hall-of-Famer Edgar Prado.

Blengs won four training titles at Suffolk Downs, and he won the 1991 training title at Laurel Park shortly after relocating from New England. That Laurel title came in the midst of a five-year run in which his horses earned more than a million dollars in purses each season between 1990 and 1994.

Blengs was a regular buyer at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company, and he relished the challenge of the bidding process nearly as much as he did training horses.

After winning one spirited bidding war in 2002 against a competitor with far deeper pockets, Blengs quipped to Daily Racing Form, “Only in America can a guy like me outbid a zillionaire like him. What a country!”

Blengs also earned an unintended slice of New England racing lore for one of his horses that didn’t win at Suffolk Downs.

On July 4, 1966, an intruder ran onto the track just as the field was barreling down the stretch for the closing-day Mayflower S. Despite running directly into the path of the leaders, the trespasser was only grazed, spun around, and knocked to the ground. The Suffolk Downs photographer managed to snap off a remote camera shot that framed the bizarre incident perfectly, and the photo was reproduced around the world.

Blengs, who trained Taunton, the second-place finisher, didn’t see the incident because his view from near the rail was blocked by the large crowd. After the race, he asked Taunton’s jockey why he had pulled up prior to the finish. When Blengs was told what happened, he said, “Boy, I’ve heard a lot of excuses in my day, but never one like that.”

Blengs was predeceased by his wife of 50 years, Theresa.

According to the Globe obituary, celebration of Blengs’ life will be held at a date to be determined at Gulfstream Park.

Donations can be made in memory of Blengs to a charity that he supported, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (online link here).

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A Post-Arc Letter from Paris

The result of this year’s Arc de Triomphe was…..”almost.”

Because the race, the day, in fact the season, became all about Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire)}, and if the mare could win the most important single race in the world for the third consecutive year. The answer was…almost.

A furlong from the line, I thought she was home free. Then Waldgeist (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) moved as the finish neared. He was alongside, and with only five strides left of the mile and a half, he outfinished her and the 10 others to win by a length and three-quarters.

The post race on the apron, in the stands, in the luxury boxes and in the press box was subdued. Moving through the crowd I felt a pale over a sunlight windy Paris afternoon. More frowns than smiles. In some cases, despair.

The 73 year-old trainer Andre Fabre knows how to win the big ones on either side of the Atlantic. He won the 1993 G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic with Arcangues at 133-1. Sunday he took the Arc for a record eighth time.

With a perfectly timed ride, 26 year-old Pierre-Charles Boudot has moved into the spotlight, but not to answer questions. Both trainer and jockey did not even attend the post race press conference.

In the Media Center, the questions and attitude for co-owners Gestut Ammerland and Dietrich von Boetticher were celebratory, but after the toast, and without Fabre or Boudot, it was a quick wrap-up and who do you like in the 5th race?

So in this aftermath, a few impertinent questions followed:

1. When did the celebratory explosion of winning a race (major or minor) become the cue for a jockey to show the feeling of success, like the end-zone football  performances or the baseball curtain call? Mickael Barzalona began pumping his fist so furiously in the air before the finish line of Sunday’s G1 Gran Criterium, he almost lost his balance! After The Arc, Boudot waved and threw kisses for more than half a mile! Was Jean Cruguet the first rider in America to be such a showman after he won the GI Belmont Stakes?

2. Has Paris, specifically ParisLongchamp, become a new destination for the Far East? Prior to the running of the feature race, on the rail through the home stretch, the percentage of racing fans from Japan far outnumbered the locals and tourists from other parts of the world. They did not come to see a horse named Japan (GB) (Galileo {Ire}). He was bred in Great Britain, and is owned by the English/Irish partnership of Smith, Magnier and Tabor. The three Japanese-bred horses finished 7th, 10th and 11th.

3. Is the “now” jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot? He won four races on the day before he won The Arc.

4. The condition of the ground after heavy rain, was very soft. Was that the reason Enable lost?

5. How much longer will the talented Donnacha O’Brien, 21 year-old son of trainer Aidan O’Brien, be able to make the weight? Forget the jockey group photographs. This guy towers over owners and trainers in the walking ring. His brother, Joseph, as a jockey won the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2011 on St. Nicholas Abbey (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}) before the scale forced him to turn to training. Wonder which O’Briens will be at Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup in November?

6. What happened to the blades of the ancient monastery windmill on the backstretch of ParisLongchamp?

7. Is there any trophy in racing more beautiful, symbolic, or stunning than the silver masterpiece for winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe?

Finally, congratulations to Khalid Abdullah. It is possible to win the Arc three times, but only if you try. She is one of the great racehorses in history. Even if she did not win The Arc three times, she was spectacular winning 10 Group 1 races with elegance, style, stamina and speed. Thank you for trying.

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Liam’s Map Colt Tops OBS Opener

by Brian DiDonato & Jessica Martini

The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s October Yearling Sale opened Tuesday with competitive bidding for the top lots leading to an increase in both average and median and a colt by hot freshman sire Liam’s Map bringing top price of $230,000.

In all, 121 yearlings sold for $5,605,200. The average was $46,324–a 13% increase from the 2018 select session–and the median was up 25% to $35,000.
Of the 225 yearlings catalogued for Tuesday’s session, 186 went through the ring. With 65 yearlings failing to meet their reserves, the session’s buy-back rate was 34.9%.
Sixteen horses sold for six figures in Ocala Tuesday, compared to nine in 2018 when the top price was $340,000.

Ocala horseman Nick de Meric was the day’s leading buyer. His three purchases included the session’s top two-priced lots.

“There was a degree of competition for the ones you wanted, but not every horse in there was one you wanted,” de Meric said. “It’s never easy to buy the ones you want and that was certainly true today.”

De Meric made the day’s highest bid for the second-to-last horse through the ring Tuesday, purchasing hip 224 for $230,000 from the Select Sales consignment. He also made the day’s second-highest priced purchase, going to $190,000 for a son of Empire Maker (hip 185) consigned by Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck’s Summerfield.

“Right now, they are most likely going to be heading to the races, although nothing is written in stone,” de Meric said of plans for the yearlings. “They were bought for a New York-based stable with the intent that they would go to the stable. There is always the possibility that either or both could end up in a sale, but they were bought with the intention for racing.”

Hip 224 is out of Dad’ssilverpitcher (Giant’s Causeway), a half-brother to stakes winner Melodic (Tale of the Cat) and from the family of Group 1-placed Oiseau de Feu.

“I loved his balance and his athleticism,” de Meric said. “I liked the fact that he was a little bit immature and there is a lot to come with him. But he was very balanced and a beautiful-moving colt, with lovely clean angles and top line, a la Unbridled’s Song. For me, all the parts fit. Liam’s Map is off to a superb start and he felt like a very good fit. We are focused on colts with pedigrees and he fit that criteria.”

The gray colt was purchased by the Brogdens’ Machmer Hall for $37,000 as a weanling at last year’s Keeneland November sale. He was supplemented to the October sale after RNA’ing for $100,000 at last month’s Keeneland September sale.

The two-day October sale continues Wednesday with an open session beginning at 10:30 a.m. —@JessMartiniTDN

Right Place, Right Time for Brogdens

For Carrie and Craig Brogden of Machmer Hall, a last-second decision at last year’s Keeneland November sale resulted in a big score on Tuesday in Ocala. Carrie Brogden purchased the OBS October session topper, a son of Liam’s Map, for just $37,000 as a weanling based purely on faith in her husband’s keen eye.

“That horse was in Book 1 at Keeneland November, and my husband Craig came home from shortlisting and said, ‘There’s this Liam’s Map colt who’s unreal. He’s my favorite foal in Book 1, he’s amazing, he’s incredible, I love him.’ And, if you know Craig, it’s unusual for him to say that kind of stuff,” an elated Brogden said.

Fast forward to sale day last November and Carrie Brogden, also a partner in Select Sales, was in the back ring at Keeneland to watch a horse go through immediately after the Liam’s Map colt.

“There’s a gray horse in the ring, and they’re like ‘$20,000, $22,000, $25,000’–very unusual [to be that inexpensive] in Book 1. So, I look up at the board and say, ‘That’s a pretty colt.’ I opened the catalog to find out who he is, and I have my husband’s book and it’s the horse–it says ‘Love this horse’ with stars and hearts and stuff he never writes,” said Brogden. “So, I run over to the consignor and find out how he vets and they said he vetted fine. I bid once or twice and I got the horse. After signing the ticket, I called my vet, Dr. Michael Hore, and asked him to go and vet the horse. He goes to the barn, scopes the horse and X-rays him and says he vets great. So, I told him the story and he said, ‘Well, if Craig feels that way, I’ll take a leg of the horse, too.’… Today’s result was insane–I bought and signed the ticket for the horse without ever laying eyes on him physically, only on the TV screen from the back ring.”

The colt was re-offered at last month’s Keeneland September sale, but developed an ulcer on his epiglottis and, despite Brogden guaranteeing his throat, RNA’d for $100,000. The issue cleared up just days after he returned to Machmer Hall, and he was subsequently supplemented to OBS only to see sire Liam’s Map pick up his second Grade I winner in his first crop with ‘TDN Rising Star’ Wicked Whisper in Sunday’s GI Frizette S.

“All the stars aligned, but I was still shocked by the price,” Brogden said. “He had a ton of vet activity and we knew he was popular, but I never expected that result. The greatest thing with that horse is I knew, whoever got him, when they got him home they were going to call me and tell me how much they love him. He’s just that kind of horse. He’s never had to have a lip chain on at the barn–just easy, easy, easy–straightforward, correct, clean. It’s a dream come true.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

Rainbows Find Pot of Gold at OBS

Among the day’s top lots and most profitable sales in Ocala Tuesday was hip 103, a colt from the second crop of Palace Malice consigned by Lyn and Bill Rainbow’s The Acorn LLC. He brought $170,000 from Golden Star Farm.

The first foal out of stakes-placed juvenile Like a Queen (Corinthian), the chestnut was purchased by the Ocala-based couple for just $28,000 as a Keeneland November weanling.
“We’re absolutely thrilled–we’re still walking on clouds,” said Lyn Rainbow. “I thought he’d go for over $100,000 because I thought he was that nice a colt and the response had been so good, but I didn’t know that he’d go that high.”

The youngster had been purchased in part to keep the lone colt in the Rainbows’ crop of homebred yearlings company.

“We were sitting in the Keeneland dining room on the Sunday that I bought him, and we realized that snow was coming in on Tuesday, and we’d been walking, and looking and bidding on weanlings forever and getting outbid on everything that I needed for a babysitter,” Rainbow said. “So, my husband announces, ‘We have to get out of here tomorrow–it’s going to snow. We have get back to Florida.’”

“I had to resort to Plan C and started scrambling,” she recalled. “We got up to Barn 41 and realized the colt we had come to look at was already down in the back ring.”
Luckily, Rainbow’s son Bo, a veterinarian with Equine Analysis Systems, was back down the hill.

“I called Bo and asked if he was worth coming down to see, and he said, ‘Oh ya, he’s worth it,’” Rainbow said. “He was a nice colt with a fairly correct walk. Bo went in and checked the
X-rays, we put it all together and everyone else went to sleep in the pavilion and I got him for $28,000. That’s the only way I figured I could get him.”
Rainbow said the colt had, unsurprisingly given the price difference, blossomed since November. Click for walking video.

“He grew a lot more than I thought he would,” Rainbow said. “He just developed into a lovely horse. He’s just one of those horses where every day, when you walked out to the barn, he looked better. He’s got a great, beautiful walk, which he had as a baby. He had a wonderful walk and that’s the first thing I’m looking for. I like to have fairly correct legs to go with it or else all the wheels fall off later if they grow. He just went in all the right directions, which is what you need to happen to do something like this.”

Rainbow certainly has the pedigree herself for weanling-to-pinhook success. She grew up on her parents Carolyn and Sam Rogers, Jr.’s White Oaks Farm. White Oaks was a longtime leading consignor known for its success with pinhooks.

“Our routine used to be Fasig July, then Saratoga, then August OBS then Keeneland September, then finish up at Timonium with mom and dad under the White Oaks banner,” Rainbow said. “What mom and dad were known for was buying weanlings and selling yearlings, so for years I’ve been doing that. Since we’re older now, I’ve just kind of concentrated on filling in the gaps. We have a certain number of mares ourselves, we do a little bit of racing, but I don’t go out there having to have something.”

The Rainbows have raced the likes of stakes-winning near $310,000 earner Surprise Wedding (High Cotton).

Because of the OBS October sale’s popularity with local pinhookers, Rainbow said she tends to focus on horses who will have appeal in the 2-year-old market. The Acorn offered two yearling fillies at last year’s October sale: a Wicked Strong filly who was acquired at KEENOV after RNA’ing for $37,000; and a Tale of the Cat filly purchased for $27,000 at the same auction. The former failed to meet her reserve at October, but was turned over to the Rainbows’ longtime friends Nick and Jacqui de Meric, and blossomed into a $150,000 OBS March juvenile; while the latter went to Tristan and Valerie de Meric for $60,000 at OBSOCT and blossomed into a $420,000 OBSAPR seller.

“I have decent taste, but the stars don’t always align–today they aligned,” Rainbow said. “We’ve sold horses for more money, but it’s been a long time since we did anything this spectacular at OBS. Years and years ago, for clients, we sold the top weanling and top broodmare one day, but it’s been a long time.” –@BDiDonatoTDN

Gonzalez, Pickerrell Active for Pinhook Prospects

Among the less familiar names at the top of the buyers list at OBS October was Golden Star Farm, which purchased four colts for a combined $412,000, including the aforementioned Palace Malice colt from The Acorn LLC. While Golden Star is a new entity, its principal has been involved in the sport for decades.

Mickey Gonzalez races as M Racing Group LLC, and has campaigned the likes of 2014 GIII Oklahoma Derby winner Tonito M. (Rock Hard Ten) and 2009 GIII Generous S. hero Who’s Up (Graeme Hall), as well as a number of stakes winners in his native Puerto Rico. The semi-retired businessman, whose professional background is in the insurance industry, recently sold his mansion in Las Vegas and purchased a farm in Ocala.

With help from Joe Pickerrell of Pick View LLC and agent Christina Jelm, Gonzalez has been acquiring his first group of yearlings this season to be resold at next year’s 2-year-old sales.

“He’s new to pinhooking, but he’s not new to racing,” said Pickerrell. “He’s been in the horse business for 30-plus years, some in Puerto Rico, and he races a lot now in California.”
Gonzalez met Pickerrell at OBS June after paying $400,000 for a Pick View-consigned Tapit half-brother to MGISW Verrazano–now named Golden Star Rock and in training at Santa Anita–at the behest of Jelm. Gonzalez was particularly active at Keeneland September this year, where he purchased five youngsters–all colts–for $1.55 million.

“We became friends after June,” Pickerrell said. “Christina Jelm helped a lot at Keeneland, but she’s not here, so I’ve been helping Mickey. He mostly picks the horses himself, though. He looks at the pedigrees, and he goes around and looks at everything. He’s very active–I’m just a small advisor.”

Pickerrell likely had some particularly useful insights when it came to hip 103, considering he sold recent GIII Pilgrim S. winner Structor (Palace Malice) for $850,000 this March after purchasing him for $160,000 last September.

“We thought there was a lot of upside to that colt,” Pickerrell said of hip 103. “It was a little more than we wanted to pay, but we felt like with the way the stallion’s on an upward trajectory, it was a good opportunity to get a good, quality colt.”

As for the market as a whole, he added, “I think it’s healthy for the good horses. The good horses were selling for 25%-30% more than where we wanted to be, but for those ones, it’s really where you’ve got to be to get them home. Mickey’s excited–he’s semi-retired and he’s looking to enjoy the horses and enjoy Ocala.” –@BDiDonatoTDN

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Suffolk OTB Sues VLT Management Firm for $5 Million

Suffolk Off-Track Betting (OTB), which earlier this decade survived bankruptcy proceedings to be one of the five remaining New York OTB corporations, filed a $5-million lawsuit Monday against Delaware North for years of alleged mismanagement of the OTB’s video lottery (VLT) gaming facility.

The lawsuit, filed in United States Bankruptcy Court (Eastern District of New York), is of note to Thoroughbred horsemen because some of the revenues allegedly being diverted by Delaware North are supposed to go toward purses that support the state’s racing industry.

“This is an action to stop [Delaware North] from treating ‘Jake’s 58 Hotel & Casino’ in Islandia, New York, as a pot of money to enrich its owners at the expense of Suffolk County and the State of New York,” the lawsuit states.

Delaware North was appointed to manage the VLT aspects of Suffolk OTB’s gaming license in 2013 when the OTB reorganized in the wake of filing for bankruptcy protection.

“Jake’s 58 is one of New York’s most successful gaming facilities,” the lawsuit states. “Since opening [in 2017], Jake’s 58 Casino has generated more than $210 million for New York State and millions more for Suffolk County and Suffolk OTB’s creditors. Hundreds of millions of dollars of VLT revenue have passed through Delaware North’s hands. But, at every opportunity, Delaware North has diverted money due to the State and County to its own hotel and other businesses.

“Delaware North’s secret business plan for Jake’s 58 is simple: Costs are charged to Suffolk OTB’s ‘Jake’s 58 Casino’ so that Delaware North’s ‘Jake’s 58 Hotel & Restaurant’ can make money,” the suit continues. “Delaware North implements this scheme by paying itself out of Suffolk OTB’s bank accounts for bogus expenses.

“So, when Delaware North needed a kitchen for its hotel, it charged Suffolk OTB for the equipment and build-out,” the suit continues. “When the hotel needs elevator maintenance, security systems or a front desk, Delaware North charges Suffolk OTB. When Delaware North cannot fill its hotel’s guest rooms, it charges Suffolk OTB for hotel stays it gives away for ‘free.’”

The lawsuit details other alleged instances of “intentional bad faith conduct and malfeasance,” such as Delaware North “overcharging Suffolk OTB hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent by inflating the square footage of the VLT gaming facility…willfully miscalculating Suffolk OTB’s share of utilities [and] incurring tens of thousands of dollars in fines issued by the New York State Gaming Commission while putting Suffolk OTB’s gaming license at risk due to repeated regulatory violations.”

TDN could not reach Delaware North for comment prior to deadline for this story. But Newsday reported receiving a statement from Delaware North that said the company denies the lawsuit’s “contrived allegations” and added that the firm “will vigorously defend” itself in court.

After allegedly trying for months to resolve the dispute out of court, Suffolk is seeking payment of three times the amount of damages the OTB has allegedly sustained. Suffolk is also petitioning the court to impose civil penalties of $12,000 for each alleged violation of the New York False Claims Act, and it wants the bankruptcy judge to allow the OTB to sever its court-appointed management ties with Delaware North.

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LTBA Announces Breeders Awards Increase

The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association will be increasing breeders awards for Louisiana-sired accredited Louisiana-breds to 20% beginning with the 2019-20 Delta Downs Thoroughbred meet which opens Tuesday. Breeders awards for accredited Louisiana-breds by stallions standing outside the state will continue to be paid at 18%. The increase was passed at the LTBA Board Meeting at L’auberge Casino in Lake Charles Oct. 2.

“The Louisiana breeding program is one of the strongest in the country,” said LTBA President Warren J. Harang, III. “The board wanted to reward breeders who make their stallion selections among the many outstanding choices we have here in the state.”

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Clement Joins WHOA

Trainer Christophe Clement has joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance, a grassroots movement in support of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing.

Clement issued a statement in support of the organization, which follows.

“In my opinion, we are long overdue for one nationwide medication policy. Unfortunately, the sport has been enduring a lot of negative publicity lately, and now is a pivotal moment to ensure the sustainability of horse racing. We need to unite as an industry and should all be working together towards a cohesive policy dedicated to ensuring the safety of our horses, the ethics of the sport, and also a clear system with outlined rules and regulations that fans can understand and respect. Many outside of our industry question the ethics of the sport, and we need to make sure we provide no reason for this to continue and remind people why we are ‘the Sport of Kings.’  As a trainer, I feel morally responsible to ensure that my team always operates with the highest ethics, consistently putting the horses first, and working daily to ensure we follow the rules outlined for us. I’m very proud of our team that has been able to avoid any medication suspension for the entirety of my career.

Most countries worldwide run without race day medication or pre-race medication the last week before the race. American horse racing is such a wonderful sport full of incredible history; let’s not lag behind. We have constantly been in the media this year, let’s turn these headlines into something a lot more appealing like ‘Horseracing, a class act’ and show the public that we mean it when we say that we believe in the well-being of our horses. Today, the future of horse racing is uncertain and we cannot be thinking about just the well-being of our individual stable, farm, racetrack, etc., but rather need to come together to save the sport that we all love.”

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Mid-Atlantic Stakeholders Meet to Discuss Equine Safety

More than 60 industry stakeholders from the Mid-Atlantic region met at Delaware Park Oct. 2 to discuss the next steps for the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities. Adopted in March, the Strategic Plan is the product of a collaboration of the region’s racetrack operators, horsemen’s organizations, breeders’ organizations, racing commissions and regulatory and racetrack veterinarians. Its goals are the establishment of regional safety best practices, improved methods to identify horses at increased risk of injury, the implementation of protective factors to reduce the risk of injury, information sharing and communication, and improvement of the general health and welfare of the horse.

During its Oct. 2 meeting, the group agreed unanimously to immediately move to adopt rules that will prohibit the administration of any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to a horse within 48 hours of a race, and all intra-articular joint injections within 14 days of a race.

The rules will need to go through the regulatory process in each jurisdiction for the changes to be adopted.

“NSAIDs and corticosteroids are therapeutic treatments used not just here in the U.S., but worldwide, to the benefit of the health of the horse,” New York’s Equine Medical Director Dr. Scott Palmer said. “However, sound medical practice dictates that we allow our veterinarians and horsemen the proper time to evaluate these horses following treatment and before returning them to high-speed exercise. Amending our regulations to reflect this best practice is a vital step in implementing the Strategic Plan.”

The Mid-Atlantic stakeholders announced a ban on the use of bisphosphonates in horses under the age of four in March and formally adopted a model rule to effectuate the ban during last week’s meeting.

Also during the six-hour meeting, Palmer gave presentations on risk management programs, mortality review protocols, and injury clusters.

Professor Mick Peterson, Ph.D., who serves as director of the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Equine Programs and is Executive Director of the not-for-profit Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, provided a presentation on track maintenance and how the region can develop and implement best practices to assess racing surfaces to ensure a consistently safe racing environment.

The Mid-Atlantic stakeholders and regulators who have committed to the Strategic Plan include Delaware Park, DTHA, Delaware Racing Commission, Maryland Jockey Club, Maryland State Fair (Timonium) MTHA, Maryland Racing Commission, Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Monmouth Park, NJTHA, New Jersey Racing Commission, New Jersey Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Finger Lakes Racetrack, NYRA, Finger Lakes HBPA, NYTHA, New York State Gaming Commission, New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc., Penn National Gaming, PARX, Presque Isle Downs, PATHA, Pennsylvania HBPA, Pennsylvania Racing Commission, Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, Colonial Downs, Virginia Racing Commission, Mountaineer Park, Charles Town HBPA, Mountaineer HBPA, West Virginia Racing Commission and National Steeplechase Association.

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New Vocations Launches 2019 Breeders’ Cup Pledge

New Vocations has officially launched their annual Breeders’ Cup Pledge. The program is seeking owners and trainers of Breeders’ Cup contenders to pledge a percentage of their Championship earnings to support their mission to rehabilitate, retrain and rehome retired racehorses. This will be the 10th year for the fundraiser, which has raised over $500,000 to date.

“The Pledge is a great way for owners and trainers to give back and support New Vocations aftercare efforts,” shared Anna Ford, New Vocations Program Director. “It’s a very exciting time for all the Breeders’ Cup connections. We hope that many participants will consider joining the Pledge to help us raise the much-needed funding for daily operations that ultimately help these retired athletes transition into new homes and careers.”

Last year, over 45 Championship contenders had owners and/or trainers who pledged a percentage of their Breeders’ Cup earnings. Of those, Bulletin, Monomoy Girl and Newspaperofrecord ended up winning their Championship races. This year, New Vocations hopes to grow the list of pledges to ensure yet another successful event. The program will continue to seek pledges from owners and trainers until Nov. 1. All Pledge information can be found at or by contacting or

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Full Field Set for Jessamine

   A competitive group of 14 juvenile fillies are set to compete for a spot in next month’s GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland Wednesday in the GII J.P. Morgan Chase Jessamine S. The likely favorite is undefeated Jezebel’s Kitten (Kitten’s Joy). A debut winner at Ellis Aug. 10, the Brad Cox pupil followed suit with a decisive score in the Juvenile Fillies S. at Kentucky Downs Aug. 31.
Todd Pletcher saddles a live contender in Sweet Melania (American Pharoah). Third in her first two attempts sprinting on dirt, the $600,000 KEESEP buy blossomed when switched to the turf and stretched to a route of ground, earning her diploma in a Saratoga test July 14. She came up just a neck short next out in that venue’s P.G. Johnson S. Aug. 29.
Chad Brown and Peter Brant can never be ignored in a turf race and they team up here with Indochine (War Front). Third in her turf sprint unveiling at the Spa Aug. 9, the dark bay broke through next out going a mile over the Belmont lawn Sept. 14.
Mark Casse also sends out an interesting competitor in Diamond Sparkles (War Front). Breaking her maiden at second asking in England July 26, she was privately purchased by Eclipse Thoroughbreds and Gary Barber and transferred to Casse. The bay rallied to be fourth in her lone start for that barn in Woodbine’s GI Natalma S. Sept. 15.

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Quick Call Euthanized

   MGSW Quick Call (Quack–Sadie Mae, by Sadair) was euthanized Tuesday at the age of 35 due to the infirmities of old age. He was the oldest horse in TRF’s herd of 650 horses.
A two-time graded winner, he retired with a record of 86-16-15-12 and earnings of $807,817. The gelding went on to be a riding horse and eventually ended up in TRF’s Second Chances Program.
A horse-for-the-course in Saratoga, where a stakes race is named in his honor, Quick Call will be cremated and his ashes will be buried at Saratoga’s Clare Court, which is also the resting place of Fourstardave, A Phenomenon and Mourjane.
“”He still had fans and sponsors that supported him along the way,” said Jennifer Stevens, TRF Director of Development and Communications. “Whenever his name is mentioned at a New York track, someone will tell a story about him.  We are honored to have him in our herd for 18 years. People would visit the farm to just see him and to have their picture taken with him. Until the end he was dignified and all class; he knew he was special”.”

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