|Bernie the Maestro tries for second Claiming Crown win|
Daily Racing Form
Posted: 12/05/2013 3:54 PM
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Bernie the Maestro is the defending race winner in the seven-furlong Claiming Crown Rapid Transit. On Saturday, the hard-knocking former claimer will attempt to show he is as versatile as he is fast when he races at 1 1/8 miles for the first time in the $200,000 Claiming Crown Jewel.
The Jewel is the marquee event among the eight Claiming Crown races worth $1 million Saturday at Gulfstream Park. The Claiming Crown stakes are part of a special 10-cent Ultimate 8 multiple wager with a guaranteed minimum pool of $100,000. Gulfstream hosted the Claiming Crown for the first time last year.
Bernie the Maestro is trained by Mike Maker for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, a team that combined for four victories on the 2012 Claiming Crown program. Maker will send out eight horses in six of this year’s Claiming Crown events, with most of those horses owned by the Ramseys.
“Eligibility for the Claiming Crown is one of the thoughts that go into every horse we claim during the course of the year,” said Maker. “Some work out and some don’t. We specifically start pointing for the Claiming Crown with many of these horses during the latter part of the season. I thought we had a lot of live chances going into the Claiming Crown last year and we wound up winning four races, although the horses I thought had the best chance to win, Major Marvel and Brandys Secret, both got beat.
Major Marvel finished second behind Nikki’s Sandcastle in the 2012 Emerald and will be favored to win that event on Saturday.
Maker said he’s hopeful he can have success similar to last year’s on Saturday, especially in the Jewel, a race he won in 2012 with Parent’s Honor.
“Obviously you go in hoping you can win them all, but to be realistic, this year’s races look extremely competitive and it will probably be hard to duplicate what we accomplished last year,” said Maker.
Bernie the Maestro was haltered by Maker for $35,000 at Saratoga in August 2012 and has won seven of 11 subsequent starts, including the Rapid Transit in impressive fashion here last December. Although primarily a one-turn sprinter for much of his career, Bernie the Maestro has successfully stretched out around two turns on several occasions and is coming off a one-length victory over multiple stakes winner Taptowne in the one-mile and 70-yard Schaefer Memorial at Indiana Downs on Oct. 5.
“There’s probably not as much quality in the field this year as last, and he’s coming off a very big race around two turns,” said Maker when asked why the Jewel and not the Rapid Transit again this year with Bernie the Maestro. “He’s been a model of consistency since we got him and a fun horse to be around. I wish I had a hundred like him.”
The Jewel drew a field of 10 including Dominant Jeannes and Flatter This, the second- and third-place finishers in last year’s Jewel, as well as Voodoo Storm, winner of the Mountaineer Mile in his last start.
Completing the field are the speedy Nevada Kid, who may stand some catching breaking from the rail, Nevada, Isutalkintome, Avenida Paseo, Sinorice, and Rule Number Six.
|Medication group (RMTC) addresses Standardbred regulations|
Daily Racing Form
Posted: 12/03/2013 12:31 PM
Regulations governing the use of anti-inflammatory corticosteroids and the bronchial dilator clenbuterol should be the same for both Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium said on Tuesday after releasing two papers examining the effects of the drugs in both breeds.
Regulations governing the use of corticosteroids and clenbuterol have become a contentious issue with Standardbred horsemen since the RMTC approved recommendations calling for longer withdrawal times for the drugs. In September, the United States Trotting Association dropped out of the RMTC, citing the organization’s support for the new policies, which call for a seven-day withdrawal period for intra-articular administrations of corticosteroids and a 14-day withdrawal for clenbuterol.
One of the papers released on Tuesday stated that the ability of corticosteroids to mask pain and erode joint tissue when administered intra-articularly justified the RMTC’s decision to recommend the longer withdrawal times. The other paper said that clenbuterol should also be more tightly regulated because of its ability to build muscle mass when used regularly. Both papers said there were no physiological differences between Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds that would justify separate regulations.
Standardbred horsemen have argued that the new restrictions on the drugs would effectively ban their use in training because Standardbreds typically race once every week. The RMTC has countered that the intra-articular use of corticosteroids and the administration of clenbuterol would indicate that a horse has problems that should preclude it from racing within the withdrawal-time period.
|IL legislature fails to take up racetrack funding bill|
Daily Racing Form
Posted: 12/03/2013 6:25 PM
Senate Bill 66, which would resolve the Illinois Racing Board funding issue that continues to imperil the 2014 Illinois racing season, was not called for a vote during a session of the Illinois legislature on Tuesday.
The legislature convened in a special session and passed long-awaited major legislation that would reform the state’s pension system. Caught up in that action, legislators had no time or attention left to deal with a bill that must be passed by Jan. 31 to avert sharp cutbacks in the Illinois racing schedule.
The legislature is scheduled to meet for just one day, on Jan. 29, before that deadline. If legislators fail to pass the bill, Hawthorne could run only 15 days in 2014, and Arlington just 49.
The bill authorizes the extension of account wagering in the state and provides a satisfactory funding mechanism for the Illinois Racing Board, which had a revenue stream cut off for about five months earlier this year when account-wagering law was allowed to lapse.
When the legislature met in regularly scheduled November session, two competing amendments – one from Arlington, the other backed by all the other entities in Illinois racing – were introduced to the bill. Legislative leaders demanded industry consensus before calling the bill, and on Nov. 20, after a long negotiating session the day before, the Illinois Racing Board announced an official agreement among all stakeholders had been formed to present to the legislature.
The bill would extend account wagering for three years and provide board funding through a 0.2 percent surcharge on all winning wagers placed by any means – at a racetrack, an off-track betting parlor, or through an account wager – in the state.
Among a handful of other provisions, the agreement also would permit a voluntary additional 0.5 percent surcharge by racetracks, account-wagering providers, and off-track betting parlors on winning wagers. Wagers at Illinois off-track betting parlors already are subject to a mandatory surcharge, while racetracks can impose a voluntary 1 percent surcharge on winning wagers, something Arlington and Hawthorne have chosen not to apply.
Industry leaders have expressed strong optimism since the consensus agreement was reached that the legislature would easily pass the bill once taken up. But time is running out, and the racing industry here must hope nothing unforeseen gets in the way of the legislature taking up and passing the measure in late January.
|Ramseys Ready for Claiming Crown|
Date Posted: 12/4/2013 4:54:51 PM Last Updated: 12/5/2013 8:53:55 AM
The first major event of the Gulfstream Park Championship Meet will take place Dec. 7 with the Claiming Crown, a collection of eight stakes races worth a total of $1 million.
In 2012, horses sporting the red-and-white silks of Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Mike Maker swept four of the seven Claiming Crown events, including the $200,000 Jewel with Parent's Honor. They also came within a head of winning a fifth with Major Marvel in the Emerald. The popular couple currently leads all owners in 2013 earnings with more than $11.8 million, and will have a chance to go one better in this year's Claiming Crown with contenders entered in five of the eight races.
Saturday's first post is at 12:40 p.m. EST, while the Claiming Crown will kick off with the $110,000 Iron Lady as the third race. The third race will also launch the 10-cent Ultimate 8, which has a mandatory payout of a minimum of $100,000. The South Florida forecast is for clear skies throughout the remainder of the week.
"Racing fans across the country will enjoy this great afternoon of racing," said Gulfstream president Tim Ritvo. "The horsemen have supported the Claiming Crown once again with full fields and some of the country's most popular horses. We're looking forward to a big day."
The Ramseys' Claiming Crown wins 12 months ago included the seven-furlong Rapid Transit with Bernie the Maestro, and that 6-year-old gelding by Bernstein will tackle the Jewel for trainer Mike Maker this year. The 5-2 morning-line favorite is coming off a victory in the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Stakes at Indiana Downs on Oct. 5. He will face nine rivals (entries here).
The $125,000 Emerald at 1 1/16 miles on the grass attracted an overflow of 20 horses, but will be limited to 14 (entries here). Major Marvel narrowly missed last year, and he is currently on a six-race winning streak. The 7-year-old scored in the Unbridled Stakes at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 7 and followed that with a win in a tough $100,000 optional claimer at Churchill Downs on Nov. 9.
The Ramsey colors were carried to victory in the $125,000 Tiara by Starsilhouette in 2012, and the leading owners will be represented by Deanaallen'skitten in Saturday's renewal of the 1 1/16-mile contest (entries here). The 6-year-old daughter of Kitten's Joy has hit the board in each of her six starts on the Gulfstream turf course. She ships south off a game success the Trevita Stakes for trainer Chad Brown on Nov. 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Brother Bird prevailed for the Ramseys in last year's Iron Horse, a 1 1/16-miles contest that is restricted to runners who have started for a $7,500 or less (entries here). The half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and deceased Dullahan recently returned from a nine-month break for Maker. He is coming off a fifth-place finish to stablemate and fellow Iron Horse entrant Horned Frog in a $5,000 starter allowance on the Keeneland Polytrack on Oct. 18.
The $110,000 Rapid Transit is a seven-furlong affair for runners that have been offered for a tag of $16,000 or less. Among the 12 horses expected to start (entries here) is Grande Shores, a homebred for Fred Brei's Jacks or Better Farm. The half-brother to grade I-winning sprinter Jackson Bend was out of action for 12 months and could have been had for as little as $8,000 last February, but he has rounded into form recently. After two victories at Calder Casino & Race Course this summer, the 5-year-old Florida-bred ran second in the Montbrook Stakes going a mile at Gulfstream Sept. 14.
The $110,000 Express lured a field of 11 horses that had started for $7,500 or less, and the six-furlong race will see Ribo Bobo attempt to take his winning streak to 10 (entries here). Claimed in three straight starts at Gulfstream last winter, the 5-year-old hasn't been offered for a tag since Mr. Amore Stable and trainer Jason Servis snapped him up for $6,250 in March. His steady rise up the class ladder includes a win in the Maryland Million Sprint Handicap at Laurel Park on Oct. 19 and a second-place finish behind Ben's Cat Nov. 27 in the Fabulous Strike at Penn National.
Fillies and mares will get a chance to strut their stuff going seven panels in the $110,000 Glass Slipper (entries here). Last year's heroine Starship Truffles went on to win the grade I Princess Rooney Handicap and sold for $1 million in Kentucky, a far cry from the maximum $16,000 claiming price required to be eligible to run in this spot. Trainer Marty Wolfson, who saddled Starship Truffles last year, will lead over Centrique and Lexington Pearl on Saturday. Centrique, a well-bred daughter of Malibu Moon, was claimed twice in 2012, but has been competing in tougher company this season with a trio of stakes placings.
This year's Claiming Crown features the inaugural running of the $110,000 Iron Lady, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares that have started for $7,500 or less. Eight fillies and mares are set to go (entries here), and if Winiliscious runs to form, the real race may be for second. Previously trained by Chuck Spina, the 4-year-old earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure when romping by 16 3/4 lengths in a starter allowance at Laurel on Oct. 12. Trainer Steve DiMauro has taken over her care on behalf of owner Top Shelf Stable.
The Claiming Crown was established in 1999 to celebrate the blue-collar runners that are the backbone of the racing industry. It is run under starter allowance conditions and is open to horses that have started for a specified claiming price in the last 24 months.
|Gulfstream Park: Ramseys, Maker ready for Claiming Crown|
Daily Racing Form
Posted: 11/23/2013 2:42 PM
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Mike Maker and his principal clients, Ken and Sarah Ramsey, dominated the 2012 Claiming Crown, winning four of the seven stakes, including the featured Jewel with Parent’s Honor. And from the looks of the nominations lists, the potent team stands a good chance of duplicating that success this year.
Maker nominated 27 horses to the eight Claiming Crown races to be decided here Dec. 7, including defending champions Bernie the Maestro (Rapid Transit) and Brother Bird (Iron Horse). Bernie the Maestro is nominated to the Rapid Transit, Emerald, and Jewel, while Brother Bird was made eligible for both the Iron Horse and Rapid Transit.
The Ramseys, who have won more Claiming Crown races than any other owner, 10, have 19 horses nominated this year.
Maker is the winningest trainer in Claiming Crown history with 11 victories.
The 2012 Claiming Crown proved to be such a success in its inaugural appearance at Gulfstream Park that an eighth race and $150,000 in purse money was added for the 2013 edition. Horses who have raced for claiming prices of $35,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2012, are eligible to compete in the Claiming Crown.
Bernie the Maestro and Brother Bird tuned up for their Claiming Crown assignments with breezes Saturday at Palm Meadows. Bernie the Maestro, who has won each of his last two starts, sizzled five furlongs in 59.70 seconds, while Brother Bird covered the same distance in 1:00.55.
|Horseman Justin Cassity Dead at 46|
Daily Racing Form
Posted: 12/03/2013 3:38 PM
Justin Cassity, the former executive director of both the Oklahoma Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, died Nov. 30 due to complications after heart bypass surgery, confirmed his wife, Catie. Cassity was 46. He died the day before his birthday, at a hospital in Oaklawn, Ill.
“He’s at peace; there’s no suffering,” said Catie Cassity. “He’s going to be missed. He always filled the room, had that hearty laugh, and always wanted to celebrate. Lots of joy.”
Justin Cassity was a native of Collinsville, Ill., who spent a lifetime in racing. During his career in the sport, he also spent time working as a jockey’s agent at tracks in Illinois, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
“He was fifth generation on the racetrack and he was very, very proud of that,” said Catie Cassity. “Growing up, his parents were trainers and his grandfather was a jockey.”
Catie Cassity said that background served her husband of 15 years well in his positions representing horsemen in Oklahoma and Illinois. At the time of his death, Cassity was working as a finance manager for an automobile dealership in Illinois.
A visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. Central on Friday at Herr Funeral Home in Collinsville, Ill. The funeral on Saturday will be private. Family friends have established an education fund for the couple’s 13-year-old son, Ean. Donations can be sent to the Ean Cassity Education Fund, 6107 Knollwood Rd., Willowbrook, Ill. 60527.
Cassity is also survived by his parents, father Darrell, who now works at Fairmont, and mother Diane Chadwick.
|Thoroughbred Racing Eyes Detroit-Area Return|
Date Posted: 12/3/2013 8:53:49 AM
Live Thoroughbred racing is expected to return to the Detroit, Mich., metropolitan area in 2014, according to the Michigan Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.
The organization said Dec. 2 it has entered into an agreement for live Thoroughbred and mixed-breed racing at Hazel Park and Northville Downs, two Detroit-area harness tracks. Hazel Park, which has a five-eighths-mile racing surface, hasn't hosted Thoroughbred racing since the mid-1980s; Northville Downs, which has a half-mile track, has been a harness-only facility.
There also will be Thoroughbred and mixed-breed at Mount Pleasant Meadows, which has had a contract with the Michigan HBPA for several years.
The applications have been submitted to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the horsemen's group said.
Details are few, but horsemen envision spring racing at Mount Pleasant Meadows, a summer meet at Hazel Park, and a fall meet at Northville Downs.
"This entirely new format for horse racing in Michigan is an important first step in finding the right combination of cooperative and willing participants to move our industry forward," Michigan HBPA president George Kutlenios told the membership in a memo.
Thoroughbred racing was held at Detroit Race Course through the late 1990s. It then shifted to western Michigan at Great Lakes Downs, and returned to the Detroit area at Pinnacle Race Course, which was open for several years before closing.
|Fairmount Park Horsemen Rally Around Families After Accident|
Horsemen at Fairmount Park are raising funds for two families after a fatal car crash in Hamilton County on Saturday evening.
Darrell Delong, 49, was driving on Anderson School Blacktop Road near McLeansboro, Ill. with five passengers when he lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle flipped several times, killing his wife Tammy Delong, 35, and Tammy’s 16-year-old daughter Katelynn Fancher. Robert Parker, Lori Parker, and Diana Wright also died at the scene. Darrell Delong remains in “touch and go” condition. Two of the group were assistant starters, and all had been life-long racetrackers.
The Delongs left behind 11-year-old twin girls Andrea and Audrey, who are in the care of their grandmother, Cynda McGrew.
Backstretch workers, along with the Illinois Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, are collecting funds for the survivors, who are suddenly faced with unexpected funeral and medical expenses, on top of their losses.
IHBPA executive director Lanny Brooks is working to raise money for funerals for three of the accident victims (two had insurance). The IHBPA kickstarted a fund with $4,500 and is asking the public to help.
“It was a terrible tragedy,” said Brooks, who noted how quickly those at Fairmount have come to the family’s aid. “People, without hesitation have come together and started walking around from barn to barn and collecting money.”
The Delong-Parker Memorial Fund has been established at Regions Bank in Collinsville, Ill. Donations may be mailed to 9301 Collinsville Road, Collinsville, Ill. 62234.