Tom Durkin to Receive An Eclipse Award at This Year’s Ceremony

Tom Durkin will receiver the Eclipse Award of Merit for his lifetime contributions to the sport of horse racing

Tom Durkin will receive the Eclipse Award of Merit for his lifetime contributions to the sport of horse racing. Photo by Adam Coglianese

Tom Durkin, longtime voice of the New York Racing Association tracks, the Breeders’ Cup and the Triple Crown, will be honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in the Thoroughbred industry.

Durkin, 64, who retired on August 30 at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., after a 43-year-career, will be presented the Award of Merit at The 44th Annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony on Saturday, January 17 at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

“This is quite an honor and quite a surprise,” said Durkin upon learning the news. “The award has never been given to a track announcer before, and to be singled out when you consider all of the great announcers who preceded me like Fred Capossela, Joe Hernandez, Chick Anderson and Dave Johnson, this is quite a distinction. Getting my first job… Read the rest of this entry >>

Tonalist, Lubash Make 2014 Year to Remember For Clement Stable

Christophe Clement called his stable's 2014, great with Tonalist's win in the Belmont the highlight

Christophe Clement called his stable’s 2014, great with Tonalist’s win in the Belmont the highlight

By Najja Thompson

“Life is good,” is a phrase you’ll often hear from trainer Christophe Clement. In 2014, life was very good for Clement, who is wrapping up his most successful year since setting out on his own in 1991.

Watch: The Clement Stable’s Video Recap of 2014

The words not only accurately describe his current state of affairs, but as well his journey through life and daily disposition. It may sound like a cliché to some, but from the French born Clement it is genuine, and earned from many years of hard work and a dedication to doing things the right way.

Already known and respected for his prowess on the turf, a stellar dirt campaign led by 3-year-old Tonalist, further enhanced Clement’s reputation and proved his ability to win on the biggest stages on any surface. A son of Tapit, Tonalist captured two Grade 1 races on the New York Racing Association circuit, including Clement’s first Classic victory in the Belmont Stakes, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational.    Read the rest of this entry >>

Untapable Settles Down For a Long Winter Break at the Fairgrounds

Untapable will winter at the Fairgrounds and prepare for her 2015 campaign.

Untapable will winter at the Fairgrounds and prepare for her 2015 campaign.

By Jim Charvat

Untapable will winter at the Fairgrounds in New Orleans where she will get some much deserved R&R and prepare for the 2015 season. Her first order of business will be to accept her Eclipse Award for top 3-year old filly which is expected to come her way in January. At one point the duaghter of Tapit was mentioned in the Horse of the Year discussion but that appears to have waned over the past couple of weeks since the Breeders’ Cup.

She certainly put up some impressive performances in 2014 and her return next year will be highly anticipated. Trainer Steve Asmussen has yet to decide on a schedule for his prized filly. Winchell Thorooughbreds racing manager, David Fiske told Bloodhorse.com that they will let her tell them when she’s ready to roll. He… Read the rest of this entry >>

American Pharoah Update: Not Expected Back to the Races Until March

American Pharoah will start jogging after the 1st of the year.

American Pharoah will start jogging after the 1st of the year.

By Jim Charvat

American Pharoah’s recovery from a foot injury that prevented him from running in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, continues at Santa Anita. He tack walks everyday and trainer Bob Baffert told Jay Privman of DRF.com that he plans to start jogging his colt after the first of the year.

Baffert said he doesn’t plan to race American Pharoah until March but that he plans to give the son of Pioneerof The Nile “a few outs” before the Derby. Key Derby preps in March include the San Felipe on March 7th at Santa Anita or, if Baffert decides to ship American Pharoah out of Southern California, there’s always the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 13th. It would not be the first time Baffert took a Derby hopeful to Oaklawn. Last year it was Hoppertunity and three years ago, Bodemeister.

There are also the G3 Tampa Derby at Tampa Bay Downs and the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, both on March 7th, but those would seem unlikely. There’s also the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 28th but that’s late in the month and would be pushing the notion of getting at least a couple of preps into American Pharoah before the first Saturday in May.     Read the rest of this entry >>

Showdown at Los Alamitos: Dortmund Faces Mr. Z in G1 Futurity Saturday

Dortmund prepared for Saturday's G1 Futurity at Santa Anita

Dortmund prepared at Santa Anita for Saturday’s G1 Futurity at Los Alamitos

Dortmund, a winner of his two starts by a combined 12 ½ lengths and favorite among the individual entries in the Kentucky Derby Future Bet, and Mr. Z, runner-up in four of his six graded stakes appearances, will square off in the Grade I, $500,000-guaranteed Los Alamitos Futurity Saturday, Dec. 20 at Los Alamitos.

Scheduled at 1 1/16 miles, the Futurity will be run for the first time at Los Alamitos after being offered as the Hollywood Futurity (1981-2006) and CashCall Futurity (2007-2013) at Hollywood Park, which discontinued live racing last Dec. 22. Won in Inglewood by future stars such as Snow Chief, A.P. Indy, Best Pal, Real Quiet, Point Given, Lookin At Lucky and Shared Belief, the Futurity winner earns 10 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points towards securing a spot in the starting gate next May 2 at Churchill Downs.

Owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc. and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Dortmund was… Read the rest of this entry >>

Handicapping 101: Lesson #1 – The “Form to Level” Angle

Horses generic#11This is the first of a series of articles dealing with the art of handicapping horse races. This is not designed to tell you who to pick, but to show you different techniques you can apply to your handicapping. So, whether you’re just starting out playing the game or you’ve been playing for years, we hope you will be able to take a little something from these tutorials.

The advice in this column is intended to ‘help’ you reach your final decision by showing you certain handicapping angles that have been proven reliable over the years. Are they full proof ? Never. Anyone who has… Read the rest of this entry >>

Constitution, Danza Target Returns in G1 Donn Handicap in 2015

That's Constitution on the inside running out of gas late in the G1 Clark at Churchill Downs last month

That’s Constitution on the inside running out of gas late in the G1 Clark at Churchill Downs last month

By Jim Charvat

Two prominent fixtures on last year’s Kentucky Derby trail, who’s promising 3-year old seasons were cut short by injury or illness, will reappear next year in the G1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Trainer Todd Pletcher has indicated that both Constitution and Danza will make their 2015 debuts in the marquee race in South Florida on February 2nd.

Constitution has already shown an affinity for Gulfstream Park’s main track, winning the G1 Florida Derby last March. Pletcher called him his best chance to win the Derby but after a morning breeze at Palm Meadows soon after his Florida Derby win, Pletcher noticed Constitution was a little off and xrays revealed a slight hairline fracture… Read the rest of this entry >>

700 Horses to Be Displaced By Construction Project at Calder

Many horses will be displaced at the first of th eyear by a construction project at Calder Race Course

Many horses are about to displaced at the first of the year by a construction project at Calder Race Course

By Jim Charvat

The scramble is on in south Florida to find stalls for up to 700 horses displaced by a construction project at Calder Race Course. The horses and their humans must be out by the first of the year.

Churchill Downs Inc., which owns the property Calder and its casino sits on, leased the track to Gulfstream Park six months ago. Part of the deal included stalls for up to 430 horses but only until the end of the year.

The Stronach Group, which owns Gulfstream, has been negotiating with Churchill… Read the rest of this entry >>

Changes Made After Wrong-Way Accident at Charles Town

Charles Town Race Course in West Virginia is implementing new preventions so another accident like the one last Saturday do not happen again

Charles Town Race Course in West Virginia is implementing new preventions so another accident like the one last Saturday do not happen again

By Jim Charvat

Charles Town track officials have anounced new changes will be in place by Wednesday’s racing, prompted by last Saturday’s awful accident inwhich a horse got loose on the track during the fourth race, started running the wrong way and slammed into another horse.

At issue was the failure to activate the warning system, a combination of lights and sirens in place at the track. It never went off and chief state steward at Charles Town, Danny Wright, explained why to DRF.com. The switch to turn-on the warning system is in the timer’s booth, down the hall from the steward’s office. It is… Read the rest of this entry >>

NYRA Cuts Dates At Aqueduct in 2015: Schedule Released for N.Y. Racing

Saratoga will run 40-day summer meet in 2015

Saratoga will run 40-day summer meet in 2015

By Jenny Kellner

With the 40-day summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course as its glittering centerpiece, the New York Racing Association has released its racing calendar for 2015, which calls for 251 days of live thoroughbred action at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga.

The Saratoga meet, anchored by the Grade 1 Whitney on Saturday, August 8 and the 146th edition of the Grade 1 Travers on August 29, will begin on Friday, July 24 and conclude on Labor Day, Monday, September 7, with racing conducted six days a week, Wednesday through Monday.

Racing on the Big A’s inner track, which began on December 3, will continue through March 22, 2015. In an effort to keep field sizes at a maximum in… Read the rest of this entry >>