A collection of stories published in the Racing Post featuring racing in 20 different countries across 6 continents.

Postcards from the World of HORSE RACING

Days out on the Global Racing Road

by Nicholas Godfrey

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A collection of stories published in the Racing Post featuring racing in 20 different countries across 6 continents. The instalments cover a period starting in 2008 and after each post there is an update on the current state of affairs. Of course some stories might be dated to in a year or two, but the inspiration will still be there and make it easy to check before any planned trips.

The pieces not only give you practical advice on how to get to the track, where to stay, and what other attractions you can find in the area, but you get an account of the writer’s visit. Some are to big venues like the Pegasus World Cup, but there are also some that most of us will never have heard of. Don’t miss our hero’s participation in a handicapping contest at Canterbury Downs. The ultimate in culture clashes. It is all written in a light, bantering tone, but there is no question that the author knows his business. The language is full of lots of fun quotes like: “Then again, a stammering singer with stage fright is probably outperforming the Spanish economy.”

The stories are also interspersed with interviews with all sorts of people. Officials, active participants, jockeys, trainers, and punters, giving a broad picture of the state of racing in a lot of different venues. The book is written in a light style and very readable. It serves as a handbook for racegoers worldwide. I will definitely keep my copy and use it to plan trips in the future.

reviewed Camilla Osterman

Buy it here (amazon).

Pegasus - races with million-dollars-

SUPERSTARS at Gulfstream – 2017.

The people came to see California Chrome vs Arrogate. The seasoned fighter meets the new upstart—the standard story for traditional race goers. But they also got to enjoy a very special party in the sun with live bands and nice food. Is that the way to get a new generation to discover racing?

Frank Stronach thinks so and he might just be right.

Arrogate showed that he had earned the title of Longines World's Best Racehorse in scoring by a margin of almost 5 lengths.
Arrogate showed that he had earned the title of Longines World’s Best Racehorse in scoring by a margin of almost 5 lengths.
Arrogate won the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup – and he did it convincingly in a new track record time. With Big Money Mike Smith in the irons Bob Baffert had Arrogate “super cherry” and he won going away.

With Big Money Mike Smith in the irons Bob Baffert had Arrogate “super cherry” and he won going away.

The only closer in the race was Mr Stronach’s Shaman Ghost who finished second in the race his owner conceived. Arrogate and California Chrome, the two best dirt-horses in the world, met in a rematch after the Breeder’s Cup Classic that Arrogate had won after a fabulous finish coming from behind and beating California Chrome at the wire. This time Arrogate showed that he had earned the title of Longines World’s Best Racehorse in scoring by a margin of almost 5 lengths.

Arrogate and Mike Smith.
Arrogate and Mike Smith. Arrogate – WikipediaMike E Smith-Wikipedia

Mr Stronach and his team, with daughter Belinda at the helm, did a heroic job of getting the race off the ground in a little over a year. The public, who paid no less than $100 for a ticket, enjoyed themselves.

“It should be the No. 1 sport in the world because it gives so many people the feeling they can be winners”

With the possible exception of the big group of Chromies who had come from all over the country to watch their hero. They probably felt that Arrogate deserved his name. According to Merian-Webster, ‘to arrogate’ is ‘to claim or seize without justification’. After the race you would have thought you were at a wake. The absence of a cheering crowd was remarkable. Here we had just witnessed a fantastic performance by a horse who probably will go on to be one of the greats, but a large portion of the public was more interested in the horse that finished seventh. A farewell to one who had already proven himself to be great. The public held their breath–was Chrome badly hurt?

California Chrome relaxing after his morning workout.
California Chrome relaxing after his morning workout. California Chrome – Wikipedia

But no  – he walked back to the barn sound. A small filling in his right knee was detected, but nothing that is going to bother him in his next career, which will mostly tax his hind legs.

Art Sherman calling his vet after the race.
Art Sherman calling his vet after the race.

California Chrome’s fan club has made a big mark on the racing community and their devotion to their hero has really been exceptional. Through the ups and downs they followed him around the world. At 5.45am on the morning before the race there were over a 100 people in front of Gulfstream’s grandstand to watch California Chrome make an easy canter around the racetrack. The same morning at 9.00am Arrogate did the same with Bob Baffert’s top exercise rider, Dana Barnes, in the irons. This was watched by a handful of reporters and other industry people. By that time the Chromies were probably having breakfast or they might have gone back to bed. Anyway they missed watching a beautiful horse gliding over the track. Two great horses without a doubt. And now Chrome is gone to stud and we have to be happy looking forward to Arrogate’s continuing career. He is entered in the Dubai World Cup, and we are now looking forward to that.

A breakfast burrito hits the spot before the morning workouts.
A breakfast burrito hits the spot before the morning workouts.

It will be interesting to see if the Chromies find a new favorite in Arrogate. Once you are hooked on the racing game the habit can be hard to break. But of course Arrogate does not have the same underdog attraction that Chrome had. Chrome was a once in a lifetime horse for his connections and Bob Baffert is one of the established major trainers that win big races by the dozen. He trained last year’s big sensation, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, and has trained innumerable winners of major races. Arrogate was bought by Juddmonte Farms at the Keeneland Yearling Sales for $560,000 and he was far from the most expensive horse sold at that sale, where there were thirteen yearlings sold for over a million. And Arrogate is probably not the most expensive horse in Baffert’s barn, which is filled with the million-dollar babies. Of course the owner Juddmonte have had horses like the phenomenal Frankel and a bunch of other super stars and Arrogate is so far just one more to add to the collection.

Gulfstream.
Gulfstream.
Gulfstream.
Gulfstream.

The story of California Chrome is a true example of the American Dream. Two guys, Coburn and Martin, bought themselves the slow mare Love the Chase, whose groom said the famous words: “Anybody who buys this horse is a dumb-ass.” There was the stable name – The Dumb-Ass partners. They took Love the Chase to Lucky Pulpit, who didn’t exactly fit the mold for a super stallion, but the price was right at $2,000 and there it was. The mating that produced a true champion – California Chrome. California Chrome has really shown that even a dumb-ass can own a star and that is a part of what makes people love him.

Gulfstream.
Gulfstream.
Gulfstream.
Gulfstream.

Veteran trainer Art Sherman was to be his trainer and the rest is history. Both Bob and Art have trained some 2,000+ winners, but Bob’s horses have averaged $20,000+ per start, whereas Art’s starters have earned about $3,500

Interestingly, Art Sherman has trained about the same number of winners, but mostly in Northern California and with horses in another price range.

For Art and his son Alan, who plays a big part in the operation, Chrome was really a once in a lifetime horse. But who knows what the future holds in the roller-coaster world of horse racing? Maybe one little Chromie will be as good as daddy.

Frank Stronach’s new race, The Pegasus World Cup (G1), proved to be a success, with a handle of over $40,000,000, which was a new record for host track Gulfstream (not counting the Breeders’ Cup days). It also seems to have attracted a crowd new to racing – a young group who enjoyed the music and the over-all new approach to entertaining race-goers between the races. Gulfstream has been remodeled since Mr Stronach took over. The old grandstand has been replaced by a structure that is smaller and with spaces suited to the casino that is now a part of the operation.

Mr Stronach is a staunch believer in the attraction of racing and at the press conference after the race he said: “It should be the No. 1 sport in the world because it gives so many people the feeling they can be winners. Look at the spectators, they’re riding the horse home: ‘I’m Mike Smith, I’m riding, I’m riding.’ Even when you only have two bucks or five bucks on the horse, that’s great.”

“The Pegasus cost an amazing $30,000,000 to build, is over 30 meters tall, and the second highest statue in the US, only surpassed by the Statue of Liberty”

Frank Stronach is making a big effort to make racing a sport for everyone again. His company The Stronach Group owns not just Gulfstream Park, but also ‘The Great Race Place’ Santa Anita and they have also bought smaller, second-tier tracks such as Golden Gate in San Francisco and Portland Meadows in Portland, Oregon and remade them to a certain extent.

 

The Village at what used to be the parking lot at Gulfstream is a shopping center with exclusive brands of clothing and bars and restaurants catering to a lot of different tastes. The new grandstand is more suited to the smaller crowds that now attend live racing and with big rooms for the casino that is a big part of the revenue these days. On normal race-days it is free entry, but for the Pegasus general admission was $100 and more for seats in the restaurants—and people paid the price for this unique experience. Maybe something for other tracks to think of? But then the product has to be special. No lines to the concessions, exceptional food, and an extraordinary experience all round. The band played and race-goers seemed to enjoy the music, so much so that there was even some spontaneous dancing on the apron in front of the new grandstand.

Gulfstream.
Gulfstream.

 

Gulfstream.
Gulfstream.

And the big statue of Pegasus fighting a fire-breathing dragon in the parking lot. A landmark that stirs up the feelings of neighbors. Some like it and some don’t, of course, but we really liked it – it is an imposing structure that can be seen from quite a distance and it makes Gulfstream very visible. The Pegasus cost an amazing $30,000,000 to build, is over 30 meters tall, and the second highest statue in the US, only surpassed by the Statue of Liberty. For Frank Stronach the Pegasus is a symbol of the victory of good over evil – hopefully a suitable symbol for racing’s struggle to renew its reputation.

The concept of races with million-dollars.
The concept of races with million-dollars stakes is spreading and now the Aussies are planning their own version, but over a shorter distance. It will be fun to see if the Americans and Europeans will show up for that party.
In an ordinary Stakes race the owners pay the stake for a specific horse, but the Pegasus was the first instance of paying for a slot for an unspecified horse. One week after the formal announcement of the race was made in May, the 12 slots had all been sold. That the group that now owns California Chrome was going to use their spot for him was obvious, but Arrogate’s slot was bought in December by Juddmonte from Coolmore, who didn’t have any horse they wanted to run. Then we had Dan Schafer, who had never owned a race-horse, but felt that this was a good way to get into the game. After some wheeling and dealing his slot was used by War Story, who finished 5th. And the founder of the race, Frank Stronach used his spot to run Shaman Ghost, who ran a great race and finished strong to end up second to Arrogate.
What will happen in the future is up in the air, but there seems to be a demand for a big race over 9 furlongs at this time of year. A last race for horses going to stud before the start of the breeding season. This year it was the obvious rematch between the winner and runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Bob Baffert was on the record saying that he would have considered the Pegasus for American Pharoah if the race had been run last year. So we can hope to see Arrogate again next year—but who will his challenger be?
For Frank Stronach the Pegasus is a symbol of the victory of good over evil.
For Frank Stronach the Pegasus is a symbol of the victory of good over evil.

SparaSpara

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©Japan Racing Association

The Peoples Race

Japan’s season-ending race, the G1 Arima Kinen, is set to be run on December 24 at Nakayama racecourse near Tokyo. The all-aged race is a celebration of  Japan’s favourite racehorses, as the majority of the field is decided by a public vote, similar to Major League Baseball’s All-Star game. Last year, 1.5 million votes were cast. The public interest in the race makes it the most popular betting race not only in Japan, but in the world.

The turnover for the 2016 Arima Kinen was an astonishing ¥44,902,572,000.

(€366,814,052/US$383,569,131)

Beyond the racetrack

Beyond the racetrack

Retraining of thoroughbred racehorses has become a topic of increasing importance in the racing industry all over the world. Many retired racehorses have very successful second careers, competing at the highest level in equestrian disciplines such as eventing and polo, or find homes in pony club, polo, and as pleasure horses. Others go on to become broodmares or stallions.

Beyond the racetrack
Beyond the racetrack

Racing NSW in Australia recently set an example for other racing jurisdictions when deciding that A$2 million per year will be set aside to ensure that all thoroughbred horses domiciled in New South Wales are appropriately cared for outside of their racing careers. They have also purchased a 2,600 acre property to be used for the rehabilitation, retraining, and rehoming of horses after their racing careers.

Photo: Alex Cairns

2 OF A KIND

 Gazwan and Maxime Guyon (blue cap) galloped to victory in the G1 Qatar Arabian World Cup at Chantilly in France on October 1. The six-year-old Purebred Arabian had to battle hard in the closing stages to fight off his contenders, including his almost identical stablemate Ebraz. Both Gazwan and Ebraz are owned by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani and trained in Qatar by Julian Smart. It will come as no surprise that the two horses also share the same sire, the legendary Arabian stallion Amer.

Michael Owen

CAREER CHANGE

Former professional footballer Michael Owen is one of England’s most successful strikers in recent years. Since hanging up his football boots in 2013, he has become a prominent racehorse owner and breeder. Owen recently took his passion for horse racing to the next level when agreeing to take part in a charity race at Ascot on November 24. Despite having never sat on a horse until five months prior to the race, Owen finished a creditable second aboard Calder Prince, and his new race-riding career is certainly off to a good start.

Maroon & White

HH Sheikh Mohammed’s legendary maroon and white colours have been carried to victories by turf legends such as Oh So Sharp, Singspiel, and Pebbles, but the ruler of Dubai now runs all his horses in Australia, USA, and Europe in the blue colours of Godolphin. More than a decade after the famous silks were regularly spotted on British racecourses, they appeared in the winner’s enclosure at Windsor in September.

The silks have been passed on to Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya’s young daughter Sheikha Al Jalila, who has a keen interest in racing despite being only nine years old. In partnership with her father, she has a string of around a dozen horses in training with John Gosden in Newmarket.

The $9.5 million dollar mare

Horses like Songbird don’t come around very often. When the two-time champion and nine-time Grade 1 winner stepped into the sales ring at Fasig-Tipton in Kentucky, breeder Mandy Pope knew that she would have to go high to acquire the four-year-old mare. She was right, and after an intense bidding process, the hammer fell on $9.5 million dollars, the second highest price ever paid for a broodmare prospect. Pope admitted after the sale that it was a bit over her budget, but it is not the first time she has signed for an expensive ticket at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale. The world record price for a broodmare prospect was set in 2012, when Pope parted with $10 million for multiple Grade 1 winner Havre De Grace. Just like Songbird, Havre De Grace was owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms and sold by Taylor Made Sales Agency at Fasig-Tipton.

Photo: James Boardman/Alamy Live News

NEXT GENERATION MOORE

Toby Moore is only eight years old, but is already following in his father’s footsteps. As a son of the multiple British champion jockey Ryan Moore, who has ridden more than 100 Group or Grade 1 winners, the young Moore certainly has racing in the blood. On October 23, Toby had his first ride in public in the Shetland Pony Gold Cup, dressed in the same purple and white colours that his father has carried to victory in four Group 1 races aboard Highland Reel.

The name of Toby’s pony? Lowland Reel, of course.

 

Carry all in a Cary All

The James River Carry All ~ from Tucker Tweed is a generous tote that does “carry all”. Featuring scratch-resistant saffiano leather exterior, this handbag contains pockets for smart phone, key fob, large zip pocket and tablet compartment with embossed leather logo. Completed with silver hardware and feet, embossed with a variety of different horsey motifs.

$249

Art by a Champion rider

Peder Fredricson won a silver medal in the 2016 Olympics and individual gold for showjumping at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017. Peder is not only an outstanding horseman – he is also an accomplished artist. Now you can but prints of his works. This edition is made in a limited number of 250 and each piece is numbered and signed by the artist. Printed on fine art paper (Hahnemühle, German Etching, 310 g), each print is sold rolled up so you can frame it the way you like. 

We think its awesome!

40 x 50 cm

€ 153

Buy it here!

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