As the 2020 calendar rolls into Super Bowl weekend and Derby prep race season, live horse racing events in Virginia may seem like a ways off, but the kickoff event is just weeks away.
Action in the Commonwealth’s spring Point-to-Point race season kicks off March 7. For the second straight year, the Virginia Equine Alliance will provide starter reward bonuses to Virginia-owned or Virginia-trained horses that compete in the two month series in order to help encourage participation. The Rappahannock Hunt kicks things off and is followed by the Warrenton Hunt on March 14, Upperville (Piedmont Fox Hounds) on March 21, Middleburg (Orange County Hounds) on March 29, Ben Venue (Old Dominion Hounds) on April 4, Leesburg (Loudoun Hunt) on April 12, Berryville (Blue Ridge Hunt) on April 19 and again in Middleburg (Middleburg Hunt) on April 26. More details are available at www.vasteeplechase.com and at www.centralentryoffice.com.
Menacing Dennis (ridden by Shane Crimin) and Feisty (ridden by Jacob Roberts) compete in the Orange County Point-to-Points’s Open Hurdle in 2019. Photo by Douglas Lees.
Sanctioned steeplechase meets kick off in April and run through mid-fall. The Virginia Gold Cup is scheduled for May 2 —Kentucky Derby Day — at Great Meadow while the International Gold Cup will be held October 24. Wagering is available at both Gold Cups along with Derby betting at the spring edition. The Middleburg Spring Race meet is April 18 at Glenwood Park and the fall version is slated for October 10. The Foxfield Spring Races will be contested April 25 outside of Charlottesville and the Montpelier Hunt Races, held in Montpelier Station, will be on November 7.
Montpelier Hunt Races close out the 2020 season the first Saturday in November.
Thoroughbred racing is back this summer at Colonial Downs and will feature 18 race dates from July 23 through August 29. Programs at the New Kent track will be presented every Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a post time of 5:30 PM. A total of $500,000 in purses will be distributed daily headlined by two major events — the MATCH Series on August 15 which features five $100,000 stakes, then the Virginia Derby card on August 29 which features an under card of the Virginia Oaks, Rosie’s Stakes and Kitten’s Joy Stakes. Details are at www.colonialdowns.com.
#6 Charmn Charlie Ray, who leads early, went on to win the first race back at Colonial Downs last August after a six year absence. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.
Finally, the annual fall pari-mutuel harness racing season at Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock will run from September 18 – October 17 with racing every Friday at 3:30 PM and Saturday at 2 PM. Parking and admission are free. The Shenandoah County Chamber’s popular Autumnfest celebration will highlight the meet on October 3.
In addition, a four day non-wagering harness meet will be held September 2-5 during the Shenandoah County Fair over the same half mile oval. Harness racing details are at shenandoahdowns.com and at virginiahorseracing.com.
Harness drivers pass the grandstand during a race at Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily
The following appeared in The Paulick Report January 28
A new economic study has found that the investment in Virginia by the Colonial Downs Group, consisting of the Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent County and Rosie’s gaming facilities statewide, will support thousands of new jobs and generate millions in additional tax revenue to the Commonwealth and host localities over the upcoming year. That’s in addition to the cumulative $445 million in combined economic activity the locations will produce statewide. The study, conducted by Dr. Terry Clower, Northern Virginia Chair and Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, specifically projects that company operations in 2020 will:
· Be responsible for the creation of 4,232 direct, indirect and induced permanent jobs
· Generate $26.1 million in new tax revenue for the Commonwealth
· Produce $17.9 million in new tax revenue for host localities
· Create $445 million in combined economic activity statewide
#6 Charmn Charlie Ray, who leads early, went on to win the first race back at Colonial Downs last August. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.
Speaking about the study Aaron Gomes, Chief Operating Officer of the Colonial Downs Group, noted, “We are proud of our investment in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the good jobs, tax revenue and economic development that have resulted. This year our facilities will mean thousands of good jobs, $26.1 million in state tax revenue, $17.9 million in local tax revenue, and $445 million in overall economic activity in Virginia. That’s great news for our employees, our host localities and all of Virginia.”
Gomes continued, remarking, “In 2019 we focused on getting our facilities up and running and bringing live horse racing back to Virginia. We were thrilled to end the year by announcing we were raising the minimum wage for our employees to $15 an hour. Now, I have no doubt that 2020 will be an even more exciting year as we not only continue to build on our existing success in New Kent County, Vinton, Richmond and Hampton, but also add an additional three racing days at Colonial Downs Racetrack. When we came to Virginia, our promise was everyone would win with Colonial Downs and Rosie’s. This study proves it, and we are still just getting started!”
The most recent Rosie’s location opened in Hampton with a ribbon cutting October 29..
About Colonial Downs: In its first partial year of operations Colonial Downs Group opened four locations, created more than 1,000 jobs and contributed more than $16.2 million in taxes and racing industry payments in Virginia. At Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums in Richmond, Hampton, New Kent County and Vinton we offer the excitement of innovative historic horseracing (HHR) gaming technology and full card simulcasting. At Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent County, we offer live thoroughbred racing at the best turf track in the country and will run 18 days in 2020. Colonial Downs Group has made a $300 million investment in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The project has not received any tax credits or government incentives.
NOTE: This study produced by Dr. Terry Clower does not reflect the views or opinions of George Mason University or its Board of Visitors.
The following editorial from Virginia Thoroughbred Association Executive Director Debbie Easter appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch January 24th. Members of various horse organizations in the state may be called upon next week to contact their legislative representatives in an effort to help preserve and grow the native horse racing industry along with other equine and related agribusinesses as new gaming legislation is introduced in the General Assembly. Please visit these websites frequently in the coming days — virginiahorseracing.com, vabred.org, vhha.net and respective facebook pages of those groups for updated action plans.
A little more than six years ago, Virginia’s long and storied racing heritage looked to be over. Colonial Downs — the longtime home for horse racing in the commonwealth — held its last race in 2013 and closed its doors the following year. Somehow, the state that Secretariat once called home was looking at the end of its historic racing culture.
That is, until two years ago when Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law a bill opening the state to Class II gaming by allowing historical horse racing (HHR) machines in Virginia. Thanks to House Bill 1609, Colonial Downs was able to reopen its doors in 2019 and host 15 days of premier racing for the first time in six years.
Since then, Virginia’s equine and agricultural industries have seen new life. The Virginia Equine Alliance has seen a 700% increase in the number of horses coming into the state and, for the first time in years, the commonwealth’s horse racing is now competitive with its neighbors in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Jobs are being created. Barns are full. Green space throughout Virginia is being preserved due to the boon in agribusiness.
Not only is Virginia competitive in the mid-Atlantic region, we have a model that is unique. Virginia farms now benefit from horses coming to the state to register in our residency program, and we now offer a highly attractive racing program for flat and harness horses. People are taking note of the Virginia model — all due to the gains from HB 1609.
Simply put, horse racing in Virginia is booming and HHR machines are the driving force behind it.
The revenues from HHR machines are expected to contribute an estimated $20 million to the racing industry each year, split between the residency program and purses for live races held in Virginia. That’s in addition to the hundreds of jobs created since 2018 and the substantial tax revenues these machines generate for the commonwealth and its localities.
However, despite all the progress we’ve made, the horse racing community in Virginia remains at risk. This legislative session, the General Assembly is considering a number of bills that would result in changes to current regulations to further expand gaming.
The proposed legislation would lead to the opening of five “resort-style” casinos that would offer Class III or “casino style” gaming. If this legislation passes and considerations are not taken in regard to the impact it would have on the state’s equine and agribusiness industries, all of Virginia’s recent progress could be for naught.
A recent study conducted by the nonpartisan, state-funded Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found that while resort-style casinos would have a “positive, but modest economic impact on local economies,” it would have a potentially catastrophic effect on the state’s racing industry.
According to the study, revenue from HHRs would decrease by 45%. This would result in a nearly $10 million annual decrease in funds to support racing.
These decreases would, at best, halt the astounding progress the Virginia equine industry has experienced over the past three years and place it behind neighboring states, just as it was prior to 2013. At worst, it could put the industry on the path to a long, slow death, taking hundreds of jobs and innumerable green space along with it.
Regardless of the stance the legislature takes when it comes to the potential opening of resort-style casinos, it must keep in mind the recent progress we’ve made in restoring Virginia’s historic racing heritage and the impact it’s had revitalizing agribusiness and preserving green space throughout Virginia.
We’ve worked so hard to come this far, and we simply cannot let that progress disappear overnight.
If Class III gaming is approved, the legislature must consider practices that help support the horse racing community and Colonial Downs, similar to what other states have implemented. Otherwise, the outcome could be ruinous, leading to the closure of the track and the end of racing once again.
When considering these proposed changes in legislation, we must consider all outcomes if we want to preserve the heritage that once gave us Secretariat.
Debbie Easter is the president of the Virginia Equine Alliance. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following piece appeared on nationalsteeplechase.com and was written by Don Clippinger.
Dr. Alfred C. Griffin Jr., the co-chair of the Virginia Gold Cup who played a key role in keeping pari-mutuel racing alive in his home state during Colonial Downs’ closure, was elected president of the National Steeplechase Association at Friday’s NSA Board of Directors meeting.
The Warrenton, Va., orthodontist succeeds Guy J. Torsilieri, who was elected as the NSA’s chairman. Torsilieri, who served as the NSA’s president for 11 years before declining to seek another term, was elected as the NSA’s chairman. He succeeds Beverly R. Steinman, who retired from the board at the conclusion of her term last year.
Dr. Al Griffin (middle) is pictured with NSA Board members Meriweather Morris and Guy Torsilieri
Also elected were Virginia Lazenby as vice president, Robert Bonnie as secretary, and Mason Hardaway Lampton as treasurer.
“I am honored and humbled to be elected the National Steeplechase Association’s president,” Dr. Griffin said. “Under Guy Torsilieri’s leadership, steeplechasing has placed itself on an upward trajectory, and I will strive to foster continued growth into a bright, sustainable future for our sport, our horsemen, and our race meets.”
Dr. Griffin has wide-ranging experience in his professional career, Virginia horse racing, and fox-hunting. He is in the practice of Orthodontics in Warrenton and Middleburg for the last 35 years and is a diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics.
He also teaches biomechanics and clinical practice at Harvard University’s School of Dental Medicine. He served as the first dental director of the Fauquier Free Clinic, which he and other Northern Virginia dentists founded more than 20 years ago to serve those unable to afford medical and dental care.
The spring Virginia Gold Cup is the largest annual NSA event.
With Dr. Will Allison, he is co-chair of the Virginia Gold Cup, the NSA’s largest meet by attendance, and the International Gold Cup in the fall. After Colonial Downs’ former owner shut the Richmond-area track in 2013, Dr. Griffin played a key role in forming the Virginia Equine Alliance and in obtaining legislative approval for the alliance to serve as the state’s pari-mutuel entity.
During his tenure, the International Gold Cup inaugurated pari-mutuel wagering under supervision of the Virginia Racing Commission in October 2012, and the Virginia Gold Cup added betting the following May.
He became a member of the NSA’s Board of Directors in 2012 and has served as chair of the NSA’s Promotion and Growth Committee. He has been the NSA’s secretary since 2018.
In addition to serving as race director for the two meets at Great Meadow Race Course, he was master of fox hounds for the Warrenton Hunt for 18 years.
On March 30, 1970, a legend was born. A fiery red colt named Secretariat took his first breath in a foaling shed at Christopher Chenery’s Meadow Stable in Caroline County, Virginia. In 1973, he left the world breathless with his spectacular and incomparable Triple Crown.
On March 28, 2020, Secretariat’s birthplace, now known as The Meadow Event Park, will be the site of the official celebration honoring the immortal champion’s 50th birthday and his enduring legacy.
Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of the late, beloved Penny Chenery, will be the celebrity host for the event, which runs from 11 am – 7:00 pm. She will be joined by famous jockeys, Meadow Stable grooms and other special guests. Fans can enjoy autograph sessions; visits with Groundshaker, a great-great granddaughter of Secretariat and the last racehorse bred and raced by Penny Chenery; Mia the mighty mini; tours of the Meadow Champion Galleries, Triple Crown Room and the Chenery Collection in Meadow Hall; tram tours of the historic barns; children’s “horsey” activities, live music and much more.
There will be a half-day program priced for families, as well as a full-day program that will include a cocktail reception, special presentations and a champagne toast at Secretariat’s foaling shed. The Secretariat 50th Birthday Celebration is presented by the Secretariat Birthplace Tours of The Meadow Event Park and Secretariat.com. Ticket information will be available in January at www.meadoweventpark.com/visit-us/secretariat50/and at www.secretariat.com.
Fans should also mark their calendars for Secretariat birthday festivities in the nearby town of Ashland on Friday March 27 and Sunday March 29. More information will be available soon.
Secretariat’s birthplace at The Meadow Event Park is listed on the state and national historic registers and offers narrated tours by reservation. See https://www.meadoweventpark.com/secretariat-birthplace-tours for more informatio
*3-Year-Old & Up Fillies/Mares Sprint Dirt Division: $100,000 Seeking The Pearl Stakes at 7 furlongs
*3-Year-Old & Up Sprint Turf Division: $100,000 Da Hoss Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs
*3-Year-Old & Up Sprint Dirt Division: $100,000 Chesapeake Stakes at 7 furlongs
Here is an article written by Tom Lamarra that appeared on the MATCH Series website January 14.
The highly popular and critically acclaimed Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships Series (MATCH) has been renewed for 2020, with an expanded schedule and an increase in owner, trainer and breeder bonus money thanks to new partner racetracks, horsemen’s groups and breeder associations.
The series, which returned in 2018 after a 16-year hiatus, is set for its best season ever. This year’s slate, which grows to 35 stakes at eight tracks, is the result of a commitment by Mid-Atlantic stakeholders to not only link regional stakes, enhance competition, and grow racing’s popularity, but also work toward the larger goal of coordination in a region with the largest concentration of daily racing in the United States.
Recognizing the popularity and success of the series, Colonial Downs and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, both of which were part of the MATCH Series during its initial run from 1997-2001, have rejoined the series, as have the Virginia and Charles Town HBPAs.
The 2020 series, which expands from four divisions to five, will begin April 18 with a unique split schedule at Laurel Park and Charles Town and run until Championship Day at Parx Racing Oct 18. Except for the split sites on opening day to accommodate Charles Town’s entry into the series, and Pimlico Race Course’s stakes split between Black-Eyed Susan Day and Preakness Day, the series will continue the new and highly successful concept begun in 2019 of conducting a race in each of the divisions on a single-card format at each participating track, roughly one month apart over a six-month period.
Last year there were 20 stakes spread over five MATCH Series days. Pari-mutuel handle increases were significant.
“The MATCH Series is a testament to the extraordinary cooperation amongst all of the stakeholders in the region to promote our sport, advance the need for cooperation and coordination and our leadership role in advancing health, welfare and safety reforms for our horses,” said Alan Foreman, creator of MATCH and Chairman of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “We welcome Colonial Downs and Charles Town back to the series. We developed one of the best rivalries in racing last year, and look forward to a great competition this year.”
The other 2020 racetrack partners are Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Delaware Park and Monmouth Park. On the horsemen’s side, the Delaware THA, Maryland THA, New Jersey THA, Pennsylvania THA, and Pennsylvania HBPA are participating again this year.
The 3-Year-Old Sprint–Dirt Division will join the four divisions from last year: 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt; Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt; 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Turf; and Filly and Mare Long–Turf. The division for 3-year-old sprinters was part of the MATCH Series before it went on hiatus.
Charles Town and Laurel will combine for the launch, with the three dirt stakes in West Virginia and the two turf stakes in Maryland as part of big-event programs at both tracks.
“We’re very excited for Charles Town to be included in the MATCH Series for both 2020 and, hopefully, beyond,” said Erich Zimny, Vice President of Racing & Sports Operations at the West Virginia track. “We’re happy that we were invited to partake and that the Charles Town HBPA showed a willingness to do so on their end as well.
“The series brings awareness to the Mid-Atlantic’s racing product and provides some great incentives for owners, trainers and breeders to participate. We look forward to kicking it off in April.”
Following the first round of competition, the MATCH Series will be held at Pimlico May 15-16, Penn National June 21, Delaware Park July 11, Colonial Downs Aug. 15, Monmouth Sept. 12 and Parx Oct. 10.
“Colonial Downs is thrilled and honored to be rejoining the MATCH Series in 2020 and looks forward to hosting the horses and horsemen that support this lucrative stakes and bonus program,” said Jill Byrne, Director of Racing Operations at Colonial, which was a MATCH partner in four of the first five years of the series. “The Mid-Atlantic race tracks continue to be leaders in the horse racing industry on so many platforms. The MATCH Series allows horsemen to plan a solid schedule for their stables and for fans to experience it at so many wonderful racing facilities.”
Each division will offer $75,000 in bonus money for owners and trainers to the top three finishers by points, while the overall MATCH Series leader by points regardless of division will earn an additional $75,000. Owner and trainer bonuses total $450,000, while purse money for the 35 stakes totals $3.75 million.
Horses must have three series starts to qualify for bonus money, and bonus points will be awarded to horses who make five to seven starts in their respective divisions.
Last year four breeder organizations–the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Thoroughbred Breeders Association of New Jersey, Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association and Delaware Certified Thoroughbred Program–each offered $5,000 bonuses for the top colt or gelding and filly or mare by overall MATCH Series points. The Virginia Thoroughbred Association and West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders Association will join that program in 2020, so up to $60,000 will be available in breeder bonuses for horses that start at least three times in the series.
In 2019, 2W Stables’ Bronx Beauty took home the overall championship after winning the Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt Division in dramatic fashion for trainer Tony Margotta on the final day of the series at Monmouth. Bronx Beauty won the Regret Stakes to tie with Cash is King and Jim Reichenberg’s Ms Locust Point, her division rival, and then won the tie-breaker based on MATCH Series rules.
The connections of Bronx Beauty earned a total of $110,000 in bonus funds, and the filly’s breeder, Blackstone Farm of Pennsylvania, collected a $5,000 bonus.
Richmond, VA — In an effort to ease the financial burden of horsemen racing in multiple jurisdictions and encourage more horsemen to participate in the Commonwealth, the Virginia Racing Commission voted unanimously to eliminate license fees beginning on January 1, 2020.
The license forms and instructions may be downloaded from our website by clicking on “Virginia Racing License” on the left-hand side of the homepage. Applications may be emailed prior to the live meet to avoid waiting in line at the Commission office. The VRC will issue all participants a three-year license.
Please note: all participants must be fingerprinted once upon making their initial application and pay a $30 processing fee. Participants with a record of being fingerprinted recently in Virginia will normally not have to go through this process again. Please call (804) 966-7415 with any questions concerning the licensing process or requirements.
Total Virginia pari-mutuel handle on horse racing for 2020 exceeded $1 billion for the first time ever thanks to the implementation of Historical Horse Racing terminals at four Rosie’s Gaming Emporium sites across the Commonwealth. That, combined with on line betting handle from four partner providers, handle at four VA-Horseplay Off Track Betting (OTB) Centers, and handle generated from live race meets at Colonial Downs (thoroughbred), Shenandoah Downs (harness) and the Virginia Gold Cup (steeplechase), pushed the total figure to $1,203,990,926.
Total HHR handle was $1,078,283,481 from Rosie’s outlets based in New Kent (at Colonial Downs), Richmond, Hampton and Vinton. The first site opened in April and the most recent opened in late September. More are scheduled to come on line in 2020.
Handle via Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) — or on line betting — was $86,629,347 which was up an impressive 3.1% over 2018’s $83,958,598 figure. TVG handled $41,468,459 in racing wagers while Twin Spires was second with $29,972,433. Xpress Bet was third with $11,896,242 and NYRA Bets, newest of the four, handled $3,292,212 but that figure was up 62% from 2018. TVG, which continued to see an uptick in business, was up 9.3% in handle placed by Virginia residents. ADW thoroughbred handle was up 2.45% compared to last year while harness wagering jumped 9.2%.
Of the eight venues in the state where fans can watch and wager live horse race simulcasting — Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums and VA-Horseplay OTBs based in other bars/restaurants —- handle at Buckets Bar & Grill in Chesapeake topped the list at $10,026,233. Breakers Sports Grille in Henrico was next at $8,726,781. Other VA-Horseplay bars are in Richmond (Ponies & Pints) and in Collinsville (The Windmill OTB Sports Grill).
The calendar for racing events in 2020 is already filling up. The Virginia Gold Cup Races are slated for Saturday May 2 (Kentucky Derby Day) and tickets are already on sale. The Colonial Downs summer thoroughbred meet will run from July 23 – August 29 with racing every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 5:30 PM. The Virginia Derby is set for closing day and the new MATCH Series will take place on August 15. Though the Shenandoah Downs harness dates are not confirmed, a five week season will run from mid-September to mid-October. Elsewhere around the state, sanctioned steeplechase meets are set at Foxfield, Middleburg and Montpelier, plus a spring slate of point-to-point meets will run eight consecutive weekends in March and April.
The Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) announced it will fund a starter reward program for Virginia’s spring Point-to-Point race season for a second straight year. The well received initiative began in 2019 and helped increase participation in the two month series. The 2020 schedule begins March 7 with the Rappahannock Hunt Point-to-Point and concludes April 26 with the Middleburg Hunt Point-to-Point.
Program details are straightforward. Every time a Virginia-owned or Virginia-trained horse makes a start in any Point-to-Point race, the owner will receive a $200 starter reward. The bonus is designed to increase steeplechase participation at all levels, from owner-rider divisions to open hurdle and timber divisions. In 2019, a total of $31,800 in rewards were paid out from a total of 159 Virginia horses that participated in seven scheduled spring meets.
“The VEA recognizes that the Point-to-Point circuits are a vital element of steeplechase racing and we want to do everything we can to promote and support the Point to Points in Virginia,” said VEA Executive Director Jeb Hannum. “The Point-to-Points are an important first step for many horses. They also give young riders an opportunity to compete before going to the sanctioned meets.”
“Everyone was thrilled with the starter rewards program last year,” said Don Yovanovich, Secretary/Treasurer of the Virginia Steeplechase Association. “We believe it brought in some additional entries and most importantly, it provided horsemen with an incentive to enter. The extra money certainly was appreciated.”
The spring schedule features a Point-to-Point meet on eight consecutive weekends. The Rappahannock Hunt is on March 7, Warrenton Hunt on March 14, Upperville (Piedmont Fox Hounds) on March 21, Middleburg (Orange County Hounds) on March 29, Ben Venue (Old Dominion Hounds) on April 4, Leesburg (Loudoun Hunt) on April 12, Berryville (Blue Ridge Hunt) on April 19 and again in Middleburg (Middleburg Hunt) on April 26. More details are available at www.vasteeplechase.com and at www.centralentryoffice.com.
The VEA will also give $25,000 to each of five National Steeplechase Association (NSA)-sanctioned meets in the Commonwealth and donate $10,000 to the Virginia Point to Point Foundation. Included are the spring and fall race meets at both Glenwood Park in Middleburg and the Foxfield race meets in Albemarle County along with the November race meet at Montpelier in the Town of Orange.
For more information, visit virginiahorseracing.com.
The following appeared in The Paulick Report January 5. Pegasus World Cup Day at Miami’s Gulfstream Park, scheduled for Saturday January 25, traditionally is the first major stakes race day of the year. Gulfstream will host 9 stakes on the card, 6 of which are graded. Headline event is the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (Gr. I) followed by the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (Gr. I). Other graded stakes include the $200,000 Inside Information Stakes (Gr. 2) and a trio of Grade 3’s — the W. L. McKnight, the La Prevoyante and the Fred Hooper Stakes.
Woodslane Farms’ Sadler’s Joy has been invited to participate in the Pegasus Turf. Owned and bred by Rene and Lauren Woolcott of the Plains, VA., the 7-year-old Kitten’s Joy horse has bankrolled $2.4 million from 26 starts. He has four graded stakes victories on his career resume including a 2017 win in the Grade I Sword Dancer at Saratoga.
Eight Grade 1 winners, led by millionaires Arklow, Magic Wand, Henley’s Joy, Next Shares, Sadler’s Joy and Starship Jubilee, and seven other graded-stakes winners are among a list of 17 horses formally invited Sunday to the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
The second running of the 1 3/16-mile Pegasus Turf for 4-year-olds and up will be contested Saturday, Jan. 25 as part of a $5.2 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational program of nine stakes, six graded, led by the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) for 4-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles on dirt.
Bricks and Mortar won the inaugural edition of the Pegasus Turf last January to launch a perfect 2019 season that has him favored to earn Eclipse Awards as both male grass champion and Horse of the Year.
The Stronach Group, owners of the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series, announced the equine athletes in both races would compete free of any medications on race day, heralding a new era in the sport of Thoroughbred racing in North America. The medication-free policy is consistent with the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA) standards. Two percent of the purses will go back to Thoroughbred aftercare.
The list of invitees for the Pegasus World Cup Turf are:
Arklow (Brad Cox)
Channel Cat (Todd Pletcher)
Magic Wand (Aidan O’Brien)
Henley’s Joy (Mike Maker)
Instilled Regard (Chad Brown)
Mo Forza (Peter Miller)
Next Shares (Richard Baltas)
Sadler’s Joy (Tom Albertrani)
Starship Jubilee (Kevin Attard)
United (Richard Mandella)
Without Parole (Chad Brown)
Zulu Alpha (Mike Maker)
RESERVE INVITEES IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE:
Sacred Life (Chad Brown)
Admission Office (Brian Lynch)
A Thread Of Blue (Kiaran McLaughlin)
Mr. Misunderstood (Brad Cox)
Lucullan (Kiaran McLaughlin)
Irish-bred mare Magic Wand and 7-year-old gelding Next Shares each ran in the 2019 Pegasus Turf, respectively finishing second and seventh. Magic Wand went on to run third in the Man o’ War (G1) in May at Belmont Park and second in the Arlington Million (G1) in August at Arlington Park before winning the Seppelt MacKinnon Stakes (G1) Nov. 9 at Flemington in Australia to push her career earnings over $4 million from 22 starts. Magic Wand is also an invitee to the Pegasus World Cup.
Next Shares, trained by Richard Baltas, capped his 2019 season by adding the Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) Nov. 30 at Del Mar to his previous graded wins in the 2018 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) and 2019 San Gabriel (G2). In his only other try at Gulfstream, he broke his maiden in his 3-year-old debut Jan. 9, 2016 for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
Woodslane Farm’s 7-year-old homebred Sadler’s Joy is a two-time graded-stakes winner over the Gulfstream turf, capturing the 2017 Pan American (G2) and 2018 Mac Diarmida (G3). A top three finisher in 18 of his 26 lifetime starts with $2.47 million in purse earnings, Sadler’s Joy became a Grade 1 winner in the 2017 Sword Dancer at Saratoga and ended 2019 with a victory in the Red Smith (G3) Nov. 23 at Aqueduct.
Blue Heaven Farm’s Florida-bred Starship Jubilee has raced 16 times previously at Gulfstream including wins in the 2018 and 2019 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf. The 7-year-old mare owns seven career stakes wins, four of them in Grade 2 company, and earned her first Grade 1 triumph in the E.P. Taylor (G1) Oct. 12 at Woodbine.
Bloom Racing Stables’ Henley’s Joy ran twice at Gulfstream’s 2018-19 Championship Meet, winning the Pulpit Stakes and finishing second in the Kitten’s Joy, ultimately winning the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) July 6. Arklow, trained by Eclipse Award finalist Brad Cox, has never run at Gulfstream and also earned his lone Grade 1 triumph at Belmont Park in the 2019 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
Trainer Chad Brown won last year’s Pegasus Turf with Bricks and Mortar and has three horses on the invitation list – Instilled Regard, Without Parole and first alternate Sacred Life. Instilled Regard, on the Triple Crown trail in 2018, prepped for the Pegasus Turf with a half-length triumph in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) Dec. 14 at Gulfstream, his second start off a six-month layoff.
Without Parole won the 2018 St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot and made his North American debut Nov. 2 in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), running third to stablemate Uni, an Eclipse Award finalist for female turf champion. Sacred Life won the Prix Thomas Bryon (G3) as a 2-year-old in his native France and owns one win from four starts in the U.S., finishing second in the Bernard Baruch (G2) and Seabiscuit handicaps last year.
Michael Hui’s Zulu Alpha is the other millionaire among invitees with four career graded-stakes wins, two of them coming on the Gulfstream turf in the 2019 W.L. McKnight (G3) and Mac Diarmida. Brady Farm and OG Boss’ Mo Forza has raced exclusively in California and has put together four consecutive wins, the last three in graded company, including the Hollywood Derby (G1) Nov. 30.
Joining Sacred Life on the reserve invitation list are Amerman Racing’s Admission Office, Leonard Green’s A Thread of Blue, Flurry Racing Stables’ Mr. Misunderstood and Godolphin’s Lucullan.
Admission Office is five-time stakes-placed, four in graded company, most recently in the Dec. 14 Fort Lauderdale. A Thread of Blue, winner of the 2019 Dania Beach and Palm Beach (G3) at Gulfstream, and 2019 Knickerbocker (G2) winner Lucullan are both trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. Mr. Misunderstood is a 13-time winner from 26 career starts, nine of them stakes wins, topped by the 2018 and 2019 River City Handicap (G3), 2018 Wise Dan (G2) and 2017 Commonwealth Turf (G3).
The 2020 Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series will offer a world-class level of safety and care for horses and riders along with a unique and fully engaging experience for fans and guests, both at the racetrack and online. Since it was launched in 2017, the Pegasus World Cup has become one of the most anticipated events on the racing calendar. It has captured the attention of the racing industry, celebrities and fans from around the world and has featured some of the finest international and domestic runners, including Bricks and Mortar and Pegasus World Cup winners Arrogate (2017), Gun Runner (2018) and City of Light (2019).
Past celebrity attendees include Snoop Dogg, Mark Ronson, Bella Thorne, Evander Holyfield, Dennis Rodman and Amanda Cerny (2019), Pharrell Williams, Lenny Kravitz, Olivia Culpo, Prince Royce, Wilmer Valderrama, Post Malone, Ludacris, Jermaine Dupri, Carson Kressley and DJ Ruckus (2018) and Thomas Rhett, Vanessa Hudgens, Juanes, Karolina Kurkova, Aaron Paul, Gene Simmons, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Maria Menounos (2017).
For a third year, the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series will partner with Groot Hospitality, owners of the world famous LIV Nightclub, to offer a one-of-a-kind trackside party, the Pegasus LIV Stretch, featuring top tier entertainment, unique food and beverage concessions and the ultimate race-day views. Past performers at the Pegasus LIV Stretch include Snopp Dogg and Mark Ronson (2019), and Post Malone, Ludacris and Jermaine Dupri (2018).
The 2020 Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series will be broadcast live on NBC from 4:30 to 6 p.m. EST on Saturday, January 25.
For more information on the Pegasus World Cup and tickets go to PegasusWorldCup.com