Monthly Archives: December 2020

Horse Racing Integrity Bill Becomes Law

National Thoroughbred Racing Association release

President Trump on Sunday signed into law COVID-19 relief and government funding legislation that includes the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 (HISA), historic legislation that will establish national standards to promote fairness and increase safety in Thoroughbred racing nationwide.

The legislative package also includes key tax reform, COVID-19 relief provisions and extensions of current H-2B visa amendments beneficial to the horse racing industry.

Passage of the HISA culminated a multi-year effort by many industry stakeholders to establish national standards for anti-doping, medication control and increased racetrack safety for horses and riders. The movement gained momentum in early September when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) authored and sponsored the HISA legislation.


The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on September 29 by an overwhelming majority and was passed by the Senate on December 21.

The HISA legislation will go into effect no later than July 1, 2022, but could be effective earlier following the formation of an independent national racing authority (Authority) and approval of an anti-doping and medication control program and racetrack safety program (Programs) by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC will review the Programs developed by the Authority, allow for public comment, and once approved by the FTC, the Programs will go into effect.

Another key provision of the government spending legislation is the extension of three-year tax depreciation for all racehorses through 2021. Uniform three-year racehorse depreciation was one of several tax provisions across many industries set to expire at the end of 2020. The provision extends the three-year depreciation schedule for all racehorses through 2021 and allows taxpayers the option to depreciate, on a three-year schedule, racehorses less than 24 months of age when purchased and placed into service.

The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package signed by the President also includes several positive provisions relative to horse breeding and racing. Eligible racetracks and farms will be allowed to participate in this second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as they were in the first round after the NTRA helped secure favorable guidance from the Small Business Administration (SBA). The new provisions include:

  • Expanded PPP loan terms that include new eligibility for horse and farm owners without employees operating as sole proprietors or via single member LLCs;
  • New PPP eligibility for qualifying 501(c)(6) organizations with less than 300 employees;
  • Additional eligible expenses that now also include software, human resources, accounting, and personal protective equipment for those who have not yet had PPP loans forgiven;
  • A second draw PPP loan of up to $2 million that now is available for qualifying businesses with at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts;
  • Extension of employer tax credits for paid sick and family leave and employee retention into 2021; and
  • Full deductibility of meals from restaurants during 2021 and 2022.

A series of current H-2B visa program amendments are set to continue as part of omnibus legislation. They include:

  • Authority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of Labor (DOL), to increase the H-2B cap for fiscal year 2021 by up to approximately 69,000 visas if it determines that the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be met with U.S. workers;
  • Continuation of the use of private wage surveys for prevailing wage determinations;
  • A prohibition against DOL enforcing the corresponding employment and three-quarters guarantee provisions of its H-2B regulations relating to total work hours; and
  • Provisions extending the maximum employment season for up to 10 months, as opposed the nine-months in current DOL regulations.

Northern Virginia Will Get a Taste of Gambling When Rosie’s Opens In January

DUMFRIES — Caesar’s Palace it’s not, but for the first time Northern Virginia is getting in on the expansion of gambling that has been spreading throughout the state.

Early next month, Rosie’s Gaming is opening its latest slots parlor of sorts in the state, with a 150-machine facility in Dumfries, in southern Prince William County.

For all practical purposes, the machines play like slot machines, and casual gamblers would be hard-pressed to notice the difference between Rosie’s machines and any other slot machine. Technically, though, the outcome of the wager is tied to the results of old horse races, and the machines provide an option — rarely used — to make the wager based on information about the horses’ post-time odds and other factors.

The second Rosie’s Gaming Emporium to open was in Vinton, which will be similar size to the one in Dumfries.

The state legislature approved the machines in 2018 as a baby step toward expanded gambling in a state that traditionally has rejected it. The Rosie’s outlets are run by the same company that operates the Colonial Downs racetrack in New Kent County, and a small portion of the proceeds from the machines is dedicated to increased purses at Colonial Downs to boost the state’s horse industry.
The machines have been a success in the locations where they’re already in place — at Colonial Downs, on Midlothian Turnpike in Richmond, and in Vinton and Hampton. In November alone, $170 million was wagered at the machines, and $155 million was paid out in winnings.

“In every jurisdiction, the people that come out are looking for an entertainment option that’s clean, safe and friendly. And we provide that,” he said.

Rosie’s is starting small in Dumfries — the new location will have 150 machines. Even fewer machines will be in operation when the planned opening occurs in early January to facilitate distancing necessary because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dumfries Mayor Derrick Wood and other town officials toured the facility recently as machines arrived for installation and workers applied a final coat of paint to the exterior. Wood said he’s been impressed with the investment Rosie’s is making. More than 100 people are being hired with minimum wages of $15 an hour, and he said the company has committed to supporting community groups like Boys & Girls Clubs.

Dumfries voted 468-306 in 2019 in favor of gambling. Wood said he suspects those who were opposed to the gaming remain so.

“Everybody ain’t gonna like you, everybody ain’t gonna like me, and everybody ain’t gonna like every business that comes to town,” he said.

But he thinks opponents, over time, may be won over as they see the improvements at the shopping center where Rosie’s is located and the company establishes itself in the community. The Rosie’s site represents the biggest job producer to come to the town in years, he said, and even by the most conservative estimates will increase town revenue by 20% at the outset.

“Dumfries has always been a place people drive through,” he said. “Now we are trying to create a sense of destination.”

The most recent Rosie’s location to open was in Hampton where a ribbon cutting took place October 29, 2019.

Even more competition is coming for gamblers’ cash. Next month the Virginia Lottery will likely grant approval to a dozen or more commercial operators to launch online sports betting. Also, voters in four Virginia cities last month approved casinos that are expected to open in the next few years, and Richmond is planning a referendum in 2021.

Whether Northern Virginia would ever consider a full-scale expansion of casino gambling is unclear. A legislative study last year concluded that if Virginia wanted to generate significant tax revenue from its casinos, its best bet is to put a casino in Northern Virginia, where anticipated revenue would be $155 million, triple the estimate for any of the cities that approved casinos last month.

“From where I live, I can walk a few blocks and look out over the Potomac and see $150 million in Virginia money going across the bridge” to the MGM casino in Maryland, he said. “I’ve always said I’d be supportive of keeping Virginia’s money here in a responsible way.”

Pair of Virginia-Certified Horses Win $100,000 Stakes December 26 at Laurel

Street Lute and Miss Leslie, a pair of Virginia-Certified horses that scored tight respective stakes victories in the Gin Talking and Anne Arundel County Stakes December 26 at Laurel.

Street Lute went gate-to-wire in her seven-furlong dirt test and held off fast closing Fraudulent by a nose at the wire. The 2-year-old Street Magician filly captured her fifth overall victory this year from six starts. Previously, the Kentucky-bred won the Small Wonder Stakes at Delaware and a pair of stakes at Laurel — the Smart Hale and Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship. Jockey Xavier Perez directed the victory for owner, Lucky 7 Stables. The John Robb trainee has bankrolled $290,220 this year. Street Lute spent her six-month residency at Diana McClure’s DMC Carousel Stable in Berryville.

Street Lute edges Fraudulent for her fifth win of 2020. Photo by Jim McCue.

Maryland-bred Miss Leslie came from 2 1/2 lengths down at the top of the stretch to win the Anne Arundel County Stakes by a head over Buckey’s Charm — her third straight victory. She finished the 1 1/16ths dirt stakes in 1:44.97 and beat six others. The 2-year-old Paynter filly broke her maiden November 13 and followed that with an allowance win December 10, both at Laurel. The Claudio Gonzalez trainee has bankrolled $108,630 this year for owner, BB Horses. Prior to racing, Miss Leslie spent time at Morgans Ford Farm & Warwick Stables in Front Royal.

Miss Leslie beat Buckey’s Charm to win the $100,000 Anne Arundel Stakes. Photo by Jim McCue.

Eight other Virginia-Certified horses reached the winners circle in addition to the two stakes victors. Swirrlie Shirlie connected in gate-to-wire fashion, 2 1/2 lengths the best, on the same Laurel card. The 4-year-old Gemologist filly won her fourth of the year in a $17,595 fillies/mares claimer. Owned by R D B Services and trained by Richard D’Angelo, the Kentucky-bred was making her 38th lifetime start and recorded her 10th victory. She has earned $146,790. Swirrlie Shirlie spent her Virginia residency at Horseshoe Hill Farm in Ashland.

Maryland-bred Gimme’s Goldengirl also found success at Laurel when she captured a $42,273 waiver maiden claimer there December 27. The 4-year-old Algorithms filly was making just her second lifetime start for the M and D Stable.

Swirrlie Shirlie spent her six month Virginia residency at Horseshoe Hill Farm in Ashland. Photo by Jim McCue.

A pair of other Kentucky-breds also reached the winners circle Christmas week. Larimar prevailed in a $19,000 claimer Penn National, the seventh different track she has competed at, from eight lifetime starts. The 3-year-old daughter of Majesticperfection broke into the win column this summer in a $46,000 maiden special weight at Colonial Downs. The winner is owned and bred by David Ross and is trained by Jeremiah O’Dwyer. She spent her pre-racing months at Audley Farm in Berryville.

Farther south, Mozano captured a one mile, 40-yard maiden claiming race handily at Tampa Bay Downs as a heavy betting choice, crossing 5 1/4 lengths in front. The 3-year-old Verrazano gelding took control at three-quarters, opened up by 4 1/2 entering the stretch and added another one length cushion while powering home. Owned by Faron McCubbins, Mozano notched his ninth “in the money” finish of 2020.

Horseshoe Hill Farm is just one of many Certified farms & training centers in the state.

A trio of Pennsylvania-breds got their picture taken at Penn National during holiday week. Red Barn Farms’ Stormy Spell won her second straight in a $14,400 claiming sprint. The 3-year-old Well Spelled filly broke her maiden November 6 at Penn. Lord Winsalot also gained his second win of 2020 in a $19,000 sprint race for owner Tom Coulter. The 3-year-old Alternation gelding spent his Virginia residency at Rose Retreat Farm in Goochland. Expressful Grace prevailed in a maiden claimer December 22 for owner Kendra Rentz-Gustafson. The 4-year-old Bullsbay filly had three runner-up finishes prior to gaining the win.

Finally, Roger Sterling’s Cubic Sound won a claiming race at Mountaineer December 22, his fourth of 2020. The 3-year-old Creative Cause gelding, who has bankrolled $56,725 this year, was raised at Bel Voi Farm in Berryville.

The VTA Certified program rewards horse owners who send their babies to Virginia to spend a minimum six-month residency prior to December 31 of their 2-year-old year. Once they begin racing, owners receive a 25% bonus for wins at tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region. A complete list of Certified farms and program specifics is







Colonial Downs 2021 Race Dates Approved at Virginia Racing Commission Meeting

Now in its third season under ownership of the Colonial Downs Group, the meet will include a total of 21 race dates. The stable area and track will open for training on July 5 and will close on September 8.

The 2021 season in New Kent will run from July 19 – September 1.

“Purses are projected to average at least $500,000 per day absent any unforseen events like an increase of the pandemic beyond its current intensity,” said Frank Petramalo, Virginia HBPA Executive Director. “I think most horsemen by nature have to be optimists otherwise they wouldn’t last very long in the racing business. Let’s hope a successful 2021 meet will erase the memory of last summer’s Covid-related cancellation after just 6 race days.”

Colonial will again offer a diverse stakes program in 2021 highlighted by the Grade 3 Virginia Derby and a lucrative Virginia-bred stakes schedule. ​Details will be announced early in the new year.


“Colonial Downs in conjunction with the VHBPA and all the stakeholders in the Virginia thoroughbred industry look forward to welcoming horsemen back to our beautiful facility in 2021 for 21 days of racing over its two fantastic surfaces including our world-famous Secretariat turf course,” said Jill Byrne, VP of Racing Operations. “As a member of the Mid-Atlantic Racing jurisdiction, which has been a leader in adopting some of the strongest safety, health, medication and welfare regulations in the country, Colonial Downs is committed to always putting our equine and human athletes first. We are proud to continue to support the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the integrity of the entire thoroughbred industry.”

Southern Phantom to Enter Stud in Virginia at Mountain View Equine Hospital

The 4-year-old son of Bodemeister will stand at Mountain View Equine Hospital.

Southern Phantom, the 4-year-old son of Bodemeister  who commands attention because of his predominately white head, is moving on to a career as a stallion.

Owners Danny and Allison Caldwell will stand Southern Phantom with Dr. Wynne DiGrassie at Mountain View Equine Hospital near Steeles Tavern, Va., which is 15 minutes from the Virginia Horse Park.

 “We immediately knew Dr. DiGrassie was the perfect fit, as she shares the same passion and vision we have for Phantom’s future,” the Caldwells shared on Twitter. “We felt getting him located back east was an incredible opportunity to reach the wide variety of mares interested.”

Southern Phantom will stand at Mountain View Equine Hospital in Steeles Tavern, Virginia

Southern Equine Stables bred Southern Phantom, who got his name in a competition from Mary Beth Woods of Shreveport, La. She said the colt reminded her of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

The colt made 10 starts from 2 to 4 in New York, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas but managed two third-place finishes at best. The Caldwells bought Southern Phantom for $20,000 at the 2019 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.

Southern Phantom is out of the Bernardini  daughter Out for Revenge, making him a full brother to stakes-placed winner Stronger. His second dam, Castanea, is a half sister to group 1 winner Minardi, grade 2 winner and sire Tale of the Cat , and stakes winner Spunoutacontrol, who is the dam of Fed Biz.

Dr. Wynne DiGrassie owns Mountain View, which is located in Augusta County near the Horse Center in Lexington.


Southern Phantom retired October 20, 2020. This piece was written by Mary Rampellini at that time and appeared on the Southern Phantom Fans facebook page.

Southern Phantom failed to win in 10 starts but could still have a stud career ahead of him. Southern Phantom, the uniquely marked son of Bodemeister who commanded the attention of cameras from New York to Arkansas to Texas to Oklahoma, has been retired from racing, owner Danny Caldwell said.

Caldwell purchased Southern Phantom at auction as a racing prospect. The horse made three starts for the barn, with his best effort a fifth-place finish in a maiden special weight at Lone Star Park. Southern Phantom finished seventh at the same level in his last start, which came Sept. 16 at Remington. Overall, he ran 10 times, starting his career in New York.

“He was too spoiled to be a racehorse,” Caldwell said. “The last race, we couldn’t get him pulled up. He was going back to the barn – going to get treats. He’s pretty smart. I decided there’s no sense keeping him on the track – even though he loved it. He loved to train. He just has a mind of his own.”

Southern Phantom, a bay with an almost entirely white head, large splashes of white on his legs, and a blue eye, is currently being let down at WestWin Farms in Purcell, Okla. Although he retires a maiden, Caldwell is currently debating the best locale to stand the horse at stud – for a career that would reach beyond racing and into the show horse community.

“A lot of venues are interested because of his color and conformation,” Caldwell said. “Where the most interest is generated, we’ll see where that’s at. It could be Oklahoma.”

Mountain View has been in business 17 years and is 63 acres.

Caldwell said plans are to register Southern Phantom as a Paint, a process that he had started before the pandemic hit. He also has had blood tests taken on the horse through the University of California, Davis. They show Southern Phantom likely will pass along his coloring to his offspring and “quite often,” Caldwell said.

“As of now, we plan on keeping him and just figuring out where he would work best, what would be best for him,” Caldwell said. “I can’t wait to see his babies.”

Bloodlines Presented By Diamond B Farm’s Rowayton: Patience Helped Largent Grow Into His Pedigree

The following appeared in and was written by  | 12.16.2020 | 11:37am

Largent entered the Pegasus World Cup picture with a come-from-behind victory in the Ft. Lauderdale

Virginia-bred Largent captured the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale Stakes December 12. Photo by Ryan Thompson.

In winning the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Largent became the second stakes winner for his dam and the 34th graded stakes winner by leading sire Into Mischief (by Harlan’s Holiday). Largent had already won restricted stakes, and the Ft. Lauderdale was his step up into the major leagues.

The hefty bay gelding took the rise of competition in stride.

Winning for the sixth time in nine starts, Largent was second in the other three races and now has earnings of $314,470. He was a growthy colt who was unraced at two, then made a pair of starts at three, winning his debut, then finishing second. Off for eight months, Largent returned to win an allowance at Gulfstream and has continued to progress through 2020.

A significant part of the reason for his improvement is that during last year’s layoff, Largent was also gelded. Co-owner Randy Gullatt of Twin Creeks Racing said that “Largent was a handful as an early 3-year-old. He’s a strong horse who was a handful in the paddock, was a handful in the morning, and his behavior got to the point of making us ask what sort of racehorse we were hoping he could be. We decided the best thing was to allow him to be the best racehorse possible, and to do that, he needed to be a gelding. He’s a completely different horse now, laid-back and quiet, a push-button performer.”

Bred in Virginia by Lazy Lane Farms, Largent is out of the Unbridled mare Life in Seattle, who won two of her four starts. After finishing fourth in her stakes debut, Life in Seattle retired to stud, presumably due to a physical issue.

As a broodmare, Life in Seattle produced the stakes winner Kona Blend (Dixieland Band) as her first foal, and the now-22-year-old mare’s last reported foal is the 4-year-old Largent, who is her second stakes winner and first graded stakes winner.

Gullatt noted that “Largent is a really good doer who carries his weight well, and he has been very sound” in training with Todd Pletcher. The Ft. Lauderdale was the fifth victory in seven starts this year for Largent, and he has made significant strides this year toward becoming the quality racehorse that the owners, Twin Creeks Racing and Eclipse Thoroughbreds, envisioned when they purchased him.

Largent is shown after winning the Bert Allen Stakes at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.

Twin Creeks and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners paid $460,000 for Largent at the 2017 Keeneland September sale, the sixth-highest price of the year for a yearling by Into Mischief. He was consigned by Warrendale Sales, agent.

Gullatt recalled, “I thought he was the best two-turn Into Mischief at the sale that year;” most buyers think of speed when they approach a yearling by Into Mischief, but Gullatt was coming from another angle.

“I was thinking of the Unbridled side of his pedigree,” Gullatt said, “and looking at Largent as a classic prospect over dirt. He’s trained well over dirt, but he’s been pulling us toward the turf.” The results of the Ft. Lauderdale indicate there could be further improvement in that regard, as well.

Winner of the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic, Unbridled (Fappiano) was out of a mare by the French-bred classic influence Le Fabuleux, and Unbridled bred both speed and classic quality. He sired the winners of all the Triple Crown races, as well as the Travers and other major races at 10 furlongs and up.

Furthermore, the second dam of Largent is Life at the Top, one of the very best daughters of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. Life at the Top twice won at the Grade 1 level (Mother Goose and Ladies Handicap), and she produced Grade 3 winner Elizabeth Bay (Mr. Prospector). The third dam is See You at the Top, by Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Riva Ridge (First Landing), and the fourth dam is Comely Nell (Commodore M.), who produced Kentucky Derby winner Bold Forbes (Irish Castle) and his winning full sister Priceless Fame, who became the dam the top English juvenile Dunbeath (Grey Dawn), the unbeaten Grade 1 winner Saratoga Six (Alydar), and his full sister Milliardaire, who became the dam of four-time Grade 1 winner Lakeway (Seattle Slew).

Largent wins the 2020 Edward P. Evans Stakes at Colonial Downs July 29. Photo by Coady Photography.

This is a high-class classic family, and “we’ve been patient with him because we’re very confident in him and the ability that we saw at the sale,” Gullatt said. “At the time (of sale) Into Mischief was forcing us into buying one by him.”

Looks like they got a good one.

Virginia-Bred Largent Helps Pletcher Bag Fourth Win Of Day In Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale

The following appeared in The Paulick Report December 12 and came from a Gulftstream Park press release. Fort Lauderdale Stakes winner Largent is a Virginia-bred that won the Edward P. Evans Stakes at Colonial Downs this past July and the Bert Allen Stakes at Laurel in October. With the Fort Lauderdale win, he advances to the $1 Million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational January 23. The 4-year-old Into Mischief gelding was bred by Lazy Lane Farms and is trained by Todd Pletcher.    

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Largent put an exclamation point on a four-win afternoon for trainer Todd Pletcher, punching his ticket to next month’s $1-million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) with a come-from-behind victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

The 64th running of the 1 1/8-mile Fort Lauderdale for 3-year-olds and up on the grass was the headliner on an 11-race program featuring five stakes, four graded, worth $575,000 in purses including the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3), a prep for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) Jan. 23, won by Tax.

With Paco Lopez aboard for the first time, Largent ($35.80) swept to the lead on the far outside approaching the stretch and outran fellow longshots Breaking the Rules and Doswell late to win by two lengths in 1:46.16 over turf course rated good.

Virginia-bred Largent captured the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale Stakes December 12. Photo by Ryan Thompson.

Since the Pegasus Turf was inaugurated in 2019, the Fort Lauderdale was moved from early January to mid-December to serve as the local stepping-stone to the Pegasus Day event. Eight of the 10 horses in Saturday’s field were stakes winners, six of them in graded company led by millionaire favorite Factor This.

“Very salty field, indeed, and very fast fractions,” Pletcher said. “[Largent] is a horse that’s generally laying up close. I just told Paco, ‘It looks like there’s a lot of pace, just try to sit in the pocket,’ and he delivered a very good ride.”

“One thing is, he’s always loved Gulfstream. He’s always run very well here and we just felt like it was the right time to step up,” he added. “He’d been training great and it was the right time to see if he could step up into a big spot.”

Largent is shown after winning the Bert Allen Stakes at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.

It was the third career stakes win and first in graded company for Largent, who captured a pair of Virginia-bred stakes earlier this year at Colonial Downs and Laurel Park. The 4-year-old Into Mischief gelding has now won four of his five starts at Gulfstream, with one second.

“He’s always run well here and he’s a horse that has shown some talent. This was definitely his toughest task to date but he showed that he likes it here and delivered a big performance,” Pletcher said. “I think he certainly ran well enough today to earn a spot into the Pegasus, which we’d love to do.”

Lopez settled Largent in mid-pack as his Pletcher-trained stablemate, Grade 1 winner Halladay, and Factor This battled dueled on the front end through fractions of 23.22 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.34 for the half, going six furlongs in 1:09.62. Lopez tipped outside after saving ground early and powered through the stretch to cruise past the tiring leaders.

“[Pletcher] said, ‘Paco, there’s a lot of speed, four or five horses. Just go behind them and relax. Figure out where you are and ride your race,’” Lopez said. “He broke well, he came back and he was very comfortable. We came around horses at the top of the stretch and went on.”

Doswell, a winner of his previous two races, came up the rail to edge Breaking the Rules for second. They were followed by graded winners Spooky Channel and Channel Cat, Tide of the Sea, Halladay, Factor This, multiple graded-stakes winner Somelikeithotbrown and French Group 3 winner Delaware.

Largent wins the 2020 Edward P. Evans Stakes at Colonial Downs July 29. Photo by Coady Photography.

“There was a little bit of cut [in the ground] and they were certainly going fast enough. The key was that [Largent] was able to settle and relax early on and that allowed him to deliver a big closing kick,” Pletcher said. “Unfortunately for Halladay there was so much pace in today’s race. We didn’t want to take away his weapon, but at the same time he was probably doing a little too much early on.”

Pletcher was the trainer of Channel Cat when he ran 10th of 12 in the most recent edition of the Pegasus Turf, won in an upset by Zulu Alpha.

“With Largent, I think he certainly earned his way in and with Halladay, we’ll assess how he comes out of it,” Pletcher said. “We’ll get them home and evaluate both of them but we’ll just kind of play it by ear with Halladay.”

Virginia-Sired Mr. Buff an Unmistakable Presence in the Alex M. Robb

The following appeared at on 12/9/2020. Million dollar earning horse Mr. Buff is by Friend or Foe, who stands at Robin Mellen’s Smallwood Farm in Crozet. Mr. Buff is 3-for-7 this year and has earned $287,500. His stakes wins in 2020 include the Empire Classic Handicap at Belmont, and the Haynesfield and Jazil, both at Aqueduct. In 41 career starts, he has 15 wins and earnings of $1,220,786.   

Provided he does well in the coming days, Mr. Buff could return to Aqueduct Racetrack to head the $100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes vs. New York-bred rivals Dec. 12.

The veteran speedster ran fifth in the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) Dec. 5 contested on a sloppy track at Aqueduct after scoring against state-bred rivals in the Empire Classic Handicap Oct. 24 at Belmont Park. Those efforts leave him as the classiest entry for the 1 1/8-mile race Saturday, but trainer John Kimmel wants to monitor him before committing to the rapid turnaround.

“His energy level was quite high. He actually seems quite full of himself,” Kimmel said. “I’m not committed to running. We’ll get a couple more gallop days into him. The exercise rider (Jorge Munoz) that has been on him says he feels extremely energetic. He seems to be doing fine.”


Should Mr. Buff scratch out of the Alex M. Robb, Kimmel said the Queens County Stakes Dec. 19 at Aqueduct against open company would be another option.

Owned and bred by Chester and Mary Broman, Mr. Buff has won the past two runnings of the Alex M. Robb. He notched the first of his nine stakes victories in the 2018 edition by a nose over Twisted Tom. Last year, he was an emphatic 7 1/2-length victor over Dynamax Prime.

Mr. Buff has amassed the most earnings in the field, banking $1,220,786 with a record of 41-15-7-4. He captured the Jazil Stakes in back-to-back years and won the 2020 Haynesfield Stakes by 20 lengths.

Kendrick Carmouche has been named to ride Mr. Buff.

Mr. Buff is shown winning the Empire Classic for the second straight year. photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese.



Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, December 12, 2020, Race 8

  • STK
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $100,000
  • 3 yo’s & up
  • 3:45 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Sea Foam (NY) Joel Rosario 121 Christophe Clement
2 Yankee Division (NY) Jorge A. Vargas, Jr. 121 Rudy R. Rodriguez
3 City Man (NY) Manuel Franco 123 Christophe Clement
4 Mr. Buff (NY) Kendrick Carmouche 126 John C. Kimmel
5 Danny California (NY) Luis A. Rodriguez Castro 126 Orlando Noda
6 Bankit (NY) Jose Lezcano 121 Steven M. Asmussen

Sir Rockport, American Dubai Add More Wins To Their Impressive Resumes

Virginia-bred Sir Rockport made it 6-for-12 in 2020 on December 4 when the 8-year-old Rockport Harbor gelding finished a nose better than Calculated Thinking and two others in a three-horse photo at Penn National.

Sir Rockport (between horses) is a nose better in a three horse photo December 4 at Penn National. Photo courtesy of B&D Photography.

With the close win, Sir Rockport earned his 35th “top three” career finish, and his earnings increased to $325,806. From 68 starts, he has 15 wins, 8 seconds and a dozen third place finishes. His current year bankroll surged to $76,357. The consistent sprinter was bred by Legacy Farm & Larry Johnson and will have a new owner come next start — he was one of three horses in the field of six to be claimed for $6,250.

American Dubai, another six-digit earning horse, had a gate-to-wire performance at Remington Park the same day in a $32,000 allowance optional claimer. The 7-year-old E Dubai gelding won his ninth career race from 29 starts by a half length at the one mile, 70 yard distance. Bred by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, American Dubai has amassed a $533,141 bankroll from those starts, which includes a win earlier this year in the Ruidoso Sprint Handicap.

Great Camanoe wins a $47,586 allowance race at Laurel under jockey Victor Carrasco. Photo by Jim McCue.

Great Camanoe and Ready and Rich each scored allowance wins last week at Laurel and Penn respectively. The former, bred by Corner Farm and Patrick Lawley-Wakelin, wired the field in an upset that returned $34.40. The 3-year-old Tonalist gelding set the pace along the inside and crossed one length ahead of Abuelo Paps in the $47,586 race at 6 1/2-furlongs. He is 2-for-7 now with earnings of $63,915. The latter rallied from third in the turn of his $28,000, six-furlong test and won by 2 1/2 lengths. The 4-year-old Super Saver gelding was bred by Chance Farm and is owned by Four Real Stable, who collected a 25% bonus as part of the Mid-Atlantic owner’s incentive program. Ready and Rich has earned $169,088 from 30 career outs.

Rounding out the slate of Virginia-bred triumphs was Still Alive, who prevailed at Parx December 8 in a $27,000, seven-furlong starter event. The 3-year-old Midshipman filly wired the field and hit the wire a neck the best in her fourth life win. The winner was bred by Daybreak Stables and has accumulated $112,472 in earnings.

Virginia-Certified Posse Can Disco broke his maiden at Aqueduct on December 5. Photo by Adam Coglianese.

Ten Virginia-Certified horses won in the last week including Posse Can Disco, who broke his maiden at Aqueduct this past Saturday in gate-to-wire fashion, beating 12 others. The New York-bred spent a six-month residency at Woodberry Payne’s Ingleside Training Center in Montpelier Station before he started racing. Posse’s jockey Kendrick Carmouche made history of sorts later in the card when he rode his first Grade I winner ever, after competing in 20,376 races over 20 years. The 36-year-old jockey guided True Timber to victory in the $250,000, Grade I Cigar Mile.

Street Lute wins the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship December 5 at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.


Street Lute, another Virginia-Certified horse, took down the field in the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship December 5 at Laurel. The 2-year-old Street Magician filly beat eight others as her outstanding freshman campaign continued. She has four wins and a runner-up finish in five starts, which includes stakes wins in the Small Wonder at Delaware and Smart Halo at Laurel. The Maryland-bred was ridden by Xavier Perez, is trained by John Robb and is owned by Lucky 7 Stables. She enjoyed her Virginia residency at Diana McClure’s DMC Carousel Racing Stable in Berryville.

Of the eight other Certified wins last week, seven had their photo taken at Charles Town including Chiefs Kingdom. The 4-year-old Our Entourage filly was best in an allowance optional claimer and scored victory number seven while boosting her lifetime bankroll to $154,821. Owner/trainer David Bloom’s West Virginia-bred has two wins this year and over $50,000 in ’20 winnings.

Chiefs Kingdom, shown winning the Valentines Day Stakes at Charles Town, has 14 top-three finishes in 19 career starts. Photo by Coady Photography.

Secret Castle, another of those seven, kept rolling in 2020 with her 10th “top three” finish in 11 starts at Charles Town. The 3-year-old filly started the year out with a fifth before going on a year-sweeping run which includes a trio of wins.

Other Charles Town winners include Bronze Diva, City Princess, Auburn Mill, Firebird and Slew The Turn.

Online Betting Handle in Virginia Continues to Thrive as 2021 Nears

Online betting handle on horse racing continues to flourish in Virginia as handle figures through the first 11 months of 2020 were announced this week. The overall handle through November was $126,669,820 compared with $81,215,279 in 2019, a 55.97% increase.

Top handle producer of the four Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) companies licensed in Virginia was TVG, whose $66,274,640 handle represents a 70.94% gain over last year. In November alone, they accepted $5,470,846 in wagers and for the year, TVG is averaging $197,834 in bets per day, highest figure of the four ADWs.

The Windmill OTB Sports Grill is inside the Dutch Inn in Collinsville. It features 45 TVs that show both sports and horse races.

Twinspires was next with $37,146,583, a 31.34% increase over last year’s $28,283,150. Xpressbet experienced a 54.26% boost, accepting $17,050,364 in wagers so far this year compared with $11,052,944 in 2019. NYRAbets, newest of the four online partners, showed a 99.42% increase with a handle of $6,198,231 versus $3,108,172 a year ago.

Over $2.57 million was wagered on horse racing action at Virginia’s seven OTBs — the four at Rosie’s Gaming Centers in New Kent, Vinton, Richmond and Hampton, and the three VA-Horseplay sites in Henrico (Breakers), Chesapeake (Buckets) and Collinsville (The Windmill). Breakers was the top handle producing venue with $544,176 during the month that featured the two-day Breeders’ Cup Championships. Buckets was next with $511,576 and the Hampton Rosie’s was third with $408,056. The Windmill OTB handled $364,965.

The Richmond Rosie’s location on Midlothian Turnpike features a video wall and many self serve terminals.

December’s stakes calendar often sees a break in major events until just after Christmas but there still is a nice selection of pre-holiday graded stakes on tap in the coming days. Gulfstream has four of them on Saturday December 12 including the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale and a trio of Grade 3’s — the Harlan’s Holiday, Rampart and Sugar Swirl.  Fair Grounds also hosts seven stakes worth a combined $750,000 that day in their Louisiana Champions Day program. The following Saturday, December 19, west coast freshmen thoroughbreds compete in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity. Gulfstream hosts the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Stakes that afternoon.

Breakers is located in the Ollie’s Shopping Center in Henrico, at 9127 W. Broad Street between Parham and Gaskins Roads.

On December 26, Santa Anita serves up its traditional post-Christmas monster card with a trio of $300,000 Grade I events — the La Brea,  Runhappy Malibu and American Oaks. The Grade 2 San Antonio and Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile complement the Grade I showcase. Laurel also has a powerhouse program filled with eight stakes including the $150,000 Allaire duPont (Gr. 3). Seven others at $100,000 will be contested including the Gin Talking, Native Dancer and Howard County.