In horse racing, inventory is everything

In horse racing, inventory is everything

October 10, 2017 3:07 AM
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In horse racing, inventory is everything. If there are limited numbers of horses, field sizes are poor. That makes wagering opportunities poor, and horseplayers will look elsewhere for a better product. That in turn decreases handle and lowers purses.

California racing got some very positive news this week when the Stronach Group, owners of Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields, announced they intend to sell their huge 2,000 acre Adena Springs farm in Kentucky and relocate stallions and broodmares to California and Maryland to help boost regionally bred horses to Stronach-owned racetracks like Laurel and Pimlico in Maryland in addition to Santa Anita and Golden Gate in California.

It has been many years since a top flight stallion prospect began his career in California, and it shows on the current list of leading California stallions for 2017. Bluegrass Cat is the current leading sire in California with 2017 progeny earnings of $3.9 million, but his first crop of California-breds have yet to hit the races. Those numbers have been earned from siblings produced while standing in Kentucky and New York. The 2-3-4 stallions on the list – Lucky Pulpit, Unusual Heat, and Tribal Rule – are all deceased.

Adena Springs Kentucky currently stands such stallions as Breeders Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, champion Ghostzapper, sire of 11 Grade I winners, and Macho Uno, sire of Breeders Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, who also stands at Adena Springs.

While these and other stallions who were scheduled to stand in Kentucky for 2018 are likely to remain there for 2018, the opportunity to improve the stallion roster for California with any of a number of quality prospects is a major boon to the region.

As for the type of mares (approximately 150) owned by Adena Springs in Kentucky, the simple fact the farm has won eight Eclipse Awards as Outstanding Breeder says all you need to know about the quality. As much as 67% of those could be relocated to Maryland and California to help the regional breeding programs.

It won’t be an overnight solution, but improving the quality and quantity of California-breds for the purpose of selling at local sales and racing in California is a major step in the right direction.

It will be a long-awaited and positive sight to see the Adena Springs silks on a regular basis at Golden Gate and Santa Anita. The commitment sends a message to other local horsemen to invest in the long term success of California racing.

As a local horseplayer and owner the message is welcomed and long overdue.

Santa Anita Notes

The main track at Santa Anita continues to be extremely dull, especially the stretch. While it is not visually appealing to watch the horses struggle and spread out down the stretch, it is a positive that the track continues to remain free of any serious track bias favoring one style of running or one location on the track (inside or outside).

Roy H earned his ticket into the Breeders Cup Sprint by winning last Saturday’s Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship. He is the perfect example of how the “ultimate equipment change” – gelding – can make a huge difference. Roy H is now 4-for-6 as a gelding and should have won the Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar this past summer but was interfered with by a riderless Drefong. The rematch is must-see material.

Unique Bella returned from a seven month layoff to win Sunday’s Grade III L. A. Woman Stakes in handy fashion and will return in the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. The race should serve as a perfect prep; she won her only start at DMR last year by double digits.

Vale Dori will not get a chance to run in the Breeders Cup Distaff. According to trainer Bob Baffert, she has not been training well and will be given 60 days off and pointed to a return next spring.

Is it true the Santa Anita racing office denied stall space to more than one trainer who has been shipping horses out of state to race? One example: Robertino Diodoro hasn’t had a local starter at the meet but Cal-bred Ain’t Misbehavin shows up in Keeneland’s sixth race on Thursday.

Is it also true that during opening week a trainer tried to fill out a claim slip but found out his proceeds were “frozen”? When he inquired as to why, he was taken to the Racing Secretary’s office to explain why he should be allowed to claim when the horses he takes tend to end up racing on other circuits. Good for Santa Anita.

Week’s Top Play

With no SoCal racing until Friday, let’s go to Keeneland, Race 9, on Thursday: Classy Music (post 1). Locally based juvenile filly may not have handled the bog-like turf at Kentucky Downs Sept. 6 and should like the seven furlong trip. A clean break is the key.