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Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Retirement of Note; Classified Racing Returns

One of the great ones has been retired and it may be a horse you never heard of.  Monkey King, the New Zealand wonder has been retired at the age of nine (July 1 is the universal birthday in the Southern Hemisphere).  Monkey King is the winner of $3,487,401 lifetime, making him the richest New Zealand bred horse.  His lifetime mark was 1:50.8 in winning the Miracle Mile in Australia. 

Unfortunately for Monkey King, his legacy may have been somewhat cheapened by his connections who, by some estimates, kept racing him a year and a half too long.  Instead of a retirement ceremony, he was quietly yesterday when his connections realized there was no sense to keep going and threw the towel in.  But he was one of the great ones, racing against the likes of Monkey King, Auckland Reactor (who in spite of his North American disaster is still a great horses), and others.

Here is a video of his last win, back on September 18, 2011 in a Grade 3 stakes event at 2,600 meters from a standing start.

Here's wishing Monkey King a well deserved retirement.

Pull the Pocket has another must-read post today regarding what is going on in Ontario.  Basically, it asks the question as to what does racing do now in Ontario now that the budget has been passed with the $345 million cut to horse racing via the Slots at Tracks program.  Do they spend the money the government is giving them this year to help transition to the forced self-sufficency, or do they just take all the money they get from the slots and throw it in purses and throw themselves a de facto going out of business party? 

There is also some signs of glimmer in PTP's post.  We all know by the super sized trainers that people who really have no interest in racing other than as a means to make money have come into the sport making it in effect an arms race; who can afford to spend the most on vet bills and vet trainers to make a quick return and run the horses into the ground.  Could it really be, that once the slot money is gone, racing in Ontario becomes a sport of those who truly love racing for racing sake remain and the days of the massive vet bills go away and what remains is people who race their horses basically on hay and water, love their horses for what they are and not as an investment mechanism, will give them time off when they need it instead of having them raced into the ground?  It may sound naiive,  but I that is what I think will happen and quite honestly, I don't think that is a bad thing.  Maybe then, we will have people who will agree to race short meets and have the sport go back to what it once was, a sport instead of big business.

Classified racing has returned to Pompano Park.  Before people get upset, conditioned and claiming races still exist, but the Isle Miles are here and it appears horsemen like it.  And why not; it gets horses raced who normally wouldn't get a chance to race.  The way it works is any horse entered in a claiming race for $6,000 or more and conditioned horses entered in nw3cd or higher where their races don't fill, get placed into the Isle Mile pool automatically ($6,000 and $8,000 claimers have an option not to transfer) where the racing secretary will handicap the horses and file Isle Mile 1, Isle Mile 2, Isle Mile 3, and on down.  This seems like a win-win situation.  The track fills its races, horsemen get their horses raced instead of sitting in the barn, and handicappers get easier races to handicap.  In other words, it is best of both worlds.

A couple of notes:

It looks like Rockingham Park is not going to resume live racing any time soon as the state's House of Representatives defeated an expanded gaming bill which may have paved the way for live racing at Rockingham Park.

In the thoroughbred world, the Thoroughbred Racing Protection Bureau (TRPB) paid a visit to a trainer at Tampa Bay Downs.  Why the reason for the visit?  A 46% win rate.  Admittedly, I don't know much about the trainer or Tampa Bay Downs, but anyone who is that successful should expect a visit from racing officials to check out their operation.  Super trainers occur in even in thoroughbred racing as well.

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