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Friday, January 17, 2014

A Classic Returns; Splitting the Breeders Crown; Other Miscellanery

A welcome development in Quebec is the return of the Prix d'Ete, once one of the most prominent stakes races on the North American stakes calendar when raced at Hippodrome Blue Bonnets until its final running in 1992.  Back then, it was a major stakes which was one by horses like Albatross, Cam Fella, Niatross, and others.  While in its previous incarnation it was a stakes race for 3yo pacers, it will be a race for 4yos in 2014 and raced at Hippodrome 3R.

The purse for this race will be C$200,000, the richest race currently on the calendar for 4yos  this coming season.  What makes it more amazing is the fact the Quebec Jockey Club (don't ask me why its called that) is sponsoring this race, so soon after the industry in Quebec imploded thanks to the government removing financial support.  One hopes the industry will support the resurgent Quebec racing scene by seeing the continent's best 4yos in Quebec on September 21.

News also came out that the Breeders Crown format will be modified this year by splitting the races into a two night production; the filly and mare races racing on Friday, November 21 while the 3yo and Open races will be contested on Saturday, November 22.  This split card format should not surprise anyone as Jeff Gural had gone on record of saying if the Meadowlands were to host the Breeders Crown, it was his hope it could be raced over two nights.

While a single night of racing may be more aesthetically pleasing, splitting the races over two nights does make sense.  First of all, it makes for a weekend of excitement and can actually bring more tourism to the region with people knowing they will be in the NYC area for more than one night.  It also allows for two nights of larger than normal crowds which may improve overall handle (I see a LBJ-like hospitality tent for the general public in the future) plus it allows for other horses to race that weekend.  It also allows for improved wagering in the European and Australian market simulcasting markets as it allows the races to fit better into acceptable time slots than it would if all 12 races were contested on a single night.

My suggestion is you plan on attending the Breeders Crown  this year, make your hotel reservations now.

Trainer Adam Lambert has come out and announced he is one of two trainers banned from the Meadowlands for having a horse with high Cobalt readings.  He has announced his intentions to attempt getting reinstated claiming the drug is not illegal and it was his vet who administered it.  I suspect unless he can convince operator Jeff Gural to change his mind he will be unsuccessful for whether legal or not, the Meadowlands has the right of exclusion meaning they can someone for any reason.

The approved Federal Omnibus bill bans horse slaughter for human consumption once again in the United States.  Unlike the last time funding was cut, there is a provision in this soon to become law (awaiting a Presidential signature) that only permits horse meat inspections to resume once the FDA can ensure the meat will be fit for human consumption, something which can't be done presently due to medications used on horses, both racing and pleasure.  Of course,the pro-slaughter segment is not going to take this lying down.  Two slaughterhouses which were planning to slaughter horses are contemplating are considering a challenge based on the NAFTA treaty.

The pro-slaughter group correctly reminds us the banning of slaughter means horses will continue to be shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, but some states have banned the exporting of horses for slaughter and others may do so as well.  Yes, there is a problem with the neglect of horses but that is a red herring.  Slaughterhouses want healthy horses, not horses that are ill or malnourished.  It's the horses which are well kept which are at risk for slaughter so this argument doesn't hold water.  As for the fact they claim slaughter is humane, that's laughable if not the fact some people believe it.  The nation does have a problem with unwanted horses but slaughter is not the answer.  Holding people to the fire when they take on the responsibilities of horse ownership is the way to address the problem.  If they can't afford a horse, they shouldn't own one and if their situation changes where they can't afford a horse and are unable to re-home them, there is a far more humane way to get rid of a horse.

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