Beholder and Songbird Are Brilliant in the Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff

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Beholder winning the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff, Gary Stevens in the irons. Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders’ Cup Photo©

By a cat’s whisker. That sums up the barely discernible distance between Beholder and Songbird at the finish line of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff. Beholder was in front when the pair’s skirmish down Santa Anita’s homestretch ended at the wire.

Beholder, race mare regnant

At 6 years old, the Distaff was Beholder’s last race. Hall of Fame Richard Mandella conditioned Beholder for her entire career and Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens was her pilot. The Distaff was Stevens’ 11th Breeders’ Cup career win, and Mandella’s ninth.

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Winning her third Breeders’ Cup race, Beholder joined the rarefied level of Goldikova. Beholder previously won the Juvenile Fillies in 2012 and the Distaff in 2013. Altogether, over four seasons Beholder raced 26 times, with 18 wins and six seconds. She was the Eclipse 2012 Champion 2-Year Old Filly, Eclipse 2013 Champion 3-Year Old Filly and Eclipse 2015 Champion Older Mare. It’s not a stretch to believe that Beholder will be in contention for further Eclipse Awards for the 2016 season, as well as an eventual place in the Hall of Fame.

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Right: MareMatch pedigree of Beholder and Uncle Mo. Courtesy of © 2016 Wek Thoroughbred Consultants.

Retiring with a $6+ million dowry, Beholder will join the broodmare band at Spendthrift Farm, Lexington, Kentucky. Formalized plans have been announced, rest assured her connections had their choice of racing’s leading Lotharios. A quick look at Werk eNicks MareMatch pedigree analysis that lists top stallions in the United States and Europe as compatible including Tapit in Kentucky and Fastnet Rock in Ireland.

That being said, Coolmore America has announced that Beholder is booked to visit their brilliant young sire Uncle Mo in 2017, for a 2018 foal. The pairing ranks high with MareMatch as well as with the physical traits and abilities of Beholder and Uncle Mo.

Songbird eager in the wings

Songbird‘s second place in the Distaff is the first time she failed to win. At 3 years old, half the age of Beholder, Songbird has run 12 times, winning 11 races and earning $3.7 million. Rick Porter, her owner, has indicated she will run in 2017. Depending on how she comes out of the Longines Distaff, Songbird could run in the new $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, Florida, on Jan. 28, 2017.

Porter is no stranger to bringing along a maturing filly. His Havre de Grace was a major 3-year-old filly. In 2011, as a 4-year-old Havre de Grace took on the “boys” winning the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga and earning the Eclipse Horse of the Year title.

Video courtesy of the Breeders’ Cup
 

Bookkeeping and statistics
Beholder’s win in the Longines Distaff earned Rick Porter $1,100,000. Her connections received the Distaff trophy and timepieces from Longines. Typically, the winning trainer and jockey each receive 10% of the purse. The team back at the barn may also earn a percentage.

The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff, held over 1 1/8 miles, clocked in at a reasonable 1:49.20. Beholder paid $8.60 to win. The Beholder-Songbird exacta paid $12.60. The trifecta of Beholder-Songbird-Forever Unbridled paid $40.40.

Note: all earning and handicapping data supplied by Equibase

Beholder’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff News Conference Transcript

Transcript via Breeders’ Cup World Championships

Friday, November 4, 2016

Richard Mandella

  1. Wayne Hughes

Gary Stevens

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff is of course the Breeders’ Cup legend and one of the all-time greats, Beholder. We’re fortunate to be joined here by trainer Richard Mandella and jockey Gary Stevens. Congratulations to you both. Incredible performance. Gary, to start, I would just love for you to take us through the race, if you wouldn’t mind.

GARY STEVENS: She warmed up just unbelievable today. She was very, very focused. Very relaxed, and her start was probably the sharpest start of her career, believe it or not. She wasn’t standing perfectly in there. She was kind of up in the front of the gate, and I like her back a little bit. But when you load last, you take what they give you, and, man, she left there. She charged for about 50 yards, and breaking from the outside looking in. I said, well, I guess we’re going again. I peeked over, and Mikey had gotten Songbird in full flight. Before the race I was hoping that I’m a Chatterbox would break decently and put some pressure, and I had broke her about a length.

As we were crossing under the finish line the first time around, I’m a Chatterbox poked her head up in front of us, and I knew we were going a legitimate pace. My mare came off the bridle and just got into the rhythm that she gets into when I work her out in the morning. It was basically that kind of mode for her and myself until about the 5/16 pole. I just let her do what she wanted. Stayed comfortable. I picked her up a little bit a little earlier than I normally would just to apply pressure to Songbird, and got on even terms with her coming into the stretch. I squeezed Beholder. She gave it to me. Poked my head in front, and Songbird came back again. She actually put Songbird away three different times through the stretch, and she kept coming back like she wouldn’t go away. Even in Beholder’s previous three defeats, it was almost like she knew she was beaten midway through stretch and looked after herself. Today she didn’t look after anything. She laid her heart out there on the racetrack and gave me absolutely everything that was running through her veins, and it was fun to be a part of.

I had some good feelings in racing, but this is tops right here.

THE MODERATOR: We’re also joined now by winning owner B. Wayne Hughes. Richard, could we get your impressions of that epic stretch battle?

RICHARD MANDELLA: Well, pretty exciting from the top of the stretch. I thought she had the other mares’ number, and like Gary says, she kept coming back, coming back. What a great filly to do that. But I like the way it turned out.

THE MODERATOR: Mr. Hughes, your emotions after this race and her final start?

B. WAYNE HUGHES: Well, I was very anxious for Gary to do exactly what I told him, and he followed my directions perfectly (laughter).

Q. Gary, just the fractions as they popped up, what was it, 23 and change, and 47, what were your thoughts about those fractions and coming in? Would you have wanted those fractions?
GARY STEVENS: Going the distance of the mile and a eighth, had I been on the lead and it was a five-horse field, which it wasn’t, I would have been very comfortable with those fractions setting them. For these kind of horses, they were solid but they weren’t too fast and they weren’t too slow. They were very comfortable for the caliber of horses that were in this race, the best of the best.

Q. Richard, you said you were worried about having maybe used up all your luck in these races. Apparently not. You talk about your great success here in the Breeders’ Cup through your career?
RICHARD MANDELLA: I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. It’s been something I wouldn’t have even been able to have imagined. I won four races on Breeders’ Cup Day in ’93, two Breeders’ Cup Races and two Stakes along with it, and I thought, boy, this will never happen again. Then in 2003 we won four Breeders’ Cup Races, and this mare just keeps running.

I don’t know what I did to deserve it.

ARCADIA, CA - NOV 04: Beholder #8, ridden by Gary Stevens, is led to the winner's circle after winning the Breeders' Cup Longines Distaff at Santa Anita Park on November 4, 2016 in Arcadia, California. (Photo by Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)
ARCADIA, CA – NOV 04: Beholder #8, ridden by Gary Stevens, is led to the winner’s circle after winning the Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff at Santa Anita Park on November 4, 2016 in Arcadia, California. (Photo by Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)

Q. Gary, the stretch battle there, have you ever been a part of something that was that exhilarating? And what does that say about Beholder at 6 to fight like the way she did?
GARY STEVENS: I’ve been in battles before, but never the length of the stretch. I mean, it was a full almost 5/16ths, definitely a quarter of a mile of just a street fight. For six years old, I would just say the way that she’s been managed throughout her career allowed her to do what she did on her final day of racing, and she laid it all on the line. The best of the best was training her, and he’d had this mapped out for a long time. The guy doesn’t just get lucky. Things happen for a reason in that barn.

My hat’s off to Songbird. She’s a three-year-old that laid it all on the line today too. It will say a lot about her in the future because I’ve been in battles on really good horses and come out on the wrong end before, and it takes its toll on them. She galloped out strong after the race, Songbird did. So hopefully we’ll see some more of her, but she was gallant in defeat. But Beholder’s a champ, and I’m just honored to have been on her back. It was fun to be a part of a battle. The show that those two just put on by day just now is worth the price of admission for everybody that showed up today. This was horseracing at its best.

THE MODERATOR: Mr. Hughes, could you expand on what the mare has meant to you over the past five years?

B. WAYNE HUGHES: Well, I mean, I guess I don’t bet on horses, but today I did make a bet. That was because of Richard and Gary, who were more confident than I was. So today she made a couple bucks. I don’t think I’ll ever have another horse like this, and so I’m very grateful to have been a part of it. I mean, I really compliment Richard. I don’t know of any trainer that could have taken a horse for six years and done what he’s done. But Gary has been a big part of it. Maybe that’s why he was able to be so successful.

Q. Richard, you were confident coming into the race. What have you seen the last couple of weeks? Had you sensed that even though this had been a great horse for a long time, that some people might have gotten off the bandwagon after the last couple?
RICHARD MANDELLA: Yeah, well, you see, I thought the game needed some suspense, so I got her beat a couple times, figuring it would make it look like I did something really special at the end. You know, it’s all in the planning.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
RICHARD MANDELLA: Anybody that saw her train would have had the same confidence. People would come out of the stands and tell me what they saw on the TV. So it wasn’t hard to see. She was really at her best.

Q. First of all, thank you so much for the joy that you’ve brought to so many race fans by keeping the horse around for so long. Thank you for the wonderful job you did riding this horse today. My question is for you, Mr. Mandella. This training job has to be one of the most incredible training jobs in modern racing history. Anybody who sees that Kentucky Oaks, can you talk about that? Because I want to congratulate you on the wonderful job you did, and could you say anything about the training of this horse?
RICHARD MANDELLA: Well, I’ve always said that really good horses appreciate my training better than others.

GARY STEVENS: And that’s it (laughter).

RICHARD MANDELLA: She’s always been a little bit difficult, but we get that. Usually you get that and you don’t get performance with it. She would give her heart no matter what.

B. WAYNE HUGHES: Show them your hand.

RICHARD MANDELLA: She kicked me on the way up. But she’s 90% of the time the sweetest thing that you could find. But the other 10% is dynamite. You better watch out.

Q. Gary, you said earlier this week you had countless scenarios of how the race was going to run, but they all ended with a happy ending. Was this one of the scenarios you had; that it was going to be that close down the stretch?
GARY STEVENS: It was plan one. I mean, very early in these big races you have different scenarios, plan A, B, and C. And that was plan A. With the trip that we got, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and I could hear somebody coming up on the outside, and I still haven’t watched the replay. I just assumed that it was Stellar Wind. I said, Here we go again. And all of a sudden that noise on the outside left me, and it was just the two. It was just myself and Songbird. It ended the way that all of the scenarios had gone. It wasn’t supposed to be that close, but I’ll take it, for sure.

Q. Mr. Hughes, do you have any thoughts, any second thoughts about retiring her now?
B. WAYNE HUGHES: Do I?

Q. Yeah.
B. WAYNE HUGHES: Well, I mean, I think it’s time for her to go the normal route of going back to Kentucky and not having to have Richard and Gary to deal with.

Q. Gary, did you know you had won photo?
RICHARD MANDELLA: Yeah, I mean, I let out with a pretty loud holler three or four strides past the finish line, and both Mike and I both rode past the finish line a bit, because there’s purple Breeders’ Cup colors underneath the rail. So we were coming down, I had my head down, just riding for all I was worth. I’m thinking, man, that finish line’s got to be coming. And all of a sudden I could see purple out my peripheral vision, and I said: We’re getting there. I’m in front.

When we stood up, I let out with a yell, and Mike looked over at me and congratulated me. When I saw the photo after the trophy presentation, it was closer than I thought it was. But they always are.

Q. Richard, with how emotional this victory is and what this mare has meant to all of you, does this surpass the other Breeders’ Cups accomplishments you’ve had?
RICHARD MANDELLA: How do you separate them? You know, I’ve had some very special moments in the Breeders’ Cup and special horses. So I couldn’t — I don’t even want to compare it. It couldn’t get any better than this, I’ll tell you that.

THE MODERATOR: Maybe to follow up on that, if you would, Richard, or all three of you, you’re all three men that appreciate racing history. Could you just attempt to help us put this into context in terms of Beholder’s accomplishments and where she now stands in the history of racing?

RICHARD MANDELLA: I don’t think you can find one any better. I mean, she got beat a few times, but you can just lay that on me. But she’s always been a great horse. Most of her wins had some kind of a story behind them, an ulcer in the throat, a cut to the bone in New York, falling down behind the gate in the Kentucky Oaks.

So we don’t need to make any excuses. She couldn’t be — how great could you be?

THE MODERATOR: Mr. Hughes?

B. WAYNE HUGHES: Well, I don’t have as much experience as Richard, but I can say that she’s by far the best horse I’ve ever had or ever expect to have.

THE MODERATOR: And, Gary, you’ve ridden a lot of fillies and seen a lot of great fillies and mares, so just your thoughts on Beholder’s place in racing history now?

GARY STEVENS: I think she had cemented her place in history prior to 2016, and she just added another star to it today. I’ve just never seen a racehorse stay at this peak form, especially a filly, and one that can be temperamental a little bit. But she thrives on racing. She thrives in her environment. For her to hold her form since her two-year-old season, and nowadays that’s throwback, I mean, they don’t usually get a chance to do it, and thank you to Mr. Hughes for keeping her around and being a sportsman. But she was able to do it and sustain it and thrive on it.

RICHARD MANDELLA: I’d like to say, I think racing owes Mr. Hughes a hand of gratitude. Most people would have sold her or gone on and bred her and took the easy route.

B. WAYNE HUGHES: You know, I don’t deserve that because I was afraid if I take her out, Richard would be dangerous (laughter).

Q. Mr. Hughes, speaking of breeding her, have you picked out a partner for her yet?
B. WAYNE HUGHES: Well, actually we don’t know for sure. We’re debating between a couple of different stallions. So I’m in a little bit of a spot here.

RICHARD MANDELLA: Say I don’t know.

B. WAYNE HUGHES: Richard’s advice is say “I don’t know.” But that would be a lie, but I guess I’ll do it anyway. Thank you (laughter).

Q. Going back to the duel there at the end, is that the ultimate rush for a guy in your profession to have something like that?
GARY STEVENS: Yeah, people ask me why I came out of retirement. People ask me on a daily basis, Why are you still riding, you old fart? And I can’t replace that; what I just experienced. I mean, my adrenaline, I took off, I’m on the last race, and I apologize to the connections, but I’m not only drained physically, but emotionally. That was a very special moment for all of us, and it was bittersweet for me. I know that I’ll never sit on another one like that and to go through the battle that I just went through. Like I said before, I’ve been in great battles and, believe it or not, at the 1/16th pole I thought back to 1988 and Winning Colors and Personal Ensign, and Personal Ensign came down the outside middle of the racetrack and nailed us, and I just kept thinking don’t let this one get away. Don’t let this one get away. And it is the ultimate. It’s the ultimate.

RICHARD MANDELLA: Could I tell a story?

THE MODERATOR: Please, always.

RICHARD MANDELLA: I’d like to run this by one more time. I used it at a function to honor him once, and Mike Smith and somebody asked me how did I choose between him and Mike Smith after he retired and the filly was laid up and Mike had ridden her once, and I said, well, I gave it a lot of thought and Mike’s great and Gary’s great and I’ve had luck with both of them, but Gary Stevens went to the Wizard of Oz and got a new knee. How could I refuse him?

B. WAYNE HUGHES: I thought you asked me who to ride?

RICHARD MANDELLA: Oh, I forgot that.

GARY STEVENS: That’s not as good a story (laughter).

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

She is Simply… Zenyatta

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Credit: Matthew Stockman, O, The Oprah Magazine Getty Image

She Dances … Zenyatta

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Credit: Coady photo

 

She Guzzles Guinness … Zenyatta

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Credit: jonshfs05

She Is a Premier Athlete, Winning Over $5 Million

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Credit: Breeders’ Cup

 

 

 

She Is Profiled in O, The Oprah Magazine as one of O’s 2010 Power List Personalities

“She’s absolutely perfect at her profession, and that is very rare–not just in sports but in all things. It’s difficult to win even one race, let alone 18.

“She always makes me think of those great war beasts of Greek sculpture, or the beautiful horses carved on the Parthenon. She is absolutely enormous–not only very tall [more than six feet from the top of her head] but also very broad, very muscular. She is simply drawn on a different scale from other racehorses.

“In just about every race, she starts out last and then comes flying at the end, breaking her opponents’ hearts. The crowds love it. She clearly knows exactly where the wire is. And she has such a huge stride, it looks like she’s moving slowly when she’s actually covering a lot of ground very fast. We haven’t seen how fast she can really go, because she only goes fast enough to catch the other horses at the wire!

“I’ve seen 40 or 50 thousand racehorses in my life, and I’ve never seen any other horse do that (the dance). I think she’s playing around. She’s definitely enjoying herself–psyching herself up before a race.”

— Laura Hillenbrand, author of 2001’s best-seller Seabiscuit, “The 2010 O Power List”, O, The Oprah Magazine , October 2010.

She is Zenyatta

The iconic six year old Thoroughbred race mare who has stormed down every homestretch to victory, eighteen times. And twice in the World Championship Breeders’ Cup series. She’s preparing to take an unprecedented third Breeders’ Cup World Championship title in November.

Clearly besotted with his charge, trainer John Shirreffs strapped a camera to the helmet of Zenyatta’s exercise rider so her fans can experience the view from the back of a champion. Enjoy the ride!


Credit: jonshfs05

Top photo courtesy of Photos by Z

 

Uptick in Equine Deaths at Belmont Park in June

Between June 1 and June 20, 2016,  there were eight equine deaths while in training or racing at the New York Racing Association’s Belmont Park. Over the same time frame in 2015, there were two equine deaths while racing at Belmont Park; in 2014 there was one racing and one training death at Belmont over the same time frame.

According to the NYS Gaming Commission’s Equine Breakdown, Death, Injury and Incident Database, two of the breakdowns were on Belmont’s training track, the remaining occurred on the Main track.

The horses that suffered fatal, catastrophic breakdowns are:

  • Todo Onota
  • Escape to Vegas
  • Bonita Luna
  • Majestic Joe
  • Rose Bern
  • Riding the Rails
  • Mordi’s Miracle
  • Noble’s Whim

 

Lady Aurelia Vanquishes Royal Ascot: Twitter Reacts

 

Saratoga Alliance Puts Cuomo Racing Plan Out to Pasture

According to a coalition of Saratoga Springs racing, political and business interests, the New York Racing Association’s reprivatization options presented in a plan to Governor Andrew Cuomo have been set aside. In their place is an outline that cedes control of NYRA to the state via an executive board stacked with public appointees, and financial and operational controls spread around the state’s bureaucracy.

What was. What is.

In 2012, irregularities in takeouts of exotic wagers were the tipping point that brought NYRA into a forced partnership with the state; the governor and legislators enacted the New York State Racing Franchise Accountability and Transparency Act of 2012. Originally scheduled to return to private ownership in 2015, NYRA produced a plan the governor elected not to pursue, and instead, extended state control for one year.

Earlier this year, NYRA submitted a reorganization plan with three options for going forward:

  • An option where the board of directors was made up of private sector members
  • An option where there were four publicly appointed members of the board of directors
  • An option to extend the current status of NYRA for another year

Shhh!

In Albany, nary a peep has been said on the record about the proposed reprivatization plans. Queries to legislators in both houses confirmed they had not been apprised of the Cuomo version.

However, the Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing has been monitoring the matter. It maintains that Cuomo is seeking to hold public control of NYRA and raid NYRA’s legally designated coffers to boost the general fund.

In a statement from the Concerned Citizens, released over the signature of Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus, the leadership group made its position clear:

We are vehemently opposed to the transfer of funds legally designated via prior agreements to support our state’s Thoroughbred racing industry into the state’s general fund. This change ignores the fact that New York State was given $1 billion in real estate at NYRA’s three tracks in return for the granting of a 25-year franchise agreement and a legislatively-approved revenue sharing formula from the VLT at Aqueduct. The VLT revenues are like mortgage payments for the land.

The Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing has been able to parse out these points of the Executive Chamber’s reorganization plan:

The Governor’s proposal will:

  • Allow the Governor to appoint one-third of the members to the new NYRA board of directors or 5 of the 15 members;
  • With one member also appointed by the Senate and Assembly, there would be at least 7 of the 15 members appointed directly by our state government;
  • The Governor would also appoint the new Chair of the board of directors;
  • Transfer VLT funds away from NYRA that were previously designed for Capital improvements at Belmont, Aqueduct and the Saratoga Race Course as well as funds for NYRA operations;
  • Provide sweeping new powers to various public agencies expanding their role from oversight to protect the public good, to empowering these agencies to be able to manipulate NYRA’s budget and operations.

Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing Rejects Governor’s NYRA Re-privatization Plan

(Press Release)

The Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing rejects a re-privatization plan now being circulated by Governor Cuomo that seeks to retain public control of NYRA and to unilaterally transfer funds legally designated for our state’s Thoroughbred racing industry into the state’s general fund.

The Governor’s proposal will:

  • Allow the Governor to appoint one-third of the members to the new NYRA board of directors or 5 of the 15 members;
  • With one member also appointed by the Senate and Assembly, there would be at least 7 of the 15 members appointed directly by our state government;
  • The Governor would also appoint the new Chair of the Board of Directors;
  • Transfer VLT funds away from NYRA that were previously designed for Capital improvements at Belmont, Aqueduct and the Saratoga Race Course as well as funds for NYRA operations;
  • Provide sweeping new powers to various public agencies expanding their role from oversight to protect the public good, to empowering these agencies to be able to manipulate NYRA’s budget and operations.

Four years ago, this Governor promised to return NYRA to a not-for-profit corporation in three years. He did not keep that promise last year. This year, his plan is another means by which he is seeking to exert his control over NYRA and the future of our state’s Thoroughbred racing industry.

We are vehemently opposed to the transfer of funds legally designated via prior agreements to support our state’s Thoroughbred racing industry into the state’s general fund. This change ignores the fact that New York State was given $1 billion in real estate at NYRA’s three tracks in return for the granting of a 25-year franchise agreement and a legislatively-approved revenue sharing formula from the VLT at Aqueduct. The VLT revenues are like mortgage payments for the land. If they can change the agreement this year, they will change it next year too.

We’re seeing a renaissance of racing in Saratoga and New York State. Here in Saratoga our race meeting is one of the most successful and most popular in all of the world. The Saratoga Race Course is the oldest sporting venue in the United States and the transfer of funds away from NYRA as proposed by the Governor could harm our plans to improve this facility so that it succeeds for another 150 years.

We greatly appreciate the efforts of Saratoga’s local legislators working collaboratively with the Capital Region’s delegation and the Chairs of the Assembly and Senate Racing Committees to re-privatize NYRA as a not-for-profit corporation. They clearly want to keep this promise before the legislative session ends this June. We hope that they will provide a clean stand-alone bill for the Governor to sign.
Members of the Executive Board of the Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing include: Maureen Lewi, Chair; Todd Shimkus; Charles Wait; John Hendrickson; Matt Jones; Cindy Hollowood; and Rod Sutton.

Todd L. Shimkus, CCE
President
Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce
28 Clinton Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
www.saratoga.org

Footwear For a Wet Day at the Track

Make a rainy day at the track a breeze with these weatherproof and waterproof shoes. There’s a style for everyone from stiletto heeled mavens to walk-over friendly flats.

If you like to prepare ahead of time, many shoe-soles can be rubberized by a cobbler!

Aquatalia's "Harlee" weatherproof pump. $395 at Nordstrom
Aquatalia’s “Harlee” weatherproof pump. $395 at Nordstrom

 

100% waterproof Breezy Ballet from Muck Boot Company. $70 from Muck Boot. Available in solids and floral, too.
Aquatalia's "Shelby" in Bark suede, also in black calf or black suede. $495 at Zappo's.
Aquatalia’s “Shelby” in Bark suede, also in black calf or black suede. $495 at Zappo’s.
Bogs Urban Farmer Shoe. Comes in black and teal, too. $80 at Zappo's.
Bogs “Urban Farmer Shoe” in red; comes in black and teal, too. $80 at Zappo’s.

Cole Haan "Kelsey" waterproof pump. Also comes in a nude neutral. About $200 at Nordstrom.

Cole Haan “Kelsey” waterproof pump. Also comes in a nude neutral. About $200 at Nordstrom.

Muck™ Women's Muckster II Ankle Boots; $99 at Cabela's.
Muck™ Women’s Muckster II Ankle Boots; $99 at Cabela’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADDENDUM

As suggested on Twitter, there are those who like to MacGyver their own footwear. With that in mind:

macgyver

 

 

 

 

 

ziploc

gorilla

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE NYRA REPRIVATIZATION PLAN

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE NYRA REPRIVATIZATION PLAN

Introduction

Pursuant to The New York State Racing Franchise Accountability and Transparency Act of 2012, NYRA management has a statutory plan for its prospective not-for-profit governing structure, which is comprised of three parts: 1) summary of NYRA’s reorganization efforts to date; 2) proposals for NYRA’s legal and governance structures; and 3) NYRA’s 2014 and 2015 actual results, approved 2016 budget, and proposed 2017 financial plan.

 

1. NYRA’s Reorganization Efforts – A Board-led Transformation: Progress and Accomplishments

       

The Reorganization Board has worked for the past three (and in particular, the past two) years with the NYRA management team to effectuate the change, and achieve the results, sought by Governor Cuomo.  The Board has succeeded in a way that makes the New York Racing Association stronger, better run, more trustworthy, and much better  able to continue to generate the significant economic impact, jobs and tourism that Governor Cuomo and the Legislature envisioned when they made the change in NYRA’s Board structure.

 

NYRA is under New Management – The management of NYRA has been transformed by new leaders with successful and established careers outside of NYRA.  Led by CEO and President Chris Kay, NYRA also has a new General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer, who formerly served as global General Counsel for one of the “Big Four” accounting firms (Deloitte); a Senior Vice President for Racing Operations from California’s Hollywood Park (pursuant to NYS 2012 Task Force recommendations); a Senior Vice President and Chief Experience Officer (the first in the sports industry) who formerly served as an executive with a sporting goods company and with a major movie company; a new Vice President of Security, who formerly served as the Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s New York Field Office, as well other new hires at various leadership levels throughout the company.  

 

Financial Performance – NYRA has instituted several initiatives to reduce costs and generate additional revenues. As a result, in 2014 NYRA achieved an operating surplus of approximately $1.7 million, its first operating surplus in recent years, and NYRA’s surplus will be $3.5 million in 2015.  NYRA is also debt-free for the first time in years, having paid off a $25 million note to Genting.

 

Governance, Integrity and Accountability – NYRA has made extensive operating reforms in areas such as risk management, compliance, corporate governance and attention to legal issues. For example, NYRA has changed from a local auditor to KPMG, one of the “Big Four” auditing firms. Over the last several years, NYRA’s audits have been “clean”, i.e. in the view of KPMG our financial statements accurately present, in all material respects, the financial position of NYRA.

 

Economic Impact – NYRA is the cornerstone of New York State’s horse racing industry, which generates $2.1 billion in annual economic impact and over 17,000 statewide jobs.  With a commitment to generate more tourism and provide greater financial incentives to NY bred owners, NYRA’s operation of Saratoga Race Course alone is responsible for the creation of an annual economic impact of more than $237 million in the Capital Region, a significant boost to that local economy which continues to grow.

 

NYRA DRAFT – 04.12.16

 

 

 

Safer Horseracing – NYRA has instituted a number of changes to improve equine safety for the equine athletes and jockeys, such as empowering veterinarians to take action when necessary, requiring record keeping on certain drug administrations, establishing a system for jockeys to report violations, creating a Board committee on equine safety, hiring a safety steward, and many others.  The number of equine catastrophic injuries on NYRA racetracks is below the average nationwide.

 

Improving the Quality of Racing – NYRA has made racing much more enjoyable for stakeholders and guests by creating “must see” big events days such as (a) Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, with over $10 million in purses, and many guest-centric innovations; (b) Stars & Stripes Day with horses competing from around the world; (c) increased grades stakes and purses on Whitney Day; and (d) a robust Travers card of races (“Saratoga’s version of the Breeders’ Cup”). NYRA broke records for wagering on Belmont Stakes Day and for the Saratoga meet. NYRA has also created new events that shine a bright light on New York agriculture, such as our Taste NY weekly Saratoga events, and Saratoga Showcase Day, which features New York bred horses.   

 

Support for New York Breeders – NYRA is dedicated to New York bred horses, and has worked closely with the New York Thoroughbred Breeders to make New York one of the few states to see an increase in the number of foals in recent years.  NYRA devoted almost $40 million in purses to owners of New York bred horses in 2014, and a like amount in 2015.  

Support for the Backstretch Workers – Over the last two years, a number of dormitory renovations has taken place at all three racetracks.  New construction on the first of three large dormitories at Belmont commenced in 2015, as part of a multi-year, $28.8 million renovation/new construction program.

Enhancing the Guest Experience – NYRA has taken considerable steps to improve the experience for all fans at all tracks, including:

 

Belmont Park:

  • NYRA installed 378 high-definition televisions and 3 high-definition video boards, as well as provided several high-definition “point of view” cameras for fans to customize the way they watch horse workouts, horses in the paddock, and the races. At the finish line, NYRA has also installed a high-definition slow motion camera.
  • At the 2015 Belmont Stakes, fans were able to experience a great package of entertainment, including performances by the United States Military Academy at West Point’s veteran band, the Jersey Boys, and the Goo Goo Dolls, who also performed a concert after the last race.
  • NYRA limited the attendance to 90,000 and, working with LIRR, completely renovated the LIRR station, all of which made ingress and egress much more pleasant and manageable for fans.

 

Saratoga Race Course:

  • NYRA installed 1,063 new high-definition televisions, three new high-definition video boards, enhanced Wi-Fi capacity, and a new sound system.
  • NYRA expanded the Saratoga Pavilion, which is the home of several Taste NY events, one of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature initiatives. Each Thursday, Friday and Sunday, NYRA features Taste NY wines, beers and food products.
  • NYRA created the Walk of Fame, an open-air pavilion honoring the recipients of the prestigious “Red Jacket” award, created in 2013 to honor the best owners, trainers and jockeys in our sport, thus giving fans of all ages a way to “connect” with our stars.
  • NYRA opened a state-of-the-art sports bar in what was formerly known as the lower Carousel, enabling fans to reserve tables and watch other sporting events in addition to our great races throughout the day.

 

Aqueduct Racetrack:

  • NYRA constructed a state-of-the-art simulcast center, Longshots, with 270 dedicated carrels, a sports bar, and dozens of new high-definition televisions.
  • NYRA installed new flooring, airport-style seating and lighting within the clubhouse, as well as 507 new high-definition televisions.
  • NYRA created an urban art program unveiled in 2013 featuring vibrant, horse-themed murals from internationally renowned “street artists” throughout the second floor and on our exterior walls.

 

OLD NYRA CURRENT – NEW YORK RACING ASSOCIATION
•       $25 Million in debt since 2011.

 

•       Inconsistent profitability. .

 

•       Improper calculation of exotic wagering take-out (20112012).

 

•       High rate of equine catastrophic injuries, 38 in total in 2012.

 

•       Inadequate investment in facilities, especially those used by customers.

 

•       Debt free as of April 2014.

 

•       $1.7 million operating surplus for 2014 and $3.5 million in 2015.  First back-to-back profitability since the bankruptcy.

 

•       Implemented wagering accountability processes in 2013.

 

•       Equine injuries below the national average in 2013, 2014, and 2015 with 22, 24 and 19 respectively.

 

•       Spent $20+ million at all three racetracks during 2013-2015 to enhance the guest experience.

 

 

2. Proposals for NYRA’s Legal and Governance Structure

 

Legal Structure – Section 207(1)(d) of the Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law requires the Reorganization Board to “propose, no less than one hundred eighty days prior to its termination, recommendations to the governor and the state legislature representing a statutory plan for the prospective not-for-profit governing structure of The New York Racing Association”, and the statutory notes clarify that the “franchise shall be returned to private control, remaining in the form of a not-for-profit corporation.”  Therefore, going forward, NYRA will continue to be organized as a New York not-for-profit company and will be under private control.    

Governance – Upon consultations with various constituencies, NYRA offers the following options relative to the selection and terms of the new NYRA Board:

 

Option 1.  NYRA Board to have Majority of Private Members and Four Publicly

Appointed Members.  The NYRA Board will have 15 members, all with equal voting rights.  Two members will be selected by the Governor, one of which will be the first Chair. One member will be selected by the Temporary President of the Senate and one member will be selected by the Speaker of the Assembly. Ten members will be selected by the current Executive Committee of the Board upon the recommendation of the Nominations and Governance Committee.

 

Option 2.  NYRA Board to have All Private Members.  The NYRA Board will have 15 members, all with equal voting rights.  All members and the Chair will be selected by the current Executive Committee of the Board upon the recommendation of the Nominations and Governance Committee.

With respect to options 1 and 2, prior to its recommendations, the Nominations and Governance Committee will have held soundings with all members of the existing Board.  The NYRA CEO will also be a full member of the Board, and the following will be in effect:

  • Board Terms: Three years, and eligible for two additional terms.  Terms will rotate, starting end of 2017.
  • Ex Officio Non-Voting Members: To include representatives from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) and New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. (NY Breeders), with Board empowered to add others.
  • Board Committees: Keep current statutory committees:  Compensation; Finance; Nominating, and Executive.  We would add two non-statutory committees: Equine Safety and Racing Committees, both of which are currently operating.
  • To ensure transparency, NYRA will post on its website the reports of the CEO and CFO (and, as applicable, the Chair) from each Board meeting.

 

Option 3.  NYRA Reorganization Board to Remain in Place.  The Governor and Legislature may choose to retain the status quo and extend the tenure of the Reorganization Board for one additional year.

 3.  Financial Plan

In 2014, NYRA recorded its first operating surplus ($1.7 million) in recent years, as a result of our implementation of several revenue enhancing and cost saving initiatives.  NYRA budgeted a surplus of $2.2 million in 2015 (which is now $3.5 million), has budgeted a surplus of $2.3 million in 2016, and projects a $2.8 million surplus in 2017.  These operating surpluses, year over year, reflects our commitment to strong business processes and disciplines, which results in prudent cost cutting, strategic investments, and revenue enhancing initiatives.

Dickinson Returns A Winner At Laurel (Press Release)

Photo via Laurel Park
Photo via Laurel Park

April 3, 2016
Contact: david.joseph@marylandracing.com or call 954.658.7156

LAUREL, MD – It didn’t take long for Michael Dickinson to find himself back in the winner’s circle

The Maryland-based trainer won with the first horse he saddled since retiring in 2007 when Augustin Stable’s Tide Is High, who had not run since September, went wire-to-wire in an entry-level allowance race late Saturday on the turf at Laurel Park.

It was the first time Dickinson saddled a horse as a licensed trainer since Dec. 8, 2007 at Turfway Park. It was also Dickinson’s first trip to Laurel since 2003 when he won two graded-stakes in one day. A Huevo won the 2003 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G1) and Tapit won the Laurel Futurity (G2).

“I’ve really enjoyed my training again. I came back to train because I want to train and I enjoy it,” said Dickinson, who decided to return to training last summer. “I love training on the farm.

“Today, I’m not too pleased.  She’s a good horse, I didn’t train her very well. She used to run off a little bit last year and I thought I had her relaxed and I didn’t.  So I’m not pleased, I’m not even a tiny little bit pleased.  I might be relieved, but at least we had a winner.  But we’ve got to do much better than that.”

Dickinson retired from training in 2007 after having won 587 races, including a pair of Breeders’ Cup races with Da Hoss in 1996 and 1998. Since 2007, Dickinson spent his time inventing and developing the Tapeta Surface, a synthetic racing surface now used by racetracks all over the world and named after Dickinson’s farm, Tapeta Farm, in North East, MD.

When asked if he has any new training methods this time around, the Yorkshire, England native, who is now 66, said he has many new methods to apply to his craft.

“Oh yes, a zillion different things…a very different Michael Dickinson trainer,” he said.  “I didn’t do very well before, I want to do better this time. That’s why I’ve come back because I didn’t think I did very well and I want to prove to myself that I’m not quite as bad as I thought I was.”

Laurel Park is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. . For more information contact David Joseph at david.joseph@marylandracing.com or call 954.658.7156