Cracking the Code of the Saratoga Sales

Cracking the Code of the Saratoga Sales

August in Saratoga Springs, New York, is a whirl of Thoroughbred racing, parties and galas, retired race horse fundraisers and elite Thoroughbred yearling sales. The six-week race meet and never-ending activities are not for the fainthearted.

It takes a strong heart, a keen eye and a substantial line of credit to purchase a well-bred yearling at Saratoga. The good news is the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion and grounds are open to all. In fact, curious onlookers and racing fans strolling the grounds to take in the sights can end up ringside, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, legendary football coach Bill Parcells or chef Bobby Flay. If you can’t make it to Saratoga to hang with Sheikh Mo, Bill or Bobby, the sales are livestreamed each evening.

The Saratoga yearling sales are auctions of highly curated bloodstock representing the best bloodlines (pedigrees) and physicals (conformation and athleticism). In late winter and early spring, the Fasig-Tipton auction house sent out teams of advisers to thoroughbred farms across the country to evaluate potential sales’ candidates. Like the Marines, many apply and (relatively) few are chosen.

There are two separate yearling sales in August. The first is the Saratoga Sale where the best-of-the best bloodstock come from all quarters – Kentucky, Florida, Ireland, Ontario, etc. The second sale is for New York-breds, horses born in New York. Drawing from a smaller sampling, the pedigree aspect of these New York-bred horses may not equal those in the Select Sale, but they are close in physical qualities, and, they are eligible for the lucrative New York incentive program.

Yearlings accepted and entered in the sales are listed online and in print catalogs. Each horse’s entry is called its “page” and offers a complete snapshot of its blood lines, success of close members of its female family (the dam’s portion of the pedigree) and eligibilities and nominations to races and jurisdictions.

Deciphering a Sales Page

Image of online sales page from 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Sale

Barn 10 – location on Fasig-Tipton sales grounds

Hip no. 250 – ID number

Consigned by – either the owner or sales agent for the owner

Chestnut colt – color and gender

Pedigree – The colt’s color and date of birth is on the left, and three generations are highlighted in blue and pink. Hard Spun is the sire (father) and Indy Punch is the dam (mother). Danzig is his grandsire, Indy Flash is her grand-dam, also known as the second-dam. Hard Spun – Danzig – Northern Dancer is the sire line. Indy Punch – Indy Flash – Mirror Bright is the dam line, also called the bottom line; their offspring are called the female family.

Sire Paragraph – Who the sire is – Hard Spun, his race record and graded black type or divisional honors; the number of crops of foal born (8), black type winners from his foals, gross earnings of his offspring, names and earning records of leading offspring.

Female Family – Race and produce records of the descending females in the family; includes individual details of money won, abbreviated race and produce records of direct offspring.

Nominations and eligibility – Race and race series nominations (Breeders’ Cup) and state-bred registration and eligibilities (Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund).

Because the members of the colt’s immediate female family are actively racing and winning, his pedigree is updated in real time online and updates will be announced as he enters the sales ring. On this page, the green arrows and red type signal updates to the pedigree.


Moore’s Kill Pen Response video

New York Lacks Specific Regulations for Racing in Extreme Weather

According to the New York State Gaming Commission, the protocol for determining whether or not to cancel racing due to weather is as follows:
“The determination whether to cancel racing due to extreme weather conditions is a situational decision, to be first considered by NYRA. The Stewards and the Commission’s Equine Medical Director, however, have final authority whether to allow racing. The Commission’s decision making rests with the best interests of the health and safety of the equine athletes.”
When asked if there are written New York State regulations concerning the cancellation of racing in extreme weather, the Commission responded “No.”

NYRA Giveaways for Saratoga Race Meet

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) is continuing its tradition of premium giveaways with four scheduled during  Summer 2018 meet at Saratoga Race Course. The finest thoroughbred racing has been offered at the Race Course since 1863.

All giveaways are free with paid admission, while supplies last. Season pass or tick plan holders are guaranteed to receive each premium Saratoga giveaway if they are enter Saratoga Race Course through the designated season ticket holder lines on giveaway days and redeem the giveaway by 3 p.m. All redemptions may be claimed starting when gates open to the general public.


Sunday, July 22, gates open 10:30 a.m.



Monday, August 6, gates open 11 a.m.
It never rains in Saratoga, but girl, don’t they warn ya?
It pours, man, it pours*



Monday, August 20, gates open 11 a.m.



Sunday, September 2


Plan ahead to avoid NYRA ticket supplements of 20% – 40%

The cost of a 2018 Grandstand season pass is $40; a Clubhouse season pass is $65. Season passes do not include reserved seating and are valid for one admission.

Single-day Grandstand admission is $5 and Clubhouse admission is $8 for guests who purchase their tickets prior to the day of the event. Single-day Grandstand admission is $7 and Clubhouse admission is $10 when purchased at the gate.

*modified from It Never Rains in Southern California lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC; Songwriters: Albert Hammond / Mike Hazlewood

All photos courtesy of NYRA




From: The Jockeys’ Guild, Lexington, KY May 14, 2018.

On Saturday, May 12th, the entire jockey colony at Belmont Park, including Jockeys’ Guild Chairman John Velazquez, as well as Guild Senate members who regularly ride at NYRA tracks, Javier Castellano, Jose L. Ortiz, Irad Ortiz, Jr., and Mike Luzzi met with members of NYRA management, CEO and President Christopher Kay and Vice President of Racing Martin Panza.   When the NYRA Jockey Colony approached NYRA Management for a meeting on Saturday, there was never any intent to harm the owners, trainers, betting public and fans, nor was there ever any intention by the Jockeys to cancel races.  The Guild is an organization that exists for jockeys and is run by jockeys, including present and future Hall of Fame riders at NYRA, and these riders have every right to speak on behalf of the Guild as well as the NYRA jockey colony.

It is not unusual for members of any jockey colony to call a meeting or have discussions with management to voice safety and other concerns.  Many of the issues that were brought before management on Saturday are issues that have been brought to their attention on numerous occasions over the past year, with no resolution.  Several of which include the safety concerns that the Guild has been attempting to bring to the industry’s attention for many years as addressed in a social media post on March 27, 2018.

Although the discussion included concerns regarding the lack of agreement between the Guild and NYRA Management under Industry Partner Agreement, which has been in negotiations since the fall of 2017, it was not the only focus.  Many of the other issues discussed on Saturday are critically important to the health and safety of all jockeys and are issues that have not previously been included in the Agreement between the Jockeys’ Guild and NYRA or any other racetrack.

For more than a year, the Jockeys’ Guild and the riders have talked with NYRA management concerning revising the scale of weights to a minimum of 118 lbs.  A jockey’s published weight includes boots, pants, a light saddle, girth and silks, which typically total 3 to 3-1/2 pounds. With that said, a jockey would have to weigh between 114 and 115 lbs. stripped. In order to make the current weights being used, jockeys are endangering their health, by sitting in the hot box, using extreme dieting, or alternative measures, to lose 4 to 5 pounds each racing day.   In turn, jockeys can suffer severe dehydration and other health issues, which is not in the best interest of the owners, trainers, and betting public.  The scale of 118 lbs. that is being discussed is much lower than other major racing countries.

The field size on the turf courses at Belmont and Aqueduct has been another area of concern that the NYRA Jockey Colony has brought to the attention of NYRA Management over the past couple of years.  Riders are concerned for their safety and their horse’s safety because of the configuration of the turf course in races of certain distances.   In addition to the dangers, due to the field size, it potentially impacts the outcome of the races, which is not fair to owners, trainers, and the betting public.  However, Management has continued to write races with these field sizes.

One of the greatest areas of concern facing all jockeys throughout the country, including those at NYRA, is concussions and the lack of protocols and return to ride guidelines.  Racing still remains one of the only sports, professional or amateur, in the country that does not have some sort of standard in place with regards to concussions.  Additionally, the United States is one of the only major racing countries that do not have such standards.  After longtime NYRA Jockey Ramon Dominguez suffered a career ending head injury, Dr. Kenneth Perrine, Ph.D., of New York Presbyterian/Weill-Cornell Medical Center spoke at the 2014 Jockeys’ Guild Annual Assembly and said, “[J]unior high school soccer girls have more in place for looking at, managing, and treating concussions.”   This is an area that the Guild has been working to address for several years.  Most recently, the ARCI adopted a Model Rule regarding racetracks and concussions.  The Guild, in collaboration with the University of Kentucky, MedStar, and New York Institute of Technology, has created “Concussion Management and Return to Ride Guidelines”, which were approved and supported by the Jockeys’ Guild Board.  However, after several discussions, NYRA Management has stated it is not willing to pay to implement such protocols and is not willing to assume the liability of making a determination if a jockey is fit to ride after experiencing a fall that could potentially have caused the jockey to suffer a concussion or head injury.   They have stated that it is up to the individual jockey to make that decision.  However, many times, jockeys who have sustained a concussion are unaware of the severity of their injuries.  This is a major area of concern as a jockey who is potentially unfit to ride, but is allowed to do so, is not only a danger to him or herself, but also the other jockeys and horses in the race.

Unfortunately, another NYRA jockey suffered a concussion on Saturday morning during training hours.

As such, although not directly discussed on Saturday with NYRA Management, there is concern as to whether there was adequate staffing to handle such incidents.  One of the greatest areas of concern for the Guild is the assurance that racetracks have proper medical personnel, including having paramedics on the racetrack, both during training and racing hours.  Since NYRA was initially accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, the Guild was led to believe that NYRA had provided a properly equipped to transport ambulance, “staffed with at least one certified paramedic during training and two certified paramedics during racing hours.”  However, in October of 2017, after legislation was adopted in New York requiring paramedics, it was brought to the attention of the Guild and the NYRA Jockey Colony that this was not in fact the case, even though NYRA had been accredited several times by the NTRA.  Not only has this caused distrust with NYRA, it also led to additional questions regarding the validity of the NTRA Accreditation process, as outlined in the attached letter to Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of NTRA, on February 6, 2018.  Having paramedics is not only important for the welfare of jockeys but all racetrack personnel including exercise riders, horsemen, etc.

Beginning in the fall of 2017, the NYRA Jockey Colony approached NYRA Management about the lack of cleanliness in the Jockeys’ Quarters at Aqueduct.  Specifically, their concerns were lack of hot water, mold in the showers, and a horrendous stench in the steam room.  The mold and the smell were addressed in a reasonable timeframe.  When the issue regarding the lack of hot water was brought to the attention of NYRA Management, the Guild was advised that it would be a period of time before this was corrected.  However, six months later, there is still not any hot water.  Regardless, all aspects of the Aqueduct Jockeys’ Quarters need to be renovated.

In addition to the safety and welfare concerns, other issues that the NYRA Jockey Colony has previously approached NYRA Management about includes the use of funds from the NYRA Purse Account to pay for bonus programs and the refusal to assist with contributions from the NYRA Jockeys to a retirement account.

Guild and its representatives had a productive meeting with NYTHA representatives, addressing the bonus programs, along with other matters.

In the summer of 2017, the Guild established a retirement account in which its members could contribute through the horsemen’s bookkeeper.  During the Saratoga Meet, many of the NYRA Jockey Colony members gave authorization to NYRA to deduct a portion of what the jockey earns and submit it to the administrator of the retirement account.  However, although the Guild paid for the software updates, NYRA Management has continued to refuse to implement the deductions.

In conjunction with its disregard of the concerns of the NYRA Jockey Colony, NYRA Management has continued to show a total disrespect for the members of the colony who regularly ride in New York.  Most recently, a text was sent last week to all NYTHA Horsemen promoting two individual, out of town jockeys who were coming to ride at Belmont Park on Saturday, advising the horsemen that these individuals would be available for mounts.  This is not a standard practice and was very troubling to the NYRA Jockey Colony, their agents, and other jockeys who came in to ride that day.

The Industry Partner Agreement between the Guild and NYRA, which was referred to by the NYRA Jockey Colony and NYRA Management in statements issued after the delay of racing Saturday, expired on December 31, 2017.  Although an agreement has not been reached, NYRA has continued to make payments.  However, the lack of an agreement has been troublesome to the NYRA Jockey Colony.  The majority of racetracks throughout the country have continued to contribute to the Guild under such Industry Partner Agreements, which are similar to those dating back to 1968.  The Guild has used funds received from the Industry Partner Agreements to provide temporary disability benefits, life and accidental death and dismemberment polices, and offset the out of pocket expenses for health and disability coverage for qualifying active and disabled jockeys.   During the ongoing negotiations, there have been several significant issues that have yet to be resolved.

In response to comments made by NYRA Management to the press, the Guild’s Counsel had sent follow up communication with a redrafted proposal to NYRA’s Attorneys on March 12, 2018. On March 14, 2018, NYRA’s counsel responded in an email stating, “We had a conference call to further explore the issues, but nothing was agreed upon.  I will have to discuss these items with NYRA Management and get back to you.”    There had been no further communication from NYRA Counsel, until today, Monday, May 14th.  This was only subsequent to the meeting held on Saturday and the statements by Guild Representatives made to the press, as well as posts on social media indicating a release of the Guild’s position would be forthcoming.

In light of the continued frustration and lack of response by NYRA Management, the NYRA Jockey Colony strongly believes that many of the areas of concern need to be included in the Industry Partner Agreement with NYRA moving forward.  The intent behind all of the concerns is to protect both the equine and human athletes, as well as provide adequate benefits for the jockeys who are regularly risking their lives at NYRA.


For more information, contact Jockeys’ Guild 859-523-5625

Twitter Foals Alert! Friday February 9, 2018

Twitter Foals spanning the globe from the past week! Plus a bonus all-flash foal!

Madame Milan Channels Her Half-Brother Barbaro With Maiden Win (Laurel Park Press Release)


Madame Milan, half sister to the legendary Barbaro, breaking her maiden at Laurel Park. Photo courtesy of Laurel Park

October 13, 2017

Barbaro Sibling Madame Milan Breaks Maiden Friday at Laurel

Second-Time Starter by Bernardini Wins by 1 ¼ Lengths as 4-5 Favorite

Everything’s Copa Springs 13-1 Upset in Maiden Triumph

LAUREL, MD – Lael Stables’ homebred Madame Milan, a juvenile half-sister to 2006 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Barbaro, took advantage of a stretch out in distance to earn her first career victory in a competitive maiden special weight that kicked off Friday’s nine-race program at Laurel Park.

Madame Milan ($3.80) was favored at 4-5 in the $40,000 event that attracted 10 2-year-old fillies including progeny of Hall of Famers Ghostzapper and  Tiznow, Kentucky Derby winners Orb and Street Sense and fellow Grade 1 winners Giant’s Causeway, Ice Box, Paynter and To Honor and Serve.

By 2006 Preakness (G1) winner Bernardini out of the Carson City mare La Ville Rouge, Madame Milan completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.93 over an All Along Turf Course layout labeled firm. It was 1 ¼ lengths back to runner-up Dancingwithpaynter, who was 6 ¼ lengths clear of Luna in third.

Third by a length in her debut going about 7 ½ furlongs on the Delaware Park turf Sept. 9, Madame Milan settled under jockey Daniel Centeno from the rail post and saved ground racing in mid-pack squeezed to her outside by Ferdinada as Dancingwithpaynter took the field through fractions of 24.07 seconds, 50.29 and 1:15.84.

Madame Milan continued to gain ground inside around the far turn and into the lane before Centeno swung to the middle of the track to reel in a stubborn Dancingwithpaynter and edge clear for trainer Arnaud Delacour.

“She ran pretty good the first time at Delaware going 7 ½. I told Arnaud that going farther is going to be easier for her,” Centeno said. “Today the track was pretty soft and she broke a little slow so I just sat off the pace and waited to run and when I put her in the clear in the stretch she just took off. I went to put her outside [Dancingwithtpaynter] and she went right to the lead and galloped out real good and everything. I think the distance helped her a lot.”

Elizabeth Mateo and Mark Taylor’s Everything’s Copa swept to the lead after straightening for home and ran down pacesetting Guess What for a one-length win in Friday’s third race, a $40,000 maiden special weight for fillies and mares 3 and older.

Everything’s Copa ($29.20), a sophomore daughter of Malibu Moon who drew in off the also-eligible list, found herself wide and in the clear around both turns from her far outside post under jockey Sheldon Russell. They moved into a contending position at the top of the stretch and collared Guess What approaching the wire to win in 1:49.90 over a firm Dahlia Turf Course.

It was 1 ½ lengths back to Stated in third. Peace Front, the 5-2 favorite from New York-based trainer Chad Brown, was never in contention and faded to sixth.

Everything’s Copa was making her eighth career start and second at Laurel, where she was sixth behind In the Lee, subsequent allowance winner that was fourth in the Commonwealth Oaks (G3), and next-out winners West Coast Bias and Kitten Smitten June 30.

“We liked her all the time and finally today she threw a nice race,” winning trainer Guadalupe Preciado said. “Every time she ran we thought she’d be OK but [she lost] seven times. I think now she’ll go to Florida.”

 For more information contact David Joseph at



Empire State Development Announces RFP for Belmont Park: Press release

Empire State Development Announces RFP for Belmont Park

Proposals are due September 28, 2017

July 31, 2017

Empire State Development (ESD) today issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the redevelopment of property within Belmont Park, located in Elmont within the Town of Hempstead, New York.

“Belmont Park represents an exciting and much-anticipated development opportunity on Long Island,” said ESD President, CEO, and Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “We encourage respondents to submit creative proposals that stimulate vibrant community and economic growth in the region.”

Belmont Park is a major thoroughbred horseracing facility first opened in 1905 and redeveloped from 1964-1968. The subject of this RFP is comprised of two parcels totaling approximately 36 acres, both currently vacant and underutilized parking lots. Site A contains a total of approximately 8 acres, bordered on the south by Hempstead Turnpike and adjacent to the Cross Island Parkway. Site B contains a total of approximately 28 acres and is located south of the Hempstead Turnpike. Respondents may also propose an alternative, which includes the sites and land adjacent to Site A, north of Hempstead Turnpike.  Additional land adjacent to Site A included in respondents’ proposals shall total no more than 7 acres for a total of 15 acres including Site A. Respondents who wish to submit an alternative development proposal must also submit a proposal for the Sites.

The goal of this RFP is to strengthen Belmont as a premier destination for entertainment, sports, recreation, retail and hospitality on Long Island.

Proposals should strive to address the following development objectives:

  •          Enhance Belmont Park to become one of Long Island’s premier destinations for entertainment, sports, hospitality and retail, with uses that are complementary to the existing Belmont Park racetrack;
  •          Maximize economic benefit to the State while minimizing the State’s economic and environmental risk;
  •          Provide a source of quality jobs for area and New York State residents;
  •          Benefit the neighborhoods and communities adjacent to and surrounding Belmont Park;
  •          Maximize incorporation of green building and sustainable design practices;
  •          Feature meaningful participation of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses.

Responses are due by 2:00 p.m ET on September 28, 2017. An optional site visit is scheduled for August 17, 2017. Respondents are not required to attend; however, if they wish to participate, they must RSVP to

 The RFP and additional information is available on the Empire State Development website here.

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency ( The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NEW YORK,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit  and

Belmont Park Development RFP OK’d by Franchise Oversight Board

In a 16-minute meeting Friday, July 28, the Franchise Oversight Board (FOB) that oversees the racing franchise and properties associated with the New York Racing Association (NYRA) reviewed and approved the release of a request for proposal (RFP) that covers long-term leasing for development of a maximum of approximately 43 acres on and adjacent to Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. This RFP differs from one released in 2012, in that it adds for development approximately seven acres of land currently under lease to NYRA. It is expected the New York Islanders will participate in the RFP to develop a sports facility on the proposed site.

FOB Chairman Robert Williams explained the goal for the RFP, developed by Empire State Development (ESD) for the board, is to

Strengthen Belmont as a premier destination for entertainment, sports, recreation, retail and hospitality on Long Island … In doing so, the projects must be complementary to horse racing and parimutuel wagering, and, maximize the economic benefits to the state while minimizing the state’s economic and environmental risk.

There are two parcels of property covered by the RFP. Site A is approximately 8 acres adjacent to the Belmont Park Clubhouse and bordered to the west by the Belmont Park spur of the Long Island Rail Road. Site B is across the street from Belmont Park comprising approximately 28 acres along Hempstead Turnpike.. In its current iteration the RFP offers a Site A-alternative option of adding seven acres – probably adjacent to Belmont Park’s Grandstand and Paddock area. Developers are required to submit plans that include both A and B sites; whether or not they submit plans for the additional seven acres for Site A is optional.

The ESD offered no rationale for the decision to add actively-leased property to the RFP. When asked about the actual configuration of Site A-alternative, the ESD representative said, “We haven’t prescribed in this RFP how this 15 acres is put together … (we are) flexible in terms of how that 15 acres is put together.”

ESD representatives said at this stage there was no expectation for bidders to consult with NYRA concerning the impact of the development project on NYRA’s activities. With regard to incorporating land already leased to NYRA as part of a development proposal, the ESD representative said any arrangement would have to be worked out in that scenario.

Matthew Espinosa: Racing’s Newest Fan

Matthew Espinosa’s first trip to the racetrack won’t be his last. After spending opening day at southern California’s Del Mar Thoroughbred Club with friends and family, Espinosa is hooked, “I’m definitely going to go back, I had a lot of fun, a calm day. You can have a good time betting on horses and the people watching is a whole different world!”

Originally a digital star with an army of social media followers numbering in the tens-of-millions, 20-year old Matthew Espinosa is the lead in the 2016 film Be Somebody, and he shares his rise to success in his book, More Than Me. Before hitting the track, his impression of racing mostly came from media, ”The closest I came to horse racing were random clips, like on Entourage.”

Matthew Espinosa enjoying the races at Del Mar Racetrack

America’s Best Racing hosted Espinosa and his crew at Del Mar and had handicapper-racing pundit Jose Contreras guide the newbies in the basics. “I brought my friend Q, my sister and her boyfriend and they were talking that it was a lot of fun, a lot more fun than we expected. We didn’t know what to expect, none of us had been there before. It was really cool for all of us, placing bets, understanding how it all works. I won two races, I’m 100% into new experiences!”

Matthew being Matthew with a fan at Del Mar Racetrack

Billy Koch of Little Red Feather Racing invited Matthew Espinosa and company down to the winner’s circle if the Little Red Feather horse won. Alas, it was Koch’s horse was nipped at the wire. Koch mentioned there are ways of having fun as an owner in a partnership. Asked about that later, Espinosa didn’t rule it out in the future when he’ll have more time for hobbies.

The opening day fashion parade caught Espinosa’s eye. “I was randomly taking photos of people with really cool outfits. I was thinking this is really unique, I gotta document this. I was very under-dressed. I’m like ‘Whoa, what’s going on here?’ Gotta step it up with a suit the next time. Is there some kind of”


Horse racing will have to wait until Espinosa returns from his upcoming Going Global Tour, where he’ll be appearing in 22 European cities from August 4 to 31.