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Business on upswing at Beulah meeting
Beulah has averaged $1,661,042 in handle per day for 31 racing programs through this past weekend, compared to $1,306,745 per day for 25 days in 2005 during the same time period. Ontrack handle is up 3.5 percent in 2006, averaging $60,649 per day. Weather and track conditions caused the cancellation of six racing programs in 2005. Beulah has not lost any racing days in 2006.
Beulah's director of simulcasting, Brian DeJong, attributed the increases to several factors, including the mild winter weather, full fields, and an increase in the number of outlets taking the track's signal this year.
* The Fortune 6 was hit here Saturday, paying $83,141.70 to the lone winning ticket holder. The Fortune 6, initiated here in January, is a 25-cent pick six wager that requires a single winning ticket to collect the jackpot.
In the first Fortune 6 pool, Beulah guaranteed the jackpot at $50,000, and the track had to pay more than $22,000 of its own money to cover the payoff when a lone ticket hit the wager on Jan. 18.
Saturday's jackpot had been building for a month since the first time the wager was hit. Several times in the past two weeks, numerous tickets were alive going into the final leg of the Fortune 6, but a parade of longshots in the last leg allowed the carryover to continue.
Saturday's winner never looked in jeopardy during the Fortune 6's last leg, however, since a lone ticket holder had the three favorites alive in the final leg of the wager. That trio ran one-two-three to upper stretch in the six-furlong $3,500 claiming event, before 6-5 favorite Ghost Rider in Red drew off for a 5 1/4-length victory.
The Fortune 6 jackpot began anew Monday, with Beulah guaranteeing the jackpot at $10,000.
Last weekend's winter storm, which forced the cancellation of the Friday and Saturday cards, seemed like a distant memory, as temperatures quickly rose into the high 40's on Tuesday and Wednesday. The warmer weather resulted in full workout tabs both days, and the forecast heading into this weekend is a tremendous improvement.
Saturday's cancellation also forced the postponement of the $10,000 Grasmick Stakes, which has been rescheduled for this Sunday. Missy Can Do, winner of the Bold Accent on opening weekend, will run with an extra week's rest if she opts to enter again for the Grasmick.
* On Saturday, the 3-year-olds will take the spotlight in the $10,000 Bachman Stakes, and Did heads a list of 15 nominated to the half-mile dash.
Did was named the state's top 2-year-old of 2005 at Saturday's Nebraska Breeders' Association banquet. After a near-fall in his career debut in the State Fair Futurity at Lincoln, Did was shipped to Canterbury Park, where he won three straight races.
* Divisional champions were announced in all categories last weekend. Any Dream Will Do, winner of the Columbus Debutante, was named the champion 2-year-old filly. She is owned and trained by Jone Loyd. The state's top 3-year-old filly was Dress Right, winner of the Fonner Park Special Stakes last year.
The Straw Man, trained by Jason Wise last year, was named the top 3-year-old colt or gelding. He won five starts last year, including victories in the State Fair Derby, State Fair Breeders' Stakes, the Fonner Park Special, and the Nebraska Derby at Fonner Park, which has been discontinued.
Older horses honored were Up 'n Blumin as champion older mare. A $40,000 claim by owner Richard Galyen last year, Up 'n Blumin won the Orphan Kist and Al Swihart handicaps for trainer Mick Kirby, then captured the Matchmaker Handicap at Lincoln and the Falls Amiss at Horsemen's Park for her new connections.
Consider was named the state's top older Nebraska-bred. He competed at Canterbury Park and Hawthorne last year, winning 4 of 7 starts against allowance and starter company.
Blumin Affair was honored as the stallion of the year, and Upishness, the dam of Up 'n Blumin, was named the broodmare of the year.
Blumin Partners, represented by Roger Pelster, won the Thoroughbred Times Award for the state's leading sire, Blumin Affair. The Blood-Horse Julep Cup was awarded to Herb Riecken. The Nebraska Thoroughbred Breeders' Association member of the year went to Jone Loyd, and the TOBA Award went to Ron Westermann.
- Bill Hodtwalker
Horacio Karamanos, sidelined for six weeks following minor knee surgery, won with two of his first three mounts in his first day back last Sunday at Laurel Park.
Karamanos, 32, guided Favorite Song from last to first for a two-length victory in the second race and won with 2-1 favorite Broken Treaty in race 5.
Karamanos has won 883 races with earnings exceeding $18 million since relocating from his native Argentina in 2001.
* Flame of Love, a 10 1/2-length winner of the What a Summer Stakes last month at Laurel, returned to score her third consecutive victory in a high-priced optional claiming sprint for fillies and mares Monday.
A 6-year-old, Flame of Love ($4.40) prevailed by three lengths and earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure. She is unbeaten since being claimed for $25,000 by trainer Scott Lake out of a race at Philadelphia Park on Nov. 12.
- Joe DeVivo
Who's the hottest female apprentice rider in the Mid-Atlantic region?
Rosie Napravnik, the 18-year-old runaway leader in the standings at Laurel Park, is certainly the obvious answer. But Philadelphia Park has a sizzling female apprentice of its own in Maria Charles.
Between last Saturday and Tuesday, Charles went 7 for 20 with her mounts, a 35-percent hit rate. She was in the money with 60 percent of her horses, and importantly from a bettor's standpoint, she produced a $5.65 return on investment.
Charles rode the winner in the first race on Philly Park's program on three consecutive days - Saturday with Queen's Folly ($10.20), Sunday aboard Northend ($41.80), and Monday on L B Spitfire ($10). The streak ended when she finished third on Timopocus in Tuesday's first race.
Charles rode her first career winner at Penn National in October 2004 and her fifth winner in January 2005. She is still riding with the five-pound apprentice allowance because she missed nearly three months from mid-June to Sept. 10 after sustaining a broken collarbone in a spill at Philly Park.
* The Deputy Is Home, the 8-year-old horse for the course, raised his record at Philly Park to 6 for 8 when he scored a one-length victory in a six-furlong optional claiming race Tuesday. Although he was entered for the $32,000 optional claiming price, The Deputy Is Home went untaken. He was claimed by trainer Keith LeBarron two starts ago for $25,000 after winning three in a row while in the barn of Jayne Vaders.
- Joe DeVivo
Prairie Meadows director of racing Derron Heldt and racing secretary Dan Doocy are currently touring the country, visiting the backsides of numerous tracks and recruiting horsemen for the upcoming 45-day meeting, which begins April 21.
Heldt and Doocy have a powerful tool to entice trainers - major purse increases. Prairie will average approximately $250,000 per day in purses during the 2006 Thoroughbred meeting, up approximately 35 percent from last year, when the average daily purse was about $186,000.
The track has drastically increased purses for the lower-level races. A $4,000 claiming event went for $5,500 in 2005; this year the same race will a purse of $11,500.
"We wanted to shake things up," said Heldt.
Heldt said he thought the new purse structure would not only attract new stables to Prairie but would also encourage local horsemen to purchase new horses in order to stay competitive.
Stall applications for the meeting are due March 13, and the track opens for training on March 21. Prairie will feature an enlarged and improved paddock and walking ring in 2006. The jocks' room has also been doubled in size as part of an ongoing $60 million dollar expansion at the racetrack and casino.
Prairie officials have already visited Oaklawn Park, Sam Houston, Sunland Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and Turf Paradise, and will be at Turfway Park, Trackside in Louisville, and Hawthorne in the coming weeks, handing out condition books and stall applications.
- Dave Basler
When Shons Secret picked up her first stakes win in Saturday night's $40,000 Tomball at Sam Houston Race Park, the victory meant much more to her connections than just an increase in her residual value. Shons Secret lost her right eye as a yearling, and in overcoming the handicap she has become a favorite of many who have come in contact with her, said her trainer, Ralph Irwin.
"They're all special, but she's one of those that, when she does something like the Tomball Stakes, it just means even more," said Irwin.
Shons Secret won on turf in the Tomball, and in her prior start, on dirt at Sam Houston, she finished second in the $75,000 Martanza on Texas Champions Day in November.
Irwin said it took Shons Secret a while to adjust to life at the track.
"When she first came into the barn, she was quite skittish," he said. "She was not real trustworthy on that side. We had the boys - every time they'd walk by, just pet on her, just spend five seconds with her."
Shons Secret gained confidence and has gone on to win 5 of 18 starts and $89,350. Shons Secret races for her breeder, Ray Noteboom.
Noteboom and his sons Cary and Steve are partners in Noteboom Farms in Burleson, Texas. Other stakes performers the Notebooms bred and race include the promising Stormin Gold and Nuttyboom, who could make his next start in the $40,000 Spring Stakes at Sam Houston on March 18, said Irwin.
* Don Thompson, stakes coordinator for Sam Houston, will be in Florida this weekend recruiting horses for the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf at 1 1/8 miles on April 8. He will be at Palm Meadows Training Center on Friday, Gulfstream Park on Saturday, and Calder Race Course on Sunday.
- Mary Rampellini
The New Mexico Horse Breeders' Association announced its year-end awards for 2005, and to no one's surprise Rocky Gulch took the spotlight.
A son of Dry Gulch, Rocky Gulch was named champion older male after scoring three stakes wins, including the $147,200 New Mexico Cup Classic at Zia Park on Nov. 6.
Owned by his breeder, Larry Teague, Rocky Gulch also won the New Mexico State University and the Mt. Cristo Rey handicaps at Sunland Park. He is also the richest New Mexico-bred of all time.
In the older female division, Latenite Special picked up top honors. A daughter of Super Special owned by Terence Baldwin, Latenite Special won three stakes races in 2005, including the New Mexico Cup Fillies and Mares Stakes at Zia Park.
Latenite Special's strong season helped her dam, the Carson City mare Latenite Lady, earn broodmare of the year honors. Latenite Lady is owned by Pierre and Leslie Amestoy, and all four of her sons and daughters won at least one race this year, including juvenile stakes winner Latenite Band. The Amestoys were recognized as the state's outstanding breeders.
In the juvenile divisions, Copper Top Futurity winner Manolito took top male honors, and Peppers Pride took top 2-year-old filly honors. A daughter of Desert God, Peppers Pride won stakes at Ruidoso Downs and Zia Park.
Hollywood Gone won three stakes in 2005 to take 3-year-old filly honors, and the gelding C. G's Dollar was named top 3-year-old male after winning three stakes last year.
- Michael Hammersly
King Justin showed speed is his game last Friday, when he set a track record for 4 1/2 furlongs here. A 5-year-old Arizona-bred trained by Ralph Andersen, King Justin sizzled early under Joel Campbell and just kept going, hitting the wire in 50.38 seconds. He broke the old record of 50.40 set by Kathryn's Doll in 1967 and Jazz Hot in 1995.
"On the lead is where he likes to be," said Campbell. "And when he's there, he's awfully fast."
King Justin finished a length clear of Just See James, with Flying Supercon in third. King Justin paid $10.40 for the victory and now has nine wins from 20 starts.
- Michael Hammersly
Will Rogers Downs near Tulsa, Okla., will open for live racing for the first time since 2001 on Friday. The track will conduct a mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses for 42 days, and the season will run through May 28.
There will be eight Thoroughbred races daily, and purses for those races will average about $80,000 a day, according to track officials. In all, daily purses for the meet are budgeted at about $101,000.
Cherokee Nation Enterprises purchased Will Rogers in 2004. About $2 million in improvements have been made to the facility. Late last year, a 250-machine electronic gaming casino opened at Will Rogers.
The track will race on Fridays through Sundays. First post is 12:15 p.m.
Will Rogers has a one-mile oval. The track is located in Claremore, which is about 20 minutes from Tulsa.
- Mary Rampellini